Has Mark Richt lost Miami Hurricanes locker room?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers shakes hands with head coach Mark Richt of the Miami Hurricanes after the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Paul Chryst of the Wisconsin Badgers shakes hands with head coach Mark Richt of the Miami Hurricanes after the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

In the aftermath of the Miami Hurricanes, 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl, news came out that the locker room was “fractured.” Has Head Coach Mark Richt lost his team?

Stating that a coach has lost his team is about as serious of an accusation that can be made. It was stated throughout the season that the team was united throughout and that the Miami Hurricanes players were on the same page win or lose. In the locker room after the game, several players admitted that wasn’t the case.

Several reports from the Miami Hurricanes beat writers covering the aftermath of the blowout loss to Wisconsin quoted players on offense and defense that the units not harmonious. The Miami Hurricanes offense has failed them for most of 2018, while the defense was elite up until the loss to the Badgers.

The Pinstripe Bowl was the worst performance of the 2018 season by far on both sides of the ball. The offense and defense set several lows for futility this season. The offense had 2018 worsts in completions, attempts, passing yards and first downs across the board.

The defense gave up it’s most rushing attempts, yards, touchdowns and yards per carry in 2018. The Badgers 5.9 yards per play were also the most Miami allowed this season. That’s astonishing against a run-oriented offense like Wisconsin’s.

Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald and Christy Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel both quoted frustrated Miami Hurricanes players after the game. Players had also been called out by Miami Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown and departing Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz this season.

Several different theories emerged in the locker in the post-game discussion. Too many selfish players, players not buying into Mark Richt’s game plan, lack of effort and the defense using a victim mentality because of the poor play by the offense were among the issues asserted by several Miami players.

Senior Tackle Tyree St. Louis felt that the issues were varied and ran deep within the team. Chirinos quoted the offensive captain after the game.

"“I don’t know if it was some guys that might not be 100 percent in and [were] just trying to get it over with, the season or maybe there were some guys that maybe felt things were unfair…Mainly, I think we probably can’t have the mindset of this is the rematch, they (Wisconsin) beat us last year in our hometown, this is a perfect place, we have them exactly where we want them, we’re going to come in and dominate.Then when things didn’t happen like that, everyone just got comfortable saying ‘It’s OK’ … Guys just went back into their shells.”"

Sophomore Defensive Lineman

Jonathan Garvin

who was one of the Miami Hurricanes most improved players this season with 17 tackles for loss felt the defense’s feeling of a victim mentality and some of his teammates not taking accountability.

Miller Degnan quoted him in the Herald


"“That’s another one of those things we have to correct — I would say the victim mentality…I believe we’re guilty of it as a defense. You know, I don’t know they do on offense, but I know we’re guilty of it. We want to blame everybody else except for ourselves and it led to how many points they scored tonight.That was all of us. We can’t blame that on anybody else…We’re playing the victim — like everybody is wrong but us. But we could have done better…It’s a thin line between being competitive [with the offense] and being split.’’"

Not all the Miami players felt that the team was fractured. Senior safety Jaquan Johnson who was the team MVP in 2017, the Defensive MVP in 2018 and one of the leaders of the team does not think that the issues will impact the future of the Miami football program.

"“Sure, brothers, the fight or whatnot, but that’s not a problem. It’s not a cancer at all. I believe they go up from there.’’"

Miami Hurricanes Football
Miami Hurricanes Football /

Miami Hurricanes Football

Garvin also discussed the perception that the Miami Hurricanes football program “needs to pick up the pieces.” He seemed to be channeling former NFL Head Coach Buddy Ryan who once said: “If you listen to the fans you’ll be sitting up there with them.”

"“The term picking up the pieces is an exaggeration. I don’t think its that bad. It may seem that way. Social media can make it seem that way. But [we’re] not picking up the pieces. We’ve just got to bring everybody together, keep it together and be strong and correct the little things that make a big difference.”"

Staying united as a team during the era of social media is more important than ever before. Fans continually try to connect with administrators, coaches and players by tagging them on social media posts, particularly on Twitter. There are far more outside distractions that in past generations.

Next. Does Pinstripe Bowl loss compare to 58-0 loss to Clemson?. dark

The departure of St. Louis on offense and Johnson, defensive tackle Gerald Willis and several others on defense will leave it to Garvin and the new and returning leaders of the Miami Hurricanes to change the mentality heading into the 2019 offseason.