What a long, yet short, journey to arrive at this point. We are only two years removed from when the Miami Hurricanes were dealing with Interim Head Coach Larry Scott.
And now? The No. 2 team in the country.
This was ultimately a result of a series of perfectly timed events:
- The Canes hesitated to fire Al Golden, giving him another year that he had no business getting
- Clemson beat the Canes so bad that they had to fire Al Golden
- Georgia’s patience with being good but not great ran out, and they fired Mark Richt
So Miami arrived at the point where they were hiring another head coach, and instead trying to pry away a seasoned coach (always a massive challenge), go for an experienced coordinator with no head coaching experience (Randy Shannon), or someone with some success at a lower level (Al Golden), Miami had an alum with all the pedigree in the world waiting to take the job.
Everyone knew things would get better. The question with Mark Richt was never the floor. The floor was exceptionally high. Mark Richt never has bad teams. But the ceiling? That was the question.
And he has already exceeded any start he had at Georgia. Mark Richt never started 10-0 at Georgia. He has certainly never had a team one road win away from going undefeated in the regular season.
The Hurricanes are two-touchdown favorites against Pitt, according to MyTopSportsbooks.com.
Under the Microscope
Everyone is on board in South Florida. The energy is here. Locally, Canes football runs the place.
But nationally? Be prepared for continued doubting. And it’s not something overly nefarious like they just hate Miami (at least not for everyone). If you see the word “thug” or jokes about Miami going on probation, then you know you are dealing with a hater.
The issue here is that Miami, while a brand name, is not supposed to be this good this year. So everything they’ve done is met with questions and scrutiny. You’ll see things like this:
— Dino DeMilio (@dinodemilio) November 22, 2017
Spoiler alert: Notre Dame beat Navy.
By the way, Virginia has the same record as the Iowa team that blasted Ohio State and earned praise for being “tough.” There is no logic here, and anything the Canes do “wrong” (real or perceived) to explain why Miami is ranked too high, simply because they don’t want to believe they were so completely wrong all year.
I’ve seen serious discussions on many national platforms of whether a two-loss Ohio State would get in over a one-loss Miami. That isn’t actually a discussion, unless you start with the premise that it is “known” that Miami is overrated. Let the eye rolls commence.
And that is where the Canes might leave themselves in the uncomfortable position of trusting the committee does not reverse engineer some reason why they will do the exact opposite of last year (where Ohio State, with one-loss and while not even making their conference championship game was put in above a two-loss Penn State team that won the Big 10 and beat Ohio State).
Of course, there is one thing that Miami can do…
Win the whole fucking thing
The Canes are quickly becoming professional winners. And not just this year.
Dating back to last year, Miami has now won 15 games in a row, the longest streak in the country. Malik Rosier has never lost a start.
Those things aren’t accidents. But now they face their toughest four-game stretch. Four games to finish it all. To leave no doubt.
- College Football Playoff Semifinal
- College Football Championship Game
Pitt is a four-win team and should be a win. We certainly don’t want to go down the lose-to-Pitt route, but it is possible for the Canes to lose this one and then recover. If Miami turns around and beats Clemson the following week, it would all but erase a loss to Pitt.
After that? Miami would have to beat three top-four teams in a row on neutral fields. That is the daunting task facing the Canes. And there will be plenty of time to slice and dice all of that.
But as we arrive at Thanksgiving, and gather with our friends and family for a traditional round of gluttony, we should all pause and reflect on how great this team is and how special they are.
And how awesome, unexpected, and extraordinary this ride has been. From dodging real hurricanes to throwing winning touchdowns, to the turnover chain, to eating Brian Kelly alive — this team has taken on challenges, and overcome them all while being judged, scrutinized, and held to a different standard.
They’ve embraced the community and the community has embraced them back. We’re always thankful that the Miami Hurricanes exist, as an entity, a program and a manifestation of all that we love about South Florida.
This year, in particular, we are thankful for these kids, the effort and belief they’ve had that has never wavered, all of which will allow us to enjoy playing these meaningful games at the end of the season.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and especially, to these Miami Hurricanes.