The Miami Hurricanes are one day away from ending 2013 on a high note or dealing with the disappointment that will result from a fourth setback in six games.
Welcome to the thin line between winning and losing.
After self-imposing postseason bans the past two seasons and losing its three previous bowl outings, Miami has to trek all the way back to 2006 for its last December victory—a 21-20 win over Nevada on the blue turf in Boise.
On paper, the difference between a 9-4 finish and 10-3 is hardly monumental, but for a Hurricanes program in “rebuild mode” for years, it’s all about positive steps forward, achieving milestones and remaining on a proper track.
With Al Golden at the helm, local talent staying home and the distraction of the NCAA scandal no more, UM’s road to glory is officially underway. Below are nine things the Hurricanes must accomplish en route to once again becoming a perennial power.
Finish the Season on a High Note
Three straight losses in early November were an absolute punch in the gut. No. 7 Miami was undefeated entering it’s annual showdown with Florida State and within weeks reduced to 7-3 and all-but out of the ACC’s Coastal Division race.
The Hurricanes won their final two games, scored over 40 points in each and began clicking on offense, but the defensive woes continued.
Miami clearly wasn’t worthy of a Top 10 ranking at any point this year, but reaching the postseason, closing with a three-game win-streak and earning double-digit victories for the first time since 2003—it’d be a fine way to close out year three of the Golden era.
Especially with the dark clouds parting since the NCAA investigation came to a close in October.
Close Strong on the Recruiting Trail
The best way for the Miami program to end the “talent” vs. “coaching” vs. “scheme” debate—reel in some of the nation’s best athletes and witness what some quality players do to fix the current situation.
Former Hurricanes head coach Butch Davis was hardly beloved while leading the Miami program. The sixth-year coach stocked the cupboard before heading to the NFL in early 2001, and the Davis love affair began when Larry Coker couldn’t maintain the same level of recruiting excellence—35-3 the first three years and 25-12 his final three.
Miami’s front seven struggled mightily in 2013, and the Hurricanes could lose upwards of a dozen key defenders—especially if a few choose to depart early. In short, the Hurricanes’ depth, talent and overall experience on defense is set to take yet another hit it can ill afford.
Golden and staff currently have 29 verbal commitments, a third-ranked recruiting class and possibly eight early enrollees. There are also a handful of top-flight players with Miami on their radar, which would give the Hurricanes program a huge boost come February.
Miami lost a few “signing day” battles over the years. With a strong class already assembled and the NCAA drama in the rear view, the Hurricanes have a good chance at some day-of, last-minute steals, serving as poetic justice for all the kids Golden and staff lost recently due to negative recruiting.
Click here to continue reading article.