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The Risk of Losing Miami’s Legacy via Portal Kombat

Manny Diaz has owned the transfer portal, but at what cost to the culture of The U?

NCAA Football: Florida A&M at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“Better people make better All Blacks,” is a quote from page 33 of James Kerr’s “Legacy.” Legacy details the 15 leadership lessons that could be learned from the management team that turned New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby squad from embarrassing back into the best. In order to build program culture the All Blacks had to start over. They brought in a new coach and that coach knew he was going to have to give his squad a cultural enema in order to accomplish this. However, it had to be done without losing the legacy of the All Blacks.

Edward Reed #20 Getty Images

There was a time in New Zealand culture when every child wanted to be an All Black, and that has returned. Much like there was a time in Miami-Dade (before the Miami was added on) and Broward where every child wanted to be a Miami Hurricane football player. The legacy of The U shouldn’t be forgotten, but in order to be “The New Miami” a new culture has to be created. However, the leadership ideals in “Legacy” are the foundations of character, integrity, purpose, humility, and grit.

When I picture grit I think of the old videos and photos of Hurricanes legends like Lamar Thomas, Ray Lewis and Micheal Barrow with sweat-stained undershirts and brows coming off of the Greentree practice fields in Coral Gables. I think of guys like Dwayne Johnson waiting their turn, or future NFL Hall of Fame players like Warren Sapp stealing Johnson’s place at the table. The hard fought battles for your place in the Hurricanes legacy.

The emotional reward of being a member of the Hurricanes should be greater than the reward of re-tweets. The “sustained capability to change” (p. 23) is guided by having a dual-management style where leaders teach leaders. But on a team of transfers, and with a lack of depth built by Richt/Diaz era players over the past three seasons, who constitutes those leaders?

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Shaquille Quarterman is definitely a captain and leader of the Miami Hurricanes. After Quarterman, Miami has lost potential captains in Travis Homer and Joe Jackson to the NFL. Trajan Bandy has shown leadership qualities and I’ve heard nothing but praise regarding the work ethic of Brevin Jordan. With the poor retention and development of the 2016 and 2017 classes- Diaz is going to have to lead the program rather than dual-manage like in “Legacy.”

In “Legacy,” the All Blacks’ coaching staff would slowly pass down control to the players throughout the week. During the initial planning meeting of the week- the coaches facilitated the game planning. As the week went on, the players would handle the leadership, especially on the field (p. 49). The concern about The New Miami is that there aren’t enough players that were recruited in from day one that could lead now in 2019, or mentor the new signees in the 2019 class.

2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

On page 101 of “Legacy,” Kerr quotes Muhammad Ali. Ali said, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses.” The preparation of building a legacy, one where you leave the U on the side of the helmet better than how you found it, will be a difficult premise when built upon transfers. Many felt that David Beatty inherited a mess at Kansas because of the amount of JUCO players that had been used under previous coaching staffs. The same was said at Oregon State after Dennis Erickson’s tenure in Corvalis.

If the true idea of sacrifice is giving everything you have for the team- it wasn’t evident by the performance in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Quarterman, who will be relied upon as the leadership that creates a culture that will educate and guide the freshmen of the 2019 class, looked beat by halftime. The quarterback room doesn’t have leadership on campus. The position that’s supposed to emit the ultimate grit and sacrifice for the organization is currently void of someone that can overcome the hardest of circumstances to emerge victorious.

Miami v West Virginia Photo By Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

“Legacy” discusses that why is just as important as what and how. Players want to be an All Black because of the legacy, the desire to be a part of the legacy, and to unify their country. On page 43, Kerry quotes Oliver Cromwell as saying, “My army won because they knew what they were fighting for... and loved what they knew.” Does a roster of transfer portal players really know the meaning of being a Hurricane? Do they understand what life in South Florida entails and what football means to the community there? Are they truly brothers that will sacrifice their individual goals (playing time, the NFL) for the greater good of the community?

If Manny Diaz wants to “win now” the transfer portal might be the best way to illicit off-season energy, and it might even be a method to steal a win; but as “Legacy” teaches- that’s not the proper way to build sustained success, to worship the legacy of The U, or establish a true culture. The program might have needed a dip down as the culture was being built, to then embrace the spoils of doing it the right way, through an established culture of legacy.