5 Steps Miami Must Take to Return to Football Dominance
The Miami Hurricanes football program, like many other big-time programs, is rebuilding. Although the Hurricanes just played for the national title in 2002, the program has been mediocre for what feels like forever.
Though the program is having a rough stretch, it could turn around and become dominant once again. Miami has a tradition, fanbase and location that would be ideal for attracting the nation's best players.
However, turning around a program is not easy. For every Nick Saban and Kevin Sumlin able to create highly competitive programs seemingly in an instant, there are many coaches whose teams are forced to wait until they can rebuild.
Building a program to match Miami's expectations is going to be a difficult and often unappreciated experience. Programs like Miami expect to not just win, but also compete for national championship and other BCS trophies yearly.
Here's how to get Miami back to dominance.
Change Recruiting Methods
High school highlight reels aren’t everything. Miami has consistently brought in top-15 recruiting classes over the past five years. However, these highly touted recruits have failed to produce.
The ‘Canes have to be much more detailed and picky when putting together their recruiting classes. Alabama, for instance, chooses players not just based off physical ability, but also mental strength, character and where they fit into the system.
Nabbing random 4- and 5-star recruits will not matter much if the coaching staff cannot mesh them together into a cohesive unit.
Emphasize Team Discipline
The Hurricanes are to trouble as water is to wet: The two go hand-in-hand. Although this program once thrived off its “bad boy” image, that image now just pushes the program further into mediocrity and stagnation. The nation’s top high school football players will not be attracted to a program that gets more coverage for arrests and NCAA violations than actual football games.
The Hurricanes’ location also hurts because Miami is considered a “party city,” the perfect place for any player to get into trouble. Miami is under the threat of more sanctions, which will damage its name even further.
The coaches must control their players if they want to keep them from getting into more trouble.
Establish a Team Culture
Every successful team has a culture that is evident the moment it steps on the field. Alabama’s strength lies in its defense and running game. Oregon has an offensive attack so prolific the Ducks can afford to have a non-elite defense.
Miami often struggles to find its identity on either side of the ball. The 2012 team's defense was atrocious, giving up 30.5 points per game. Although the offense managed 31.4 points per game, it was plagued by inconsistency.
The Hurricanes have to decide who they are and how they are going to get players who will fit into their team identity.
Find a Definitive Leader
For a team to be dominant, it needs to have a leader. Notre Dame overachieved this season partly due to the emergence of Manti Te’o as a motivational force.
This is crucial because there will be moments during the season where everything is not going right. The team may not be clicking, or it may be trailing big. A true leader can push his team to believe in itself when all hope seems lost.
Find the Right Coach
It’s too early to tell whether Al Golden will last in Miami. However, these past two seasons have been lackluster, and the ‘Canes may decide to switch coaches yet again.
Finding the perfect coach is never easy. Alabama was able to lure Nick Saban away from the pros. Texas A&M found Kevin Sumlin, a coach who took Houston to the verge of a BCS bowl game.
If Miami eventually decides to part ways with Golden, it should try to find a coach with a record of consistency and sustainable, long-term success.