Barry Jackson

UM’s Richt now realizes changes need to be made inside football program

Miami coach Richt talks about the quarterbacks and the Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt comments on the teams quarterbacks and performance Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.
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Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt comments on the teams quarterbacks and performance Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, N.Y.

University of Miami coach Mark Richt, who initially suggested that the Hurricanes would try to solve their offensive deficiencies by “getting better with what we do,” now realizes change needs to be made inside the program and specifically with the team’s offense, according to a person with direct knowledge of the coach’s thinking.

As of Friday afternoon, Richt hadn’t informed the staff what changes would be made or firmly committed to hiring a new offensive assistant coach.

But a source said everything is now on the table for consideration, and Richt has begun looking seriously at all options.

That includes potentially hiring an offensive coordinator - who would possibly call the plays - or a new offensive assistant coach. Changes to the team’s scheme also are being considered.

Before UM’s 35-3 loss in Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl, Richt wasn’t necessarily convinced that substantive changes need to be made inside his program. But that is no longer the case.

Against Wisconsin, UM finished with 169 yards of total offense and only 48 through the air.

Among 130 FBS programs, UM ranks 105th in yards per game (359) and 113th in passing yards per game (167.3).

The Hurricanes are 67th in the country in scoring at 28.8 per game, but that average would fall to 24.7 if the 77-0 victory against Savannah State were excluded.

UM has five offensive assistant coaches: offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown, offensive line coach Stacy Searels, tight ends coach Todd Hartley (who also coaches special teams), receivers coach Ron Dugans and quarterbacks coach Jon Richt, who is the coach’s son. Miami has one opening on its staff, but Richt previously has said that opening would be used on a defensive assistant.

For UM to add another offensive coach, Richt would need to dismiss one of its current assistants or change his mind about how he will use the opening.

Three bright offensive minds who were available earlier in December are off the market, with former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury joining Southern California as offensive coordinator, former Memphis offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham joining Auburn in that same role but without play-calling duties, and Phil Longo leaving Mississippi to run Mack Brown’s offense at North Carolina.

But there are several potentially available options, including Toledo offensive coordinator Brian Wright, whose team was 11th in the country in scoring at 40.4 per game, and Fresno State offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, whose offense was 24th in the nation in scoring at 34.6 per game.

Former Southern California offensive coordinator and ex-Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin would like to be UM’s offensive coordinator and has offers from Georgia Tech and Louisville, according to local radio host Andy Slater.

UM has the financial resources to lure a new offensive coordinator if Richt pursues that path. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who left to become head coach at Temple, was among the nation’s highest-paid defensive coordinators.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.


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