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Hurricanes QB Martell situation like “Mad Men” episode

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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“Don Draper” has some advice about Tate Martell

There is no denying the following point: Purely as a matter of analysis, Tate Martell endured a spectacular fall the past few days at the University of Miami.

A man transferred from Ohio State to get more playing time as a starter, but Jarren Williams will be the Miami Hurricanes’ starting quarterback when Manny Diaz leads The U against the Florida Gators on August 24.

Martell was beaten out by a freshman — a really good freshman, but a freshman nevertheless.

This comes after Martell talked a very big game and didn’t play nice with Justin Fields, who transferred into Ohio State from Georgia in his own attempt to get more playing time as a starting quarterback.

There is no denying the point that this is a dramatic story. It is a story of upheaval, surprise, and crushing disappointment for a young athlete who was arrogant, who has acted like a prima donna, and whose mental state right now is not easy to pin down:

It is dramatic. It is spectacular. It is soap-operatic and emotionally involving.

Are you roused? Excited? Gleeful at Martell’s demise?

There is — on a very small level — a “happy” dimension to this story. Manipulative and selfish behavior was not rewarded. I get it. Everyone can see and understand that point.

Martell has an inflated view of himself, doesn’t seem to be a team player, and simply hasn’t worked hard enough or well enough (if not both) to earn a starting QB job at either OSU or Miami. There’s a reason Urban Meyer limited him to running-QB duties for the most part, a Big Ten version of the “Belldozer” Oklahoma used with Blake Bell in red-zone situations several years ago, while Landry Jones was the “normal” quarterback for the Sooners.

If you want to be happy that Tate Martell couldn’t bully his way into getting the Miami job, and that he got his comeuppance, fine. That’s okay, as far as it goes. However, that national sense of schadenfreude — especially from the state of Ohio, but from various corners of the country — was certainly over the top on Monday.

Let’s be clear: No one was defending Martell’s behavior on Monday or at previous points in this process. His behavior was clearly poor. He certainly has to look in the mirror — not to anyone else — if he wants to improve his football career. No one would dispute that Martell has to straighten up and fly right, and that he needs to take ownership of his attitude and adjust it.

Yet, Martell’s name became a worldwide trending topic. That schadenfreude obviously flowed deep into the bones and marrow of many college football fans and observers. A lot of #CollegeFootballTwitter seemed to be laughing at Martell, rather than taking quiet satisfaction in seeing his bullying behavior go unrewarded.

Martell didn’t deserve the Miami QB job on the merits… but he also didn’t deserve to be laughed at.

The reports later on Monday that he didn’t attend practice might not actually amount to anything serious… but aren’t you at least somewhat concerned about him right now? Would a reasonable person conclude that he is taking this very hard and feels absolutely devastated?

This could be an overreaction, but it certainly isn’t beyond the realm of possibility at the moment: Is Martell mentally troubled? Phrased differently, is this merely a childish reaction on his part to losing the QB1 battle (which is possible), or is he going through more personal trouble and trauma than any of us on the outside can possibly see or understand?

The former answer might be the likely one, but the latter answer — that Martell is mentally disturbed — shouldn’t be ruled out completely… and IF that is the case, the nation’s laughter at Martell will have been severely overplayed.

This brings me to my ultimate point: Don Draper of “Mad Men” has something to say to the nation about Tate Martell.

If you watched the show, you will recall that in Season 2, Episode 9 — “Six Month’s Leave” — Freddy Rumsen drinks to excess in a downward spiral of alcoholism. He wet his pants in public. Three of the men in the office — Ken Cosgrove, Paul Kinsey, and Harry Crane — laughed at Freddy, instead of seeing the severity of his situation and the humiliation he is facing in a business setting.

Empathy and concern for a fellow human being should have come to the forefront, but derision surfaced instead.

Don chastised his three co-workers with this memorable line:

“That’s none of your business. Freddy had a bad day. Can’t you find something else to do besides dining on the drama of other people’s lives like a bunch of teenage girls?”

There is a very big difference between quietly approving of a scenario in which bad behavior was not rewarded, and — at the other end of the spectrum — taking profound pleasure in the downfall of another person.

Are there times when taking pleasure in the downfall of another person is comparatively more acceptable? Yes — when that person committed a crime and truly harmed other people’s lives. Seeing that person brought to justice and being forced to confront a lifetime of sins (or merely a set of severe sins which hurt other people) is a natural and healthy human inclination.

Tate Martell didn’t do that. He ran his mouth and had an inflated opinion of himself, as a college athlete who is trying to square himself with how the world works.

Martell has a lot to learn, and this could merely be a case of a prima donna and a bully getting a splash of cold water in his face — which will hopefully awaken him to the need to reform his behavior — but if this is something a little more serious than that, the derision which flowed through Twitter on Monday will hopefully give way to a more concerned and empathetic mindset among college football fans.

Yes, Tate Martell needs to clean up his act… but we don’t have to dine on the drama of another person’s life like a bunch of teenage girls.

Don Draper knows how to handle this latest “plot twist” in the world of Miami football.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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Miami Hurricanes

Even in victory reality is harsh for Hurricanes

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It makes sense that an important victory for the Miami Hurricanes – a season-saving 17-9 win over the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday night – would simultaneously remind the Canes how far they still have to go, and how slim their margins are.

This was an improvement, and a significant one, but it wasn’t the conquest which dramatically changes opinions and gives birth to a fresh sense of hope.

The uneasy coexistence of happiness and uncertainty is going to remain part of Miami’s world in 2019, and if we’re being honest, probably the first half of the 2020 season. The U isn’t yet ready to escape the familiar problems which have dogged the program for a decade and a half.

If we are looking at the very big picture, negativity can’t be eliminated from the landscape. One has to see reality for what it is.

But enough about the bigger picture. In the immediate aftermath of Friday’s game against Virginia, Miami gained positive clarity and took a needed step forward in its evolution. The Hurricanes probably knew this on a conceptual level before the game began, but now they know this in a concrete way:

They have to lean on their defense, and they have to avoid huge mistakes.

The Canes watched a home game against Virginia Tech slip away the week before. A tidal wave of interceptions led to a boatload of Hokie points. Miami’s festival of mistakes enabled The U to lose as a 12-point favorite.

A starting point for the Canes against Virginia was to not commit turnovers Sometimes, “addition” can simply mean the elimination of negatives: addition by subtraction.

Miami did exactly that against the ACC Coastal leader and favorite, committing zero turnovers. Virginia endured a blocked field goal – made possible by Miami’s Pat Bethel – and a steady stream of failed red-zone possessions which recalled UCF’s nightmare the Friday before against Cincinnati.

Virginia committed a turnover inside the Miami 25-yard line. Jon Ford punched the ball out. Trajan Bandy made the recovery.

Miami didn’t make any of those debilitating mistakes.

No, the offense didn’t function well for most of the game. Miami’s first drive and its last produced touchdowns; everything in between created only three points. N’Kosi Perry (above) lacked touch on his deep ball. The offensive line wasn’t particularly good (though not as bad as it was against Florida).

Yet, with zero turnovers, Miami didn’t give Virginia any free points. It gave Virginia Tech several free touchdowns six days earlier.

Merely weeding out the awful aspects of its performance was enough, given how well the defense played, especially freshman defensive end Greg Rousseau

He hadn’t been in the starting lineup earlier in the season, but on Friday, he delivered seven tackles, a sack, a fourth-down stop, and a forced fumble recovery.

Perry might not need to win games; he can merely avoid losing them… and allow Rousseau and the defense to win them.

Miami isn’t a complete team. It does not have a complete solution within its grasp. It does, however, possess the roadmap to success in 2019. It probably won’t always work, but it is the way UM needs to play:

Don’t screw up. Shorten the game. Play for field position and a rested defense. Let the defense win.

If Miami can continue to trim the fat and add by subtracting, this season – which probably won’t reach all of its goals – can become a lot better than many expected after any of September’s especially embarrassing moments.

That isn’t a soaring statement of hope, but it’s a lot better than the previous weeks of this season.

For now, that’s a start, and a good step in the right direction.

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Miami Hurricanes

Canes named N’Kosi Perry starting QB against Virginia

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Canes head coach Manny Diaz announced on Wednesday that last year’s part-time starter N’Kosi Perry will be starting under center for the matchup with Virginia. He said that he made the move, because Jarren Williams is dealing with an injury that has him not at full capacity, however, it could in part be a hope to continue the momentum that almost pulled out a huge come from behind win against Virginia Tech on Saturday.

“We’re going to start N’Kosi Perry at quarterback on Friday night.” He added, “Jarren Williams is dealing with an upper extremity issue that leaves him less that 100 percent. N’Kosi gives us a chance to win, I think we all saw last Saturday the improvement in his game and we’re excited to ride behind him and find a way to beat a very well coached and tough-minded Virginia football team.”

The Virginia game will mark Perry’s seventh career start as he sits this season at 35 for 55 with 501 yards and five touchdowns so far.

This past Saturday night, Diaz had seen enough of an ineffective Jarren Williams, who threw three first-half interceptions to the Hokies, So right before the half, he replaced him with Perry. On the final play of the first half, Perry got a key Hail Mary score, saving Miami from a potential shutout, making the game 28 – 7 at the break.

Perry then engineered an 88-yard drive out of the locker room hitting tight end Brevin Jordan to trim the lead in half to 28 – 14. The Hokies still looked to be in great shape, when Hooker threw his third TD pass of the day to cap a Virginia Tech 80-yard drive, and it was 35 – 14 with 12:43 left.

But unfazed, Perry helped Miami get right back in the game hitting Jeff Thomas with a 13-yard score and then,  with another 25-yard score to Thomas, plus a 2-point conversion to make the game 35 – 29 with over three minutes remaining.

Perry, who finished with 422 yards against Virginia Tech despite not playing until the second quarter got Miami in range for one more score. But, he threw incomplete with one second remaining in the back of the endzone and then, his final pass with no time left was batted down at the goal line, and allowed the Hokies their first ACC win of the season.

Diaz indicated Williams remained day-to-day and has been limited in practice this week. It’s undetermined who will be QB1 for the remainder of the season once Williams is back to full speed, but for now Perry is the guy who needs to continue to ignite the passing game that hasn’t fully taken off for Miami this season.

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