Mark Richt said he was kept abreast of the school’s investigation of Al-Quadin Muhammad and Jermaine Grace, and was disappointed by the decision handed down Saturday.
“It’s sad that it happened. They were being investigated for a while, and it got to the end of the line and the decision had to be made,” Richt said.
Muhammad and Grace were dismissed from the program on Saturday, a week before Miami’s season-opener against Florida A&M (6 p.m., ESPN3.com). UM discovered they violated NCAA rules when they dealt with a South Beach luxury car rental agency.
The Hurricanes, as they anticipated they might, now need to rely on true freshmen and other untested players.
Richt said he was “getting a rough idea” of the investigation, which was handled by UM’s compliance and athletics department. They made the final call, in counsel with UM’s administration, legal counsel and “an outside source that was very tied into the NCAA and with universities across America,” Richt said, who gave UM guidance.
UM remains on three-year NCAA probation through the third week of October. The attorney for Grace told the Miami Herald his client didn’t receive a fair shake because of UM’s situation. Grace, UM’s leading tackler last year, has a release to transfer and play immediately at an FCS school. The attorney said he will not appeal. It’s unclear if Muhammad will.
Asked if he has enough players at defensive end and linebacker, Richt didn’t say yes.
“Well there’s always somebody next in line,” Richt said. “Guys have been getting a lot of reps. In camp, you give noting but reps to the entire team. There’s no scout team until very late in the process. We were working ones, working twos. … We just have to decide at the linebacker position especially how much three-linebacker look we’ll play … we may have to play more nickel than maybe we would have. ”
Richt brushed off a question about who will take over for Muhammad, who led UM in sacks (5.0) and tackles for loss (8.5).
“We can talk about this all we want, but bottom line is I think we need to be talking more about the rest of the team, because that’s what’s going to be playing on Saturday,” he said. “It is what it is.
“There’s attrition in football. There’s attrition in a lot of different ways. Sometimes guys get hurt, sometimes guys get dismissed from the team, sometimes guys get into academic situations where they’re not eligible. That’s the way football is. Everybody knows the next man’s got to be ready to go.”
Other nuggets from Richt:
* Aside from quarterback Jack Allison and offensive tackle Tre Johnson, Richt said he’s not looking to redshirt any of his freshmen. “A lot of them will be getting reps,” Richt said, especially at the wide receiver and linebacker positions.
* At wide receiver, “you’re going to see” Ahmmon Richards, Dayall Harris, Braxton Berrios and Stacy Coley, and freshman Dionte Mullins (“has promise”) and Sam Bruce will play. He also mentioned walk-on Malik Mayweather as a pleasant surprise (“looks the part”).
* Asked about his comments last week that the Hurricanes needed more mental toughness, Richt said “I’ve got to watch what I say sometimes. … I think the guys are working in a good direction on both of those accounts. I think we’re tougher mentally and physically than we are in the spring. I may walk off the practice field and have one guy who was tired and had bad body language, and I’ll go off and say something. … That’s where that came from.”
* Quarterback Brad Kaaya has improved going to his left and trusting the pocket. Can he make all the NFL-level throws? “I think so. Arm strength doesn’t necessarily mean a guy is a good passer. … I think he’s got very good arm strength. I don’t think he’s got the best arm strength I’ve ever seen, I’ve been around [John] Elway and [Matthew] Stafford, but he can get the ball down the field. … I don’t think it will be a problem for him.”