Notes from a Tuesday afternoon chat with Miami Athletics Director Blake James:
Spring game update: It’s possible Miami will not have a traditional spring game, as has been the talk around school in the past few weeks. Hard Rock Stadium will not be available because of construction (the repaving of the parking lots is a key issue), and James said as of Tuesday, he didn’t “see us hosting anything at Lockhart Stadium,” the site of last year’s spring game.
Miami expects to put on three major scrimmages, but it’s unclear if they will be public or private, on-campus or off, or if any of them will be held in a traditional spring game format. James said no plans have been finalized.
“You have a spring game, you want to have it at your stadium,” James said. “So it’s really figuring out what makes sense for us as a program, and those are things we’re still trying to finalize — where do we go and what do we do … will that be scrimmages, what are we doing. We’re still working out the final details.
“I wouldn’t say today that we’re not having a spring game. We need to finalize exactly what we’re doing.”
A major goal, James said, is to “capitalize on the excitement and energy that Mark [Richt] and his staff and the team have created around their finish last season, and then the excitement that you all create around signing day. We’re thrilled with it.”
Bus still parked: Asked if running back Gus “The Bus: Edwards, who last month announced through UM his plans to transfer, was still doing so, James said Edwards hasn’t requested a release.
Edwards, a reserve entering his redshirt senior season, posted on social media before the Russell Athletic Bowl that it would be his last game as a Hurricane, and UM announced his “plans to transfer” on Jan. 18. James clarified the following week that if Edwards was to transfer, he would not be given a waiver to go to Pittsburgh or Syracuse, two schools close to his home but on the Hurricanes’ 2017 schedule.
However, he didn’t at that time request a release, and James said Tuesday that, “to the best of my knowledge, he has not formally requested anything to date.”
Edwards is not listed on Miami’s online roster.
Indoor facility update: Miami has raised $31 million for its indoor football practice facility, James said, and plans continue to be refined. “I’m very pleased with the progress,” he said.
He would be happier if donations reached $34 million — that’s the amount that will put shovels in the ground.
“We’re getting toward the end of having that building completely funded,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll get there. We’re still needing some gifts, need everyone that bleeds orange and green and white to step up and make it a reality.”
An exclusive club: Asked if he foresaw ex-Hurricanes players being allowed to watch games from the sidelines this fall — a practice prohibited during Miami’s three-year NCAA probation that ended last October — James said he would defer to what Richt wanted to do at Georgia and “what worked and didn’t work for his program.” In Miami’s pre-probation days, James said, the amount of players on the sideline became unwieldy. He would likely seek to limit the number.
Football changes: James said NCAA members are discussing a “holistic package” for football improvements that could include a 10th assistant coach — the current limit is nine — along with an early signing period and modifications to the offseason camp system. However, it may be an issue of football getting too much attention, at the expense of other sports.
“We all recognize there’s changes that need to happen in football,” James said. “One of the changes is an additional coach at some point. What’s being discussed is when is the right time. … There’s a lot of concern nationally with the continued expansion of football-related staff.”
In April, James begins a two-year term as chair of the NCAA’s Division I council. Asked which improvements he wants to push in his new leadership position, he said he would keep them private for now. However, James will meet with the NCAA to discuss his vision next week.
Baseball bonus: Asked what additions are coming for the baseball team — which opens its season at 7 p.m. Friday against Rutgers and was ostensibly the reason James spoke to a group of reporters Tuesday — James said an indoor hitting facility is in the works.
“It will be a reality for our program in the near future,” he said.