Hurricane Program Cannot Withstand Blitz

Fans of college football, the team you saw against Louisville unfortunately was not the Miami Hurricanes as they deserve to be called. Unfortunately for ‘Cane fans, Nate Harris' comments were disastrously accurate: in short, he mentioned the current ‘Canes were not the same program he grew up watching as a native Miamian.

"I think the Miami program had their hearts ripped out," said ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit - one of the Hurricanes' biggest proponents before the season – after Louisville's 31-7 trouncing of the ‘Canes.

On what may be dubbed as Black Saturday for the ‘Canes coaching staff, college football fans watched a team pretending to be the Miami Hurricanes.

I read multiple articles and hundreds of opinions that cited Miami's track record as underdogs. How many times was last year's Virginia Tech – where Miami went into a hostile road environment and dominated – game mentioned over the past week? Truth is, as I replied to many of those comments during the week, this was a different Miami team – missing the players that made 80% of the tackles for loss on defense (representing the necessary attack mentality), and multiple veteran O-lineman that had progressed against the blitz during the season (representing the necessary foundation to withstand a blitz on the Hurricane program).

Louisville as a Microcosm of Spurts

"Well, we looked better than them at the beginning of the game," said a Cane fan I spoke with immediately after the game. Essentially, this Louisville game was a microcosm of Head Coach Larry Coker's tenure, P.R. If you're wondering what "P.R." means, it's post-Reed.

The flaws at the core happened to show at the very beginning, in the midst of the program's most dominant streak. Was Larry Coker, an assistant that ascended to the head coaching job at Miami almost through default, overwhelmed from the outset? The story goes that before the 2001 championship game against Nebraska – which Miami later dominated – Larry Coker seemed nervous, and was essentially reassured by 5th year senior captain Ed Reed. Contrastingly to Nate Harris' recent comments, Ed Reed explained to Coach Coker that he should relax, "we're Miami" – and Reed's team went out and proved it. Ironically, we've come full circle.

The flaws the next year – P.R. – were apparent to some. Despite a future who's who of NFL draftees, the Hurricanes consistently played down to their opponents. In the end, it caught up with them in the National Championship game, ending a dominating winning streak. Throughout the last 4+ seasons, the Hurricanes have shown a questionable product to its fans, through questionable attitude, intensity, and attention to detail. However, using last year's Virginia Tech game as an example, the ‘Canes have stepped up to certain challenges when their "backs have been up against the wall." And so they went to Louisville. They responded to Louisville's Harris through the media. The Hurricanes came out talking about how they'd respond on the field like the ‘Canes of old: stomping their way to victory.

So how is this game a microcosm of Coker's tenure, P.R.? The ‘Canes came out intense and focused, jumping out to a 7-0 lead, forcing a Louisville turnover, and driving the ball to Louisville's goal-line. Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, they ran into adversity in the form of Charlie Jones' lost fumble. Now, that fumble was not wholly emblematic of Coker's tenure; the initial, yet brief, flash of dominance is the broad legacy that Coker's squads have established. Realistically, there is adversity in every game, and generally in every season for a team. However, the manner in which the ‘Canes responded to adversity showed that this is not the Miami Hurricane program that was built on the "us against the world mentality."

Essentially, a program that used to sharpen its teeth on adversity has been reduced to a shell of its former self. Words clearly do not transform into results; words lose their meaning quickly when there isn't the corresponding action to back them up. Bluntly speaking, even the imitated swagger of old is meaningless if not backed up by the results that in fact created that now poisonous, imitation "swagger."


At this point, if it seems like I am perpetuating a certain level of negativity, allow me to be perfectly clear:

The time has come to push aside excuses, coachspeak, and the general rationalizations that have permeated this program, in order to forcefully bring forward an undeniable level of positive accountability.

The flaws at the core of this program are undeniable at this point. No, it's not the sloppy loss to rival Florida State earlier this season or the appearance at Louisville that have made these flaws apparent. These two losses, to give the ‘Canes 4 losses out of their last 5 games, simply allow the hollow structure that is the Hurricane program to topple over and expose its cracked foundation for all to see.

The true mystique is gone. The unwavering "us against the world mentality" is now deeply latent, buried beneath layers of rubble. This Hurricane team reflects its leadership. No, these comments aren't symbolic of a singular finger pointed in the direction of Head Coach Larry Coker; he is simply a product of weak decision-making in light of former player pressure. These comments are directed in the general vicinity of the entire ‘Cane leadership.

From top to bottom, if our goal, together, is to return to the dominance once enjoyed, full accountability must be restored. It begins at the top, where the leadership can act in a manner that will be reflected throughout the program. I've sensed doubt in the players, and the product on the field reinforces those perceptions. Unfortunately, it hurts me to see the players be hindered by those they look to for leadership.

This time around, the decision to choose a leader for this program cannot be made by the players – essentially a player blitz on the administration of a program that has recently shown to crack in the face of blitzes. This time around, in stark contrast to the program's state of ascension that led to the hiring of Coach Coker, this is a program in a precipitous decline. Accordingly, we don't need a temporary leader that can guide an already steaming ship. Rather, the Miami Hurricane program needs immediate eradication of its past mistakes.

Again, from top to bottom, a call for accountability is appropriate. It is only by immediate removal of the current flaws at Miami's core that this program will be able to properly move forward. To the decision-makers of the Miami Hurricanes, the time to clean up the rubble of a once dominant program has arrived. The foundation is flawed but not destroyed. However, it should not be put in the position to withstand more unnecessary pressure. Bring us back our program. The first swift step is through an act of accountability that will bluntly acknowledge failure, and move forward toward attaining the leadership that we all deserve…especially our players.

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