A letter to South Florida: Changes need to be made, but remain calm

In 2017, Mark Richt led the Hurricanes to their first ACC Coastal title in program history and the first 10-win season since 2003. However, one year later, Miami has struggled against Power 5 competition, falling out of the AP Top 25 rankings for the first time in 24 polls. Photo credit: Josh White

Dear South Florida,

The season is not over.

The Hurricanes were upset by the Cavaliers in demoralizing fashion at Virginia. It happened.

“It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow,” head coach Mark Richt said, following the 16-13 defeat. “It’s going to be a long flight home. It’s going to be a long time before we get to play another game, so we have some things we have to get straightened out.”

However, Miami’s season goal is still intact. UM has the opportunity to repeat as Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division champions.

Don’t forget, just a year ago, Richt led the Hurricanes — who rose as high as No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings — to their first ACC Coastal title in program history and the first 10-win season since 2003.

Under Richt, Miami has signed up some of the nation’s best talent, finishing with top-level recruiting classes.

But some of those key cogs haven’t blossomed into elite players.

“We have to be better,” fifth-year senior Malik Rosier said. “I think coach Richt nailed it on the head. He said ‘We don’t have average players, but we’re playing average.’ And, we have to get better from that stand point.”

Compounded by questionable playcalling, Richt’s honeymoon as head coach is over. Miami hasn’t beaten a Power 5 team on the road since Oct. 28, 2017, when the Hurricanes defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels, 24-19, in Chapel Hill.

But don’t simply disregard what UM has accomplished under his tutelage.

Less than three years ago, the Al Golden experiment failed. Golden’s run finished with an embarrassing 58-0 loss against Clemson with banners being flown around South Florida. In four-plus seasons, he notched just a 32-25 record and fell shy of beating rival Florida State five times.

Whereas Richt has accumulated a 24-9 ledger midway through his third campaign and has defeated the Seminoles in back-to-back years.

But that doesn’t mean change should be avoided. The Hurricanes offense could use a facelift. Against ACC opponents, Miami has scored just under 26 points per game during Richt’s tenure.

Whether it is a change on Richt’s coaching staff, a change of who calls the plays or even a change in the design of the plays themselves, change is needed.

“If there is a time in-season to make certain changes, you can do them, whether it’s just scheme or maybe personnel or whatever it may be,” Richt said. “Sometimes, time will help you. Certainly, it’ll be a couple sleepless nights for me, I know.”

If the Canes can make the appropriate changes, things should be just fine in South Florida.

“We still have a lot of football ahead of us,” Richt said. “We still have the opportunity to get to Charlotte. That’s not dead, that’s not over. But that certainly, that game…Virginia earned the right to win, we didn’t do enough to get it done.”

Regardless, the Richt era is still in its growing stage. Many experts thought Miami would never even get back to this point.

So, don’t start flying a “C’MON, #FIREMARKRICHT THESE BANNERS ARE EXPENSIVE” sign around Hard Rock Stadium.

For now, enjoy the final stretch of Hurricanes football and everything that comes with it. Soak in every trek to the stadium, cherish the moments spent tailgating with friends and family and the Turnover Chain because before you know it, you’ll be counting down the days until the 2019 season kicks off.