Preview 2017: Will Miami Ever Win Big Again?
It’s been a good run, but Miami, get to the ACC Championship already.
It’s not like Miami has been bad.
By almost all reasonable standards, and considering the drama and a few NCAA issues, the program has been above-average ever since it last ruled the world in the early 2000s.
Bowl appearances have been a regular thing, and it’s been an entertaining product at times, but for college football fans of a certain age, this isn’t Miami – and it can never be again.
It’s hard to put into proper context to anyone under around, say, 30, what the Miami Hurricanes meant to the sports world from around 1985 up until George Teague stripped the ball away from Lamar Thomas in Alabama’s 34-13 1993 Sugar Bowl/national title win.
(If you want to see what the end of Part One of a dynasty looks like … )
There was never anything like them, and as get-off-my-lawn old guy as this sounds, we’ll probably never see anything close to what that was, mainly because 1) the NCAA rules make college football zero fun, sir, when it comes to ever showing any emotion, 2) it’s hard to be truly badass in today’s world of social media, and 3) it’s been done.
So you have to understand that for those who experienced Miami at the height of its superpowers – and then the 2.0 reboot in the early 2000s – trying to watch any version from here on is like seeing Pearl Jam at some massive music festival. It’s fine, and there’s a chance something special could happen, but there’s no way to recreate the same magic. But you watch anyway, even though you’d rather be on the other side of the park checking out Martin Garrix.
So forget it. It’s not going to happen. You’re not getting that again, Hurricane fans.
Miami was so polarizing, so thrilling, so talented, and so important in just about every game that truly mattered for about a decade, that it can’t be recreated with the same panache.
Yeah, Alabama is all-timer amazing right now, but it makes playing for championships about as much fun as finding out you’re having meat loaf for dinner.
But that’s okay. It’s possible to still be successful at the highest of levels, even if it’s not as amazing. Florida State isn’t within 100 miles of being as cool as it was during the Deion era, and it managed to win a national championship a few years ago.
Miami doesn’t have to be the late-1980s/early 1990s version, and it might not be as jaw-dropping skilled as the Butch Davis-to-Larry Coker teams were, but Miami, honey …
Can you at least get to an ACC Championship? Any ACC Championship?
Miami was supposed to dominate the league along with Florida State, but instead, Virginia Tech turned out to be the better get from the Big East.
How many ACC titles does Miami have since joining in 1994? As many as you do.
How many division titles? As many as your sister.
Virginia Tech has four conference championships and six title game appearances since coming in at the same time as the Hurricanes. Florida State has four ACC titles in that span, Clemson has three, and even Wake f-ing Forest has one.
So before thinking Miami might ever be able to be special enough again to live up to the name, the legacy, the uniforms, and everything that goes with being a part of this legendary program, just win the Coastal.
Last year’s team was good enough to do it, and this year’s version should be the favorite.
Miami’s youth movement on defense paid off, and now the front seven should be as fearsome and as aggressive as any in college football.
A quarterback has to emerge, but there’s enough talent in place to not worry about the loss of Brad Kaaya. The backfield is loaded, the receivers aren’t bad, and the line should be strong enough to make the passing game fly.
The coaching is elite, with Mark Richt and his tremendous assistants ready to turn the program into a regular in the ACC title hunt.
Miami now has to try to forget the past, because what happened before any of the current players were born doesn’t help them now. A lot of the things that made Miami, Miami won’t and can’t be a part of the equation, either.
And no, Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp, and Ray Lewis aren’t suiting up. And if they are, Miami’s in big trouble, because they’re old.
Win big again, and the swagger will return for a new era.
It starts by at least playing for a title.