Raising Canes : The Offseason

Getting swept by Florida on the diamond this weekend was a real kick in the shorts. As was seeing the women’s basketball team ousted early from the ACC tourney.

The men’s squad got their season-ending win over Boston College, but gave one away at NC State days back, which could be the deciding factor between an NCAA berth or the NIT. UM looked all but in, yet will now have to rely on a quality showing at this week’s ACC tourney to build their case.

On the gridiron, the U-Tough conditioning program wrapped up last week and the kickoff of Spring Football took place this weekend. In honor of that, a new Canes All Access video was released over the weekend; Raising Canes : The Offseason, which takes fans on a journey from the morning after last year’s season-ending loss to Boston College and right up through the end of this year’s pre-spring strength and conditioning program. (Scroll to the bottom of the article to see embedded video.)

Kudos to UM for getting proactive and keeping this Raising Canes series rolling a second straight season. The videos are well-produced, have strong content and give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build a winner.

This latest 12:51 clip truly shows the work being put in, as well as the mind of Al Golden – which seems more Jimmy Johnson or Butch Davis-like by the day.

Psychological warfare. Promoting competition. Creating opportunities to grow. Forcing kids to step up or step out. This is “The Process” and the kids are buying in. Watching the disdain wide receiver Phillip Dorsett had for the lowly white jersey he was assigned, or the green jersey that irked defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo – and then seeing both kids not only work their asses off for a coveted black jersey, but then leading by example and pushing other teammates to grow, as well – you see a winner’s foundation being laid and know in time that this will pay off.

“The idea of fighting for jerseys – it’s really based on supply and demand.” said Golden. “It’s really an economic principle and all we’re trying to do is teach them that you may be working hard, but in life – and certainly here when you’re trying to win an ACC title – the other team is working hard, too.”

The more you see and hear, the more you – as a fan – want to drop your guard, lose your skepticism and go all-in. Still, after a 41-35 run the past half decade, there’s a reason this fan base remains a tough sell.

There’s a reason faith has been lost and the U Family has taken a stance of only believing it when they finally see it. Hurricane Nation isn’t used to being down for long and that “enough is enough” point came and went a few years back, when Randy Shannon and his brand of Canes should’ve turned a corner going into 2010, yet fell to 7-6 and caused a second changing of the guard coaching-wise in four seasons.

Golden offers hope, despite having a young team. Aside from the work you see the kids physically putting in, you finally get a sense that this coaching staff understand the game, both on and off the field. Golden paraphrases mentor and NFL legend Bill Parcells when stating that there are four opportunities to build a team annually.

At “The U” it begins with the off-season an the U-Tough program the kids just went through. From there, a chance to shine in spring football, which is now officially underway. Once it wraps, then another shot is afforded due to the summer conditioning program during a sweltering June, July and August in South Florida.

One final shot comes with training camp, which segues into the season and those who got the message early on, can all but be assured of success having gone balls out in all phases of “The Process”.

Parcells also taught Golden that a team is reborn every year. In a sense, nothing that happened last year really matters anymore. There’s always the need to improve, but that’s a process that the coaches can quality control and deal with. Still, as one group leaves and another enters, you see change. A change in leadership. A change in personality across the board. Second-year kids in this program will preach the Golden message while first-year kids have to get on board day one to avoid being left behind.

You’re also one year further removed from the old staff and the crop of kids who moved on simply evens things out and betters your numbers regarding kids who were never tainted by the old staff’s failed practices and ways.