Will the Real Miami Hurricanes Please Stand Up?
What happened to winning national championships? Or even a conference championship, for that matter.
First off, let’s give Butch Davis all the credit for the 2001 BCS title win over Nebraska. Don’t forget the fact that the Canes were one play away from two in a row and also won the Orange Bowl the following year by beating rival Florida State. Thank Butch because they were his players and Larry simply hopped on for the ride. Once Davis’ players were gone, it was all downhill from there.
As most fans can recall, the downward spiral began the night of November 19, 2005 at the Orange Bowl, where the third-ranked Hurricanes were matched up against Georgia Tech. The Canes were looking sharp in the new-look uniforms with the orange sleeve and were playing during primetime on ESPN. Kyle Wright and company laid an egg and lost 14-10, and just a few later, were embarrassed by No. 10 LSU in the Peach Bowl by a final of 40-3.
If we only knew this would just be the beginning.
The first signature black eye for the football program was when it engaged in an on-field brawl with Florida International during a 2006 regular season matchup. The entire year was a disaster, also featuring the tragic murder of defensive lineman Bryan Pata.
Then came coach Randy Shannon, whose defensive intelligence and experience could not be questioned. At the time, he seemed like a perfect fit—a Miami guy with a tough defensive mindset and that could certainly recruit Florida kids.
But unfortunately he wasn’t the answer. You look at his great recruiting class with most coming from Miami Northwestern, which included Jacory Harris, Sean Spence and Marcus Forston. This class had so much talent but never seemed to develop into those type of historically great Miami players, or even more: wins.
When I think of Shannon’s tenure as head coach I remember one big win against Oklahoma at home, losing the last game at the Orange Bowl by 48 to Virginia, and faltering in the last game of the season to South Florida in 2010. He was a great guy and you wanted him to succeed, but he never panned out as a head coach.
Here we are today with Al Golden and his orange tie.
I’m a huge Golden fan. He’s a great head coach and you’d be ignorant to say he hasn’t done a GREAT job with dealing with all of the NCAA penalties and the Nevin Shapiro scandal. For him to walk into that situation and take it head on and be able to recruit the way he has the past few years is absolutely incredible.
You knew he meant business from his first press conference as head coach. He understands the Miami job, knows the history that’s been embedded and the legacy that great players like Michael Irvin left behind. He reaches out to guys like Irvin and Jimmie Johnson to come talk to the players about representing “The U”. That’s important if you want these players to uphold tradition. But most of them grew up watching the Canes, at some point one of these recruiting classes needs to come in and write a new chapter in the book.
But even with Golden being a great recruiter like Shannon, we’re still not seeing any player development. This lack of development as most of you already know is on both sides of the ball.
All we heard this summer was how great Stephen Morris looked at the Manning Passing Academy, but he hasn’t gotten much better since the days he rotated in when Harris was injured. Maybe it was the ankle injury, but he seemed average throughout the year.
The offensive line is huge, but it never dominated a good team up front nor did it ever run the ball consistently. The big hefties were too big and talented to be embarrassed by Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl last Saturday. It was terrible to watch Morris running for his life on most of his drop backs and poor Dallas Crawford never had a chance.
The skill positions have excelled on offense: Allen Hurns, Stacy Coley, Herb Waters, Clive Walford and of course the great Duke Johnson did all they could as a unit. You have to wonder what they could do with a great quarterback—it hurts to think what could have been with Teddy Bridgewater, a Miami native.
The real problem of recent has been on defense.
Oh, if only we could have Shannon’s great defenses again. Golden’s loyalty to defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has to be broken—it’s almost becoming a sick joke. Whether the problem is him or the players, the business today is all about “what have you done for me lately?” This past year the Hurricanes were ranked 90th in the FBS for total defense, and you could say it was a bad season in this aspect, but the previous year was even worse.
So to answer the question, D’Onofrio hasn’t done much at Miami.
It’d be one thing if there wasn’t any talent on defense, but it’s sick to see the prospects the Hurricanes have playing seven yards off the receivers to not give up a big play. Wasn’t Tracy Howard the number one corner is his class? Why isn’t he in bump-and-run coverage every play? Why can’t they get pressure on the quarterback with guys like Anthony Chickillo and Olsen Pierre?
At some point you have to question the schematics of things when teams like Virginia and Duke are running quick slants and getting at least 15 yards a play.
The main question is: Who’s going to step up for the Hurricanes? Will Denzel Perryman come back for his senior year and lead the charge? Can Howard or Deon Bush take control of the secondary and bring back that nasty mentality? Who’s going to be the next quarterback?
Regardless of who steps up and leads the team, when or will the Canes become a national power?
Golden always stresses that the team needs to enjoy the process of getting back to the top, but you can’t help but wonder how the long the process will take. Granted they just went through hell with the NCAA sanctions and self-imposing bowl bans, but this is the University of Miami—there’s an expectation and a demand for greatness.
The talent level hasn’t been where it used to be, but you can see that it’s slowly coming back with players like Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley.
Maybe there will be a day when fans can talk about upcoming players like we do for a Sean Taylor or Willis McGahee. Hey, maybe we’ll be talking about the dominance from 2015-2020, like we do for the 1980s.
Al says trust the process, full speed ahead we go, for however long it takes. And that’s exactly what the Miami fan base needs to do.