In recent years, the Miami Hurricanes had become the ACC poster child for underachievement. They hadn’t won a bowl game since 2006. Their best season during that time was a 9-4 2013, where the Canes lost 4 of their last 6 games and got blown out by Louisville in their bowl game. There was another 9-4 season in 2009, but that also had a bowl loss and sloppy 2-2 finish. There hasn’t been much to feel good about the Miami going into their off-seasons for a long time. That is until their 31-14 Russel Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia.
The Mountaineers came into the game as the Big 12′s second best team, and ranked in the top 20. The Canes spotted West Virginia an early 7, but then never looked back dominating from the 2nd quarter on. Here was the Miami celebration after the win.
Yes it is Canes fans, yes it is. pic.twitter.com/5TXAgfsEhL
— Miami Hurricanes (@MiamiHurricanes) December 29, 2016
We know the next question is “Is the U Back?”. Let’s not get ahead ourselves. Miami still has long way to go before that, but today was a major step in the right direction. Not only did the Miami team have alot to prove, but new head coach Mark Richt did too. His last few years at Georgia were marked by a frequent inability to beat ranked teams. The win was big for him as well. At 4-4 at one point, past Miami teams would have collapsed down the stretch. That did not happen this year. Richt should get credit for keeping Miami motivated and finishing the year with 5 straight wins.
A 9-4 season and a likely top 25 finish in year 1 of Richt’s tenure is mission accomplished. You wanted to see improvement from Miami over the Al Golden years, and I think we got that. I don’t know what Miami’s ceiling will be under Richt. I don’t think it will be national championship caliber, but you never know down the road. I definitely could see a perennial top 25 team. Most felt confident he would make Miami better. He’s done that so far. The 2016 season is an encouraging sign for Miami fans.
If Brad Kaaya returns at QB, the Canes will enter 2017 as one of the ACC Coastal Division favorites.