~ The following article was contributed by beloved Eye of the Hurricane blogger, bg1906 ~
My normal post signing day write up would normally be about the kids we landed, but that’s been done plenty around the blogosphere so I’ll take the time to discuss some things as they pertain to recruiting. First off let me say the following, I LOVE THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI FOOTBALL PROGRAM. It is my PASSION and something I follow 25/8, 366 days a year! I consume anything Miami related and have formed some good relationships with people that trust me and share things with me that have basis in fact as it pertains to the program. With that being said however, everything I’m going to say in this blog is MY OPINION and MY OPINION ONLY.
Now, as it pertains to the Canes efforts for 2013, after sleeping on it, listening to Coach Golden’s interviews, as well as knowing some of the things I’ve “heard” and putting it all together to form an educated opinion, I’m not AT ALL disappointed with the class yesterday (other than we didn’t land a DT). We did WAY better than expected (due to the circumstances) and honestly TO ME that came down to one reason and one reason only, and that was that we landed Stacy Coley. Nothing else was a surprise yesterday other than Coley, as I fully expected him to select Florida State. Had that happened, the criticism the staff has received (and they are receiving criticism) would have been much greater.
So why was this big deal for us? To me it wasn’t because he was such a great player, because he is, or that we had tremendous need for a WR, because we don’t, the big deal to me is more so what it signified in terms of what having good relationships can do for you. I said yesterday, and will say again, having Donnell Bennett on our side was a major help in us landing Coley. I don’t think he STEERED Coley to us, but having a person who can speak positively about us, or who is ON OUR SIDE is a big plus because the kid obviously trusts his High School Coach. Case in point, while it is working against us right now, Alex Collins trusts his HS Coach, and in turn, that HS Coach trusts the coaches from Arkansas (former Wisconsin staff) and that gives them a quasi leg up of sorts. In recruiting there are 2 big words, trust and relationships and those 2 things work hand in hand.
This is why there was such a big deal made with the Denver Kirkland situation. It SEEMED that UM had violated the trust and was making a valuable relationship contentious, and while arguments can be made for and against the action, I think we could’ve managed that whole deal a lot better. I won’t go into depth about those things again, because I’ve voiced my opinion on that ad nauseam here, however, I do think the relationship with BTW and Ice Harris was damaged and will need care and attention to repair. For those that think we handled it the right way, there are valid points to that, and for those, like myself, that think we didn’t handle ot as best we could, I’m sure there will definitely be repercussions for that. This is because things are bigger than Denver Kirkland and Matthew Thomas. BTW is a MAJORLY successful and respected program and EVERY school in the country wants to recruit the players there. We have 2 Cane graduates there and you’d THINK they would be UM Friendly. So it is important to be tactful and nurture that relationship, rather than doing something rash that could potentially damage the relationship.
I know Coach Golden said yesterday that it’s a difference between pulling a scholarship and running out, but I’m not so sure I am all the way sold on that when short thereafter the offer was re-extended the offer. But in all fairness, I don’t know UM’s side of the story, so I won’t comment further on that. However, that situation brings into light the other major issue the staff is facing and that is a backlash from the local HS Coaching community in South Florida. While I know Coach Golden has continuously said that the staff has great relationships with the coaches in the area; that is not 100% true.
Uncle Luke, who IS a HS Coach at MNW, has been vocal about some things concerning this staff’s relationships with the local coaches in the area, and like him or not, it has SOME validity. I can tell you for there are CERTAIN coaches in South Florida that are a little disappointed with how we go about the business of identifying, recruiting, and offering athletes in the local area. Many of them feel, as do I, that the HS football recruiting scene in South Florida is the best in the country, and that the University of Miami HAS to do a better job at identifying and forging relationships with the local student athletes and I agree with that.
Too many times we hear kids or HS coaches saying, we haven’t heard from Miami, and these are local prospects that are getting attention from many of the top programs in the country. Of course we can’t take every kid, and that is fine, but I think we need to obviously do a better job of communicating that with all parties involved when that is the case, and at the very least keep positive lines of communication open when that is the case. Now, I’m not in the Hecht and maybe this is happening and its just sour grapes on the part of the HS Coaches and the spurned student athletes; THAT IS POSSIBLE, BUT this is something we hear time and time again, and it ends up biting us in the end.
This is even more vital because we have to win more than we lose in South Florida. Its how this program was built and it is VITAL to our existence as a top football program. However, in fairness to the staff, it is all a matter of perspective. For example, Coach Barrow was quoted as crediting Coach Paul Williams with identifying and offering Alex Figueroa from Virginia. They obviously think very highly of this kid because they not only offered him, but accepted his commitment as well. I do think Fig is a dynamic athlete and I think it benefits us that he is an early enrollee. However, we had a LB in the Miami area that was DYING to be a Miami Hurricane and he states that Miami hadn’t really recruited him at all and that is Skai Moore from University School. He’s but one example, but he’s a dynamic playmaker in his own right and during the course of his senior season his stock continued to rise. He ended yesterday being a signee for the University of South Carolina and mentioned that he was offered by Miami in the late night/early am hours prior to signing day. He then said had that offer came even 2 to 3 weeks ago, that his day might have been different (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d44L_5rxJqI). Now why is that a big deal you say? Well to me it’s a big deal because you say you want kids that WANT to be Miami Hurricane…CHECK. You say you want kids that can play at the University of Miami and fit all the athletic requirements…CHECK (He’s going to play for Spurrier). You say you want high character kids…CHECK. You say you want winners…CHECK. Yet you take an early commitment from a kid from Virginia who hadn’t played in a year due to injury and had academic problems in 2012 which forced him to be a 2013 recruit, and yet you have a gem in your own backyard that you virtually ignored until the 11th hour.
THOSE are the types of things that have SOME of the locals in a tizzy, because they feel you SHOULD defer to your local kids FIRST. National Recruiting Analyst for 24/7 Sports, JC Shurburtt said as much as well when interviewed by Joe Rose on WQAM, and cited the fact that because the competition level in South Florida is so high, if you have SIMILAR kids athletically, you SHOULD probably defer to the local kid, and I agree with that. I know everyone wants to believe this isn’t a real problem, but read the following excerpt and tell me if you believe there aren’t some strained feelings.
“All Skai Moore ever wanted was an offer from his dream school. On Jan. 19, Moore Tweeted, “I really wanna know why Miami never offered me.” On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes did. After hearing about it from his defensive coordinator on Wednesday morning, it was too late. Moore, a 4-star linebacker from Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) University School, committed to South Carolina on Wednesday at his high school, sticking with the game plan he and Coach Roger Harriott had in place from the start. “I felt like it was a little bit too late,” Moore said. “Honestly, if they would’ve came in two or three weeks ago, this would’ve been a different story.” Added Harriott, “It was too late. It was his dream school. You can report that.” Moore picked the Gamecocks over Rutgers and Vanderbilt among 40 other offers from schools like Louisville, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. He said that USC jumped in the picture around Christmas and his relationships with the coaches and players furthered his interest.” – GamecockCentral.Com (http://southcarolina.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1463911)
Obviously there are some hurt feelings there and I’ve “heard” there are other coaches around the city that have similar feelings and perhaps just aren’t vocal about it PUBLICLY. But to say there is NO problem is a bit of an oversight and one I’m sure Coach Golden will address moving forward. In fact, I’m sure it will be as that is what Cristobal and Coley were brought here. They will fortify our recruiting efforts at home and I honestly believe in 2014 you won’t hear of these kinds of things. Now in fairness to our staff, YES they had finite number of scholarships to deal with, and YES they had issues with the NCAA that made things tougher for them but for us to hear that criticism time and time again it has to be some merit to it. I don’t want to end this on a perceived negative note so I’ll also add that I do think we have the right guy at the right time.
I REALLY like Al Golden and the one thing I’m really starting to admire about him is his fight, his determination, and his INTELLIGENCE. He is one of the SHARPER KNIVES IN THE DRAWER! This guy is very smart and I think he’ll do everything he can to remedy any parts of our program or recruiting strategy that is ailing. In fact, I know he will and I’m willing to afford him the time to do what he needs to do. Does that mean he won’t make mistakes? Absolutely not! He’s not perfect, no one is, but I do have the utmost confidence in his ability to assess a situation, learn from it, and then make the decisive necessary adjustments for success. I think he’s proven that and I WILL give him the benefit of the doubt that WHATEVER problems may or may not exist locally, he will get them resolved. Especially if as he said this morning on WQAM, he wants to be here forever, then I know he will, he has to!