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Mark Richt announces retirement at Miami

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Oh, how it all came crashing down for Mark Richt at Miami.

Fired at Georgia in 2015 for the sin of going 9-3 one too many times, the former Miami quarterback was quickly scooped up by his alma mater. He had planned to sit out the 2016 season and take a long-awaited breather, but The U had just fired Al Golden and it all just made too much sense to pass up. Richt was re-energized by his return to South Beach, where the climate was warmer (literally and politically) without the fire-breathing SEC boosters coming for his head. He was even going to call plays again.

Richt went 9-4 in 2016, then everything clicked in 2017. Buoyed by back-to-back destructions of No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 3 Notre Dame — both of them before a raucous Hard Rock Stadium crowd, in front of primetime ABC audiences — Miami started 10-0 and rose to No. 2 in the polls. The Hurricanes were upset 44-28 at Pittsburgh on the final Friday of the regular season, but a win over Clemson would hand them the ACC championship and a College Football Playoff berth.

Instead, the Hurricanes were out-classed, falling 38-3. Playing in front of a home crowd in the Orange Bowl, Miami lost to Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin, 34-24. A 10-0 start became a 10-3 finish, with three straight double-digit losses.

Still, 2018 began with South Florida sunshine. Miami started the year at No. 8 in the AP poll, with a showcase game against No. 25 LSU.

However, the 2018 opener quickly showed that the off-season hadn’t fixed The U’s woes, only prolonged them. LSU scored the game’s fist 27 points en route to a 33-17 win, Miami’s fourth straight loss to a Power 5 opponent by 10 or more points.

Miami recovered to win their next five games, rising to No. 16, but that was just foreshadowing for a 4-game losing streak, all to unranked teams. Miami failed to top 14 points in three of those losses.

The final straw came in Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl, a 35-3 drubbing at the hands of the same Wisconsin team from last year’s Orange Bowl. Those Badgers also suffered through a similar season, beginning the year at No. 4 before falling out of the rankings, and even they were a class above Richt’s Hurricanes.

Miami AD Blake James released a tepid statement supporting Richt after the game, but on Sunday Richt released a statement of his own — his retirement announcement.

Dear Hurricane Family:

A few hours ago, I informed UM Director of Athletics Blake James that it is time for me to retire from coaching so I am stepping down as the Head Coach of UM Football.  The decision came after a great deal of thought, discussions with my family, and prayer.  This was my decision.

The University of Miami has been a part of my life for more than three decades.  It shaped me as a young man and provided me with the coaching opportunity of a lifetime.  My love for The U is simply great.  My true desire is for our football program to return to greatness, and while terribly difficult, I feel that stepping down is in the best interests of the program.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to the entire Hurricane Family for welcoming me back home and for supporting the outstanding young men in our program.  I only wish that we could have achieved greater things in return.  I also want to thank President Frenk and Blake for their incredible support, as well as the outstanding men and women in UM Athletics.  Most importantly, I want to thank the incredible coaches, staff, and their families who gave their all to The U each and every day, and our student-athletes, who wore The U jersey with pride and who worked hard towards their degree.

Katharyn and I will be cheering on the Canes in the years to come and The U will never leave our hearts. 

Sincerely,

Mark Richt

Richt exits stage left as one of the most successful coaches in college football history to be considered a disappointment. He was 145-51 with two SEC championships, a share of six SEC East crowns and seven AP top-10 finishes in 15 seasons at Georgia and 26-13 with one ACC Coastal title and two AP top-25 finishes in three seasons at Miami. Still only 58, Richt is young enough to coach again if he so desires, but the last season and a quarter of his team’s performance showed his desire is gone.

With a 171-64 career record, Richt is a profoundly good, respected man who will be in the College Football Hall of Fame someday, a coach defined more by what he didn’t do than what he did, a man with plenty of friends but few fans.

Somehow that seems terribly unfair but perfectly fitting.

No. 8 Florida does just enough to top rival Miami and kickoff 2019 college football season

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College football is finally, and officially, back.

In their first meeting in six years, No. 8 Florida did just enough to escape Orlando with a hard-fought 24-20 comeback victory over in-state rival Miami to kick off the 2019 season. Like many other Week 0 meetings too, the game had a bit of everything even if sharp play throughout was not one of them.

Turnovers, bone-headed penalties and a number of incredible touchdown scampers all served as highlights for the very first FBS game of the year and one that could set the tone for both programs in good ways and bad over the coming few months.

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks was good early and late even if he was just so-so in the middle against a feisty ‘Canes defense. He wound up throwing for 254 yards, two touchdowns and two picks (with a rushing score as well) in the win, looking every bit like a player who may be better than a year ago but is playing behind a ton of new faces along the offensive line.

Wideout Kadarius Toney had the early highlight of the night when he weaved and spun out for a 66 yard touchdown catch while tailback Lamichael Perine was all over the field in rushing for 42 yards and catching a team-high six passes for 25 yards and a score as well.

If only Dan Mullen’s squad would have been able to hold onto the ball the final scoreline might not have looked so close. UF turned the ball over four times total, leading to quite a few appearances from the new-look Miami turnover chain.

That aggressive ‘Canes defense was as advertised for most of the contest even if they came up a bit short. While everybody knew that unit would hold up their end of the bargain, it was the offense that was the more pleasant surprise — and encouraging longterm development for new coach Manny Diaz. Quarterback Jarren Williams was sharp early and didn’t seem rattled at all by the stage in throwing for 214 yards and a touchdown. He did trail off a bit after halftime but considering the offensive line he was playing behind (one that gave up 10 sacks), it was still a fairly nice debut behind center and lends more credence to the thinking that Miami is the team to beat in the ACC Coastal.

Tailback DeeJay Dallas also contributed a nifty 50 yard touchdown as part of a 95 yard night on 12 carries while seven different receivers wound up catching a pass for a very new look offense.

The Hurricanes will still look back and think about all the ‘what if’s’ given the number of chances they had down the stretch in the fourth quarter but losing a close one to a top 10 team — even a rival like UF — doesn’t sting quite as bad when put in the perspective of last year’s disastrous run.

As for the victors, Mullen and company have to thank their lucky stars they escaped with the first win of the entire 2019 season in FBS given all the mistakes that were made. The Gators have plenty to clean up before the heart of their SEC slate approaches but it’s hard to fault the team too much for prevailing in a sloppy Week 0 meeting.

QB Jarren Williams off to a good start as Miami leads No. 8 Florida at halftime

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The 2019 FBS college football season is officially underway.

No. 8 Florida was aggressive early on but missed a number chances to really take control of their much-anticipated opener against rival Miami as the Hurricanes scored late to take a 13-7 lead going into halftime of the Week 0 matchup down in Orlando.

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks had a solid start to the game with 96 yards through the air and a touchdown pass to Kadarius Toneywho did most of the work in shedding tackles and weaving his way 66 yards for the score. Yards were predictably hard to come by on the ground against one of the best front sevens in the country and the Gators recorded only 49 yards on 16 carries at the break.

The story of the game though will undoubtedly prove to be the Hurricanes much maligned offense. Starting freshman signal-caller Jarren Williams had his moments and didn’t seem rattled at all, throwing for 158 yards on 12-of-14 passing with a late touchdown to boot. He engineered a game-opening field goal drive for the first points of the season and seemed to really settle in as the clocked kept ticking as the ceiling for the program seemed to elevate with each passing series.

Of course it helps when you can lean on a feisty defense that forced two turnovers, breaking out the latest edition of the turnover chain on fumble recoveries by Scott Patchan and Shaq Quarterman.

While we were not treated to the most entertaining first half of college football all things considered… does it really matter? These two rivals are certainly setting the stage for the rest of the 2019 season and doing so in an aggressive manner with plenty on the line despite the low score.

Urban Meyer is in Florida gear. Miami has a new Turnover Chain. Welcome back college football!

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College football is back. Officially and absolutely back.

Yes the 2019 campaign is here in the sport that we all know and love and it has returned with a bang in Orlando as old rivals Miami and Florida kick off the 150 anniversary season. While the meeting between the Gators and Hurricanes is appetizing enough, we’re barely 30 minutes into the season and the two have already raised a few eyebrows around the country.

First off, let’s note that one Urban Meyer is at the game. It’s probably not all that surprising to hear considering the recently retired Ohio State head coach is now working for Fox Sports as an analyst. What is interesting is his choice of attire, in this case a Florida polo:

While some Gators fans are appreciative of him winning a pair of national titles in Gainesville, the ending did leave things a little sour so it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the fan base has to their old coach showing up to watch his former assistant lead the program on Saturday night.

On the other sideline, it didn’t take long for Miami to breakout their newest edition of the famed ‘Turnover Chain.’ In this case the necklace is as gaudy as ever and quite a nod to the local area code. Defensive end Scott Patchan was the first of the season to be able to wear it when he recovered a fumble.

Welcome back college football, we’ve missed you for reasons like the ones above.

Miami CB D.J. Ivey suspended for opener, Florida adds four suspensions of their own

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A time-honored tradition in college football is underway: Florida-based schools announcing suspensions as their opening game kicks off.

On Saturday in Orlando, both Miami and Florida confirmed a number of players would miss the Week 0 opener at Camping World Stadium that is serving as the first FBS game of the 2019 season.

Confirming earlier reports, the Hurricanes announced that likely starting cornerback D.J. Ivey did not make the trip for a violation of team rules. Al Blades Jr. got the nod in his place opposite veteran corner Trajan Bandy against the Gators.

Scoring perhaps the first victory of the night over their rivals, Florida appeared to one-up the visitors from Coral Gables with not one but four suspensions. Safety Brad Stewart, wideout Rick Wells, defensive back Pat Moorer and defensive tackle T.J. Slaton were held out “for not living up to the Gators standard” but no specifics were issued.

The old in-state rivals are meeting for the first time since 2013 and will shift to an on-campus set in 2024 and 2025 as part of a recently confirmed home-and-home series.