Eye on the U

Shocker at the U: Miami Hurricanes defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski to leave UM

Miami Hurricanes defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski speaks to journalists on National Signing Day at the University of Miami's Schwartz Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.
Miami Hurricanes defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski speaks to journalists on National Signing Day at the University of Miami's Schwartz Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. mocner@miamiherald.com

He is considered among the finest defensive line coaches in the nation.

And now, according to a written announcement by the University of Miami, Craig Kuligowski is as good as gone — and expected to become the Alabama defensive line coach, according to a report by Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated journalist Bruce Feldman.

“The University of Miami announced Monday night that assistant head coach/defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski is leaving the program to pursue other opportunities,’’ the written release said. “Kuligowski coached two seasons in Coral Gables after spending the previous 15 years as the defensive line coach at the University of Missouri.’’

That’s all UM wrote Monday night, a sudden two sentences seemingly out of nowhere. And with the news, Kuligowski becomes the first Miami assistant in head coach Mark Richt’s two-year tenure to leave the program.

At about 7:45 p.m., Feldman reported on Twitter, “I’m hearing there’s a good chance Craig Kuligowski who is leaving #Miami will end up as #Alabama’s new DL coach for Nick Saban.’’

Later, Feldman wrote, per a source, that Kuligowski was expected to join the Alabama staff.

As a senior at Toledo, Kuligowski played for Saban, Feldman reported.

Kuligowski, 49, known as “Coach Kool’’ by his players, coached 24 players to All-conference honors and produced four first-round NFL Draft picks while at Missouri.

In two seasons at UM, along with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, Kuligowski transformed the defensive line into one of the best in college football. He stayed long enough to be there for the NCAA’s inaugural early signing period from Dec. 20-22, and National Signing Day on Feb. 7, bringing in 6-2, 304-pound four-star tackle prospect Nesta Silvera of Plantation American Heritage, 6-6, 225-pound three-star end prospect Gregory Rousseau of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic and 6-4, 340-pound three-star end Jordan Miller of Jacksonville Sandalwood.

But his D-line also lost its two starting tackles when RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton both chose to leave the school early and enter the NFL Draft. The Canes also lost to graduation starting end Chad Thomas, backup end and sack leader Trent Harris and backup tackle Anthony Moten. Freshman end DJ Johnson transferred to Oregon.

Thomas posted this on Twitter shortly after Feldman reported Kuligowski was going to ‘Bama: “Saban hitting hard.’’

As the bowl season came to a close, there were rampant reports that UM receivers coach Ron Dugans was likely leaving the program to head to Florida State. But Dugans chose to stay in Coral Gables.

On Nov. 22, two days before the final regular-season game at Pittsburgh, Richt told reporters he was “waiting to see what happens with everything’’ regarding his coaching staff staying intact.

“Staffs can change,’’ Richt said then. “I don’t want it to change. I want everybody to stay. I think we’ve got a great thing going. I’m hoping everybody wants to stick around. If I knew 100 percent that everybody would stay, I would have a better idea of what I might do. Not knowing that, it may totally change the dynamic of what I need to bring in.’’

In a strong statement made by another assistant coach, UM tight ends coach Todd Hartley posted on Twitter: “Man we gonna be just fine... #TheseColorsDontRun.’’ He followed the tweet with hands throwing up the U, a “100” emoji and two exclamation points.

The Hurricanes finished 10-3 in 2017 and ranked No. 13 by the AP.

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