Winston Right About UM Fans

Ah, only in South Florida. Only in this sports-fans-lacking-knowledge place can a college football team that has produced more championships than any of the professional franchises combined – in a span of 20 years, mind you- go from toast of the town to spoiled milk in such a short period of time.

It's alright to show displeasure with the performance of a team, but to do it in the second quarter only shows that our local football fan-base has no idea what they're watching. That was the case on Saturday when the Hurricanes offense failed to get anything going and the fans apparently had seen enough.

Back in September the UM faithful who did not abandon the Orange Bowl with the Hurricanes trailing on the scoreboard by 23 points to Florida rained boos down on quarterback Brock Berlin before he went out and knocked the Gators out by anchoring a miraculous comeback.

University of Miami sophomore offensive tackle Eric Winston has heard enough.

"It's ridiculous," Winston said on Tuesday. "It's stupid. It's pathetic.. I'm tired of it."

Not that it should come as a big surprise to anyone, but Winston is dead-on right: The fans in South Florida – especially the football ones- don't have a clue.

Speaking of not having a clue, UM coach Larry Coker had no other choice than to sit Brock Berlin and give Derrick Crudup a chance of hopefully rescuing what's left of the Hurricanes' season. It's obviously too late to even sniff national championship No. 6, but there is still plenty of time to nail down a BCS bowl through a Big East Conference championship and correct what's wrong with the Hurricanes stagnant offense.

Although it's a lost cause for the majority of fans supposedly rooting for them the Hurricanes can still finish 11-2, win the Big East and play in one of three BCS-affiliated bowl games with victories over Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh to close out the regular season.

That's why Coker did the right thing in removing Berlin from an offense that needs a spark in the worse way. Coker gave Berlin nine chances to prove that he could do all the things that made his resume sparkle when the former Gator arrived in Coral Gables two winters ago. But the only things Berlin proved were that he is easily flustered under pressure, lacks the ability to find the open receiver and only has eyes for his intended target.

Nobody knows for sure if the Hurricanes would still be making noise among the BCS hopefuls and in the running for the Sugar Bowl if Coker would have pulled the plug on Berlin a lot sooner, but Berlin hurt the Hurricanes more than what he actually helped them.

Although it says here that Berlin avoided an earlier benching by rallying UM over Florida back in September, it is safe to say that his miscues against Virginia Tech and Tennessee are the main reasons why the Hurricanes could end up in the Gator Bowl instead of the Sugar Bowl.

Although it's not entirely his fault the bottom line is this: Berlin took a manageable deficit early in the second quarter against Virginia Tech and made it a mountain climb with an ill-advised pass that was resulted in a returned interception for a touchdown. As if that wasn't bad enough Berlin threw away any hopes of UM coming back against Tennessee with a horrendous interception. There are a number of reasons other than Berlin's troubles on why Miami has not taken off on offense, and they have nothing to do with all the turnovers and penalties.

The Hurricanes no longer have the luxury of turning to Willis McGahee or Andre Johnson to dig them out of long-yardage situations. A healthy Frank Gore would have also taken some of the load off of Berlin, while possibly opening up other options on offense.

If ever there was time to give a kid that has waited four years for an opportunity this is it. The offense was going nowhere with Berlin at the QB controls and it can be any worse with Crudup in there. Besides Crudup has the same amount of arm-strength, or more, and can add something new to the unit with his ability to run the ball. This is the way to go even if it means causing a slight right in the locker room.

The future – as early as next March- of Miami's offense is undoubtedly in the hands of dart-thrower Kyle Wright, who is quietly emerging and has as good a chance- or better- as Berlin or Crudup to start at quarterback in 2004.

But Crudup deserves a crack at righting this sinking ship- at least for now.

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