Relative to expectations, the Miami Hurricanes had one of the worst 2018s of any program in college football. Having the most talented roster in the damp ACC Coastal did not prevent the Canes from going 7-6, capped by an ugly Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin’s backup quarterback.
Following the regular season, these bad things happened to Miami:
- Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, the guy in charge of Miami’s only good phase of the game, left for the head coaching job at Temple. The offensive staff was in shambles, with Mark Richt underperforming as play-caller and his son, Jon, doing nothing to prevent Miami’s quarterback play from being among the worst in the Power 5.
- The Early Signing Period ended with Miami having more decommitments than actual commitments, and also missing out on a few top targets who were known to be considering them late in the game. Since then, four-star corner Tyrique Stevenson picked Georgia over the Canes, and five-star receiver Jadon Haselwood picked Oklahoma over them. Miami still hasn’t fixed that commitment count, but give it time, for reasons coming below.
- Star receiver Jeff Thomas announced he was transferring to Illinois.
Since December 30, all of these good things have happened to Miami:
- Mark Richt suddenly retired, apparently not wanting to fire his own son and make wholesale offensive staff changes. This turned out to be great, because ...
- ... the same day, and just 18 days after he’d gone to Temple, Miami rehired Diaz, this time making him head coach. Miami avoided a drawn-out, messy coaching search late in the hiring cycle and cleanly landed a guy known for great scheming and great recruiting, whose career was clearly trending upward while Richt’s was not. These things are technically pre-New Year’s events, but I’m counting them toward 2019.
- On January 9, former USC safety Bubba Bolden — an ex-four-star recruit and the No. 7 safety in the class of 2017, announced his transfer to Miami.
- On January 10, Buffalo receiver K.J. Osborn announced a grad transfer to Miami. Osborn just finished being the No. 2 receiver on a really good Buffalo team. He’s immediately eligible.
- On January 11, Diaz hired away Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos, who’d just coached Tua Tagovailoa during the best QB rating season in FBS history. Nick Saban had said publicly a month earlier that he planned to make Enos Bama’s OC in 2019. Now he’s Miami’s instead.
- On Tuesday, Thomas announced he was actually staying at Miami, potentially giving the Canes back the fastest player in college football.
- Like an hour after that, former Ohio State QB Tate Martell announced he was transferring from the Buckeyes to the Canes. Martell sat the last two years behind J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins, but he’s still not far removed from being one of the top dual-threat QB prospects in the country. He could have up to three years of eligibility at Miami, depending on whether the NCAA lets him play immediately or not.
Any QB might not work out, but it’s not an indictment of Martell that he didn’t beat out Barrett (as a freshman) or Haskins (during the starter’s Heisman finalist year) at OSU, or that the Buckeyes wanted to pick up Georgia transfer Justin Fields, the No. 3 QB recruit of the recruiting rankings era. Martell could turn out to be a great player for Miami.
Let me know if I’m missing something in there. It’s a lot to keep up with.
To recap: Miami went from having a head coach going in the wrong direction, who’d just lost his top assistant, to having a head coach who’s firmly on the rise, and also went from having a bad QB situation to potentially having a really good QB situation, with other offensive help abounding and recruiting likely invigorated by adding a popular coach like Diaz.
This happened over the course of two and a half weeks. And these are supposed to be some of the quieter weeks of the year!
Are you a college football team? Are you Clemson?
If the answers to those questions are yes and no, in that order, then you are not having a better start to 2019 than Miami, in my opinion.
(I will also hear arguments for North Dakota State having a better 2019 so far than Miami, but for the Bison, winning the FCS title is like going to the grocery store. It’s basically a chore at this point.)