Out with the old and in with the new remains the mantra at The U. Weeks back it was defensive-lineman-turned-offensive-lineman Jermaine Johnson who left the program and as of yesterday, linebacker-turned-defensive-lineman Kelvin Cain has moved on.
The real story remains unknown twenty-four hours later. At first it was stated that Cain quit, but the Miami Herald is reporting something different. According to Cain’s mother, Ursula Dean, her son told her that upon arriving at his locker earlier this week, that it had been cleared out.
“He’s heartbroken,’’ said Dean, who lives in Clovis, California. “He said he did not quit the team.
“Coach Golden told me he left the team but that’s not what my son is telling me. He said, ‘Mom, when I showed up, nothing was in my locker.’ ’’
UM spokesperson Chris Freet stated Thursday that Cain was supposed to dress for last weekend’s showdown with Florida State but had “removed himself from team activities” by not showing up Friday or game day.
According to Dean, Cain told his older brother that he was left off the list of players who were set to stay overnight at the team hotel last Friday night, but defensive line coach Jethro Franklin called Dean last Friday to let her know coaches didn’t know his whereabouts.
Cain had eleven tackles in seven games this season, with one sack. In 2011 he netted twenty tackles and his season highlight; a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown. In 2010, twelve tackles and one sack.
This second mid-season departure (both in October) has some detractors pointing the finger at head coach Al Golden, with the folks at Yahoo! Sports continuing to push their anti-Miami agenda, writing a piece asking if UM is “splintering” under the second-year head coach.
Others took time this week to accuse Golden of playing favorites, giving playing time to his kids, over those left from the Randy Shannon era. Days back the father of defensive lineman Luther Robinson rang up a call-in show at WQAM to vent about his son’s lack of playing time, as well as giving his theory why:
“Is it something against Randy Shannon players?” the elder Robinson said. “Luther Robinson needs to be playing defensive tackle more than the other kids. He’s a much better defensive tackle [than the others]. He’s being held back because he’s an upperclassman.”
Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post mentioned in today’s column that he received a call from a current player, who will remain nameless, stating that he – and several teammates – felt like their game action had been reduced, or taken away completely, based on their connection with the former staff.
Milian felt the claims were sour grapes and made the statement that most coaches “would play a serial killer if it meant the difference between winning and losing” – and to that point, he’s spot on.
While it’s understandable that some kids work their way into a coach’s doghouse, one can usually work their way out with hard work and on-the-field production.
Coaching is a business. Winning games keeps you employed. Losing has you looking for your next opportunity. The notion that a coach would keep his best players on the bench – or would start true freshmen just because. It’s preposterous.
Golden is now 10-10 in his UM tenure. Four games remain in this 4-4 season and Miami still has a legitimate shot at winning the ACC Coastal division.
There are some obvious holdovers from the Shannon era that Golden and his staff have taken a liking to. Most notably, quarterback Stephen Morris and running back Mike James are two that come to mind, while offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, who was once in the doghouse, has since played himself out with hard work and an attitude adjustment.
Point being – everyone is being given a fair shake, but only a handful of guys are making the most of the opportunity.
In other cases, it’s simply a numbers game. When you look at the secondary you see a very depleted bunch. There’s a reason Deon Bush is starting at safety, besides his natural abilities and work ethic. There simply isn’t anyone else back there.
Miami has relied on quarterback-to-safety, the undersized A.J. Highsmith, much of the season – as well as Kacy Rodgers II, who despite his efforts, has been outmatched often, including getting lost in coverage on a big pick up by Florida State last week, leading to a touchdown that stretched a fourth quarter lead to, 23-13.
As maligned as both have been at times, they’ve proven to be a better option than JUCO transfer Andrew Swasey, who struggled early and fell down the depth chart as the season rolled on.
It’s also the reason that in a relatively small class for 2013 that two scholarships have already been doled out to future members of the secondary – Artie Burns and Jamal Carter, both of which should see early playing time next season.
Blaming anything on favoritism or guys being in hot water with the new coach simply because they were brought in by the old one – it’s a cop out.
The true culprit is the mindset of the old regime, be it a sense of entitlement or players simply not embracing competition and falling in line with the new way; a process that will turn things around and make Miami a winner again.
Always a shame when there are casualties along the way, but unfortunately that too is part of the process. Losing a Cain or a Johnson may hurt in the moment, but in the scope of the bigger picture, guys who don’t buy in, won’t do the work and aren’t making a difference – a decision has to be made. Especially for a struggling program – and one on the verge of losing scholarships due to NCAA sanctions. That’s just the cold, hard nature of things.
UM was slated to only bring in upwards of fifteen signees in 2013, due to signing around thirty-three last February. With these recent departees – and rumors that more players could follow, that will beef up next year’s class, which will help build depth if and when scholarships are lost in the coming seasons.
In short, better to lose a marginal player now with only a one or two years of eligibility remaining, bringing in a freshman who can give you three to four years – and one handpicked by this current staff. One of ‘their’ guys and someone who is all-in.
As always, best of luck to any of those who leave this program – for whatever reason. Sounds like there’s a gray area regarding some of the fact here, but you home Cain – and Johnson – land on their feet. They’re both someones sons and they’re kids who followed a dream to play for the Canes and their dream fell short, which hurts.
To those who remain, get it done and to these coaches, continue with the process.