University of Miami

Three of the four main finalists for UM coaching job have ties to Hurricanes

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt.
Former Georgia coach Mark Richt. TNS

Just a couple days ago, former University of Miami coach Butch Davis appeared to be the frontrunner for the coaching vacancy created when Al Golden was fired in late October.

By Tuesday afternoon, when the Miami Herald learned that outgoing Georgia coach Mark Richt was off campus in Miami with athletic director Blake James in the early afternoon, and that former Miami defensive coordinator and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had done well in his interview Sunday, the landscape had shifted.

Multiple sources told the Herald that the job was Richt’s if he wanted it.

However, Richt has been contacted by other schools, and it is still unclear whether the former UM quarterback and his wife would adapt to the faster-paced, hectic South Florida lifestyle.

Dawg Nation, a publication out of Athens that has a partnership with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reported Tuesday that Richt, 55, a grandfather and the father of four grown children, was advised by family members to “take a year off to decompress and then reassess the coaching landscape next year.”

Said Richt on Monday during a press conference: “My wife and I will be fine. We’re empty nesters. We’re still madly in love. We’ll probably get to do some things we just haven’t been able to do in the past.

“I’ve been coaching for 33 years straight, and that’s a long grind. It can wear a man out a little bit, especially sitting in the head coach’s chair. We’re very excited about our future. It very well may be that we stay in Athens. I don’t know what’ll happen yet.”

Schiano also is believed to have interviewed well and could be offered if Richt didn’t (or doesn’t) accept an offer or if Miami can’t come up with the $4 million-plus to hire him.

UM was working on the financial aspects of a possible deal as of Tuesday evening.

Richt, whose record at Georgia over 15 years is 145-51 (.738), is the nation’s 12th highest paid coach at $4.12 million annually, according to USA Today’s recent report on college football coaches’ salaries.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen — the former UF offensive coordinator who coached Tim Tebow and has been lauded for resurrecting the Bulldogs’ program with a 54-35 record in seven seasons — also has interviewed for the job, sources said, as he did before Golden was hired.

One source said that at least one person heavily involved in the search described Mullen as a bit “brash,” and that it rubbed that person the wrong way.

Mullen, 43, is the nation’s 16th highest paid coach with a salary of $4 million. A source in Mississippi said that in late 2010, UM offered Mullen less than he made at Mississippi State.

Golden, according to the report, was the 42nd-highest-paid coach at $2.53 million.

As for Davis, 64, seemingly the popular choice by the most vocal UM fans, a source said at least one high-ranking person involved in the search was wary of his connection to John Blake when the two coached together at North Carolina.

Blake, the defensive line coach for Davis from 2007-10, received a three-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA in 2012, basically prohibiting him from coaching in college for that period.

Per the NCAA, Blake was “cited for failure to cooperate” with the NCAA “and [for] unethical conduct” after receiving cash benefits from a sports agent [now deceased Gary Wichard] “for the access he provided to student-athletes.”

Davis was at UM from 1995 through 2000 and guided the Canes through the loss of 31 scholarships over three years, building what would be a national championship team for Larry Coker.

He was neither implicated by the NCAA for the Blake situation nor in the North Carolina academic fraud scandal when he coached there from 2007 through 2010. He was surprisingly fired by UNC in late July 2011.

UM was recently embroiled in its own NCAA scandal and is still in the midst of a three-year probation.

Schiano, 49, coached at Rutgers from 2001 through 2011, compiling a 68-67 overall record and 28-48 record in the Big East Conference.

He had an 11-21 record in the NFL as the Tampa Bay coach in 2012 and 2013.

At UM, Schiano was Davis’ defensive coordinator in 1999 (9-4) and 2000 (11-1).

In 2000, his defense allowed 15.5 points a game, fifth best in the nation, and was 34th nationally in total defense, allowing 333.5 yards a game. His rush defense was 26th nationally.

Some believe that Texas coach Charlie Strong, who had not interviewed and recently pledged his allegiance to the Longhorns, was still on a wish list if the others don’t materialize.

Miami Herald sportswriters Barry Jackson and Manny Navarro contributed to this report.