Let’s be honest, life in the Atlantic Coast Conference has been unkind to Miami.
With only one appearance in the ACC Championship Game, the glory days of those Independent Miami teams feels like forever ago. And unless the stars align over the final three weeks, then a miracle occurs in Charlotte, the Canes will fall to 0-for-16 in a conference they were supposed to provide with gridiron credibility.
Before we begin, allow me to make this clear: I’m not advocating for the Hurricanes to cut their conference ties. As a small private school, going at it alone would be unsustainable. And despite occasionally playing the role of “redheaded step-child” and dealing with questionable officiating on what seems like a weekly basis, I like Miami right where they are.
With Clemson in the other division and no consistency whatsoever from the teams in the Coastal, the Canes — should Manny Diaz turns things around — have one of the easiest paths in the country to 10-plus wins and the conference title game.
So let’s say for the sake of discussion that Coach Diaz and the Hurricanes, somewhere in the near future, find themselves atop the college football world and the old mantra of “anyone, anytime, anywhere” wouldn’t result in a string of embarrassing losses. Who would Miami fans select as opponents for a two-year, home-and-home series?
My original brainchild went full-EA Sports with a dozen top 20 opponents on the slate but that’s not logical in the real world. Using the 1988 Hurricanes as a model, I came up with a few parameters to help draft the ultimate schedule.
First, I selected THREE or FOUR top 10 programs. These didn’t have to be current top 10 teams, but teams that are consistently among the 10 best in the country, e.g. Alabama and Ohio State. In 1988, Miami played three teams that fall into this category: FSU, Notre Dame and Michigan.
Second, the next FIVE or SIX teams were anyone from the Power 5 or a legit G5 program. The 1988 Hurricanes played five squads that meet this criteria, but teams only played 11-game schedules back then. Furthermore, if Miami is independent, there will be no conference championship game.
Lastly, the remaining TWO to FOUR games should all be very winnable. These can be weak Power 5, G5, FCS, local rivals, etc. Of course, the FCS games usually aren’t home and homes, but if you want to play seven home games (for the extra revenue or to witness an excellent marching band) it’s your schedule and prerogative.
Now, let’s get to it.
Florida - I would do everything in my power to play this in-state rivalry game every year. The Miami fans want it, and as their A.D., I would deliver.
Notre Dame - A huge matchup that decided the national championship in 1988 and 1989. Even the 2017 contest provided a glimpse of this rivalry’s capabilities. Preferably, I would play it at home in November and at South Bend in October.
Georgia - This one is personal for me. With no more trips to Georgia Tech, I would have to bring Miami to the Peach State once every two years. Additionally, The U has a very large fan/alumni base in North Georgia, not to mention it’s a recruiting hotbed.
Florida State - Duh.
Virginia Tech - They’ve been a rival since the Big East days and it wouldn’t feel right not having turkey on the schedule.
UCF - This is a game that a lot of people — not just Cane and Knight fans — would love to see. This would make an interesting contest as a potential 12th game.
BYU - Whenever The U traveled out west it was usually interesting and sometimes costly. There is such a contrast between these two programs that it was one of the games that cemented Miami’s status as the bad guys of the 80s. And for those of us that remember, we still owe them payback for 1990.
West Virginia - These were always memorable Big East games and it felt really nice to beat those guys - even in 2016. Additionally, Morgantown is a place that I would love to attend a game. I have a friend on the WVU coaching staff and he constantly raves about the amazing gameday atmosphere. This one was a tough choice, however, but I took WVU over Kansas State, who would be another revenge factor game stemming from the two years they beat Al Golden while Miami was under NCAA investigation.
Appalachian State - They already owe us a game in Hard Rock so it makes sense. They also have a wonderful gameday atmosphere and I love the town of Boone, North Carolina.
FIU/FAU - I would alternate between these crosstown rivals every two years.
USF - I guess I’m still kinda sore about the loss that got Randy Shannon fired. I also have in-laws in Tampa/Bradenton so it gives me
an excuse another reason to visit. Other than that, I don’t know why I chose the Bulls, to be honest.
Rutgers - We need an extra win and a trip to that part of the country, so I selected the Scarlet Knights over Temple and Boston College.
There you have it. With the Hurricanes on a bye week and the holiday season right around the corner, let us know who is on your Miami schedule “wish list.”