ACC Media days this week weren't only for coaches and players. University of Miami Athletic Director Blake James was also on hand, and he spoke at length with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald about the state of the Canes team, his vision, and expectations for the future.
James was very complimentary of the program, stating that the Canes have the talent to be competitive in 2015. And, it seems, that is James' expectation, which is contrary to what the popular thought among most Canes fans has been.
When asked about his conversations with Al Golden, James said that "the conversation was that I expect us to be a winning program." Now, there's obviously room for debate about what exactly a "winning program" is, but James elaborated.
"I'm confident [Al Golden] will get us in position to win Coastal Championships, ACC Championships, and ultimately win national championships."
Now, obviously, James and Golden work in close proximity in the athletic offices, so their connection is closer than fans probably think. James is a longtime athletic administrator, so he does have some cache to be able to make statements such as the above. But, in the end, the thing that will make the most difference in the minds of Canes fans is winning football games.
James enumerated many reasons why he feels that the Canes can and will be successful on the gridiron. He cited the U's national brand (which he said enabled the team to recruit star QB Brad Kaaya from California), the returning talent to the team, and the continued connection to top recruits in each recruiting cycle.
But, the most interesting thing were James' statements relative to winning:
"Al knows he needs to win. Our guys know we need to win. I know we need to win. I’m confident they are taking the steps they need to take to go out and take care of business this year."
That's the most pointed statement Blake James has made about the requirement to win in his tenure as UM AD. He famously said "you can't win them all" last year, which was, rightfully, met with widespread derision and anger from the fan base. The above statement (and others in the originally linked article) show that James' mindset has changed from passively accepting whatever result comes from each game to actively pushing for and expecting wins.
James stopped short of giving a number of wins necessary to deem this season an adequate success for Al Golden and the Hurricanes. He did, however, say that he "expects to see [the team] executing at a higher level, performing at a higher level and going out and winning games."
Obviously, the evaluation of the program will come at the end of the season. But, these statements do one thing: they show that mediocrity (or worse) will not be tolerated.
Now, we wait and see exactly how this season plays out, because only then will we know that James was clairvoyant if we win, or if he has the intestinal fortitude to step up and do what needs to be done if we don't.