The NCAA gave the University of Miami football team a light tap on the wrist on Tuesday, announcing that the program would be docked three scholarships in each of the next three seasons as a result of past rules violations.
But don't expect the minor penalties to hurt the Hurricanes' football program moving forward. If anything, Al Golden's squad will benefit in the wake of the NCAA's decision.
With Miami having already imposed and served its own two-year postseason bowl ban, the NCAA had little choice but to go after the team's scholarships. But having a total nine fewer scholarships over the next three seasons isn't enough to stop Miami from bringing in top-flight recruiting classes and competing for national championships.
Golden can now promise recruiting targets the chance to play in the ACC Championship Game and big-time bowl games down the road. With a cloud of uncertainty no longer hanging over the program, recruits can commit to Miami with confidence, knowing that the team has made it through the stormy weather and better days are ahead.
The worst of the sanctions is behind them, and the Hurricanes are trending up. The program has been steadily improving each year since Golden took over in 2011. After going 6-6 in his first year, the former Temple head coach led the Hurricanes to a 7-5 mark in 2012. With five of those wins coming against ACC opponents, Miami could have played in the conference championship had it not been for the university's self-imposed postseason ban.
In 2013, Golden has the 'Canes off to a 6-0 start (No. 7 in the BCS standings) and poised for a berth in the ACC title game.
Given the recent success of the program under Golden and the limited sanctions handed down by the NCAA this fall, college football fans should expect the Hurricanes to continue their march to the top this season and in the years to come.
With the program's postseason ban no longer forcing top-level recruits to hesitate and think twice, there's nothing stopping Miami from inking the nation's best high school players and competing against the country's top programs on the big stages.
You can credit the University of Miami's proactive approach for the NCAA coming down so lightly. Although the Hurricanes penalized themselves, their punishment has been served, and now they are free to succeed.
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