"Oh well, we just have to get better. We don't want number nine. Number nine is nine spots away from number one. We want to be where Florida is. That's where we're trying to get." -Miami Quarterback Jacory Harris speaking on the Hurricanes number nine ranking
For a team who won a National Championship, played in two National Championship games, played in four BCS bowl games, and had a 34 game winning streak all this decade, it feels like a long time since there has been any kind of success.
At Miami, the bar has been set, and nothing short of winning a National Title is seen as a successful season. It may seem unfair to an outsider but for those who are part of the program and have been longtime followers of the program, they know this expectation.
Every Coach since the 1980's and every player who has even visited Miami for a recruting trip hears of the expectation. While other schools talk about it as a goal, at Miami they have backed it up winning at least one National Title in each of the past three decades.
Coaches have come and gone, the players go on to greener pastures but the goal still remains the same, to be hoisting the trophy when the final gun sounds. Whether it was Howard Schnellenberger's five year plan, Jimmy Johnson's walking the walk, Dennis Erickson's one back, or Butch Davis and Larry Coker's "our players are better than your players," the tradition lives on.
Miami head coach Randy Shannon is part of the tradition as both a player and a coach. Miami's current roster of young stars are trying to become part of the tradition.
When we hear Shannon's players speak, we hear words like "us," "we," and "team." From what we have seen from the young Hurricanes so far, this year is promise and talent.
Is this Miami team good enough to reach the National Title game? Only time will tell. Are they good enough to beat a very good Virginia Tech team this weekend in Blacksburg? That remains to be seen as well.
One thing is for certain, Miami fans are seeing the same traits in this young team that they have seen in all of the great Miami teams before them: The ability to stare adversity in the face and overcome.
This Cane team has been through the gamut. From a slew of new coordinators on a nearly yearly basis to players transferring out with regularity. The march towards greatness still goes on in Coral Gables.
We see this eperience in how they deal with situations on the field—whether it be Georgia Tech marching down the field on their opening drive or Florida State seemingly pulling away in the second half. It isn't the first time this team has faced adversity and history tells us it won't be the last.
While the Miami roster is full of stars, this unit is a team. While not-too-insiders are surprised of a Miami resurgence, the real surprise is this team is a full year ahead of schedule.
With a roster of primarily sophomores, this Miami team is learning what it takes to win big games and what it is like to be in meaningful games at this level—something most of this roster has never been a part of.
The Canes certainly have a chance to shake up the world and by mid-October we'll have a better idea as to where in the national landscape they sit as far as this season goes. One thing is for certain though, Miami is back in their comfort zone, meaningful games and realistic national championship expectations.