Eye on the U

Will Miami Hurricanes football ‘Spring Game’ be replaced by a scrimmage?

Quarterback Brad Kaaya during the University of Miami spring football game at Lockhart Stadium on Sat., April 16, 2016.
Quarterback Brad Kaaya during the University of Miami spring football game at Lockhart Stadium on Sat., April 16, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Miami Athletic Director Blake James came to the Hurricanes baseball media day on Tuesday, then mostly answered questions about football.

The topic of immediate interest: the spring football game. Word among insiders for weeks now is that UM was possibly — perhaps, probably — not going to have a spring game like in the past, as the ones the Hurricanes have had at Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium.

A source told the Miami Herald that UM would have three spring scrimmages, but that it was unknown exactly how many would be open to the public. At least one of those scrimmages, the source said, could be in Boca Raton — possibly at coach Mark Richt’s alma-mater, Boca Raton High School.

The difference between a spring game and scrimmage — both involve an intrasquad competition — was not explained.

A spring schedule has not been released by UM, but it is believed it will start sometime in March and run through much of April.

“Obviously, if you have a spring game you want to have it at your stadium,’’ James said. “Due to the renovations that are ongoing at Hard Rock Stadium we’re not going to have a spring game there. Then it’s really figuring out what makes sense for us as a program and those are things we’re still trying to finalize. Where do we go and what do we do and then how is that worded? Will it be scrimmages? What is it that we’re doing? Those are things that we’re still working out the final details and as soon as we have that finalized I know we’ll send out the schedule to everyone.”

We heard there are three scrimmages, possibly all of them open, possibly some of them open, but no real spring game as we know it?

“We’re still finalizing that,’’ James said. “There’s a variety of issues that go into having or not having a spring game that we need to make sure we’re doing what we need to do to put the program in the best spot. So I wouldn’t say today that we’re not having a spring game but we need to finalize exactly what we’re doing.”

Would you expect it wouldn’t be at Lockhart?

“As of right now I don’t see us hosting anything at Lockhart,’’ James said. “But again, we haven’t finalized our plans yet and so it’s still making sure we’re meeting the needs of the football program while at the same time doing the best we can to really capitalize on the excitement and the energy that Mark and his staff and the team have created around their finish last season... We haven’t finalized anything yet, is what I would say.’’

James also was asked if senior running back Gus Edwards was set to transfer.

“To the best of my knowledge he has not formally requested anything to date,’’ James said. “But that’s something where I’m not really a part of that day-to-day process.”

Regarding the indoor practice facility, James said UM continues “to move forward with the project” and has raised $31 of the approximately $34 million needed.’’

The AD also was asked if he envisioned former players on the sideline this fall at Miami football games.

“It’s a conversation Mark and I need to have,’’ he said. “I have to really get an understanding of what he’d like to see and make sure it’s something we can make work. As time passed, the numbers of players that were on the sideline, there isn’t a sideline that could accommodate that many players. As someone who was here through a number of years that we did have former players on the sideline, obviously I think you can make it work. But there has to be parameters put into place. I think everyone understands that to have something like that you need to have parameters or it won’t work.

“I just need to talk with Mark and see what really makes sense for him, what did he do at Georgia that worked or didn’t work and how do we incorporate that into our expectations not only as a program but as an institution.”

As for the four-time national championship baseball program, James said coach Jim Morris “has made clear’’ that an indoor hitting facility is needed.

“That’s something we’re working on and I’m confident will be a reality for our program in the near future,’’ James said. “We’ve been talking with some donors about it. We’ve been working with campus on getting the plans in place. As we finalize the resources financially needed to make it happen that’s something I think we’ll have.. in the future. That would be the big thing out there. Obviously there are always little things you can do operationally to better the student experience and we’ll continue to do those things. The big one out there really is the indoor hitting facility for baseball.”

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