Even I, a somewhat objective bystander with little to no interest in the happenings in Coral Gables, couldn’t help but get somewhat caught up watching 30 for 30: The U and its subsequent sequel. Those days were undeniably cool, but this is 2016. Ray Lewis is no longer a Hurricane flirting with first-degree murder charges; he’s gone on to expire in the NFL and move on to the broadcasting booth since the glory days of Jimmy Johnson and the Miami program.
Yes, cheatin’ Butch Davis (as I’m guessing is the proper Trump nomenclature) and Larry Coker briefly brought back the trophies, shattering conference records on offense, defense, and arrests. But the dark ages have now spanned a decade of pure, unfiltered hopelessness, with Randy Shannon and Al Golden tarred and feathered after wholly unsuccessful tenures. At this point, when most of us were in elementary school when Brock Berlin, Clinton Portis, and Sean Taylor had The U back to being The U, you’d think the Hurricane faithful would have resigned themselves to third fiddle in the state of Florida, right?
Well, in fairness I’m not exactly sure the Miami “faithful” exist judging by their endowment and Saturday afternoon attendance, but let’s assume there’s a smattering of fans still out there. You know, the assumption the players have to hold on to come the third quarter of every home game. However, now with failed Georgia Coach Mark “9-3” Richt back at the helm of his alma mater, the supposed “lifelong fanatics” are coming out of the woodwork like fair weather cockroaches.
I’m just here to stomp them.
The Miami “return to glory” is over before it even began. There is no semblance of rational hope or reasoning for this ongoing discussion of future championships, a rebirth of the feared U running things in South Florida. Miami has, without question, one of the worst stadiums in all of college football — nearly an hour with traffic from the actual campus — and the sort of pathetic fan attendance that warrants their punishment in the pitiful home confines. You’d think with their past football success they would have a roaring booster base, overflowing with donations to right the atrocity that is their total lack of home field advantage. But apparently unless it’s hookers and cocaine for players, the Miami fan base is good for little tangible assistance.
Though Miami sits in the heart of one of America’s most fertile recruiting grounds, since the departure of Larry Coker, more than twice as many top 100 overall recruits hailing from South Florida have called Columbus, Ohio home than Coral Gables, with current Buckeyes Coach Urban Meyer only widening the gap with his focus on Florida talent. To put this in the proper perspective, Miami has not signed a single 5-star recruit from Ohio, likely the nation’s third or fourth best state for high school football, at any time in the last decade. Miami is being pillaged by out of state invaders and their far more successful “rivals” to the north in Florida State and Florida.
Speaking of which, has there ever been a time Miami lagged so far behind both of their main in-state rivals? Florida State is an absolute machine, in the midst of their best ever 4 year stretch under Coach Jimbo Fisher, and Florida, though I’m admittedly not as high on their future as most people, won the SEC East in Coach Jim McElwain’s first season in Gainesville. Florida and FSU have both out-recruited Miami each of the past 5 years, with Florida State perhaps building the most talented overall roster in the nation. The ineptitude of past regimes to develop pipelines in their own backyard, and immense strengthening of their in-state competition, has relegated Miami to the scraps with UCF, USF, and probably Rich Rodriguez.
Miami, in their supposed resurgence, lags continents behind the ACC’s two-headed monster in Clemson and FSU, seemingly at best a fortuitous coaching loss (Swinney to his alma mater Alabama and/or Fisher to LSU) and several years from even being in the discussion as an ACC power. In fact, since 2011, much less heralded programs such as Duke, Georgia Tech, and North Carolina have won more conference games than the Hurricanes.
Miami has an immense amount of ground to make up. Not just with the Titans of their conference, but with their in-state rivals and even the mediocre programs of the ACC. To do so, new coach Mark Richt, who has arguably had one of the five easiest to succeed in jobs in the nation the last decade and a half, will have to overcome terrible facilities, a total lack of funding compared to blue chip programs, a massive talent discrepancy, and rivals that have never been stronger.
Sorry, Miami fans, but this is a cluster fuck. On the plus side, you’ll have no reason to leave South Beach on Saturday afternoons..