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Mark Richt Has Miami Job But There Were Other Potential Candidates

Photo: Andrew Snook/Icon Sportswire

The Miami Hurricanes got their man. They can thank their lucky stars that Mark Richt fell into their laps. He’s exactly what they were looking for. Or at least what they should have been looking for.

Richt has Miami ties. He’s a proven winner in arguably the country’s best football conference. Plus he’s just far enough away from the scandalous years to have clean hands. And image, oh that all-important image. He has it, and he brings it to Coral Gables at a time when image is priority No. 1.

He was the perfect candidate for the time. Of all the names mentioned pertaining to the job, none possessed all the qualities as Richt. Which begs the question, who would Miami have hired had Richt not seemingly floated down from the heavens?

Image, proven success, and to a lesser extent a keen knowledge of the area (recruiting), who had all those on his resume before Richt became available?

Miami administration even went so far as to hire an agency to help in that search. Initially, it appeared as though an extensive scouring of the college and pro ranks would justify such an expense and provide a solid return on investment.

In hindsight, however, it looks more like administration was seeking help in finding anyone with those qualities. If Richt, or someone like him, was the measuring stick, it sure doesn’t take a special committee to recognize that target. And a university purposely appearing to be on a strict budget surely flushed that sizable fee down the toilet. But I digress.

If Richt represented the bar, and who could argue with that, then who slid under it? Who was Miami’s second choice? Had a frontrunner even been established before Richt seemingly saved the butt’s of those tasked to find someone like him?

The names tossed around didn’t set the Twitter-verse on fire. Nor did it wow Miami’s administration, apparently. In fact, those mentioned drew more of a “meh” reaction than an OMG.

Just how uninspiring was the group of potential candidates who officially interviewed for the job? Well, the prospect of a retread had a good portion of the fanbase excited, that’s how. Butch Davis was being welcomed back with open arms despite spurning the Canes for the NFL once before.

Sure, Davis was the last coach at Miami to have any sustained success. But that was 15 years ago, and an academic scandal at North Carolina ago. Yet banners flew over Sun Life Stadium, and diehard fans constructed and brought with them hand-made signs to the games, pledging their support. Others took to message boards literally begging for his return.

Most believed that Davis was the fallback choice if all else failed. And who knows how close that would have come to reality had Richt not become available? Davis was interviewed for the position, but he told CBS Sports Radio that he never received a return call.

That’s not surprising, but it still doesn’t answer the question, “who was the frontrunner prior to Richt?”

It seems a real possibility that there wasn’t one, at least not yet anyway. If that’s the case, then Richt really was a Godsend.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano was thought to be among the frontrunners. On Thursday, ESPN reported that Schiano would become the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.

Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski, a UM Sports Hall of Famer, appeared to be another target but refused consideration until the end of the NFL season. He could have potentially been the frontrunner had the search dragged on that long.

But based on the hiring of Richt, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen should have been the second choice. He interviewed for the job. But that was before Richt swooped in and took it.

So there you have it. Would the Canes have waited on “Chud?” Would Mullen already be the Canes’ next coach sans Richt? Those are questions to ponder, whose answers may never be brought to light. Perhaps there were no answers.

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