After 3 unbelievable days, aching Miami goes back to work

The top cornerback is grieving the sudden death of his mother. The quarterback is concussed and at best questionable to play this weekend. The coach was fired. The staff faces a most uncertain future. The program is reeling.

Miami calls this adversity.

It’s more like an avalanche.

The Hurricanes returned to the practice field Tuesday after three painful days. Interim coach Larry Scott led practice for the first time, replacing the fired Al Golden. If the day wasn’t daunting enough, the workout was with injured quarterback Brad Kaaya absent and hours after cornerback Artie Burns‘ mother died unexpectedly.

“We have their hearts and we have their minds,” Scott said. “We can overcome anything if we stay together. And I think this group will.”

They are tested now, in ways that almost certainly weren’t imaginable.

The dominoes started falling Saturday when Miami lost to Clemson 58-0, the largest defeat margin in Hurricane football history. Kaaya’s injury came in that game when Clemson rushed two defensive ends against five offensive linemen and still got a sack, one that means the Hurricanes (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) could have redshirt freshman Malik Rosier backed up by true freshman Evan Shirreffs this weekend at No. 22 Duke (6-1, 3-0).

On Sunday, Golden’s firing was announced, followed by a teary team meeting with the now-former coach who was revered by many players. Then on Monday, Burns’ mother was stricken and coaches – also dealing with the funeral of a staff member’s relative – gathered and kept vigil at a Miami hospital before word came that she succumbed.

Golden was even there, still concerned for his former player and staff.

“It’s been real difficult,” said defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, a longtime friend and confidante of Golden’s. “But we have a team, we have unity, we have everybody together and we’re all rallying together like we said we would from the beginning of the season. … Our No. 1 thing right now is we support our players and we support Artie and his family. It’s been a lot to deal with.”

Burns, Kaaya and receiver Rashawn Scott – also injured in the loss to Clemson – were not practicing Tuesday. Burns’ status for this weekend is obviously unknown, given his family situation. Scott has not been ruled out, and the Hurricanes have some receiver depth.

But not having Kaaya would be a massive blow.

Kaaya has made 20 consecutive starts for Miami and thrown for 1,846 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in 229 attempts this season. Rosier has completed nine of 28 passes for 66 yards with two interceptions in limited duty this season. Shirreffs has not made his college debut.

“For me to be starting because he’s hurt, it’s awkward,” Rosier said.

Miami has one of the most in-depth policies in college sports when it comes to monitoring recovery of concussed athletes. Part of the evaluation process before Kaaya can be cleared to return to the field includes having his balance and basic cognitive abilities tested, and how he responds to physical and mental exertion.

“It feels like we haven’t gotten good news in a while,” safety Dallas Crawford said. “But we have to battle through adversity. This right here will define us as a team, and at the end of everything it’ll make us better young men.”

One piece of good news came later Tuesday: The Hurricanes asked people to donate online to a fund designed to help with $10,000 in estimated expenses that Burns and his family will face for his mother’s funeral and related bills. More than twice that amount was raised in just a couple hours, and donations were still rolling in.

“Thank you to everyone for your incredible support,” the school said in a statement.

This Miami roster has already faced plenty of adversity. Last year’s team watched offensive lineman Hunter Knighton suffer a heatstroke on the practice field in an off-season workout that left him in a coma for 12 days. Earlier this season, linebacker Marques Gayot was airlifted from practice with a neck injury. There were locker-room squabbles last year, waves of criticism from fans, plenty of booing and plenty of losses.

Now this season seems on the brink.

Miami’s final five opponents currently have a 23-13 combined record, and the team with the worst ACC record in that group at this point – Georgia Tech – just beat Florida State.

“It’s so hard right now for us,” offensive coordinator James Coley said. “But the relationships we have with our players make getting through all this possible. We derive strength from each other.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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60% of WI disapproves of Walker’s job performance in WPR/St. Norbert poll

This comes from a poll with a small sample: 603. Notables: 57 percent of those polled say that Wisconsin is headed in the wrong direction. Russ Feingold leads against Ron Johnson.  51 percent to 40 percent. 60 percent of Wisconsinites disapprove of the way Scott Walker is doing his job. In fact, 40% of Wisconsinites more »

Alex Sink endorses Charlie Crist in CD 13 contest

A day after he announced his candidacy, former Florida Chief Financial Officer and vanquished CD 13 Democratic candidate Alex Sink is endorsing Charlie Crist in the race to succeed David Jolly in the Pinellas County congressional seat.

“Everyone knows how dysfunctional Washington is right now, only listening to themselves and fighting meaningless partisan battles,” Sink says in a statement. “We need someone who will give a voice to the people and push out the special interests, and Charlie Crist will do that.”

Sink and Crist did find common cause at times when they served together in the Florida Cabinet from 2007-2011, something that she alludes to in her endorsement.

“Charlie has fought for Democratic values, like expanding affordable healthcare coverage and restoring civil rights to nonviolent ex-felons. I know he’ll make sure the voices of Pinellas County will be heard in the halls of Congress. I’m proud to say I worked on the Florida Cabinet with Charlie for four years, and I know firsthand he is the right choice for the 13th District.”

Crist is running against Eric Lynn, the 37-year-old former Department of Defense official under President Obama who has already raised more than $500,000 in the race, which has literally taken a new turn following the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling this summer that the district (along with seven others) was created in violation of the Fair Districts amendments passed by voters in 2010.

Formerly a swing-district that leaned slightly Republican,  the new district will encompass South Pinellas County, a treasure trove of Democratic voters.

Sink’s endorsement matches the earlier endorsement that Lynn received from St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman earlier in the day.

Sink was the Democratic nominee in early 2014 in the special election that followed the death of longtime CD 13 U.S. Rep. Bill Young. She lost a close contest to Republican David Jolly.

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How AP and the WI press does damage control for Governor Drunken Sailor

Yet again I get the impression that Associated Press does whatever it can to protect and/or repair Scott Walker’s image.   Compare the headlines and stories on Walker’s recent FEC filing: From Washington Post (author – Jenna Johnson): How Scott Walker spent $90,000 a day to lose an election   From U.S. News and World Report more »

Everybody didn’t have access to the Democratic Party debate

The editor of Buzzflash at Truthout recently wrote that, “By offering the debates on television only to paid subscribers of television packages that included CNN and Fox News, the most important political interaction between candidates for president of the United States was, essentially, privatized.” If you’re living with a net-enabled digital device seemingly glued to your more »