Instead of going through the yearly charade of asking whether the Miami Hurricanes “are back,” the goal and focus this season should be much simpler and MUCH closer to the realm of plausibility.

Instead of looking at Mark Richt’s hopefully rising program under a back-or-bust microscope, where success is only measured by a College Football Playoff berth or a conference title, the goal should be much more attainable: Win the goddamn ACC Coastal!

After all, it’s something the Canes — in TWELVE YEARS — have been unable to do. I don’t care if they were to get blasted by Florida State in the ACC Championship game. It shouldn’t be that difficult to rise to the top of an abysmal division.

Everything is in Miami’s favor outside of the fact they lost their veteran quarterback in Brad Kaaya but tough shit, as all teams usually go through QB changes every two to three years. Relevant programs are able to withstand changes under center and sustain their excellence. The ACC’s two elite powers — Florida State and Clemson — are not in the coastal and neither is the third highest ranked team in No. 16 Louisville, which happens to have the 2016 Heisman winner still under center. And Miami doesn’t even play Clemson or Louisville this year.

The Coastal is cake and it’s time the U slices through it.

Win the division and go from there. They don’t even have to beat Florida State to accomplish it. Forget all this mindless nonsense about returning to college football’s elite and focus on what’s been an unachievable baby step: Win the division crown for the first time in 13 mostly miserable seasons.

There’s a lot to like about the current state of the program. They’ve got what looks like excellent coaching all over the field. They return the meat of a ferocious defense that has been showing flashes of the past. Their offense features dynamic skill players in Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards. Their recruiting class next year is considered elite by any legitimate site out there.

Yet it all means nothing if they can’t squash the Dukes and North Carolinas of the country. In fact, if Richt’s Canes don’t win the Coastal in either of the next two seasons, he should kindly join Al Golden in Hurricanes Hell. With the talent, coaching, and lack of great competition, they should’ve accidentally won the division by now.

The goal this upcoming season should be both simple and attainable. Ignore the noise coming from hip shooters like Paul Finebaum, who already declared the U back last week despite zero on-field evidence backing up his declaration.

After the Canes win the Coastal and at least have the opportunity to contend for their first ACC title, only then can we even begin to start having conversations focusing on whether the Miami Hurricanes are truly back.