University of Miami

Miami’s athletic director addresses coaching issues, angry former Hurricanes and fans

UM freshman receiver Dee Wiggins discusses N’Kosi Perry

UM freshman receiver Dee Wiggins discusses N'Kosi Perry heading into the Virginia Tech game
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UM freshman receiver Dee Wiggins discusses N'Kosi Perry heading into the Virginia Tech game

It’s impossible for the Miami Hurricanes to ignore all the negative feedback which comes along with a four-game losing streak.

Fans on social media have called for coaching changes. Angry former players have gone on the radio to criticize coach Mark Richt and the direction of the program. It’s sounding more and more like it did in the days of former coach Al Golden.

The morning after he spoke to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson about the situation, the athletic director was interviewed Thursday on WQAM’s The Joe Rose Show with Zach Krantz and reiterated that he appreciates the passion of both the fan base and alumni.

“Everyone reaches out to me,” James said. “My [inbox] is full, and those that have my cell number tend to text as well and give me some thoughts. Everyone is passionate. We talk about one of our core values being passion and one being family, and one of the great things about the University of Miami is once guys put the U on it never comes off.

“And while I would choose for them to say different things and have a different approach, I respect the fact that they have tremendous passion for the program and they want to see it succeed at the highest level and they’re voicing their frustrations and their disappointment in the loss.

“We all want to win and we all want to see this go at the highest level. I’d be more concerned if there wasn’t people emailing me and people upset after we’ve had happen what has happened this year — a four-game losing streak. No one likes that. If we didn’t have fans that were upset and we didn’t have former players that were upset it would probably mean we’re not in a great spot.

“You want to be relevant in your market. You want to have fans that are passionate and want to see you win. I know it’s what all of our coaches and staff and players want to do . It’s a situation where sometimes I think I’d choose a different approach, but people are going to do what they want to do and that’s their right. You can’t tell people what they can or can’t say.”

James said, as he has in the past, that the outside noise won’t change his approach to management. The athletic director maintained that he won’t tell Richt any specific moves he should make on his coaching staff.

Richt’s track record is well established. He has racked up 169 wins in his head coaching career and led the Hurricanes to the Orange Bowl in 2017 before sustaining a pair of four-game losing streaks in the past year. James won’t pressure Richt to make specific moves. Rather, the two will jointly evaluate where the program can improve.

“Obviously, you ask all sorts of questions as to what’s the right fit, but it’s not my role to get into saying, ‘Hey, this person should be this assistant coach or this assistant coach,’ or ‘We should do it this way,’” James said. “That’s what the head coach’s job is, and we have one who’s got a long track record of being able to figure those out and do it at a very successful record.

“I talk with coach about what we’re looking at and what needs to change. I’m not going to get into what we need in assistants. Whether you’re the head coach to the athletic director to working out in the real world, you have to identify the strengths that you need around you, understanding what you need in your team and if I start picking teams for people it’s not going to work out.”

James does, however, expect to evaluate the “big picture” of the program after the season.

Right now, James said Richt is making short-term changes to try to snap Miami (5-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) out of its four-game slide as it prepares to meet Virgina Tech (4-5, 3-3) on Saturday in Blacksburg, Virginia. At the end of the year, James and Richt will discuss what sort of long-term changes can be made.

“Any time things don’t go as planned you’ve got to look at things and at the end of the year we’ll talk about what type of changes have to be made in order for us to achieve at a higher level,” James said. “Those are things that I know Mark is looking at as ongoing. We don’t look at something and say, ‘We’re not going to do anything until the end.’ You want to address things as soon as you can.

“I know Mark wants to win this week. He wants to win next week, as do our guys. With that said, we’ll talk at the end of the year about the big picture and what we need to do differently. As the athletic director, what do I need to do to support them in their efforts?”

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