Part of why I write this article on Monday is to allow the emotions to subside. To let some semblance of rationality filter in and push the emotions to the side a little bit. To let my cooler head prevail. To chew on what I’d seen for a couple of days and give some combination of an emotional response with a balanced recall.
Not today. I’m still mad as hell.
There are so many things flying around inside my head right now after watching that pathetic excuse for an athletic performance...it’s gonna be hard to get out everything I want to say. But, I’ll try.
1) This.........HOW. CAN. THIS. BE. POSSIBLE? Per Manny Diaz this morning on 560 WQAM, the Miami Hurricanes were “emotionally exhausted”. According to Diaz:
“We appeared to be emotionally exhausted,” Diaz told 560-AM on Monday morning. “That’s the best way I could sum it up. We were emotionally exhausted — on the day that we had all to play for and getting back in front of our fans’ home stadium.
“When you get into ‘Why were we emotionally exhausted?’ now you’re getting into the intangibles. That’s what makes it a little bit harder to unpack. We just talked about that — we didn’t have the emotional will to compete in a game like that.
“That was the biggest failure on the team — where was the emotion? That’s what goes to me,” Diaz said.
What?!?! We. Didn’t. Have. The. Emotional. Will. To. Compete. In. A. Game. Like. That?!?! Is that what you honestly believe, Manny Diaz? I cannot believe what I just read. That is the literal opposite of a winner’s mentality. You had EVERYTHING still to play for in Game Ten of the season!!! The freaking Orange Bowl - the crown jewel of bowl games for this university - was a single win away (or heck, maybe even a close loss away, who knows). A ten-win season - a unicorn achievement for this program - was within reach. And, even more so, the College Football Playoff was still not written off for UM with a win (and some significant help). EVERYTHING was still in play. It was your first home game since October, too. Your fans were there You were dressed to the nines in brand new, sharp unis. You had a national TV audience with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler calling the game. These were the bright lights that any self-respecting athlete and coach with even a SHRED OF PRIDE would have been ready to blast through the locker room door to get on the field for.
And instead, you’re telling us this team was too emotionally spent to even show up for the biggest game in three years?!?! Uh, yeah, Manny. That’s on you. That’s a major red flag. A big leadership concern. If your players truly aren’t motivated for a game that big, then that falls on the man responsible for getting them ready. I had a whole hell of a lot more venom for Blake Baker than Manny Diaz after Saturday, but reading something like this on Monday really makes me wonder more how much of this all lies at Manny’s feet. You didn’t have your team emotionally ready to play, as you say? Shame. On. You. Coach.
2) As far as the disaster itself, everyone here knows the stats and the dubious records that were set. 778 total yards. 554 yards rushing and the best RB duo rushing performance in FBS history. Plowing runs (especially over Amari Carter that ended up on UNC’s twitter highlight reel...ouch) over Miami’s defense that was a step behind in pursuit and constantly blown of the ball at the point of attack. Poor pursuit angles. Poor downfield coverage. The outside zone play that they kept running that Miami couldn’t adjust to. I mean, UNC really didn’t seem to mix things up as far as their formations, looks, etc. They just ran the damned ball down our throats. In run blocking situations, their players looked almost twice as strong as our defenders. In the open field, their skill position players looked like they’d smoke our defenders by a least a couple tenths of a second in a 40-yard dash. They looked honestly like an NFL team with Sam Howell and their running backs. It looked like a team from Charlotte who rhymes with the Parolina Canthers showed up to play the Dolphins, and the Canes came out instead.
With that being said, what I want to know is whether Manny Diaz has the guts to do yet again what he did (credit for it) last year, when he showed Dan Enos the door and brought in Rhett Lashlee. I want to know if he is going to give Blake Baker his walking papers after this season is over. Ironically, Diaz was given a pink slip by Mack Brown after giving up 679 total yards (550 rushing) in a 40-21 loss to BYU. I know Baker and Manny go back to the latter’s time at Louisiana Tech after his firing at Texas. I know they’ve had success together. But there have been fair questions about the job he’s been doing with a very talented roster this season. I don’t think there are any questions anymore. His complete inability to forge any kind of adjustment and stop the bleeding in the worst defensive performance since Clemson in 2015 should have sealed his fate. It’s going to be a tough move for Diaz because of his loyalty, but if he wants to be the man and win here, he has to do what’s best for the program, not what’s best for him personally or for Baker. He has to move on and find someone more capable of handling this job.
3) Please stop saying the Orange Bowl is still in play, because it isn’t. People have argued with me all weekend about UM being third in the ACC standings and thus off to the Orange Bowl, but
One more time, for EVERYONE in the back: THE ACC’S ORANGE BOWL BERTH IS GRANTED TO THE HIGHEST-RANKED NON-CFP ACC TEAM IN THE FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF POLL. The ACC standings have no bearing on the selection. Unless the committee is literally blind and deaf, they will put UNC in front of Miami on Tuesday and keep them there in the final poll after next weekend’s games. As such, it’s a lock that either Clemson or UNC is headed to the Orange Bowl. UM will likely slip to the Cheez It Bowl (fka the Champs Sports Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl, the bowl game we cannot freaking avoid playing in almost every year) or the Gator Bowl. I would prefer the Gator, as it’s something slightly different and would match UM up with an SEC opponent (i.e., Ole Miss or Missouri).
But, whichever bowl it is, it’s a massive kick in the pants not to end this season playing on a field with “Capital One Orange Bowl” painted on it.
4) I don’t have a prediction, because mercifully there is no opportunity for Miami to embarrass itself on a college football field this week. Play with your kids. Take a walk. Read a book. Hit the gym. Do something other than think about Miami Hurricanes football this week.
After all, it’s become too emotionally exhausting.