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Are the Miami Hurricanes Back?

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Are the Miami Hurricanes Back?
(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

From Necessary Roughness

 

In 2001 Miami was flying high. They were national champs and were ready for a repeat season. That 2001 roster included NFL players such as Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed and Sean Taylor.

With this type of roster, it would seem Miami will be on top for a long time.

Heading into the 2002 season, they were the No. 1 ranked team and the heavy favorites for a repeat National Championship. They did reach the National Title game again but were upset by the Ohio State Buckeyes. Since then, things have gradually gone south for Miami.

2006 and 2007 were the two rock bottom years:

2006: The Canes finished with six losses and Larry Coker was fired.

2007: The Canes had seven losses and was the worst season for the program in modern history.

This down period can be directly attributed to one main reason—recruiting.

Recruiting is all about stockpiling talent. If you have a couple down years of recruiting, the effects won’t be seen on the field immediately, but will have a lasting effect on the program. It takes some time to restock the talent pool.

Several factors affected the erosion in talent that Miami was recruiting.

Following the graduation of Ken Dorsey, Miami could not find a replacement quarterback which resulted in a few less successful years in comparison to their 2000-2003 seasons. This then lead to the 2006 season which featured an on-field brawl with Florida International, a shooting death of their defensive tackle, and a late season four game losing streak. Following the season, Larry Coker was fired.

On top of this, The University of Florida hired Urban Meyer before the 2005 season, and Alabama hired Nick Saban in 2007. These are two of the college football world’s best coaches and recruiters.

These negative on and off field issues, coupled with these hirings by programs who are recruiting athletes that may have gone to Miami just a few years earlier lead to Miami seeing some down years from 2005—2008.

The erosion of the program over the last several years is evident through the correlation between their final rankings and their rivals recruiting ranking. You can see that 2006 and 2007 were the two worst years and now 2008 seems to be back on the upswing.

Year

Final Rank

Recruiting Rank

2002

2

8

2003

5

5

2004

11

4

2005

17

7

2006

NA

14

2007

NA

19

2008

NA

5


Now that Randy Shannon has established himself as the head coach, and we are a few years removed from these off field issues, Miami seems to be returning to where they once were. During the 2006 and 2007 recruiting seasons, Miami only landed one five-star player as ranked by Rivals. This lack of talent being recruited was evident by their on-field results.

In 2008, they recruited 33 players, 15 of whom were four-stars and two of whom were five-stars—one of them was current quarterback Jacory Harris.

Harris showed that he can play under pressure, on the road, and follow up mistakes and bad plays with a game winning performance. Harris was 21 of 34 for 386 yards with two passing TDs, two interceptions and one rushing TD. Even after his pick, he looked calm and confident against the aggressive blitzing defense of Florida State.

Of the 90 names listed on the Miami roster, 53 are either freshmen or sophomores. They only start five seniors on offense and just two on defense. There is a lot of young talented players around Harris.

The future for the Canes looks bright.

Miami started this 2009 season unranked, but following their impressive road win versus No. 18 (at the time) Florida State, they enter Week Two ranked 20th in the AP Poll.

Miami has a murderer’s row schedule to start this 2009 season which started with their successful road trip to Florida State. In the next three weeks, following their September 12th bye week, they have to play three more ranked teams in a row:

Sept 17 vs. No. 15 Georgia Tech

Sept 26 @ No. 14 Virginia Tech

Oct. 3 vs. No. 13 Oklahoma

If Miami can win two of these next three games and start this season 3-1, I believe they will show that they are back to being a top ten team. If they can make it through this year with one loss, they will have a legitimate argument to go to Pasadena and play for the National Title.

By getting their recruiting back on track, The Miami Hurricanes look to be getting their program back on track and back to being a nationally relevant football program.

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