Miami OC Thomas Brown: Hurricanes are not ‘thugs and criminals’ 

Offensive coordinator and running backs coach Thomas Brown said the perception of Miami did not meet his reality. (Matt Porter)

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Thomas Brown’s first year in Miami has been a year of surprises.

“One of the biggest,” he said, “was how great our kids are.”

Brown, a Georgia native who played for coach Mark Richt at UGA, said the perception of UM — and South Florida players in general — did not match what he learned in year one on the job.

“Coming down here, so many people told me so many negative things about the players in Miami, whether from a recruiting standpoint or on the roster,” said Brown, 31. “There have been very few issues. Those guys have bought into exactly what we’ve asked them to do.”

Brown said he sees a hungry group of players that realizes it could have won more this year. He said they grew close during the four-game losing streak that dropped UM to 4-4 entering November. And with so many of those players coming back, he’s pleased with where UM is.

When he followed Richt here a year ago, he didn’t expect he would wind up feeling this way.

“I thought we’d have to come in and put the hammer down and yell and kick half the team off,” he said. “That’s the perception, of what people say about Miami or Miami kids. Some adults, when I was leaving Georgia coming down here, tried to scare me out of it, scare my wife and kids out of it.

“There are bad things about any place you go, and you can find some negativity if you want to find it. It’s been phenomenal being around our guys. They’re not perfect, but those guys are very coachable. They’re hungry and they want to be great.”

Why did Brown make that point Wednesday?

“I get tired of hearing people spread lies and say negative stuff and you have no proof behind it,” he said. “You can talk about some things that happened a lot of years ago, but let’s talk about currently what’s going on.

“I think from a media standpoint, an entertainment standpoint, people spend more time on negativity. People love to talk about bad stuff. But I think a lot of positive things about our program, and I’m excited about the direction we’re going.”

I took this to mean the image of Miami as a program with “thugs” and “gangsters,” which feels trite, played out (do people really see Miami that way in 2016? Up for discussion, I guess. Sure, Miami has dismissed a few players for rules violations, and NCAA-related issues. But most of the players on the team are pretty nice guys, generally). I asked Brown if some of that The U “bad boy” image helps in recruiting, since a lot of recruits — especially in South Florida — and fans think that the old-school Hurricanes of The U were the coolest teams ever.

“I think it depends on what you define as ‘bad boy image,'” Brown said. “When you’re talking about a team having thugs and criminals, I think that’s idiotic. … If you have the mindset of being a ‘bad boy’ on the field, playing within the rules and hitting people in the mouth, that’s what Miami’s going to be about.”

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