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Monday Musings: Orlando bound; handling player opt outs

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Miami v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Well, the season from hell is almost over (as is the ultimate year from hell), and we finally know Miami’s bowl destination: the Cheez It Bowl against Oklahoma State. UNC took the Orange Bowl bid that we all knew was coming due to the CFP’s haphazard, almost random rankings throughout the last half of the year (for the life of me, I still don’t understand how UNC JUMPED UP TWO SPOTS AFTER LOSING AT HOME BY 14 TO NOTRE DAME!!!). That should have been our spot, but ultimately it wasn’t. Hard to complain too much after losing 62-26, but seeing an 8-3 team with awful losses in over a 9-2 team doesn’t sit well with me.

1) Miami is playing in the Cheez It Bowl against Oklahoma State. Cons: I just can’t get excited for this game. It’s in Orlando. It’s the absolute dog crappiest location I’ve ever been to for a bowl game....and maybe for any game I’ve ever been to. It’s the nightmare to end all logistical nightmares to get to and from. The neighborhood around the stadium is.....let’s say, not very pleasant. And the matchup is not marquee. Sure, crucify me for pointing out the obvious, but it is what it is. Okie State opened as a three point favorite over Miami, as well, so the pundits aren’t exactly enamored with Miami’s chances at bouncing back.

Pros: A win and Miami would climb to a 9-2 season. That’s massive progress from 6-7, regardless of how much of a Nate Robinson we were to UNC’s Jake Paul a week ago. It’s. Progress. And finishing with a bowl win? Do you all remember how good it felt when Miami handled West Virginia to end 2016 and raised a bowl trophy? It was only 9-4, but it was massive progress in the right direction. I’d say 2017 turned out pretty well. Beat a decent opponent in an alright bowl game, and you’ve at least done something positive this year...even if it didn’t match the level of expectation we had hoped for as the season developed.

2) It’s opt out season, which is especially true with Miami after their COVID problems and not qualifying for a major bowl game. Jaelan Phillips has already announced his intent to enter the NFL Draft, and who can blame him? No one has made more money for himself this season than Jaelan. Thanks for everything, sir. Great season. You left it all on the field. Go get that money.

That being said, other players will have much more difficult decisions to make, being lesser-acclaimed prospects. And don’t forget that the NCAA is giving an additional year of eligibility to all players, so seniors could technically still come back under current NCAA rules. As the dominos will fall this week, I wanted to remind everyone out there a few things.

For fans (and this is to a small minority of fans, as most of you understand and wish these guys well): it’s nothing personal. These young men have given their all as pawns in an unjust system. Don’t hate on them for doing what’s best for them. Schools, administrators, coaches, and damn sure the NCAA does what’s best for them every day, often to the detriment of the players who make the sport happen. The collegiate system is skewed completely against the player. All he really has is his own health and well being. He doesn’t owe the school or us anything. It’s up to him, how he feels about his health, and how he feels about his prospects about earning money for himself and his family. It’s not a knock on the fans if he leaves, and it’s not going to affect your team nearly as bad as you think. Long story short (in the Rock’s voice): hey man, it’s gonna be ok.

For players and their families: Know we have been very excited to have your son/brother/cousin/etc. play for the University of Miami. Understand that most of us are very happy for your son/brother/cousin/etc. and will be cheering him on Sundays and including him in our Pro Cane features here on State of the U. Also know that not everyone is going to be happy. There will be a small minority of jerks, knuckleheads, and trolls. Exhibit A: this week a fan wrote something nasty to a player posting on social media that he would be making a decision at the end of the year about his future. Another player made note of it, even though it appeared the account was not an actual fan, but a troll account. KNOW THAT THERE’S A MICROSCOPIC MINORITY OF MORONS WHO ARE GOING TO WRITE NASTY THINGS, AND MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE A CANE FAN BUT RATHER ANOTHER FAN BASE TROLLING CANE PLAYERS. They DO NOT represent University of Miami fans, and we join you in your disgust. Know that’s not who we are, and that’s not something you can fairly attribute to the University of Miami fanbase as a whole. We’re sad but also excited for departing players, probably like many of them are as they move on, but from an obviously different perspective.

3) Miami’s recruiting class was just about everything you could realistically hope for. No one jumped ship late. There was little concern or opportunity for surprise, outside of Jake Garcia’s announcement mishaps by the announcer/Instagram/whoever. James Williams: on board. Leonard Taylor: on board. Kamren Kinchens: on board. Jake Garcia: on board. Brashard Smith: on board. As are the rest of what will be an impactful class. So much talent, especially at receiver. Miami hopefully found it’s explosive offense for the coming years all at once. Tyler Van Dyke will have something to say about that, and that battle will be a fun one to watch in the coming years. I can’t wait to see it. Either way, Miami SHOULD have it’s quarterback of the future in one of those two.

4) This horrendous nightmare of a year is almost over (and this bizarro season). For those of you who observe, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, happy Festivus, whatever your holiday celebration of choice might be. I hope 2021 is a bounce back year for our country, for the economy, for those of you who have lost jobs (yours truly included), and for everyone’s mental well being.