Mark Richt has been back at the University of Miami since December.
But the Mark Richt era on Greentree Field — home practice site for the Hurricanes — begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
That’s when spring football will bring an aura of urgency unrivaled since Al Golden, the last new Miami coach, ran onto Greentree in the spring of 2011.
“Everything is wide open,” the former UM quarterback, now 56, said during an interview that was recorded late last month and aired this week on Hurricane Hotline. Clearly to prove his point, Richt added that if “somebody can beat out Brad Kaaya,” who threw for more than 3,000 yards and was No. 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season in passing yards per game (274.5), “then we’re going to be a better team.”
The prospect of another Canes quarterback surpassing Kaaya is a lot more unlikely than the Hurricanes coasting to a national championship. But it’s obvious that Richt, coming off an impressive 15-year tenure with the Georgia Bulldogs, is going to do whatever he can to bring the Canes back to national relevance.
“My goal is to work hard, do things right and if we do things with excellence, I think we’ll get where we want to go,” Richt said during an interview that was aired this week on Hurricane Hotline, about three months after he said he was “convinced’’ that “Miami is committed and will continue to be committed to excellence.
“It doesn’t happen because you want it to happen. We have to make sure we focus on the process more than the end result. Everybody can say they want to win, but are you willing to put in the work and work properly to get it done?”
The Hurricanes, who transitioned from Golden’s “U Tough” offseason regimen to Richt’s notorious offseason “mat drills,” apparently are more than willing to do the work. That includes the five early enrollees who committed to Golden but will put their bodies on the line for his successor.
“Everything is new, but I’m learning and I’m excited,” said future quarterback Jack Allison, an Under-Armour All-American and one of five enrollees who graduated high school early and are already taking classes. “It’s funny, you know, going from a senior in high school right back to being a freshman again. It’s a different feeling, but everybody has been really welcoming. I feel like a part of the family now.”
The 6-5, 200-pound Allison said there’s “a different attitude here in college. Everyone is here to work. Everyone here is just determined to get better.”
Defensive end Patrick Bethel, 6-3 and 245 pounds, came early from Vero Beach High School and is another Under-Armour All-American who will get his first taste of practice Tuesday morning.
“I know this defense is aggressive,” said Bethel, whose father Randy played tight end for Miami from 1987 to 1990. “You’ve got [defensive coordinator] Manny Diaz coaching us up. He has players here that already have the talent. So, he’s going to let us show what we’ve got. He’s not going to hold us back. I’m ready for that.
“I do want to get on the field.”
Spring football, which ends with the spring game April 16 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, is closed to the public.
Richt said on Hurricane Hotline that whatever depth chart he uses at the start of spring will mostly be generated through the recent offseason mat workouts and “is going to just be a way to get started.”
“It’s not going to be anything anybody should get too excited about one way or another — players, parents, media or fans. It’s just a way to line up and start repping the guys. Probably the first true indication of where we are will be after the first scrimmage to be able to re-rack that order.”
The coach said he is “starting from scratch” in a new system, though offensively it’s the terminology that will present much of the challenge, as the Canes are familiar with many of the plays and concepts. Richt expects six days of spring installation on offense, starting Tuesday. But he says he wants his players to be confident, so “if spring practice ends and we’ve only gotten to Day 5, then so be it.”
He also said he doesn’t want coaches to try to compete against coaches.
“I don’t want to try to out-scheme each other in spring ball,” Richt said. “I want to line up in certain basic sets and let’s see who can play football. Let’s see who can learn how to tackle, who can block.
“We’re going to tell you what we’re installing on offense and you’re going to tell what you’re installing on defense.
“We’ve got to see if these guys can play ball.”