Clint Hurtt: The Louisville-Miami football connection

Those behind-the-scenes dealings in college athletics have a habit of coming back to bite schools in the butt.

We keep hearing that everybody does it, that cheating is rampant in college athletics, standard operating procedure for many. Some schools are better at it than most, thumbling their noses at the NCAA, suggesting that colleges create their own governing operatus.

John Calipari at Kentucky, not surprisingly, is an advocate of a new system. That may be just more bluster from a recurring source, or it could be inevitable. But for now, the NCAA is in charge.

The University of Miami is about to go down, the result of a cascade of revelations from Nevin Shapiro, a former booster who says he lavished gifts and benefits to recruits and bonuses for on-field play.

University of Louisville football fans are on edge because Clint Hurtt, current recruiting coordinator at U of L, was the lead recruiter at Miami at the time and an alleged recipient of the booster’s generosity. This is scary stuff because of what it suggests.

Hurtt has had unprecedented success at U of L in recruiting more than a dozen high caliber recruits from South Florida, including 10 from Miami.

Is he the most effective football recruiter in U of L history because of his position on a coaching staff headed by Charlie Strong? Or are other factors involved?

Not surprisingly, we choose to believe Clint Hurtt has been so successful because of the force of his personality, his many connections with coaches and players in the Miami area, his eye for assessing talent, his confidence and persistence, and his ability to sell the program.

Nothing we’ve seen or heard suggests anything otherwise, and we do follow this program closely. Is it too good to be true? Only time will tell.

U of L’s football following has grown significantly over the last decade. We may be naive but we’re pretty sure that following doesn’t include any Nevin Shapiros.

Jon Gruden script turns up in Miami with familiar ending

Someone from Miami must have been rummaging around in the dumpster outside Tom Jurich’s office for his old notes.

Speculation surrounding the search for a new football coach at Miami is strikingly similar to that which occurred in Louisville in the weeks before Steve Kragthorpe got the axe at the University of Louisville last season.

Even including the list of coaching candidates, with Jon Gruden’s name at the top.

All of the “insiders” were saying that a deal with the former Tampa Bay coach was imminent. That all they had to do was dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Ultra highly placed sources saying it was  a done deal. Flights were being tracked, people were meeting over lunch, the moving vans were next.

Jon Gruden would be announced within a day or so.

Even Colin Cowherd, a syndicated sports talk host, was saying Gruden was the guy, proclaiming Gruden would be a “rock star recruiter” or words to that effect, that Miami would go something like 48-4 over the next four seasons. Cowherd again with his unimpeachable sources.

Gruden, like last year, was saying nothing and not confirming anything. That’s because Gruden knows he’s much better off being on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. He told the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday “I knew there was a lot of speculation over the last few days, and for that, I’m sorry.”

Now fans on the Miami sports forums are throwing around names like Tommy Tuberville and Mike Leach, in another rewrite of the Louisville script from 2009. Charlie Strong’s name has been mentioned more than a few times. The only name missing is Butch Jones at Cincinnati.

Charlie Strong may face decision, but choice should be obvious

The speculation has already begun, less than three days after the regular season ended for the University of Louisville football team.

Charlie Strong to replace the fired Randy Shannon as football coach at Miami? Shannon given his walking papers after a 7-5 won-lost record this season.

A tearful Charlie Strong accepts Louisville job

The speculation stems from a Sports Illustrated blog listing Strong, along with Mark Richt of Georgia, Dan Mullen of Mississippi State, Tommy Tuberville of Texas Tech, and Jon Gruden, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

No surprise, considering the simplicity of thinking that goes into college football coaching searches. Every analyst in the herd is rushing to a conclusion that Charlie Strong, with his strong Florida recruiting ties, is the logical choice.

Informative that no one has reported any contact between Charlie Strong and Miami. As of right now, it’s still a bunch of media pundits and bloggers throwing names in the air.

After being shafted by coaches like Howard Schnellenberger, John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino over the years, no Louisville fan should be surprised. Strong has assembled an impressive coaching staff at Louisville, making tremendous strides during his first season. He would be an attractive candidate for any school.

But before anyone decides that Strong is leaving, it should be pointed out that his best opportunity is here. Less than a year ago, with tears in his eyes, Strong stood at a podium accepting the UofL position, promising that he would make Louisville a winner again.

His results were so impressive that he was successful in attracting more than 50,000 fans per game to watch a team with a 6-6 record (Anyone who thinks that could happen in Miami is kidding themselves). Louisville gave him a chance to be a head coach when no one else would. That should count for a lot when the desperate and envious come calling.

This community will support him in ways that few college fan bases or administrators have proven themselves capable. That support has no ceiling, as Charlie Strong already knows. Money should be no object and what he can accomplish here can’t be duplicated anywhere else.

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No one has said it better: Letter to Charlie Strong, written by Jack Coffee of Louisville Sports Report.

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Miami Receiver Verbals To Charlie Strong

Home is where the heart is.

Michaelee Harris, a talented Miami Northwestern High School wide receiver, once told a sportswriter that he had always been a University of Miami football fan.

“I would be kidding you if I didn’t say that the Hurricanes weren’t my top choice,” he said. “It would be a dream to play at home, with people I know, staying close to family.”

That was last spring, before anyone envisioned Charlie Strong leaving Gainesville and the University of Florida to accept the head coaching job at the University of Louisville.

Harris, a four-star recruit by major scouting services, has made a verbal commitment to play football at Louisville, choosing U of L over offers from Miami, Kansas State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, West Virginia and Rutgers.

Strong is obviously one incredible recruiter, making a convincing case for Harris to become a part of his new football family. Louisville fans are eager to make him feel right at home.

Big East Split Inevitable Over Football

No surprise the Big East is again in the unenviable position of having members targeted by other conferences. The Big East leadership has done nothing to resolve the major issues in football scheduling, forcing member schools to fend for themselves.

The inability to recognize that football is the key to securing the future probably stems from its founding as a basketball conference in 1979. The conference didn’t even include football competition until 1992 when Rutgers, Miami, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Temple joined Boston College, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. UConn was in the process of moving up to Division 1A.

The biggest mistake was probably the rejection of Penn State in the early eighties when the conference picked Pittsburgh instead. Penn State football coach Joe Paterno would lobby hard for an eastern conference with many of the same members but he was rebuffed, ultimately joining the Big Ten.

Because of the Big East's inertia, there is no move the conference could make that would prevent any other BCS league from taking its lunch money.

While the lack of vision may have been a good thing for Louisville, making it possible to join the Big East, the failure to be proactive in resolving the football scheduling issues is not. The potential for football revenue (and losses) is much greater than for basketball. The revenue produced by the cellar-dwelling football teams in the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference is comparable to the top Big East teams in both football and basketball.

Because of the Big East’s inertia, there is no move the conference could make that would prevent any other BCS league from taking its lunch money. It’s as if the university presidents, who really make the decisions, are unable to grasp the significance of the issue, or they are so helpless and inept that they prefer to wait until another conference forces them to do something.

As a result, a conference split between the basketball and football schools appears inevitable. However, the lineup of members of the new football conference may not faintly resemble the current one.