Miami Hurricanes football isn't what it used to be. As of late, it has been heartbreaking, and Saturday's matchup with the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats is a must-win for the 'Canes.
Entering this weekend's game, morale is low. Miami (1-2) followed up a dominant victory over Ohio State with a dramatic 28-24 loss to Kansas State. However, the morale problem goes beyond their game log.
Losing is a natural result of competition, but Hurricane fans are infuriated by how this team goes out of its way to defeat itself. No BCS program has ever been crucified more for underachieving since the start of Randy Shannon's tenure as head coach in 2007.
Shannon delivered a tremendous recruiting class to the Coral Gables campus in 2008, and players were celebrated before they ever took to the field.
That same season marked the first that Miami played home games at Dolphin Stadium—later renamed "Land Shark Stadium" and now known as Sun Life Stadium—home of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins are, well, a mediocre NFL franchise, so it's not like the venue was accustomed to seeing great football. From another perspective, though, fans living on and near campus would now have to venture more than 20 miles on Saturdays to cheer on their 'Canes. Naturally, they expected terrific performances that would merit such a trip.
That highly-touted class will be mostly gone after this season (with the exception of some red-shirted players), and so far those star recruits have disappointed. Of course, they still have talent, and fans know that—the program's struggles have been emotionally devastating for that very reason!
Given their 1-2 start, where do you expect the Miami Hurricanes to finish 2011?
What specifically has contributed to their losses? Turnovers, TURNOVERS and MORE TURNOVERS!
A combination of untimely giveaways, dumb penalties and poor tackling were responsible for excruciating shortcomings against run-of-the-mill opponents like Virginia, South Florida and Notre Dame in 2010, as well as Kansas State last week.
As I said before, morale is low. Students in Coral Gables are declining to attend Miami's Week 5 game despite FREE tickets and transportation. On occasion, attendance at Sun Life has been tens of thousands of seats below capacity. The Hurricanes only have themselves to blame.
With all this said, they can still get back on track. ESPN "recruiting insiders" believe that a new tidal wave of talent is coming in 2012. Coach Al Golden still has time to turn this season around, with stud offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson making his 2011 debut after summer back surgery and all but one of the team's in-conference games yet to be played.
If they aspire to win some loyalty back immediately, Golden and the 'Canes must show no mercy to the inferior Bethune-Cookman.