I get it. After hearing that Al Golden was fired last night, my phone was filled with messages conveying joy and celebration. I understand why everyone is excited. I sat through every minute of the 58-0 disaster against Clemson on Saturday, trying to fake my emotions to avoid becoming a meme or Vine on SBNation if the cameras focused on me. It became obvious that a change was needed. I'm ready for the Canes to have a new leader and a new direction going forward. That being said, it's still October.
One reaction that I kept seeing repeatedly last night really bothered me. Many people wrote or said some version of the following: "this season is a waste" or "forget the rest of our games." Like everyone else, I have very high expectations for this program. The Clemson loss was embarrassing enough. Don't abandon the players when they need your support the most. I know this is hard for some fans to believe, but it is very clear that Miami's players admired and respected Al Golden. Key members of the team like Brad Kaaya, Mark Walton, Ufomba Kamalu, and Artie Burns all thanked their former head coach for believing in them.
Miami still has a lot to play for and I'm not talking about the Coastal. The frustration and negativity that had been surrounding Miami's program had to be difficult for the team to deal with. I hope the decision to let Golden go mid-season helps give the Canes a spark, allowing the players to play loose with less pressure. Seniors like Herb Waters, Tracy Howard, Deon Bush, Rashawn Scott, Dallas Crawford, and Tyriq McCord stuck with this program through difficult times. I want them to leave Coral Gables as winners.
I'm excited to watch this team try to improve and build towards the future. The next head coach will be inheriting a young team with the potential to take the next step forward. Miami's biggest weakness has clearly been a young offensive line that has struggled all year. Every member of the rotation will be back in 2016. It is crucial that the offensive line improves and develops more chemistry as a unit down the stretch. The lessons learned this year can help make this group a strength for Miami next season. Before the loss to Clemson, we finally started to see the talent that both Al-Quadin Muhammad and Chad Thomas possess as pass rushers. The injury to Raphael Kirby against VT was unfortunate, but it will allow Juwon Young to emerge as a playmaker for Miami's defense. He should enter 2016 with a firm grip on a starting spot at linebacker alongside Jermaine Grace. Three juniors have led the way for Miami's secondary this year - Artie Burns, Corn Elder, and Jamal Carter. Miami's offense is led by sophomores - QB Brad Kaaya and RB Joseph Yearby. The Canes will lose Scott and Waters to graduation, but the next eight WR's and TE's with catches this season will all be back. Freshman RB Mark Walton will be a star by the time his career as a Hurricane is done.
The coaching rumor mill will be moving fast and furious over the next few weeks. Like all of you, I am eager to find out who the next leader of the program will be. I just hope the search doesn't completely overshadow Miami's next five games on the field. Miami is 4-3, with five winnable games remaining on the schedule if Brad Kaaya gets healthy. The Canes will do their best to rally around new HC Larry Scott at Duke on Saturday night. The next head coach would benefit significantly from a strong finish to the 2015 season, capped off by a bowl win.
There are still two home games left this season - Virginia on November 7th and Georgia Tech on November 21st. The change everyone wanted has already happened. There won't be planes with banners flying. There won't be "Fire Golden" chants pouring out from the stands. It's time to focus on football again. Support the players and help them build the foundation for the better future we're all hoping for. Go Canes.