CORAL GABLES, Florida — Back in 2000, Miami interim coach Larry Scott convinced himself that he was done with football. He was taking his degree from South Florida, going into the workforce and leaving the game behind for good.
His goal was simple.
"To get rich quick," Scott said.
So he got a job as a child protective investigator with a state agency that oversees at-risk kids. He enjoyed it, but it wasn't long before the lure of the game pulled him back — and now, after rising through the ranks of high school assistant, to low-level assistant in the college game, to a position now and now the interim boss at Miami he's in charge of trying to save the 2015 Hurricanes' season.
He's 1-0 in his new role, and looks to go 2-0 Saturday when Miami (5-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) can become bowl-eligible with a win over Virginia (3-5, 2-2) on the Hurricanes' homecoming weekend.
"It's like he was born to do this," Miami safety Dallas Crawford said.
That might not be too far from the truth.
Scott's best friend growing up was the son of a varsity high school coach, so those boys were called upon to help with certain locker room duties — folding socks, putting together shoulder pads, tinkering with helmets. Some would call it menial labor but it's how Scott fell in love with football, and he's reaped the benefits ever since.
"This game has been truly good to me," said the 38-year-old Scott. "If it wasn't for this game, I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have probably had a chance to go to college and play college athletics on a scholarship if it wasn't for the game of football. In the course of doing that I had an opportunity to meet my wife and have kids ... everything has come as a result of the opportunities that football has provided me."
Make no mistake, though: He wasn't handed anything.
His resume shows how many dues he paid along the way. He coached at three different high schools before returning to USF as its director of high school relations — where his skills as a recruiter started being forged. That was the first of five positions he held at South Florida before now-former Miami coach Al Golden brought him to the Hurricanes as tight ends coach in 2013.
When Golden was fired last month, Miami athletic director Blake James quickly decided Scott was the right man to promote. And Scott's first win certainly didn't lack for drama, as the Hurricanes pulled off an eight-lateral kickoff return on the final play of the game to beat Duke 30-27.
"Obviously, credit to Larry and all the coaches for really bringing the kids together," James said. "And credit to the kids. It was a great ending to a tough week."
Virginia coach Mike London doesn't know Scott personally, and said he didn't see much of a schematic change from what Miami was doing under Golden to what the Hurricanes did with Scott in charge at Duke last weekend.
"It's not like they went in and reinvented an offensive or defensive scheme," London said. "I'm quite sure that they've maybe limited the packages or whatever it might be. But still, they have very skillful players execute their plan."
There is one change, Scott said.
He felt that football wasn't fun for the Hurricanes, that they weren't enjoying it as they should. So he's being open with his emotions, hoping it helps the players be free with theirs.
"A lot of my coaches always told me I was going to be a coach," Scott said. "I said, 'No way. No way.'"
Scott changing his mind 15 years ago on that point is already paying dividends for the Hurricanes today.