The Miami Hurricanes are 2-4 and their athletic director is saying things like, “Everyone’s constantly being evaluated,” which is AD speak for “Manny Diaz needs to start winning or I’m gonna lose my job, too.”
The U came into the season as a top 15 team and had the usual absurd expectations that come with being one of college football’s preeminent programs.
Things have gone south, like really south… like nearing Cuba south. Quarterback D’Eriq King got hurt, as did a bunch of other starters, and the future isn’t exactly promising. The thing is, this program used to be so insanely deep that their backups were future NFL Hall of Famers — and the only requirement of their quarterbacks was to be glorified game managers. So losing your star QB shouldn’t leave you at the bottom of Biscayne Bay.
And it’s not like they’re in the SEC or the Big 10; they’re in the ACC. Clemson’s success has been well documented, but has come in large part because nobody could even give them a game. Trevor Lawrence didn’t lose a conference game during his three years. Outside of a few Jimbo Fisher seasons, the only relevant team as far as national titles goes, has been the Tigers.
The ACC is a veritable elephant graveyard of once mighty programs — Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech all used to live in the top 15. Now, all of them are defined by coaches overshadowed and unable to live up to their predecessors. Finding the next Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Bobby Bowden or Frank Beamer is an impossible task, because there is no formula for who will be a great head coach.
I think the biggest advantage in college football right now is not having spine-crushing expectations. Dabo Swinney was able to hang at Clemson for so long because fans were just happy to be in games of consequence. Now, they’ve had such a massive amount of success that no one even calls it Clemson-ing anymore. (The burdens of expectations are creeping in, though.)
Asking Miami fans to accept “less” is like asking a billionaire to fly commercial. But that’s what it takes. I think these programs who are constantly trying to get “back” have to get beat down to the point that 8-3, 7-4 is applauded/isn’t a fireable offense. Being allowed to fail is a luxury that only shitty teams have, yet is what gives a program the space and time to build an identity, roster cohesion, and success.
I’m not saying you should be OK with blatant negligence; I’m saying losing a few games in heartbreaking fashion happens, and if you play hard and compete, that’s a better base to build off of than ripping it down and trying to hire the next Nick Saban… every three years.
That said, Diaz is flirting with the kind of carelessness that justifies alumni’s outrage. Their largest advantage is recruiting, and it’s difficult to put together a class outside of the top 15 nationally at Miami. They’re sitting at 60th right now.
They face a ranked N.C. State team tonight, and Diaz could be — and maybe should be — on his way out with another loss. If indeed that is the case, their next hire needs something that may not be feasible at the U: Time and tempered expectations.