University of Miami interim coach Larry Scott was asked this week about the sudden change in the Sun Bowl weather forecast from a sunny, clear and cool football Saturday to a nasty, 40-degree day with steady rain turning to snow at night.
“Change has been a word that has been widely used in our program this year,” he said.
Yet, Scott, along with the other assistants, has stayed constant in his approach after UM athletic director Blake James charged him with the heavy responsibility of taking over for fired coach Al Golden on Oct. 25.
Under Scott’s leadership, the Hurricanes (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won four of their past five games heading into Saturday’s finale against Washington State (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12).
“He’s done an awesome job keeping us together and keeping the foundation that Coach Golden laid down for us,’’ quarterback Brad Kaaya said. “He’s done an awesome job keeping the morale going, not letting guys falter and break off.
“He’s gotten us to this point. We’ve got to finish strong for him and all the other coaches.’’
Despite not knowing if he’ll still be on the staff next week, when new Miami coach Mark Richt will likely begin announcing changes, Scott, who also serves as UM’s tight ends coach, has kept an impressively positive attitude in focusing on the well-being of his players.
How much is he enjoying the ride?
“Hey, you know what?’’ Scott said before leaving for El Paso.
“At some point you have to. First of all, we’re all fortunate if we wake up the next morning. And if you wake up all you have is that day. That’s all you’re guaranteed — the same way in coaching, same thing with us. I got up this morning and, God, what a great day, what a great opportunity to do what I love to do and be around … the kids.
“They’ve grown a lot. If you come in with the right mind-set you don’t know how a smile in the morning can affect someone else, how just a relish of the opportunity that I have today can affect somebody else. And that’s contagious. All of a sudden you’ve got 15 people in the room that feel fortunate. Now you’ve got 30. Now, 45, and hopefully that starts to spill over.’’
What Scott has done is get the Hurricanes, he said, “to understand that it’s all about the opportunities, and every time that door opens we need to kick it down and step in it and go in boldly and enjoy what we’re doing.’’
The players have listened.
“He’s done a great job,’’ safety Deon Bush said Wednesday.
“After what happened to us, it could have been easy just to fly through the season and not really think about winning out, but we went hard and Coach Scott played a big role in that.’’
Defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou said it was “indescribable, really, to be put in the position [Scott] was put in. He brings us up, talks to us a lot about life and overcoming adversity and different types of obstacles.’’
And while the players have gushed about their position coaches, Golden has not been forgotten.
“He’s taking care of the team without being here, even if he don’t know it,’’ sophomore defensive end Chad Thomas said of his former coach.
“We’re playing hard, and we’re making sure we get the job done even though they took our leader.’’
The coaching front
Chicago-based sportswriter Dave Wischnowsky reported Wednesday that Hurricanes defensive backs coach Paul Williams will leave Miami to take the same position at Illinois.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had already reported that Georgia running backs coach Thomas Brown is joining former Georgia head coach Richt at Miami to become the running backs coach and possibly the co-offensive coordinator, and that Georgia director of player personnel and interim special teams coordinator Todd Hartley is also coming to UM as a defensive assistant.
Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated reported that Hartley will be UM’s special teams coordinator “and also coach tight ends or defensive backs.’’
With Williams leaving for Illinois, it could be defensive backs. Hartley was Marshall’s safeties coach for two years before becoming its tight ends coach.
Another report on Wednesday by Football Scoop.com said Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly “has turned down an offer to serve as co-offensive coordinator for Richt. Over the past few weeks we have heard of a good bit of interest in Lilly from other programs.”
That means that Scott could slip right into the tight ends coaching spot — that is, if Richt wanted him in the first place.