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Season of Horror

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It’s time to stop pretending that 2018 is a fluke

Miami v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

As the Miami Hurricanes’ 2018 football season has exploded into ruinous disappointment and failure before our very eyes, the time to pick up the pieces is upon us. Miami could still win one more game and end up bowl eligible. But right now, this is a team with too many questions to find answers for, especially considering the season is all about over. And yet, despite the fact that Miami will, at best, finish one or two games above .500, many are willing to give Coach Mark Richt the benefit of the doubt. It is time to stop pretending that some extenuating circumstance not related to CMR’s influence is the cause for Miami’s disastrous season. CMR is the biggest part of the reason why Miami has failed so badly in 2018.

The hype was real for the 7th ranked team in national preseason polls. Many felt it was too low for a team that ran over Notre Dame, punished Virginia Tech and should’ve put Wisconsin away. The Hurricanes looked ready to take the next step back to national prominence. The Coastal was all but guaranteed; the real question that needed answering was if Miami would be competitive with Clemson this season.

Miami is not simply an overhyped football team that stumbled to an 8-4 or 9-3 type of season. These years happen, even to some of the better programs in college football. Injuries, poor execution, etc. are often chalked up as the causes of disappointing season. But going from playoff contender to 5-5 cellar dweller is not a fluke. Miami has not suffered a rash of major injuries. Losing Ahmmon Richards hurt but the depth of offensive skill players is more than enough to overcome it. Injuries are not a fair or justifiable excuse for the Hurricanes’ difficulties this year.

The Canes’ are also not victims of the snakebitten, unable to win close games syndrome that plagues some teams. While the scores have looked close, most of Miami’s losses this year have looked about as ugly and one-sided as possible considering the level of competition on the other sideline.

This season has been an unmitigated disaster for no reason as great as that of the failure of Mark Richt as a head coach. The problems Miami has had have been persistent issues that have been masked by success in other areas. Last year, the offensive line was good enough to help the running game lead the offense to score just enough points to win games. The defense was strong, took the ball away and stuffed the run. This year, the offensive line is significantly worse, Malik Rosier has been dismal as the starting QB and Richt clipped the wings of N’Kosi Perry when he yanked him following two interceptions against UVA. Since Perry has been back, the offense has shown greater potential to be better but is still hamstrung by Richt’s bland and conservative play-calling.

Richt has failed to bring on the right coaches in critical spots such as QB and OL. Yes, he deserves credit for bringing on Manny Diaz and Craig Kuligowski (the latter of which has left) and helping to make the defense as strong as any in the nation. But Richt is to blame for the offense turning in big, steaming piles of disappointment week after week. Richt must be willing to make changes as this catastrophe starts to come to an end. He must fire his son, Stacy Searles and himself (as offensive coordinator). He must bring in the right coaches to fix the underachieving QB room, offensive linemen and a creative playcaller who knows how to fully utilize Miami’s wealth of offensive talent at WR and RB.

The time of excuses is over now. Miami sits at 5-5. Most of us thought the worst case scenario was Miami taking a step back and ending up at 8-4 or 9-3. Well it’s worse than that and Richt needs to answer for it. If his stubbornness continues into 2019, then the head coach should expect to find himself somewhere else in 2020.