These Numbers Don't Lie

Prior to the season opener against Florida State, pundits across the country were aghast that somehow Miami's head coach Larry Coker--despite a career mark of 53-9--was somehow considered to be on the 'hot seat'. How could any coach, with that type of mark, with a national title to boot, have his job in jeopardy?

53-9.

It spoke for itself, and to many, it was the ultimate defense.

Now, in the aftermath of the Hurricanes bitterly disappointing 13-10 loss to FSU on Labor Day night, his record now stands at 53-10.

But for some reason, the defenders aren't so vociferous and loud.

But why? It's only one game, right? But perhaps upon closer inspection it goes much deeper than that. While 53-10 is still a record that would get other coaches across the country lifetime extensions and statues built of themselves in front of stadiums, this is the University of Miami. And lately, 'the U' has been just another program.

Consider these numbers...

- Miami is now 1-3 in it's last four games. And to boot, they have a total of 15 yards combined in the second half of their games against LSU and Florida St. This time around there's no Dan Werner to kick around or out.

- In their last five losses, the Canes have failed to score in the second half. 'Halftime adjustments' seem to be a misnomer right now in South Florida.

- The Hurricanes are 6-4 in their last 10 home games. The Orange Bowl used to be the most intimidating stadium in the country. Now, it's just another road trip, one where you could actually come out with a victory.

- As of now, Miami's conference record in the ACC is a rather pedestrian 11-6. Now, some will point to the difficulty of the ACC compared to the Big East, but not counting this years game against the Noles, every single one of the ACC losses came against programs that lost at least 3 games that season.

Miami is in the ACC, not the AFC West.

- Taking away the Peach Bowl meltdown against LSU(a 40-3 drubbing), Miami's last six losses have come by: three points (FSU), four (Georgia Tech), three (FSU), six (Virginia Tech), seven (Clemson) and three (North Carolina). There used to be a time when Miami would find a way to win close games. Now, it seems they find ways not to.

But back to Coker's overall ledger, after starting his career 24-0, since that heartbreaking loss to Ohio St. in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, UM's mark is 29-10 from that point. With back-to-back 9-3 campaigns. And barring a flashback to 1979, it should be 30-10 after taking care of FAMU this weekend at the Orange Bowl. Which means that if you average that out over a 12-game season, it comes out to about, well, 9-3.

There was a point when a Miami loss was front-page news. Now, with seven losses in the last 19 ballgames, your more apt to find Miami scores on the back end of the sports page.

When Larry Coker was handed the reigns of the Miami program prior to the 2001 season, the Hurricanes were considered the college football powerhouse. Since then, they have ceded that title to USC-who despite taking heavy losses show no signs of letting up.

Meanwhile, Miami has become a Coastal Division also-ran.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- That's all well and good that the UM athletic department wants to curb sideline access for big games. But then why were some players (from what I'm told) given multiple passes?

And if I'm a former player who's request was denied, I'd be a bit bothered in seeing NBA players on the sideline, like there were on Monday night.

- I'm not ready to give up on Kyle Wright, but 13 games into his starting tenure, as a redshirt junior, it's imperative that he starts making better decisions with the ball.

Right now, it looks like he has stagnated in his development.

- Too much is being made of Sam Shield's drop in the fourth quarter. Hey, what do you expect from a true freshman in his first game? It looks like he'll be a big-time player at UM. Anyone else remember the first play of the FSU game in 1998 with Santana Moss?

Besides, lets say Shield's makes the grab and gets the first. That still meant the 'Canes had to travel about another 75 yards to score. Did anyone really think that was happening?

- I'll say it right now, the FAMU game should be a blowout. But that game on September 16th against Louisville might be the biggest game of Coker's career. Yes, even bigger than the Rose or Fiesta Bowls.

- If his knees hold up, Glenn Sharpe will be a standout corner. And Randy Phillips looks like he'll be one, too.

- Finally, for the love of God, no more openers against FSU. Not only for the teams sake, but the rest of the country shouldn't have to be subjected to the type of football they've seen the past three seasons.

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