The U is making a comeback. And yes, I'm being serious this time. Despite the promises of the past few years, the Hurricanes have a good chance of winning 10 games next year and maybe go to a bowl game in a warm climate with a ranked opponent. Granted, a few years ago Miami's fan base expected a return to mean competing for a national championship every year.
But a decade of mediocrity, empty bravado and substitute teachers posing as head coaches have lowered the standards of what the "back" in comeback means.
Back is being ranked.
Back is winning the ACC before it loses all credibility and is renamed WAC-East.
Back is beating at least two teams in Florida (and FAMU Rattlesnakes don't count!)
And back means something else: shutting up.
Style is as important for the U as substance. And for a program that defined the phrases "speed kills" and "swagger" the Canes have been living off the fumes of past glory for several years. It pains me to say that. As a Miami kid who grew up in the 80's I was a college alum before I could ride my bike.
It really was all about The U. Sometimes it was the only thing to look forward to in Miami. Amidst frequent shoot-outs, police helicopters swarming my neighborhood and watching friends get ravaged by crack-cocaine and AIDS, football was a religion that promised hope.
Even to a fat kid with asthma who had no chance of playing for my adopted almamater, I cried with U, I celebrated with U, I preserved the infamous Sports Illustrated cover arguing that the football should be dismantled like a bitter lover and stopped reading SI for several years, and I get sick to my stomach every time someone mentions Doug Flutie. I say all of this establish that I am not a hater or sipping on "haterade" or getting my P.H.D. (playa-hating degree) against the 'Canes.
But it is time to bury The U style of the 80's. The best way to do that is to win and shut up. In an era where swagger is used in reference to the Green Bay Packers, and speed and Penn State are in the same sentence, the thrill of those defining terms is gone. Remember when soccer mom started using the word "bling" and Lil' Wayne had to switch his grammar and style to stay ahead?
In order for The U to move ahead they need to evolve. And the biggest evolution would be for the bad boys to become good. Good in their image, good in their demeanor, good at quietly collecting wins. Imagine a Canes team that became suit-wearing, clean-cut, quiet assassins. Think Clint Eastwood mixed with The Terminator. Don't think it's possible? Look at what Pat Riley has done to Miami Heat. South Florida has that mixture of class and crass to pull off a white suit with sneakers.
The second part of the equation is substance and that is easy. WIN! All the signs are there. A crop of fast, young athletes who can play multiple positions; the return of line coach and stalwart Art Kehoe; a young coach with a lot of cool confidence. The Canes had the No. 1 recruiting class a few years ago and most of that talent sits underdeveloped and waiting. Coach Al Golden and his staff have the diamonds. They just have to teach them. Get them in the weight room and get them to believe in their teammates and not the ghosts of Michael Irvin. The future is here and The U will rise again. And soon.