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Adapt or Perish

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The Time Is Long Since Due for the Miami Hurricanes to Adjust Its Approach to Football

Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Thank the Heavens That 2019 is FINALLY Over

Miami capped off its dismal 2019 campaign with a bang: a shutout loss to Lousiana Tech, a program Miami used to schedule as an easy victory to open the season. I must admit that I played golf instead of watching the bowl game so I only caught the game’s final twenty minutes, because I knew what would happen as I had seen this movie before: Miami is a putrid bowl team that is now 1-9 in its last ten bowl games. In Shreveport against a team that wanted to be there far more than Miami, the once-proud Miami Hurricanes provided football fans far and wide with plenty of fodder for internet memes. Just as in 2009 against Wisconsin, 2010 against ND, 2013 against Louisville, 2014 against South Carolina, 2015 against Washington State, and 2018 against Wisconsin, the Miami Hurricanes were out-willed by an opposing team that just wanted it more.

Football—and bowl games in particular—is a game of emotion. The team that wants it more, usually wins—especially considering bowls are, as a general rule, designed to pair evenly matched teams to create a competitive contest. I am not going to waste any breath explaining how the Miami Hurricanes are infected with the scourges of apathy and lethargy: it is self-evident to any observer with the slightest discernment.

Dan Enos is Gone: That is the Easy Step

Dan Enos’s 2019 offense was ghastly and I am not going to spend any more time explaining that demonstrable fact. Most Miami fans do not understand this, but Miami’s offensive identity until the Butch Davis years was not that of a pro-style offense, but rather an offensive innovator. When Howard Schnellenberger brought the pro-style passing attack to college football it revolutionized a game that was dominated by variations of the triple option. By the late 1980s however, college football was beginning to catch up to Miami until Dennis Ericson brought with him a one-back, west coast style spread passing attack.

Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Miami Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The way forward for Miami is to return to its roots—not as a pro-style program, but as an innovator. There are many variations of the spread offense, but I feel Miami should look to college football’s newest dynasty in Clemson as a model of the type of spread system to run. An effective offense of any variety must, in my view, keep the opposition off balance and in a constant state of flux so they have no idea what is coming next. In this way, an up-tempo, spread-option offense heavy in the RPO and read option. A quality passing game combined with lots of quick hitting runs from running backs, receivers, and a true dual-threat quarterback, is nearly impossible to defend if executed properly with good athletes. An offense of this variety also neutralizes the effects of poor offensive line play because the plays develop quickly, which puts pressure on the defense, making life much easier for the quarterback as there are so many options for the defense to defend that blown assignments are inevitable.

Who should Miami hire? That is a tricky question, but David Yost, Rich Rodriguez, Bill Bedenbaugh, and Larry Fedora are intriguing options in my view. Joe Brady is probably a pipe dream, but could be a home run hire.

Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Miami Must Change the Way it Recruits

Miami closed the early signing period with a respectable—albeit not exceptional—top-20 class. If Miami is to return to national prominence, it must become a program that prides itself on doing more with less via innovative schemes and player development. In this new era of college football that is driven by big money that Miami will never match, Miami can no longer go toe-to-toe for the same recruits Alabama, LSU, Clemson, Florida, and Texas want. That being said, there is no excuse for Miami to not field a full roster, which it has failed to do for years! With all of the left over roster spots from attrition and players foolishly declaring early, Miami should take flyers on guys that either have a knack for the game, or have raw and potentially untapped athletic potential.

As I see it, Miami must look for under the radar “sleepers” or players who have a knack for playing football at a high level, despite average measurables. Examples of the former include RJ Mcintosh, who was recruited as a strongside defensive end, and Kendrick Norton, who was an athletic offensive guard. Examples of the latter, include guys like Jaquan Johnson, who despite limited size and top end speed, was a formidable anchor for Miami’s secondary from 2016-2018.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Pinstripe Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ultimately, Miami Needs Vision and Leadership

To move forward, Miami must not only know that its roots are that of an innovator, but also understand that it is David in a sea of Goliaths. The Miami brand has been tarnished to such a degree that the Miami Hurricanes are perhaps even worse than a mediocre p5 program. Nonetheless, Miami can begin the long trek back to glory if it changes its approach in every facet of the football program and to do this will require leadership which Miami does not currently have.

Los Angeles Rams v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Miami needs someone to oversee its football program and hold the coaching staff accountable. In order to improve, Miami must fix the broken football culture. In order to compete with lesser players than those at the elite programs in Ohio State, Clemson, LSU, and Alabama, Miami’s players must be in the best condition—which includes optimizing nutrition—and want it the most, which necessitates playing with a chip on the shoulder.

Proper vision would understand the landscape of college football and Miami’s place in it, which would foster a belief in the necessity of innovative schemes and a premium placed on player development and proper coaching, as opposed to fruitlessly attempting to win an arms race Miami can not win due to a lack of pecuniary resources and a NCAA double-standard. Perhaps someone like Alonzo Highsmith, with his NFL executive experience, can provide this much needed vision.