The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: 2012 Miami Hurricanes

This was The U, crystallized in memory. This program changed the sports world – collegiate, pro or otherwise – whether you liked it or not.

This is The U, crystallized in the present. Oh boy …

One year ago last week, the University of Miami was embroiled in what was called the biggest scandal in NCAA history. Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson launched a journalistic nuke with a lengthy, detailed investigation of former booster Nevin Shapiro, who had provided benefits to scores of players between 2002 and 2010 before being imprisoned for his part in a nearly billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

As if the on-field product hadn’t already been through the ringer with a coaching change, the lack of impact players and a still-shuffling conference.

(Note: In relation to on the field/player matters, it’s still the biggest ever, whereas what happened with Penn State did not directly correlate with any player.)

As someone who has always kept an eye on the Hurricanes, the last 10 years since Terry Porter’s belated pass interference call are arguably the epitome of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in college football. After a 6-6 first season under Al Golden, there’s an acceptance that this team won’t contend for even the ACC Coastal title any time soon thanks to what Shapiro and others have wrought.

There’s got to be something to throw up the “U” for, right?

The Good: What good is there in rebuilding? Ever the optimist, there’s some when it comes to the youth. In sports, I’ll take a young squad willing to learn through trial by fire over a veteran one that’s too stubborn to fix its own mistakes. Since it’s going to be this way for a while, now’s a good time to see what will emerge from the skill positions on offense. I’m intrigued by the running game because of the highly touted Duke Johnson. The ‘Canes were a middle of the pack offense last year, and that can immediately change for the better if he’s as good as believed. We don’t know if he’ll follow in the same lineage as Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore, but with a yet-to-threaten receiver corps and the questions around quarterback Stephen Morris, it’ll be interesting to see how a potentially star freshman asserts himself on an already young team.

Defensive end Anthony Chickillo is a beast in the making. With nine games as a true frosh under his belt, he’ll almost be a veteran on a changing defensive line. He doesn’t stop moving, and the third-generation ‘Cane may emerge as one of the premier defenders in the ACC before the season ends.

The Bad: Just because the Jacory Harris era is over doesn’t mean that uneven play under center is. Stephen Morris is going to start the season when the team travels to Boston College. He’s not Matt Barkley. Actually, he’s not Harris, either. On top of back surgery in the spring (it may not have been a big deal, but it’s still his back) and not having thrown a touchdown in two years, the "bad" in this case is about uncertainty.

The Ugly: What if everything went to hell in a handbasket, Ed asked earlier this week?

Heh. That’s funny. I’ll laugh to keep from crying.

Outside of Coral Gables, if anyone thought that the NCAA forgot about the Shapiro scandal, they’re insane. At some point, Mark Emmert is going to hand down sanctions against the program, and though the school suspended some players and declined a bowl game last year to placate Indianapolis, we know that what Ohio State and USC got in recent years will be relatively tame in comparison. So, you can guarantee that the ‘Canes won’t go bowling for a while.

Notice not a mention of the schedule or actual players for “The Ugly.” That’s because if the punishment comes down before the end of September … heck, the end of August … neither will matter much.

The Prediction: Thirty years ago, a philosopher, Clubber Lang, was once asked about a prediction. It’s probably the most appropriate response to a question in history, and terrifyingly appropriate now.

"Pain" in this case is going to be long and drawn out. Ohio State knew that it would be in for some hurt, but with Urban Meyer in tow, the Buckeyes are just biding their time until they can aim for a Big Ten crown and national title. USC and the game’s greatest hustler, Lane Kiffin, took their two-year ban in stride, knowing that they’d re-emerge as the 2012 favorite in quick order.

Those programs at least knew that pain was temporary. Miami, however, doesn’t have a clue about what hell will descend upon it. At least if there was an idea, Al Golden could recruit and coach with his eyes toward a certain immediate future.

Alas, if you love “The U,” it’s almost as if Nevin Shapiro is still talking to Charles Robinson right now.

At best, the Hurricanes notch a 7-5 season (5-3 in conference), but no bowl game.

7 Replies to “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: 2012 Miami Hurricanes”

  1. The pass interference call was not belated. Let's clear that up right now. Glad the official took an extra moment to reflect and make sure he made the correct call to the best of his ability.

    The NCAA hasn't punished them yet? That's preposterous. It's basically an extra year of penalty since many top recruits won't come until they know what the shot is. Miami's AD should insist on knowing what he's up against as soon as possible so he can deal with it.

  2. I remember feeling bad for Al Golden for taking the Miami job only to get hit with all these violations after he signed on. But considering he was rumored to be the next coach at his alma mater Penn State, and he very well would have been the guy from all indications had he wanted the job whenever it opened, I'd say being in south Florida isn't looking too bad.

    The Canes have the right guy leading the ship, so that will help. Look at what Golden did at Temple for goodness sake. Even with the sanctions, he'll get guys to go to the U and restore some of the past glory, even if it takes a little while.

  3. Rebuilding is a process and it will take a little time for the U to become what they once were if that is in fact possible.

    One thing I know is that it's hard to rebuild a national power without people buying into the process. APR graduation ratings make it impossible for coaches to come in and boot out the problem players on the team and even the players who aren't as talented as once thought.

    For a program to succeed you have to have the ability to redshirt about two strong classes while you wait for the problems to graduate. Look at the top tiered programs in the nation you always hear about a kid who is a redshirt sophomore who can play with the best of them. It's a process and usually the fan's aren't willing to stick it out so coaches get pressured into putting kids on the field and wasting talent a few years.

    The U was my favorite program. As much as I loved the tradition I turned down an opportunity to play there because I knew I didn't have the discipline to live in south beach and commit to football and academics on a regular basis.

    Excellent post Jason. Good observation.

  4. wow terribly misinformed. pretty sure "the biggest scandal in NCAA history" is a just a little off. i mean, the majority of the info that shapiro had was such bullshit that it has taken the ncaa this long to sift through it. reciepts for a dinner that he says he bought the player? i mean come on. thats not even close to actual evidence. yahoo wanted to have a big story, and it turned out to be mostly untrue. everything i have heard is we will get similar penalties as osu and usc. considering we have already sat out a bowl game, its even possible that we could play in a bow this year, though not likely. oh, and there was no pass interference vs ohio state. im still pissed about that

  5. Richard - I admit I wasn't at the game. I watched on TV. Perhaps your vantage point was better than the official who stood about four feet from Gamble.

    From what I saw, there was contact. The DB's arm was around Gamble's waist and there was some slight holding on. I will concede that sometimes that call is not made because it really didn't make it more difficult for Gamble to catch the ball; the pass was a bit behind him.

    It was a tossup, a 50/50 call and we were lucky to get it. But like Jason said, we still had to take care of business after the call. And we did.

    Miami was an eleven point favorite and defending National Champion. If they were on their game strong, it wouldn't have come down to that.

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