Barry Jackson

Will UM pressure Richt to make staff changes? Here’s the answer

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt defends his play-calling

The Miami Hurricanes offense is struggling, but coach Mark Richt doesn't see issues with his play-calling. He addressed the offense's struggles ahead of a game against the Duke Blue Devils.
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The Miami Hurricanes offense is struggling, but coach Mark Richt doesn't see issues with his play-calling. He addressed the offense's struggles ahead of a game against the Duke Blue Devils.

University of Miami athletic director Blake James has no intention of pressuring or forcing coach Mark Richt to fire assistants or hire a coach to call plays on offense.

James confirmed Wednesday that he continues to believe in the philosophy of giving his coaches the autonomy to make those decisions, without meddling.

“Coaching decisions need to be made by our head coach, and our head coach has my full support,” James said in a phone conversation. “His staff decisions are Mark’s call this offseason. Those are decisions he has to make.”

James’ position on deferring to his head coaches on staffing issues is common in the industry.

Nevertheless, James is expected to meet with Richt in the days following the Nov. 24 finale against Pittsburgh and solicit his views on what went wrong this season and what can be done to fix shortcomings. UM (5-5) needs to win one of its final two games to be bowl eligible.

James, who has done excellent work raising money for the program and building and augmenting facilities, said there has been no indication of athletic department donations being adversely affected by the disappointing football season.

“We’re having a great year,” James said of donations.

And another UM official said James and the Board of Trustees have given Richt everything he needs to be successful, including more money to hire assistants than past UM coaches had.

Whether Richt will decide to make changes is unknown; he declined to answer directly last week when asked if he’s committed to this staff for 2019 or whether he has left open the possibility of assistant coaching changes.

Richt has said he has no plans to give up offensive play-calling while not completely ruling it out. Richt called plays during his first six years at Georgia but gave up that responsibility in 2007. He has called plays in all three of his seasons at Miami.

UM ranks 84th in yards per game (381 per game average) and 54th in points per game (30.9) among 130 FBS schools but has failed to top 21 points in any of its past four games.

Asked Wednesday if he’s concerned about the football program after four consecutive losses, James said: “No, I would say like everyone starting with Mark, our staff and players, I am disappointed in our results this season. I know everyone who bleeds orange and green had high hopes for this season and it has not gone as planned. With that said, we have two games remaining with an opportunity to earn a bowl bid.”

Richt’s job is not in jeopardy. During this past offseason, UM extended his contract through the 2023 season.

Richt’s UM tenure has included a 15-game winning streak but also three four-game losing streaks. He’s 24-12 in nearly three seasons at Miami.

Here’s my Wednesday exclusive earlier on UM settling the Arkansas State lawsuit resulting from Hurricane Irma and some recruiting news.

Here’s my Wednesday story on the Dolphins signing a former Dallas Cowboys receiver.

Here’s my Wednesday six-pack of Dolphins notes on various players and WQAM’s dismissal of host Orlando Alzugaray.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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