Art Kehoe called me out. In the middle of the Miami lockerroom. In front of the entire team. On deadline. A student manager or SID type quietly came up to me in the lockerroom after Miami's 2005 win at Virginia Tech.
"Art wants to see you."
I knew what was coming. If you know Art Kehoe, you know he doesn't let any slight pass. It's part of the reason why he had built great offensive lines at Miami. They played like the man lived -- with a chip on their shoulder -- every snap.
I had written the week of the game that Virginia Tech had passed Miami as a program -- basically saying the Miami dynasty was over.
You don't write something like that and then not show up in the Canes lockerroom -- win or lose. So when I walked in that night, they all gawked. The Canes had passed around my column on the plane as I recall. Kehoe was waiting.
In front of God, man and the Hurricanes he lit into me. I was expecting nothing less. Kehoe is a passionate man, a great coach and a hell of a motivator. That's why I was so happy Monday when he was hired back at Miami. Al Golden will be the sixth Hurricanes coach Art has worked for. Golden couldn't have made a better hire. When you're trying to get a program back on track you should always have a link to the past.
Kehoe is that link. Boy, is he that link. There aren't many men walking the earth with five national championship rings -- from one school. Yes, Art Kehoe has been around for all five of the titles in the Miami dynasty.
The man started at The U (way before it was called The U, by the way) as a juco transfer playing for Howard Schnellenberger in the late 1970s. In 1981, two years before the dynasty started, he began as a student manager. Over 27 years he has coached seven All-Americans on the offensive line, 20 pros and 19 all-conference players as well as an Outland Trophy and Rimington Award winner.
If there was anybody who was going to jump into my jock, it was Kehoe. I had touched a nerve with the column. That night my respect for him jumped through the roof. Miami won 27-7. The Canes eviscerated the Hokies. At least for a night, it was like old-time Miami. When Kehoe got to me, he didn't use any profanity. He didn't get personal. He just yelled, asking something like, "Do we look like we're dead now?"
The answer, of course, was no. I deserved it. Every word of it. Sometimes in this business you eat crow. Sometimes you want to hug a guy when you are doing it. I love how Kehoe was speaking to his team that night -- through me. He was using a hack to show the Canes, they should not back down. Kehoe has passed on that personality to his offensive linemen over the years. Brett Romberg, that Rimington winner, was as bright and brutal of a person/lineman as you can imagine. The gigantic Bryant McKinnie, that Outland winner, finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 2001.
It's 10 years and counting since Miami last won a national championship and, yes, something has slipped in Coral Gables. But if Kehoe's hire is any indication, Golden knows what he is doing. A little bit of the old Miami returned on Monday. I wouldn't be surprised if someday soon, a sixth championship followed. That's how much I think of Art Kehoe.