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What If Wednesday: What If Miami Beat Washington In 2000?

A loss to Washington in 2000, disrupted a potential National Championship season for the Hurricanes.

Leonard Myers/Paul Arnold

The 2000 football season ended up being a major turning point for the Miami Hurricanes in terms of where their program was headed. For several years prior, head coach Butch Davis and his team were dealing with sanctions handed down from the NCAA. Starting in 1998 and 1999 however, we saw Miami start to pick up steam, gearing up for a much anticipated 2000 campaign.

With players like Ken Dorsey, Reggie Wayne, Dan Morgan, Al Blades, Ed Reed, and so many others, the Hurricanes were absolutely stacked. “There was a real feeling, that we were on the cusp of having maybe one of the best football teams that Miami had ever had,” Davis said in “The U: Part 2.” And he was absolutely right.

Miami entered the 2000 season ranked fifth in the nation, and after a win against McNeese State in week one they moved to fourth in the polls. Then in week two, the Canes traveled the 3,371 miles to take on the 15th-ranked Huskies at the University of Washington.

Just to give a quick recap of the matchup, the Huskies jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead in front of a frenzy home crowd in Seattle. Though, slowly but surely, Dorsey started to lead a Miami comeback, but simply didn’t have enough time left on the clock, as Washington upset the Hurricanes 34-29.

The loss in week two dropped UM to 12th in the polls, but it’s the last time they would lose all season, and also the last time they’d lose until January of 2003. For the remaining 10 games that year, the Hurricanes steamrolled through their opponents, and also defeated number-one ranked FSU, and also second-ranked Virginia Tech along the way.

At the end of the 2000 regular season, the Hurricanes ranked second in the AP Polls, and seemed like they were heading for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. However, in a decision that is still ridiculous and asinine to this day, Florida State somehow leapfrogged the Canes into the number-two ranking, and ended up playing Oklahoma in the championship game. Sadly, Miami was sent to the Nokia Sugar Bowl, where they throttled number-seven Florida, 37-20.

Now, let’s go back to September of that season and ask the probing question, what if Miami beat Washington?

For starters, obviously the Hurricanes would’ve had a perfect regular season, and would’ve wound up playing the Sooners in the championship game instead of FSU. So now let’s look at if Miami played Oklahoma, who was the only undefeated team in college football in 2000, and defeated the Noles 13-2 in the title game.

First off, let’s acknowledge that the championship game was played in Miami at Pro Player Stadium that year, so home field obviously goes to the Canes. Both teams had proficient offenses that season, with the Sooners ranking ninth in the nation in PPG (37.0), and Miami was third in the country averaging 42.2 points per game. Plus, Oklahoma only managed to score 13 points against FSU, while the Hurricanes put up 27 when they faced the Seminoles. Miami also allowed fewer points defensively throughout the season. D.J. Williams and coach Davis both said in the 30 for 30 that the game would’ve bee a “blowout” if UM faced Oklahoma in the title game. I don’t think anyone here reading this would disagree with them.

So with stats and everything else in Miami’s favor, let’s just say that the Hurricanes win the 2000 National Championship, the schools fifth. Looking forward to the next season in 2001, the Canes would go on to win another title with another undefeated season. Then, by the time that the 2003 Fiesta Bowl rolls around, the Hurricanes would be riding a 40-game winning-streak. And also, just saying, if Miami beats Ohio State in the 2003 National Championship, they’d go on to break the NCAA record for consecutive wins (47) the following season in 2003.

We all know that 2001 Canes are considered the greatest team in college football history, but if the year prior is able to go undefeated and capture the title in 2000, would that team instead be considered the greatest ever? That team had all the talent that the 2001 squad had, and also had Reggie Wayne, Dan Morgan, Santana Moss, Damione Lewis, James Jackson, among others. Also, with defeating number-one Oklahoma in the 2000 title game, that years Miami team would’ve then had beat two number-one ranked teams (OU, FSU) and a second-ranked Va Tech squad all in the same season.

Looking at it another way, if Miami beats Washington, wins the 2000 National Championship, is there a possibility that coach Butch Davis stays at UM instead of going to the NFL to coach the Cleveland Browns? Now that’s a long-shot, because the Browns probably would've offered Davis even more money, being that he won a championship. However, if Davis does stay at Miami, does the UM program have several more titles?

Now here’s another scenario of staying and leaving, but this time with the players. Several players on 2000 Miami team chose to return in 2001 because they wanted to win a National Championship. If the Hurricanes won a title in 2000, who knows if Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie, Mike Rumph or even Joaquin Gonzalez would’ve come back for the 2001 season?

As you can see, if Miami was able to defeat Washington all the way back in 2000, the history of the University of Miami would be completely different, and there’s still several other scenarios. Did I miss any? Let me know!