OXFORD — Many Miami football fans no doubt remember Lance Guidry’s fiery pre-game speech as the RedHawks’ interim coach before their 35-21 win over Middle Tennessee State in 2010 GoDaddy.com Bowl.
If it didn’t go viral, it was close.
Guidry was Miami’s defensive backs coach before filling in for Michael Haywood, who had left to become University of Pittsburgh
“Being a Louisiana boy, I didn’t really know much about Miami of Ohio,” Guidry said during a media session about his two-year experience in Oxford. “I remember watching Ben Roethlisberger in a bowl game one time. When I got the call to go there with Mike Haywood, I found out a lot about it and the cradle of coaches. You look at the wall and see all the coaches that have been there – Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler, and you see the assistants – Sean Payton. (Jim) Tressel coached there. It’s a who’s who as far as coaches.
“Really good institution, very good academically. We had a good football team. I enjoyed my stay there. I like Cincinnati and Cincinnati was close by. It was good to me.”
Guidry, beginning his first season as defensive coordinator of the Miami Hurricanes, faces his former team tonight when the RedHawks pay a season-opening visit.
“They have two new coordinators,” said RedHawks coach Chuck Martin last Friday while approaching his program-record 10th season as the program’s mentor. “You have to look at last year’s tape and go off what you know and don’t know from their previous jobs at other schools. It’s unsettling. You can look at what he did at Marshall. They had a really feisty unit. He deserved a pay raise.”
Martin, 45-59 in nine seasons at Miami, was more concerned about his team than what was going in Florida. The RedHawks return nine starters from a defense that led the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense last season.
“We’ve got a ton of experience back on that side of the ball, so I’d like to think we’re going to take another step forward on defense,” Martin said. “We led the league in scoring defense a year ago, but we also had eight new starters a year ago. Those kids for the most part are coming back.”
Also back are seven starters on offense and quarterback Brett Gabbert, who was limited to four games last season by a broken clavicle suffered in the opener at Kentucky and an ankle injury against Ohio that cost him the last three games of the season.
“This is the best I’ve felt in four or five years,” the fifth-year junior said.
The Hurricanes, who led the series 3-0, are coming off a 5-7 season under first year head coach Mario Cristobal. The two teams haven’t played since the Hurricanes’ 54-3 win in 1987.
The Hurricanes, which won five national championships between 1983 and 2001, are likely to be hungry after seeing a run of eight consecutive bowl appearances snapped last season. Each of their final four losses were by at least 24 points, including a 45-3 loss at home to bitter rival Florida State. They also gave up 45 points to Middle Tennessee State earlier in the season.
Among returning Hurricanes is All-American safety Kamren Kichens and quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.
“I’m worried about trying to block their defensive ends – see if our receivers can get open on their (defensive backs),” Martin said. “Supposedly, they’ve got two first-round safeties and a first-round D-lineman. The biggest issue is the guy who’s lining up across from you is going to be big, strong and fast, and we’re going to have to match that.”
The RedHawks didn’t anticipate Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall on Wednesday on the Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coach, would cause any travel difficulties. Martin pointed out the trip already was out of the ordinary for them.
“This is a different trip for us,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of top end schools in my time here, but they’re usually Big Ten schools. We’ve never gone across the country to play a top-end school. Miami is a historic program. It’s kind of cool and unique to be playing them. We respect their program and their talent level.”
Miami RedHawks at Miami Hurricanes, 7 p.m., ACC Network, 980, 1450