University of Miami

Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley: ‘I would love to work for Mark Richt’

Offensive coordinator James Coley says he would love to stay at UM under new coach Mark Richt, even if it means giving up play-calling duties on game day to Richt.
Offensive coordinator James Coley says he would love to stay at UM under new coach Mark Richt, even if it means giving up play-calling duties on game day to Richt. Caneshooter.com

Miami isn’t just “home” for newly hired coach Mark Richt, who played for the Hurricanes from 1978 to ’82.

It’s home for offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach James Coley, raised a bionic-football-pass away from the old haunts of the Hurricanes.

“I grew up on Northwest 4th Street and 18th Avenue, about two blocks from the Orange Bowl,” Coley once said.

Now, Coley, like the other UM assistants, isn’t certain where his future lies as he continues coaching quarterback Brad Kaaya and his offense to face Washington State in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 26 in El Paso, Texas.

Coley, with the Hurricanes since 2013, spent five seasons as an assistant to FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, the last three as Fisher’s offensive coordinator — with one integral omission. Fisher called the plays on game day, after Coley spent every week studying the defense of the next opponent, scripting the plays and teaching his offense.

Former UM coach Al Golden let Coley do it all, including the play-calling. But Richt has repeatedly said he wants to get back to calling plays and being more involved with quarterbacks.

On Tuesday, Coley, who has been openly pleased with the hiring of Richt, was asked if Richt calling plays would be an issue for him.

“No, that’s not an issue for me,” Coley said. “I think throughout his career he’s done a great job calling plays. He’s obviously one of the best in the business at doing so. He’s a heck of a coach. He’s the head coach and when someone has that résumé, he should be able to do whatever he wants to.”

He’s obviously one of the best in the business at doing so. He’s a heck of a coach. He’s the head coach and when someone has that résumé, he should be able to do whatever he wants to.

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Would Coley be willing to be on a staff where he wouldn’t call plays?

“I can’t … I mean, yeah, I would love to work for Mark Richt,” he said. “He’s a great person and a great coach and a great teacher. But I don’t want this to be some type of, you know, forum where I’m applying for a job right here. … But I respect the man immensely. He’s walked in the building and it’s been first-class.

“You can tell why he’s a leader and a champion.”

In this kind of situation, is it prudent to be exploring options outside of UM?

“If they come about, yeah,” said Coley, who reportedly is a candidate for the offensive coordinator spot at Arizona State. “… Right now, we’re all just focused on one thing and that’s playing in the bowl game.”

UM interim coach/tight ends coach Larry Scott said Tuesday that he would welcome various opportunities at UM, if given the shot. “I don’t want to pigeonhole myself in football,” he said. “I’ve worked with special teams. I’ve done a lot of things. I’m all about doing other things.”

Scott said that Richt “obviously has a vision for where he wants things to go. His track record speaks well. … The thing is we have a job to finish. We have one more game. We have a bowl to get prepared for. When that’s done, the business portion of all of it will shake out, I’m sure.”

▪ Richt watched practice Tuesday and spoke to the players in a huge huddle afterward. He was “just basically saying that everything is going how he [wanted],” linebacker Jermaine Grace said. “He’s observing, just learning everybody one by one.”

Grace said Richt posted a sheet in the locker room for players to sign up to speak with him “for like 5 to 10 minutes” this week to “get to know each other.”

▪ Guard Danny Isidora wore a red, no-contact jersey Tuesday with an undisclosed injury, but Scott said he thinks “he’ll be ready to go.” Offensive tackle Sunny Odogwu (knee) was not at practice and is questionable for the bowl game. … Safety Jamal Carter (hamstring) is progressing.

Susan Miller Degnan: 305-376-3366, @smillerdegnan

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