Barry Jackson

Arkansas State AD needs to stop talking; Canes nuggets

UM head coach Mark Richt talks with quarterback Malik Rosier on the sideline during a game last year. These are the two primary caretakers of the Hurricanes’ high expectations entering the 2018 season.
UM head coach Mark Richt talks with quarterback Malik Rosier on the sideline during a game last year. These are the two primary caretakers of the Hurricanes’ high expectations entering the 2018 season. adiaz@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Canes notes on a day that Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida and UM’s Saturday game at Arkansas State was canceled:

• You know what’s missing from the tone-deaf statement from Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir about the cancelation of Saturday’s game?

Any acknowledgement of UM’s legitimate concern about the serious challenges/problems UM coaches, players and staffers would face by playing this game, while their family members are left alone in South Florida preparing for potentially one of the most damaging hurricanes in the past century.

UM AD Blake James told WQAM that Mohajir “was frustrated and disappointed.”

What he should have been was more understanding.

While Mohajir’s statement included the obligatory compassionate sentence (“Having lived in Palm Beach County for seven years, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in South Florida as they prepare for Hurricane Irma”), he also felt obligated to put the onus on UM by explaining, unprompted, how he believes the game could have been played.

“Over the past 24 hours I had numerous exchanges with University of Miami Athletics Director Blake James, offering to make additional accommodations for his players and program to assist them with their trip to Memphis and Jonesboro,” Mohajir said. “This morning I spoke with Blake (James), who informed me their team will not be making the trip to Jonesboro to play in our game this Saturday.

“I appreciate the Sun Belt Conference office, Commissioner Karl Benson and ESPN’s work to give us the option to move the game and broadcast to Friday night, which gave the University of Miami an alternative. Ultimately, the Miami administration made the decision not to travel.

We are currently working through all the variables associated with the game not being played. We will keep the fan base and media updated as we know more.”

What’s implied in that statement is to blame UM for this, and that Mohajir did all he could and UM kept resisting.

Mohajir’s efforts to find a solution, acknowledged by James, were commendable. But he would have demonstrated more compassion by stopping his statement after the sentence expressing his “thoughts and prayers.”

According to the National Weather Service, tropical storm winds are expected to begin in South Florida early Saturday morning, at 4 a.m. if not sooner. To expect the Hurricanes to fly back into those conditions after the game - and more importantly, to expect UM coaches, players and staffers to put their families’ well being and potential relocation on hold for two days to play a relatively meaningless non-conference game - would be unreasonable.

We understand Mohajir’s frustration. But to place the onus on UM in a prepared statement? Not cool.

Here’s colleague Susan Miller Degann’s full story on the cancelation.

• Why were the Hurricanes playing in Arkansas State after doing the same last year with Applachian State? Because these smaller schools are insisting on home games in series unless UM writes them an enormous check beyond Miami’s budget. That’s why Miami is playing at Toledo in 2018 and at Temple in 2023.

• One UM coach told an associate that one problem contributing to the underwhelming Hurricanes defensive performance against Bethune Cookman was UM players reading too many of their own headlines – in other words, their lofty preseason accolades.

“We let too many plays bounce outside in the running game,” Mark Richt said.

• Nobody on UM is more improved than receiver Darrell Langham and cornerback Michael Jackson.

Regarding Langham, Richt said on WQAM’s Hurricane Hotline: “I always said, ‘You’re so big. Play big!’ He’s been using his body to shield defenders.... Little by little, he’s been getting better and better. He got his body in great condition in the offseason.”

• One thing that bothered Richt against Bethune that must be fixed against FSU: “We’ve got to give greater effort on our kick coverage teams.” And he said while cornerback Dee Delaney “did well,” he also “learned a lesson on a few things [such as] being more aware of down and distance.”

• Richt said he’s fine with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s idea of having players wear a gaudy turnover chain after takeaways and joked to WQAM: “We used Mr. T and Don Johnson to design it. Kids are convinced it’s pure gold.”

Here’s my six-pack of Dolphins and Heat notes today, including a Heat roster addition, hurricane fallout and two Dolphins pickups.

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