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Arkansas State follows through, sues Miami over canceled game

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It’s officially on, legally, between Arkansas State and Miami.

Earlier this week it was reported that Arkansas State was threatening to sue Miami over the latter failing to play a scheduled game last year in Jonesboro amidst Hurricane Irma.  With a Thursday deadline coming and going without UM paying ASU damages being sought, the Sun Belt school followed through on the threat, with the Associated Press confirming that ASU has filed a lawsuit against UM in Craighead County (Ark.) District Court late Friday afternoon.

Prior to filing the suit, ASU athletic director Terry Mohajir had reached out to his counterpart at UM, Blake James, about rescheduling the game for either the 2020 or 2021 seasons, years in which the Hurricanes have available dates.  James responded, per the suit, that they could only reschedule the Jonesboro game during the 2024-28 seasons.

According to FBSchedules.com, The U has just two non-conference games scheduled for the 2020 season.  Miami’s argument against rescheduling the game for that season is that the dates they fill need to be played at home.  The lawsuit claims that Miami has “refused to timely and reasonably reschedule the game in years in which it has openings.”

Arkansas State is seeking $650,000 in damages as a result of a breach of contract. “This action also seeks compensatory damages, liquidated damages for UM’s breach of contract, and attorney’s fees and costs,” the suit states, adding, “The contract provides that ‘failure of a party to participate in the Game will constitute a material breach of the Agreement that will cause the other party significant disruption and damages.'”

The lawsuit also delves into the other FBS teams, primarily from the state of Florida, whose games were impacted by the hurricane that same weekend.

47. Three teams in the Florida and Georgia area still played their football games scheduled for the weekend of Hurricane Irma. Florida International University played its scheduled home game against Alcorn State in Birmingham, Alabama. Georgia Southern University also played its scheduled home game against the University of New Hampshire in Birmingham, Alabama. Florida Atlantic University played its away game against the University of Wisconsin with a delayed return back to Florida.

48. Three additional teams canceled their scheduled games, but rescheduled for the same season. Florida State played its rescheduled game against the University of Louisiana Monroe on December 2, 2017. The University of South Florida played a rescheduled game against the University of Connecticut on November 4, 2017. And the University of Central Florida played its rescheduled game against the University of Memphis on September 30, 2017.

49. The seventh team, the University of Florida, canceled its game against the University of Northern Colorado, and because the game could not be rescheduled due to conflicting schedules, Northern Colorado received a buyout for the game.

50. Upon belief, UM is the only FBS school to fail to play its scheduled game in accordance with its contract, timely reschedule its canceled game, or pay the buyout or liquidated damages under the contract.

51. Additionally, UM and Florida State immediately rescheduled their September 16, 2017 football game for October 7, 2017.

Mark Richt: Malik Rosier is the starting quarterback, for sure

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The Miami Hurricanes will have absolutely no quarterback controversy in 2018. Head coach Mark Richt said in a one-on-one interview with ESPN that Miami’s starting quarterback will be Malik Rosier.

Malik is the starting quarterback, for sure,” Richt said to David Hale of ESPN.com. “Someone’s got to dethrone him. Someone’s got to beat him out if that’s going to happen. It’s not like — to say it’s wide open, every position is wide open because we want a competition at every level. Every player that comes back talks about the greatest competition they had was on the practice field. And I also want to go into this season with a sort of first-year mentality. Let’s go compete. Show us you’re ready to take somebody’s job. But Malik is the starting quarterback, and he’s going to be unless somebody knocks him off the perch.”

Richt was careful not to shy away from the idea that he wants competition at every position, which every coach would like to see even at positions with clear starters, but Richt is also aware of the value of having your mind made up on a position as important as the quarterback position as well. Although Rosier may not have ended the season the way Miami would have hoped, he still did plenty of positive things to lay claim to the starting job ahead of the spring, which should allow Miami to be able to build and move forward as an offense and a program.

“Was he consistent every game, every series? Probably not, but the guy made some plays that were game-winning plays,” Richt explained in a follow-up question. “The Notre Dame and Virginia Tech games, those were less dramatic than five other games we played. Plays just had to be made.”

Rosier completed 54.0 percent of his pass attempts for 3,120 yards and 26 touchdowns with 14 interceptions for Miami last season. The Hurricanes played in their first ACC Championship Game (losing to Clemson) and played in the Orange Bowl (losing to Wisconsin). Entering his senior season, Rosier will hope to cut down on some mistakes to help Miami take the next step as a program.

Arkansas State threatening to sue Miami over canceled football game

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Arkansas State was scheduled to host Miami on Sept. 9 of last year. As we know, that didn’t happen. Hurricane Irma struck Florida at that time, and Miami made the decision not to make the trip in order to allow its players and staff to brace for, you know, a hurricane.

The opportunity to host a program of the caliber of Miami was, obviously, a big deal for Arkansas State. It’s not often that a 5-time national champion makes the trip to Jonesboro. As such, Arkansas State went to a considerable effort to play the game, including working with ESPN to move the game to Friday, Sept. 8, and to house Miami players and staff in the days after the game.

Still, Miami didn’t come.

And now, after months of discussion, diplomacy between the two schools has devolved to the point where lawyers between the two schools are sending accusatory letters to one another.

In a letter sent Friday from Miami’s assistant general counsel James Rowlee to Arkansas State’s general counsel, Brad Phelps, the Hurricanes have argued that, though they have unfilled dates in 2020 and ’21, Miami cannot travel to Jonesboro because those dates have to be home games and as such offered to visit in 2024 or ’25.

Phelps, in a letter obtained by KAIT-TV, argued for Arkansas State, in a letter sent today, that waiting a decade or more to fulfill a home-and-home (Arkansas State first visited in Miami in 2014) was ridiculous, and that Miami could visit Arkansas State in 2020 or ’21, it just doesn’t want to. Arkansas State also offered to make another visit to Miami for a one-off game in exchange for Miami giving up a home game in 2020 or ’21.

Anticipating that Miami would not agree to visit before 2024, Phelps dug up a quote Mark Richt gave to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that, yes, Miami could have made the trip to Jonesboro if it really wanted to do so. Arguing that the Hurricanes’ no-show induced considerable harm on Arkansas State — and it’s hard to argue otherwise; how many season tickets were sold on the basis of getting to see Miami? — is now seeking damages of $650,000, as outlined in the contract agreed upon by the two schools — and the Red Wolves want it by Thursday, or they’re going to sue.

The question now is if Miami feels strongly about its offer for a 2024-25 makeup date and its Hurricane Irma out clause to make that case in court, or if the Hurricanes want to cut Arkansas State a check and simply move on.

Whatever the result, don’t count on Arkansas State and Miami scheduling a second home-and-home.

Mark Richt promotes Jonathan Patke to 10th assistant at Miami

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Mark Richt looked to within when it came to finding the 10th assistant for his Miami coaching staff.

The past two seasons, Jonathan Patke served as a defensive quality control assistant for Richt and the Hurricanes.  Thursday, Patke was promoted to a full-time on-field position as outside linebackers coach for the football program.

“We are excited to elevate Coach Patke to this new role on our staff,” Richt stated. “He has worked incredibly hard over the past two years and will continue to help our defense improve.”

Prior to joining Richt in Coral Gables, Patke was a graduate assistant at Mississippi State in 2015 and a football staffer at Louisiana Tech in 2014.  In both of those stints, current UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was on those staffs.

Patke began his coaching career in 2011 at the University of The Incarnate Word.

“It’s a blessing,” Patke said of his promotion. “To become a full-time assistant coach here at Miami under Coach Richt and Coach Diaz, it’s a godsend. Working with our players and seeing the success we had this year, and being able to continue to build on that, it’s a dream come true.

“When I came to Coral Gables, what really stood out to me was the history of this program and the love the city has for the Hurricanes. You learn to love it just as much. The amount of talent you can get here – great, great players that truly love Miami – is what sets this program apart.”

Just two (of 347) four-star 2018 recruits didn’t put pen to FBS paper during signing periods

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National Signing Days (plural) 2018 may have run its course, but the Herbie Hancocking of National Letters of Intent hasn’t quite ended yet for some.

Entering Wednesday, four of 247Sports.com‘s 29 five-star 2018 recruits were unsigned; suffice to say, all four of those exited having signed with various Power Five programs.  That same recruiting service listed a whopping 347 prospects as four-star recruits.  With the second signing day in the books, just two of those didn’t sign with FBS teams — Denton (TX) wide receiver Gabriel Douglas and Detroit (MI) center Tyrone Sampson Jr.

Douglas, rated as the No. 51 receiver and No. 312 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board, had been committed to Texas Tech since October of 2016.  However, the day before Signing Day, Gabriel decided against signing with the Red Raiders and instead plans to attend a Mississippi junior college.

The No. 7 center in the country and No. 346 recruit overall, Sampson had reportedly zeroed in on Arizona State, Mississippi State and Nebraska as likely destinations.  Sampson’s high school coach, however, told the Detroit News that a couple of new schools, including Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia, had entered the picture recently and prompted the player to hold off on signing.

“It’s a case where he had a couple of schools come in real late so he won’t be able to visit until after the dead period, maybe next week,” East English Coach Rod Oden told the News.

In addition to Sampson and Douglas, six other recruits, all three-star prospects, listed in the Top 600 of 247Sports.com‘s composite board went unsigned by FBS programs for various reasons as well.

  • No. 415: Salt Lake City (Utah) outside linebacker Salua Masina — No. 25 at his position, No. 7 in his state
  • No. 521: Ramsey (NJ) strongside defensive end Marcellus Earlington — No. 23 at his position, No. 11 in his state
  • No. 533: Harrisburg (PA) athlete Shaquon Anderson-Butts — No. 39 at his position, No. 16 in his state
  • No. 547: Tampa (FL) athlete Jermaine Eskridge — No. 40 at his position, No. 85 in his state
  • No. 568: Murfreesboro (TN) defensive tackle D’Andre Litaker — No. 43 at his position, No. 17 in his state
  • No. 580: Philadelphia (PA) safety Isheem Young — No. 38 at his position, No. 19 in his state

Of that group, Eskridge, who had Ohio State and Oregon among others chasing him, and Anderson-Butts, a one-time Penn State commitopted for the JUCO route and are expected to sign with an FBS program during the 2019 cycle.  Litaker, meanwhile, decommitted from Tennessee in the days leading up to signing day and will now consider such schools as Miami and Oklahoma as well as a couple of SEC programs.  The defensive lineman, whose mother passed away in 2016, is also recovering from a second torn ACL he suffered last September.

And Young?  In early December, he was arrested in connection with the armed robbery of a Wawa convenience store in South Philadelphia this past summer.  At the time of his arrest, Young, who was a Penn State commit, was rated as the No. 12 safety in the country; the No. 5 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania; and the No. 151 player overall.  He went from a four-star to three-star recruit because of the off-field issues.