The Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators are set to face off on August 31st, 2019 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. However, there has been a petition to move the opener from the 31st to Saturday, August 24th. A showcase game between two Power 5 programs in Florida seems like a great idea, on the surface. However, the quality of the product could suffer greatly with all eyes on the Gators and Hurricanes.
Recent history speaks to Miami’s painfully flat start against the LSU Tigers to kick off the 2018 season on Labor Day Sunday. Push a little further back in time and the Miami-FSU early season trio of games from 2004-2006 saw a combined 66 points in three games. Sure, those were lean scoring years for both the ‘Canes and Seminoles but Miami had the S&P+’s 66th ranked offense in 2018, Florida managed the 15th ranked offense even with Feleipe Franks at quarterback. Is Manny Diaz sure that he wants the world to see the ‘Canes a week earlier than usual?
The benefits, of course, are putting your program at the forefront of college football. This has two rising programs playing a week earlier than the Alabama Crimson Tide, Clemson Tigers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Oklahoma Sooners who will for sure have the largest spotlights on them heading into the 2019 fall season. It gives “The New Miami” a platform in front of the world and recruits from Florida can make the pilgrimage to Orlando to see what the Hurricanes will look like under Manny Diaz.
On the inverse, Manny Diaz is a brand new head coach playing a showcase game with one less week to prepare, no matter when practices start for fall camp. What this means is one less week in the weight room, and a week less for players to get on campus and get acclimated before camp begins. Steven Godfrey has reported that the petition includes an earlier start to fall camp, but it’s not just practice time that has to be considered here. Godfrey’s piece also mentions one strong positive for moving the game up which is the extra bye week to get the players situated after game-action.
With this many freshman being relied upon, as well as the slew of portal transfers that Miami has brought in, less time for cohesion is a bad idea. The players and coaches need that week to learn how to work with each other, to bond, and to get better in David Feeley and Manny Diaz’s system. A week means a lot in the strength and conditioning world, go talk to an avid weight lifter about missing one workout session let alone a day of sessions.
Another consideration for the players is that the ‘Summer B’ term ends August 9th. That means the usual week off before camp that players and their families value greatly will have to be figured out somewhere else in the schedule or won’t exist at all. That makes for a long first year for any new head coach. I don’t think this is a “Go play intramurals, brother” situation. I think the Summer B schedule will impact practice start times or the participation of players in practices, much like spring football can often see players missing practices or arriving late because of class times.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, it’s just a week,” try talking to any coach about losing an hour of practice time or any strength coach about losing even 10 minutes of time in the weight room and they’ll act like you’ve just pulled a Rosemary’s Baby on their first born. Coaches like to plan almost a year in advance and speak vehemently about sticking to those plans.
Another consideration is that while the defense is staying in-tact, the offense has a new scheme, coordinator, all new position coaches, a slew of transfers like offensive tackle Tommy Kennedy and wide receiver KJ Osborn, and the quarterback position is still up in the air as Tate Martell hasn’t been cleared by the NCAA and even if he is- he’s still another transfer into the system.
Pushing the start of a new regime up a week, with this many transfer players and a program where the offense was that far behind the rest of the NCAA, is a bad choice. With the offense always behind the defense through fall camp there’s no reason to rush the process of getting to Manny Diaz’s first game.
I’m sure Coach Diaz is excited to unveil “The New Miami” on the football field but the ‘Canes need to be patient and calculated. Keep the players in the weight room a week longer, give the freshmen that extra week in summer school and the off-season program to acclimate, and give Coach Diaz the extra week to learn on the job. Becoming a first-time head coach, much like becoming the president or a husband has a learning curve that can only be taught through experience in the trenches.