Even as Mark Richt prepares the University of Miami Hurricanes for their first major bowl game in years, his mission is in major jeopardy.
New threats are all around. Butch Davis, recently appointed Florida International University's new head coach, will try to steal Richt's potential recruits. You remember Davis. He led the Hurricanes to college-football dominance near the end of the 20th Century.
Richt will also have to ward off a new threat in Boca Raton. Florida Atlantic University's recently minted head coach is Lane Kiffin, former offensive coordinator for the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide. That is the same Bama that is playing for the national title for a third straight year.
Richt also has to worry about Charlie Strong, who takes over the University of South Florida Bulls after a failed stint at the University of Texas. Before the Lone Star state, Strong coached Louisville, where he had 30 kids from down here on the squad, including Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Davis, Kiffin, and Strong all know how to recruit top-flight high-school student-athletes in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.
There are others who present threats to Richt because they have strong South Florida ties: Florida State's recruiting coordinator and tight-ends coach Tim Brewster, Alabama offensive-line coach Mario Cristobal, University of Kentucky's wide-receivers coach Lamar Thomas, and Oregon State University's running-backs coach Telly Lockette.
Meanwhile, Richt doesn't have anyone on his coaching staff with deep ties to the tricounty high-school football pipeline.
Back in the U's heyday, no one doubted that local kids would play for the orange and green. Nowadays, the Canes will be lucky to keep one or two guys in Miami.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
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