Alonzo Highsmith joining Miami football program was about name recognition

The flirtation with Alonzo Highsmith joining the Miami football program and the interest it generated among the Hurricanes fan base and media was primarily about name recognition and being an alum.

The interest in Alonzo Highsmith being hired by athletic director Blake James and head coach Manny Diaz to join the Miami football program was initiated by the University of Miami Board of Directors. The open position is the chief of staff. What that entails or what most wanted Highsmith to be hired for wasn’t going to happen.

The perception that Highsmith was going to come in and completely oversee the football program or become the “athletic director” of football was one floated primarily by a fanbase not knowing the entirety of how a major college football program operates. Those positions simply do not exist.

In an interview on the website Athletic Director U, former Penn State football chief of staff Jemal Griffin discussed his responsibilities.“My specific duties as Chief of Staff are to oversee the day to day management of the football program and supervise the administrative directors.”  

If Alonzo Highsmith was going to return to Coral Gables the time to do that would have been last year when Diaz succeded Mark Richt after his 18-day stint at Temple. Emotions are high and that’s what the reaction from a sizeable percentage of the fan base who wants a winner is reacting on. It’s somewhat understandable.

Highsmith returning to the Miami football program was never going to guarantee positive results. Alums have been coaches with the Hurricanes before and it didn’t work out. Highsmith had success with Green Bay but the Browns have been one of the worst NFL Franchises for nearly 20 years.

This is not an indictment of Highsmith or his ability as a talent evaluator. Expecting that he would have come in and instantly transformed the program was unrealistic. Fans get restless after one loss. Former Miami football player Kelvin Harris has routinely said the change in the Miami football program has to come from within.

After one fan challenged Harris that Highsmith was not going to fit with James and Diaz because he was not a yes man, the former Hurricanes offensive lineman explained what the position entails. Harris has been a strong proponent that the culture has to change in the locker room.

“That’s what the Chief of Staff does He’s the CHIEF OF STAFF not the GM You what needs 2 change at UM for us to return to prominence???? The (expletive) players Not all of them but the few who are steak eating & not committed 2 winning & are holding teammates & the program hostage.

College football and the NFL are very different landscapes. Highsmith has spent his entire professional career as a scout and executive in the NFL. It was going to take a lot of compromise on both sides and Miami being able to afford to pay the former NFL running back to return to Coral Gables.

Harris has mentioned in past tweets that if Highsmith had been hired in the position many proposed to oversee the entire football program it would have been difficult to attract quality head coaches in the future. The fan perception of what Highsmith would have done and what he would have been allowed to do didn’t match.

The likelihood is that Highsmith would not have been able to conduct in-home recruiting visits or work with the players on the field in practice. Those were two of the most common perceptions of what Highsmith would have upgraded with his presence with the Miami football program. It’s best this is now behind the Hurricanes.

Fans wanted a change in the offense. Rhett Lashlee has been brought in the run the spread which has been begged for over the past few years. The kicking game for Miami was woeful last season and fans have complained about that. Manny Diaz went out and got FIU kicker Jose Borregales who helped defeat Miami in 2019.

Next: Miami should recruit better with spread and up tempo per Rhett Lashlee

The quarterback play was shaky throughout the entire 2019 season. Now Miami seems poised to be the favorite to sign Houston transfer QB E’riq King. Some people and particularly sports fans are not happy unless they have something to complain about. Diaz is trying to make the changes necessary to upgrade the Hurricanes.

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