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Miami Hurricanes

Miami Hurricanes Fans Getting Ready For FSU

Ari Russell

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(Photo by Michele Sandberg/Icon Sportswire)

It’s only a few hours until kickoff and I’m already giddy. First off before I get started let me just say this, when it comes to me speaking about the Miami Hurricanes all journalistic integrity goes out the window. I’m telling everyone now, that if you expect this particular piece to be balanced, you might just X out of this article, like now…Okay I’m back, what was I talking about again? Oh that’s right, I’m giddy for the game tonight against Florida State. Like, I can’t wait, is it 8pm yet? No…Okay let me go watch games I don’t care about…Seriously I love college football, it’s a huge passion of mine. I can talk college football all day, every day. However when it comes to my, (Ahem) the Miami Hurricanes I borderline on the side of temporary insanity. And during the game, let’s just say if you are behind me in a bar, you may catch an untended elbow from my reaction to an incompletion on second down with 12:37 to go in the second quarter. And i’m not even the worst. I know some Cane fans who just scream at the TV screen. I wont name names, you know who you are, but let’s just say during Al Golden’s coaching regime you heard “F” bombs probably every two minutes. It was just an awful time.

I actually went to the University of Miami and got my degree (yes I’ve got my papers!) in 2001. I do have much love to the sidewalk alum though. Jah Bless you folks, seriously. Anyways being an alum of the school is kind of crazy. If you see the year I graduated you know I was there when the U came back. I remember being in the Orange Bowl when that dude flew the banner that said “National Champs to National Chumps…Thanks Butch!” Like I saw that with my eyes when it happened. I saw the Edgerrin James game against UCLA, which was a make up game with the Bruins coming in undefeated and Miami coming off Donnovan McNabb slicing them up in Syracuse the previous week. That win by the way against UCLA, was the official turn around for the Canes. I was on the field when they finally beat FSU in 2000, only to be stiffed of playing in the national title game that year. I knew that the 2001-02 season was going to be the year they finally won it, and they did. Of course I wont even talk about the fiasco in the Fiesta Bowl the following year, okay let’s move on, nothing to see here.

After that loss, though the decline became steady for a few years. After the terrible tragedy of Brian Pata’s murder (a case still unresolved) they fired Larry Coke, brought in Randy Shannon.  I was excited because Shannon was a man with high moral character who actually cared about the young men on the team. But the decline became more drastic under Shannon. They never won big games and the program started slipping into mediocrity. In comes Al Golden from Temple, and I’m a fan so of course I supported the hire, what the heck did I know? Golden in all fairness walked into a land mine, because as soon as he got here the Nevin Shapiro scandal hit. And let me tell you about this guy Nevin Shapiro, he’s like as slimy and despicable as that Pharma Bro guy Martin Shkreli. Anyways Golden said all the right things under enormous pressure. Yes the NCAA dragged their feet and botched the investigations, what’s new with that?  And Golden still had top 20 draft classes despite the issues. The problem is that Golden wasn’t a great head football coach at a program that can’t be mediocre, it just can’t. Going 6-6 or 7-5 each year is okay for Boston College or Wake Forest, but not Miami. So Miami bought out the rest of Golden’s contract and here we are with Mark Richt. 

Oh wow, I just realized how therapeutic that was. I just gave a brief history of the Miami program over the last almost 20 years and I didn’t keel over from it. But in all seriousness this mediocrity non sense doesn’t cut it for Canes fans. Yes we get we are a small private school. Yes we get our facilities aren’t great. Yes we get our #1 booster snitched on us and the boosters at all the other schools keep their mouths shut despite doing the exact same thing. Yes we get we no longer play at the Orange Bowl, that despite it’s structural fortitude being suspect at best, was still an awesome place to watch college football. Yes we Canes fans get all of this. But still, we were able to win 5 national titles in the past. People still want to play for Miami. We aren’t being unreasonable to expect to compete for not only an ACC title, but at some point a national title. We have had enough downs over the past decade. It’s time to get back on top. And tonight at 8pm ET may just be the time Miami tells the rest of the college football world that we’re back. And yes I may use a few expletives in a bar, but hopefully they are joyful ones.

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Miami Hurricanes Fans. Straight Outta The 305. T-Shirt

 

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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Miami Hurricanes

Zemek- Diaz and Mullen ready for intimate chess match

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Some coaching clashes are compelling because of how different the two men are. Some coaching confrontations are enhanced by the level of mystery in the encounter. Some coaching matchups are fascinating. because the two men know each other well.

Saturday’s college football season opener between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes fits into that third category. Dan Mullen and Manny Diaz know each other well.

How many times in the history of college football has this EXACT set of details below pertained to a season-opening coaching clash?

— The two programs involved in the game have won national titles in the past 20 years
— Both head coaches were previously coordinators at the schools they currently lead as head coaches
— Both head coaches served under SEC champion head coaches (Urban Meyer and Mark Richt)
— Both men were part of coaching staffs which participated in New Year’s Six or BCS bowls
— Both men had coached in the Orange Bowl in the past five years
— One of the two coaches not only worked for the other coach, but in two separate stints
— The two separate stints lasted exactly one year apiece

Yes, this is an uncommonly intimate coaching matchup.

Manny Diaz was Dan Mullen’s defensive coordinator — not once, but twice.

Mullen took over the Mississippi State program before the 2009 season. He invited Diaz to be his defensive coordinator for the 2010 season. Diaz then jumped at the opportunity to go to Texas and work for Mack Brown after Will Muschamp grew impatient with Brown (as the coach-in-waiting) and bolted for… Florida, where Mullen had worked from 2005-2008 under Meyer as offensive coordinator.

Diaz spent three years in Austin as the Longhorns flamed out and Brown lost hold of the program. (Brown has resurfaced this year as a rival for… yep.. Miami in the ACC Coastal Division with North Carolina.) Humbled and knocked down a peg in the coaching hierarchy, Diaz then spent the 2014 season at Louisiana Tech. It was Mullen who gave Diaz a lift before the 2015 season, enabling Diaz to once again coach not only at Mississippi State, but more generally in a Power Five conference.

Diaz — in a move mirroring his jump to an established veteran coach in 2011 — once again latched onto a big-name program led by a high-profile sideline sultan. He joined Mark Richt in Miami for the 2016 season. He once again spent three seasons as the coordinator for that program.

Unlike the Texas tour from 2011 through 2013, Diaz’s star clearly rose in Miami. The turnover-chain defense of 2017 was the reason Richt won the ACC Coastal and a berth in the Orange Bowl. Diaz’s reputation grew in Coral Gables. The disastrous 2018 season for The U had nothing to do with the defense, which held up its end of the bargain. Richt’s offense and his inability to develop Miami’s quarterbacks led the car to swerve off the road and into a deep ditch.

Diaz saw the sinking ship and wanted to begin his career as a head coach. The Temple job has been a short-term catapult for various coaches in recent years. Matt Rhule used it to go to Baylor. Geoff Collins — who once coached at Florida as an assistant — used it to go to Georgia Tech. A man named Al Golden — Canes fans want to forget him — used Temple as a stepping stone for the Miami job. Diaz sensed opportunity and went to Philly.

We all know what happened next. Richt retired. Diaz changed his mind. Here we are.

Diaz gets to match wits with Mullen. Manny not only has the advantage of knowing how Mullen thinks; he has been able to see how Mullen has evolved.

It is a very unique and particular dynamic: A coordinator got to see how a boss (his head coach) thinks in two separate occasions five years removed from each other. Diaz’s introductory course on “Mullenology” was in 2010 at Mississippi State. Diaz received the graduate course in 2015. (He didn’t have to pay tuition, either. He got paid for the course!) Now the two men meet in 2019, eager to see how their ideas have continued to develop.

The obvious yet extra-sexy aspect of this intimate coaching matchup: Mullen is an offense-first coach, Diaz a defense-first coach. If the two men both coached the same side of the ball, the battle of brains wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. It is PRECISELY because they occupy different sides of the ball that Diaz-Mullen and Canes-Gators are so loaded with intrigue.

At the beginning of this decade, they were introduced to each other.

In the middle of this decade, they reconnected with each other, again on the same coaching staff.

At the end of the 2010s, Dan Mullen and Manny Diaz will stand on opposite sidelines in a Week 1 cauldron of pressure.

The college football world will be primarily interested in seeing how both men have evolved in their own ways and on their own terms. Yet, the context surrounding Gators-Canes is incomplete if the relationship between Mullen and Diaz isn’t included.

How they evolve in their understanding of each other — not just their own autonomous selves — will have a lot to do with the outcome of Florida versus Miami.

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Miami Hurricanes

Hurricanes QB Martell situation like “Mad Men” episode

Matt Zemek

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

“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.

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