2007 Monday Thoughts: Miami

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There was a lot written and said about how this latest edition of VT-Miami
was a shadow of what this rivalry has been. Indeed, there have been some nasty,
vicious, dramatic games in this series. This wasn’t one of them. Throughout the
week leading up to this game, the media, including the three prognosticators of
this web site, summarily dismissed the Hurricanes. Once the ball was kicked off,
the Hokie football team did the same, notching a 44-14 win that was the
second-biggest beatdown Tech has ever laid on the ‘Canes.

Did you ever think you’d see the day where the Hokies would crush the
Hurricanes by 30 points, and the response from Hokie Nation would be, in
essence, a shrug? Maybe I’m dramatizing things a little, but there was
definitely something missing from this game.

You can directly attribute the lack of buzz around this game to the 48-0
thrashing the ‘Canes suffered the week before at the hands of the Virginia
Cavaliers, in the last-ever UM game at the Orange Bowl. Miami was already in the
throes of a mediocre season by Hurricane standards, but that whitewashing, the
worst shutout loss ever suffered by Miami at the Orange Bowl, highlighted the
stark reality that this is a Miami team that has fallen far from its early
millennium perch, when they won 46 of 50 games, including 39 regular season
games in a row, and looked as if they were pulling away from the rest of the
college football world.

Early in the week, a poster asked on the subscriber’s board, “What in
God’s name has happened to Miami?” I have some theories, most of which I
shared in my response to that post.

When the Hurricanes built their program from almost nothing in the late 70s
and early 80s, you needed two things to succeed: players and a coach. Players
were readily available in South Florida, and when Miami hired Howard
Schnellenberger, they got a great coach. Schnellenberger lit a fire under the
program that burned a long time.

But these days, with just 85 scholarships per school, the talent is spread
around to more schools, and the margin of error is thin. The state of Florida
has gone from three Division 1-A programs as recently as 1995 (Miami, FSU,
Florida) to seven today (including South