Thursday, October 8, 2015

FSU Hate Week

What can I say about Tallahassee that hasn’t already been said about Downtown Baghdad?

Look, we get to a certain point with these things where all the hatred starts to blur together. I get it.

I could keep going on and on about how FSU players beat the hell out of women and get caught on videotape, or beat the hell out of women and don’t get caught on videotape, or shoot up apartment complexes with BB guns, or flee the scene of a car accident, or steal crab legs from a Publix, or sexually assault a woman and then get covering fire from the university and the local police department, or….ya know what, like I said, you guys get it.

We’ve done that.

To get mad about FSU players getting away with crimes is like getting mad at Donald Trump for making finger guns when talking about a school shooting. Sure, it is THE WORST, but who can we really blame except for ourselves? Stuff happens, ya know?

(Sidenote: you know who probably loves Donald Trump? #FSUTwitter)

I really hate that Al Golden is such a dipshit, and our team is so constantly mediocre, that FSU…the Fox News of fan-bases (humorless, self-important, delusional, artificially enhanced)…actually has out-funnied us with this in their on-campus bookstore:

 Gotta hand it to them. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Anytime college football’s equivalent of Larry the Cable Guy makes an objectively funny joke at your expense, it might be time to reconsider your program’s future.

But not Al Golden.

At this point, this dude seemingly wants to get fired.

Per the Miami Herald’s Manny Navarro, the players have been flat at practice this week and seem “unbothered” by last week’s loss to Cincy. Effing Cincy. The team that was being quarterbacked by a freshman making his first career start, coming off a loss to Memphis.
Then, per Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post, came news that the staff isn’t playing the War Chant at practice this week.
In years past, coaches would play FSU’s horrific fight song all week long. It got the players ready for the noise that 50,000 mouth-breathers can create when the team that represents everything they hate ---urban intelligence, people that aren’t white, etc.---comes to town.

It ALSO got them pissed off, because anyone forced to listen to that crap for 7 days would be ready to gnaw their own leg off to make it stop. Honestly I think this was on the Gitmo playlist.
But, not Al Golden! Not this year!

This year is about everyone being, and I quote, a “McDonald’s Hamburger”.

Consistent. Predictable. Filled with poisonous preservatives that will kill you over time.

You can almost hear Al’s excuse cannon getting fired up now: “Well, it was a hostile environment on the road, really louder than any place we’ve played this year Joe. Had a lot of adversity and we just couldn’t overcome all of it.”

Someone posted a video on my message board this week of our old strength coach from the 90s, Tommy Moffitt (currently at LSU), putting the players through a summer workout.

A few things stood out to me.

One, Tommy was a crazy person. Like, actually crazy.

Two, our players were really big and really fast. No wonder Leonard Fournette is the second coming of Herschel Walker.

Three, at one point he said “the pride and tradition of the University of Miami Hurricanes will not be entrusted to the timid or weak.”

Now, aside from the fact that this is Meathead 101 and sounds like the type of thing that the douchebag on your high school’s football team--the one that shouldered people into lockers and made gay jokes-- would have said, it is pretty interesting to contrast it with Al Golden’s pre-game speech from last week against Cincy, which essentially consisted of “don’t rise to the occasion”.

Al Golden thinks you win big games by telling players NOT to rise to the occasion.

The last time we played a team with Everett Golson at quarterback was in 2012 against Notre Dame, and we lost that game 41-3 and gave up 561 yards of offense. Last thing we would want is someone stepping up on defense.

You can tell this team has already effectively given up hope.

Safety Rayshawn Jenkins is lashing out at high school sophomores on Instagram.

Linebacker Tyriq McCord is threatening fans in Facebook comments. Knowing Facebook it was probably someone’s uncle that has some * interesting* views on gun control, but still, that isn’t what you want during rivalry week.

Cornerback Tracy Howard, the first big recruiting win of Al Golden’s tenure, actually was quoted in a newspaper this week with the following:

“At the end of the day, it is what it is. That’s life. People are going to criticize you. When you’re doing good, people are going to love you. When you’re doing bad, people are going to be down on you. At the end of the day, you have to stay levelheaded, be the same person. It is what it is. It’s life,” corner Tracy Howard said. “I’m sure my coaches, I’m sure they’re tough. They can handle it. And we can handle it. I know everybody doesn’t like our coaches, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. We still have to go out there and perform and they still have to go out there and call plays. We still have to play for them, so, I mean…we can’t do much about it.

That reads like a ransom note sent by the hostage.

At the beginning of the season, players talked about the FSU game playing too central a role in the team’s psyche and thus creating the post-loss collapses we witnessed the past 2 years.

They said that they were intent on net letting the game define their season this year.

The thing is, absent of larger goals, all your fans can hope for is a win against the rival.

And for a guy like Al Golden, whose response to that is to try to eliminate the idea of a rivalry at all, that win is just never going to happen.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cincy Hate Week

Note from the editor: I am only going to refer to Cincinnati as “Cincy” from this point forward in this post, because truth be told I have never really figured out how to spell Cincinnati and I get sick of having to right click on the word every time Word tells me I screwed up again. As if anyone ever needed MORE reason to hate this Meth den.

Let’s start off with a quick recap of things I hated 2 weekends ago  (and that you should hate too!).
I hated, of course, that we blew a 23 point lead with 8 minutes left…but more than that I hated how PREDICTABLE it was.

‘How predictable was it, Dan?’

So predictable that in the 3rdQuarter I turned to my girlfriend and said “this is going to overtime”.

Guys, I am NOT that smart and even I saw this trainwreck coming.

I hate that Al Golden has turned this into such a crap program that in any game I am unable to celebrate the good stuff that happens because I KNOW the other shoe will inevitably fall.

Dominating FSU through 3 quarters? 

Doesn’t matter, as soon as we go 3 and out one time the panic sets in.

Put up 17 in the first quarter against Nebraska?

Doesn’t matter, we all know we are going to go soft and surrender the lead.

I hate it. It has literally sucked the joy out of this team. We could be up by 70 against FSU in the 4th Quarter and I wouldn’t be happy until the game was over. It’s gotten to the point that I’d be happy going up 10-0 and then fast forwarding through the rest of the game. Thanks, Al.

I also hate that Deon Bush is going to be out the first half of this game because of a bad targeting call. Know what I hate even worse? A.) He is so important to the defense that as soon as he was ejected against Nebraska we gave up 23 points in 8 minutes and B.) That he is CLEARLY our best player on defense and Al Golden insists on rotating him with this year’s SOTS whipping boy, Dallas Crawford, AKA the worst safety to play here since, like, Willie Cooper.

I also hate that afterward the team celebrated like they just won the Super Bowl, because as Al Golden said, Nebraska had won 9 games every year for the past decade.

First of all that was false.

Second of all, you know who 9 wins isn't good enough for? NEBRASKA. They just fired their coach despite winning 9 games 5 years in a row.

So, to sum up, at Nebraska 9 wins gets you fired.

At Al Golden's Miami, 9 wins gets you a dance party.

Awesome stuff.

Now that we’ve got that off our chest…

Why should you hate the Cincy Bearcats?

Good question.

On the surface, the football program seems to have everything I would like.

Cool all black uniforms.

A weird nickname; no one knows what a Bearcat is but it sounds badass. Kind of like a Jackelope. Or one of those crazy whales with the big unicorn horn. 

Spread offense. History of upsets. Tommy Tuberville.

Check, check, check.
I felt bad last week when Gunner Kiel almost died on the field against Memphis.

Truth be told…and this might be me going soft with age… I can’t muster up any hate for this team.
This is a team playing three straight non-Saturday games. That’s literally the most interesting thing I could find about them.

They’re co-favorites, along with Memphis, in something called the AAC, which is what I think you get relegated to if you finish last in the ACC.

(Just kidding, we know that doesn’t happen, because Miami is still in the ACC after last season)
The Bearcats are essentially the college football knockoff of the Cincy Bengals, the NFL team that shares both a color scheme and an overall sense of “who gives a shit?”

They both fall in to the realm of “good enough for me” which is fitting in this city.

Also, I can never say this enough, but Skyline Chili sucks. A lot.

The reason I think everything has settled in at “mediocre” in this hellscape is that the city has a huge sense of identity crisis. You see, most of the residents feel a sense of commonality with all the worst parts of the Deep South and yet geographically this place features all the worst parts of the north.
It’s not often that you find this combo, but when you do, boy is it nasty. And that is how you get a place like Cincinnati, full of awful people but an admittedly awesome airport (which is technically across the river in Kentucky).

Now, all of this doesn’t take away from the fact that this perfectly mediocre team from this crap town is going to drive us all crazy on Thursday night.

For starters, winning on the road against a home underdog on Thursday night is never easy.  Thursday night football was designed specifically to create chaos, and often succeeds.
Second of all, Mark D’Onofrio and Al Golden will be facing their worst nightmare now the Gunner Kiel, potential NFL draft pick, is out: a second string, mobile QB.

Get ready for a lot of cursing on converted 3rd and Longs. Heaven only help us if they have a tight end on the roster. Not a “good” tight end even…just someone that plays the position. That’s just too many wrinkles for the former Temple staff to handle.

I honestly don’t think we win this one. Everyone is talking about an undefeated matchup in primetime against FSU in two weekends…and I just can’t help but remind everyone that this NEVER works out for us. This is a total trap, similar to the trip to UNC a couple of years ago, and you can bet these acne-ridden, Keystone swilling, couch burning, intelligence-hating hillbillies will be out in full force.

The best case scenario is that D’Onofrio manages to take away something that this backup QB likes to do, force him to be one dimensional, and that our offense actually has some form of consistency and indentity for the entire game.

While you wipe the tears of laughter out of your eyes, I will wrap this up.

Cincy is an awful city with an awful name filled with a lot of awful people.

Let the hate coarse through your veins. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Nebraska Hate Week

This week the ‘Canes play their first real opponent of the season as the Nebraska Cornhuskers come to town.

Like  I said last year, this is the Green Bay of college football. Small town, big crowds, the beauty of rural America, “doing things the right way”, etc.

All of which is really just code for “this place is a frozen shithole, no one lives here unless they are trapped by circumstances or Warren Buffett, might as well go to the football game”.

Much like Miami, this program is coasting on accomplishments from over a decade ago and being a name brand.

If Miami wins this game, which it should, a bunch of people are going to call it a signature win for Al Golden. Which actually makes me angrier than anything about Nebraska itself.

Let’s get one thing straight: Nebraska sucks. They lost their 2 best players to the draft in Ameer Abdullah and Randy Gregory. They lost their most explosive player to a season ending injury in August. Their QB, Tommy Armstrong, is a runner that the Huskers coaching staff is trying to make into a pocket passer, because that always works.

Speaking of the coaching staff…Nebraska has a new coach this season. Despite going 9-4 pretty every year for like 157 straight years, Nebraska fired Bo Pelini.

One of Pelini’s 9 wins last season was an absolute demolition of the ‘Canes in which Nebraska ran on 33 of their final 36 plays, finishing with 343 yards on the ground for the evening (averaging 6.5 yards per carry, no less).

Nebraska essentially too out a megaphone and announced to the world before every play “we’re running it up the middle”….and you know what Miami did? This is probably shocking, but Al Golden didn’t adapt. He kept playing his defense deep because he was, and I’m paraphrasing here, “afraid of getting beat deep”. By the team that ran the ball on 90+% of its plays.

Can’t make this stuff up.

After the season, Nebraska fired the Real Bo Pelini (not to be confused with @FauxBoPelini, who has also taken his legendary performance to Youngstown State) and hired Mike Riley, the Webster definition of a generic football coach.

That’s right, Nebraska finished 9-4 but determined that they weren’t happy with the forward progress being shown, so they shitcanned the coach. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Nebraska enters the game 1-1, with a loss on a Hail Mary to BYU and a win against some crappy team whose name I forget and I’m too lazy to look up right now.

I can already see how this game is going to play out.

Nebraska WILL run the ball a gazillion times, while Miami stays in its shell.

Miami WILL blow this game in the second half.

Al Golden WILL say that it’s early, and we are still recovering from the guys we lost to the NFL last year--which will be ironic given the game in question—and that the injuries to Darrion Owens and Braxton Berrios have really made an impact.

If this post feels “blah”, it’s because that’s how I feel about this game. I don’t hate Nebraska, but I do hate what they represent: a paper tiger, a straw man, a windmill that Al Golden will tilt at and lose.

They are a smoldering mediocrity, and yet they are a smoldering mediocrity that still expects greatness, unlike our administration.

I was talking to my brother earlier and asked him "why should I hate Nebraska?"

His answer: "the self loathing stemming from the inevitability of them winning."

Nailed it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Hate Week - FAU

This week the ‘Canes take their show on the road to face the FAU Owls.

FAU is a commuter school a short drive from the University of Miami. Their head coach is Ron Turner, the younger, dumber brother of professional tomato can Norv Turner, good for your Fantasy Team but poison for an actual NFL team. Last week they kicked off their season by taking out UCF, a victory which was significant but also lead to quotes like this from Turner:
"I literally pulled out my contract and looked to see if I had an out clause with all the off-the-field issues, and I didn't," recalled Turner, a former Bears offensive coordinator and Illinois coach. "I'd come home and vent, and my wife (Wendy) would be like, 'Stay the course, you're here for a reason, just keep going.' I knew that, but she kept saying it so I did. And I'm glad I did because right now I love this team."
Good stuff right there. Uplifting.  

The most famous game between Miami and FAU was in 2006, a 35-0 Miami win that was marred by an ugly benches-clearing brawl.

Other than that, FAU does not matter. They really, really don’t matter.

Know how I know they don’t matter?

Because all that stuff I just wrote was actually true of FIU, not FAU. Took you a second, didn’t it?

Boom…John Oliver’d.

FAU is actually in Boca Raton, a lovely place if you happen to be an 85 year old Jewish man from Massapequa.

If you are anything less, Boca Raton is a hellscape of old people who stopped being able to see 10 years ago and yet are still allowed to drive 60 miles an hour down Military Trail. 

It’s like a f*cking demolition derby filled with late model Lincoln Town Cars – only you have no idea you’re competing until it is too late.

FAU had no football program until Howard Schnellenberger, the man famous for turning the University of Miami into the most dominant program in college football history, decided he would like to build something from scratch. He made the Owls competitive in the Sun Belt Conference and got an on-campus stadium built, which is both impressive and at the same time the most Boca thing that could possibly happen.

Schnells essentially retired to a town filled with people who made him feel young, tried to recreate a piece of “home”…in this case a football program instead of a TooJay’s Deli…and then threw it in cruise control after creating something 40% as good.

 I can just see Schnells sitting in a rocker at his McMansion in Bocaire Country Club, puffing on his pipe, listening to the TV turned up to volume 80, pretending not to hear his pain in the ass daughter-in-law hassling him about the mustard in the fridge being expired.

On the field, FAU is pretty much as non-descript as they are off of it. They have an energetic young coach named Charlie Partridge, who was hired to replace Carl Pelini (of the Flying Pelini Brothers).
Carl was shit canned at mid-season a couple of years ago because of “admitted illegal drug use, the drugs in question being cocaine and marijuana”.

See? This is what being a young-ish man living in Boca does to people! You get so bored that you end up trying to recreate the final scene from Scarface at a split-level with a screened in pool off of Glades Road!

(Realistically, FAU’s brass is lucky that’s all that happened. This is the same Carl Pelini that apparently got run out of Nebraska because of rumors that he was sleeping with the daughter of a prominent booster.)

Anyway, FAU was the only team in Week 1 to score 40+ points and still lose. That’s a special kind of suck right there.

This should be a blowout for the ‘Canes, but similar to Bethune Cookman, if the expectation is blowout and we actually do it, does that tell us anything about the team?

Probably not. We will have to wait until Nebraska for that.

Monday, August 31, 2015

2015 Miami Hurricanes Season Preview

Aristotle said that “happiness depends upon ourselves.”

The end of the last Miami Hurricanes football season ended as a disaster somewhere between Donald Trump’s hair choice and a Donald Trump political rally filled with people who actually think Donald Trump has something intelligent to say.

Since then, I have tried to take Aristotle’s words to heart.

Here is a list of activities I have filled the past 9 months with:

I have thrown myself into the world of soccer, as a Liverpool supporter. Which is to say that I have begun rooting for the soccer equivalent of the Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Orioles --- glory days long since past, still an “historic power” whose ceiling at this point is probably 4th place. I am nothing if not consistent.

I have read SO many books, ranging from historical mysticism, to “Guns, Germs and Steel”, to the poetry of Charles Bukowski.

I travelled to London, Paris and Barcelona, as well as to Austin, Charleston and Baltimore.
I took up a consistent Yoga practice as part of a fairly OCD recovery from shoulder surgery (left labial tear, I think they said it was).

I began to journal every night.

As part of this whole campaign for happiness, you know what I DIDN’T do?

I haven’t spent one red second looking forward to the upcoming college football season. I didn’t really talk to my Dad about the ‘Canes. I didn’t get in any message board dust-ups with “mopes”. Nothing. I haven’t even posted on this blog since before the freakin’ bowl game.

I essentially developed my own f*cking Eat-Pray-Love routine as a way to cope with the psychological trauma caused by the past decade of utter, total crap.

Earlier today, my friend Trent and I were texting about the possibility of the Miami Hurricanes partnering with David Beckham on his new stadium.

We concluded the conversation, as we are wont to do, with the following: “Is this situation good for us? Yes? Then it will not happen”.

Ladies and gents, THE MIAMI HURRICANES!

So here I am today, a week from kickoff, writing a season preview for a team that I know will underachieve and waste yet another fall of my life.

This is my Sisyphean burden. I have to keep following the team, because the only thing that makes me less happy than following them is NOT following them. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, call it sad and lonely…call it whatever you want, but I have come to realize that this is my lot in life, for better or worse.

The great David Simon wrote perfectly last summer in Sports Illustrated about the Baltimore Orioles. I have included it below (with slight tweaks) because I think it captures why we follow sports, even when we know we are doomed to fail, on a higher level than I am capable of articulating myself. And why I am back for, as Simon would put it,  yet another season of being the beaten dog, to whom at this point even the slightest motion induces a “simpering cower”.

Anything that can happen, will. And in an infinite universe, it will happen repeatedly. The full implications of the second law of thermodynamics apply to the American League East (ACC Coastal) just as soundly as to a million monkeys at a million typewriters. Eventually, and regardless of all prior history, the Baltimore Orioles (Miami Hurricanes) are going to type the complete works of Shakespeare.

How do we know this?

Well, for one thing, there is no God. There is only science. If there were a God, he would be—as evidenced by all of modern baseball history—a devoted fan of the Yankees (Florida State). And God, at least the Judeo-Christian version of Him rather than the Aristotelian unmoved mover, is said to be good. Ergo, there is no God.
So, alone in this cold and expanding universe, we are left to consider the random motion of atoms, of protons and electrons and quarks, as these elemental essences dance and glance their way through the hollow space of, say, a Camden Yards (Joe Robbie), a Fenway(Lane Stadium), a Yankee Stadium (Doak Campbell). There is no romance to the matter, no theology, no purposed narrative even—if by narrative you mean a tale with a moral, with cause and effect, fate or redemption, hubris or vindication. No one is making a point here; the monkeys just keep typing.
In other words, Chaos Theory states that at some point the Miami Hurricanes have to win, if for no other reason than sheer, cold science dictating it. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year. After all, Jameis Winston is gone, Clemson is Clemson, and Virginia Tech is still quarterbacked by Michael Brewer.

Essentially the same cast of dipshits as last season, with only a few tweaks. Because hey, 6-7 was an upward trend! They made changes you can’t see on the field! We were a better team at the end of the season than at the beginning, it just wasn’t reflected in the W-L columns! We have faith in the scheme! EVERYONE GETS AN ORANGE SLICE!

But, hey, at least they made an attempt to fix some stuff. They spent part of the off-season embedded with the Dallas Cowboys! And, I mean, what could be more fitting? The Cowboys used to be awesome when they had Jimmy Johnson, won one more championship with a baby sitter head coach, and have since faded in to a nice, comfortable mediocrity. This, by the way, happened when Brennan Carroll….son of Pete Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks… was still on the staff. 

Can’t make it up!

What happened last season: Well, we lost the last 4 games by double digits with a roster that had 7 NFL draft picks, including 5 in the first 3 rounds. These are the “me” guys that Al Golden has thrown under the bus as the reason we sucked last year, by the way. They dominated too much, you know? Too concerned with their own personal excellence to be a good team player. Can’t display that sort of talent, not on this team. That isn’t one of the pillars.

Never forget the genius that was this playcall:

What will probably happen this season: Knowing what I know, 8 wins, a claim of incremental improvement, and a contract extension for everyone involved.

Brad Kaaya is a stud, no doubt about it. It has been a long time since our best player was at the most important position on the field. Malik Rosier is his athletic backup who also plays on the baseball team…he is apparently being used in some Read-Option packages. Which would be great news if it didn’t mean that, by definition, our best player is sitting out the play.

What happened last season: Kaaya set all sorts of freshman records on his way to the type of season that made him the frontrunner to be the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. And yet, despite this, in big games the coaching staff refused to let him try and win, opting instead for a super conservative, “play not to lose” approach that unsurprisingly backfired EVERY SINGLE TIME.

What will probably happen this season: Like I said, this is the same staff, and they haven’t been too quick on the uptake. Kaaya will probably continue to show streak of brilliance, and then this staff will take him out of his rhythm for seemingly no reason, and then he will find himself down 14 points to a good team, and then he will overthrow to try and make a play and….you can almost smell the Sophomore Slump from here.

Gus Edwards seemed to be the frontrunner for starter duties, right up until he was declared out for the season yesterday. Of course. The talented next-in-line is Joe Yearby, who decided “f*ck this team” during the offseason and spent the summer training on his own. Smart move. Rumor is he will be suspended for the first few games for a dreaded “violation of team rules”. Next in line is Trayone Gray, who has the annoying habit of breaking way too many long runs for Al Golden’s liking. That is the kind of play that gets you benched around here.

You see, long runs have the habit of leading to quick scores, and quick scores mean the shitty defense has to go back on the field and that exposes the head coach’s best friend. Can’t have that.

The wild card is freshman Mark Walton, who everyone has convinced themselves is a can’t miss prospect because he is the one running back we signed last year after 3 high school All Americans at the position decided “on second thought, I’d rather go pretty much anywhere else than Miami”. I’ll believe he’s good when I see it.

The good news here is that we have 3 talented running backs on the roster. The bad news is that we ONLY have 3 talented running backs on the roster, which would be concerning even if this university wasn’t located in South Florida, where high school running backs grow on trees. But, as they say, running back is a low churn position so depth is really more of a luxury than anything.

What happened last season: Duke Johnson set pretty much every school record imaginable. Selfish, right?

What will happen this season: Literally nobody knows. Gus Edwards has apparently looked good all offseason, but I’m not falling for that particular banana in the tailpipe again. The reality is the team lost one of the best players in program history, and replacing him with one guy is pretty much impossible. I’d be shocked if the committee replicates his production from last season. Which means even more pressure on Kaaya. Which is concerning because of…

This could get ugly pretty quickly. There is some good topline talent, but it is all young (Trevor Darling, Kc Mcdemott –who might actually suck but he was a highly rated recruit, Nick Linder, Tyree St. Louis). Over the past 2 years this unit has lost the following: Brandon Linder, Seantrel Henderson, Shane McDermott, Jared Wheeler, Jon Feliciano and most importantly, Ereck Flowers. They now play for the Jaguars, Bills, Cowboys, Eagles, Raiders and Giants, respectively, and Flowers was a Top 10 pick in this past draft.

What happened last season: This was the team’s best unit. And yet, again, 3 starters are gone and in their wake are a bunch of unprovens. Art Kehoe is the best coach on this staff --- this will be the ultimate test of how quickly good coaching can bring a unit together, especially when you know Fat Al will insist on running some complex zone blocking scheme instead of adapting and letting the youngsters get comfortable by just lining up and hitting the guy across from them.

What will happen this season: Get used to hearing this phrase often: “It looks like the right tackle Sonny Odogwu jumped early there.” Hey, on a bright note, at least we are putting our big uglies through ball security drills that seem to be made out of sex toys! Never know when you’re going to have to throw a bubble screen to a 6’7”, 300 pound man!

Unsurprisingly, this is a talented group. Stacey Coley has allegedly checked out of witness protection, Rashawn Scott is back from whatever caused him to miss last season (either injury or suspension…you never can quite tell with good ol’ Rashawn!), Braxton Berrios, Herb Waters, Malcolm Lewis and freshman Lawrence Cager are a nice mix of weapons for Kaaya to work with. At tight end, the group of Stan Dobard, Chris Herndon, Jerome Washington and David Njoku will try to replace the production of another record setting player in Clive Walford, now of the Oakland Raiders.

What happened last season: Phillip Dorsett was the key receiver, as his speed and downfield routes forced defenses to leave much of the middle of the field vulnerable, which paved the way for Duke Johnson and Clive Walford to enjoy a ton of success and for Kaaya to develop confidence working this key area early in his career. Dorsett is now gone to the Colts as a first round pick. So is Walford, the safety blanket.

What will happen this season: This could go a million different ways, but it seems inarguable that the key to it all is Coley. If he can fill the Dorsett role, this offense will have a much easier go of it. If he can’t, defenses are going to blitz our inexperienced o-line and make Kaaya’s life hell. So I guess following the theme of the last decade we can expect the latter.

So. Much. Talent. Al-Quaddin Muhammad is back from his bullshit suspension, Chad Thomas is a year stronger and wiser, we actually have 4 defensive tackles with a pulse, Demetrius Jackson might be the next basketball to football player to become a pass rushing nightmare…you know what Fat Al just heard?

“I bet these guys will look great trying to cover 5’8” slot receivers in the Red Zone.”

What happened last season: If every time you saw a defensive end trying to cover the equivalent of Wes Welker during a Miami game you had to drink, I would have actually died last season. I know people say that a lot, and typically it’s just a euphemism for “oh man I’d have had to drink a lot”, but I literally would have died last season.

Oh, and Anthony Chickillo, the guy the coaching staff forced to gain weight like a piece of foie gras so that he could be used out of position in their stupid scheme, lost the weight, publicly called out Fat Al and Mark Doritos, lit up the college all-star game circuit, got drafted as an outside linebacker by the Pittsburgh effing Steelers (they have had a few decent outside linebackers over the years, and they also happen to be the team that made the EXACT SAME 3-4 that Fat Al uses famous) and is apparently on track to start for them as a rookie. 

Let the failure just cascade over you, ‘Canes fans.

What will happen this season: “Back from that commercial break and we’ll see if the Canes defense can come up with a big hold here in the Red Zone on 3rd and 8, late in the game here at Doak Campbell Stadium. Everett Golson takes the snap…has all day in the pocket to throw…lofts one in to the end zone….touchdown Seminoles! Ermon Lane, the sophomore receiver from South Dade, went up and over Chad Thomas. You can just see from the snap that Golson saw the mismatch, and the Noles exploit it for the TD. And just like that, it looks like FSU will extend their winning streak over Miami to 6 years. You’ve got to really question the defensive play call. You come out of the extended timeout and the best you can come up with is a defensive end covering a wide receiver? Going to be a tough flight home for Al Golden, and you’ve got to imagine his seat is starting to get even warmer.”

Has a player ever murdered a coach on the sideline before? Just curious.

Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace lead the unit that has to replace Denzel Perryman and Thurston Armbrister. Tyriq McCord, who has been completely wasted at linebacker instead of rush end, and Darrion Owens are both gifted and are competing for another starting spot. After that the depth gets SCARY. Would be nice to have pre-season first team All ACC member / Cane legacy James Burgess, wouldn’t it? Too bad. Al stopped recruiting him because he was too small.

What happened last season: Denzel Perryman finished second in Butkus Award voting and was an absolute stud. Finishing that high in any individual awards voting is very selfish. Addition by subtraction if you ask me.

What will happen this season: We better pray nobody gets hurt, because running a scheme that requires 4 linebackers at a time –and having a coaching staff that refuses to have any less than 4 linebackers on the field, even if the other team were to trot out a lineup for 11 wide receivers—with only 4 decent linebackers on the roster is a bit of a sticky wicket. At least Grace is awesome and essentially told the coaches to f*ck off when they tried to make him gain weight.

Lots of good names: Deon Bush, Corn Elder, Tracy Howard, Artie Burns, Jaquan Johnson, Reyshawn Jenkins, Jamal Carter…all are potential impact guys. This is the position group least effected by NFL departures, losing only the undrafted Ladarius Gunter, who has *SHOCKINGLY* been getting first team reps with the Green Bay Packers despite underperforming in college. The guy across from him? Pro Bowler Sam Shields, an undrafted Miami Hurricane who underperformed in college. Sigh.

What happened last season: The absolute lack of a pass rush left the secondary out to dry. IT also didn’t help that apparently our defensive backs are not taught to, ya know, turn their head around and look for the ball in the air. Which you’d think would be something that they would be taught. But who am I to judge, ya know?

What will happen this season: If all goes well, Bush is an All American, Howard finally lives up to the 5 star status, Burns becomes a first round corner and Jaquan is the Duke Johnson of the defense, as hyped.

I’ll pause while you laugh it out.

And so concludes the preview. I’d like to say that I am going to try and take a step back this season, but we all know that isn’t true. I’ve already informed the girlfriend that our Labor Day weekend trip to San Francisco will be paused for the Canes game vs Bethune Cookman.

I’ll always be there, pushing my particular boulder up the hill, filled with hatred (both internal and external), hoping that this is the year I finally make it to the top.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How I Got to Memphis...I Mean Shreveport

So, let's get this out of the way...I lifted the title for this post from the series finale of The Newsroom that aired over this past weekend.

"How I Got to Memphis" is the name of a country western tune by Tom T. Hall. 'Memphis', it is pointed out to Jeff Daniels' character, doesn't actually mean Memphis the city. It could be any place. The name of the song really is just a way of saying "how I got to where I am right now".

I enjoyed that part of the episode. As an aside, Aaron Sorkin is completely self indulgent, has zero idea how to write women (probably because he has no idea how to maintain a relationship with one) and has, at best, a flawed understanding of the 1st Amendment...which in light of the Sony hack, I have realized a lot of people on my Facebook share with him.

However, he does know how to turn a phrase (kind of like Al Golden, right?)

So, how did we get to Shreveport for the fucking Duck Commander Bowl?

How did we take a roster with the ACC's top rated QB, a finalist for the John Mackey Award, the runner up for the Dick Butkus Award, and the program's all time leader in rushing yardsand all purpose yards and go 6-6. In other words, how did we take a roster with a lot of elite talent and turn in a perfectly mediocre result?

The reason is systemic failure, starting with the Board of Trustees and trickling all the way down to the locker room.

In the weeks since the season ended, I have thought about that. I have read all the quality analyses by dudes on my message board and at Sebatian's Pub (Vish ain't never lied).

I have hoped for Al Golden to be fired, and then to resign, and then when it became clear neither of those two things were happening, to get snatched away by Nebraska or Wisconsin.

I have watched The U Part 2 and gotten fired up about the possibility of the unemployed, readily available for pennies on the dollar Butch Davis returning.

Turns out none of those things are happening.

So now it is time to square with some facts before the bowl game.

This program is in a dangerous limbo right now.

Al Golden does not deserve to be the coach any longer if the information is based on football. However, the administration has clearly decided to keep him for non-football reasons...which means that any conversation about his failings on the football field or in a recruit's living room are completely fruitless.

We will probably lose to South Carolina, but even if we win, what does that mean? We went 7-6, with our biggest wins being an October victory over a decent, albeit unranked Duke team and a bowl win over an equally mediocre, disinterested South Carolina team that plays no semblance of defense? Whoopty fuckin doo.

The reality is, and I have written this before, that we the fans are hostages at this point. We have no say so...the administration has made that abundantly clear. This is a money game, and quite frankly even pooled together we don't have the money to make our voice heard.

So instead, I am going to watch one more Canes game on the 27th, nursing my recently surgerized shoulder.

I am going to savor one last look at Duke Johnson and Denzel Perryman and Phil Dorsett and all those guys.

I am going to think about how awesome next season might be with an older Brad Kaaya, a rejuvenated Stacey Coley, a faster defense, etc.

I will try my best to block out my frustration with the coaching staff for a few hours, because at the end of the day football is supposed to be fun.

And then after the game, I am going to actively try to take a step back for a few months. Not check the message boards so much, not get so hung up on recruiting, etc.

I know that I will probably fail, but hey, I am going to try. I need to refresh. This has been a frustrating season, and the reality is that my college football team shouldn't cause me this much stress, especially when there isn't an actual game to watch.

Maybe I will take my dad's approach and just wait until August to pick the team back up. Not worry about practice standouts...wait until the games come on and trust my eyes.

Either way, cheers to you few folks who read this. Despite the crappiness of our team, college football season is always fun because of the people it brings together. And even a crappy college football Saturday is one of the 15 or so best days of the year.

-- -- --

Finally, there will be no South Carolina Hate. Know why? I don't really hate them. Fact is, I LOVE Steve Spurrier. The Ol Ball Coach is one of the few dudes who embraces the absurdity of college football as just that: absurd.

This man is the king of the trolls. Take this seemingly innocuous quote immediately following his team accepting their bowl bid:

"Miami is another team that almost beat FSU this year. Gotta be what? Seven or eight of those that almost beat FSU."

Take in the beauty. In one line, Spurrier not only jabs FSU, but also belittles the accomplishments of Clemson (his arch rival for in state recruits) and Miami (whom he hates going back to his days as a QB at UiF).

Playa hatin' at its finest, y'all. And THAT is the beauty of Steve Spurrier, national treasure.

With that in mind, instead of manufacturing some shit to make fun of them for (I mean...their nickname is the Cocks...), I leave y'all with this tribute to Ball Coach, the King of Throwin' Shade, Master of the College Football Universe.

Repurposed from SBNation.

On South Carolina's 52-7 win over the Razorbacks: "I do feel badly for Arkansas. That's no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that."
On the Gamecocks' matchup at Tennessee "Will be the 14th time I've coached in Neyland Stadium. ... I've coached there more than some of their head coaches."
On his age: "The Pope is 77 years old and he's in charge of a billion people. All I have to do is put 11 on the field."


On playing Georgia early: "I don't know. I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended."

On Georgia recruiting: "Why is it that during recruiting season they sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don't understand that. What happens to them?"


On the Vols missing out on the Sugar Bowl during his Florida years: "You can't spell Citrus without U-T."
On Peyton Manning: "I know why Peyton came back for his senior year. He wanted to be a three-time star of the Citrus Bowl."


On recruiting: "In 12 years at Florida, I don't think we ever signed a kid from the state of Alabama ... Of course, we found out later that the scholarships they were giving out at Alabama were worth a whole lot more than ours."

Florida State

On scandal in Tallahassee: "You know what FSU stands for, don't you? Free Shoes University."
On illegal hits against Danny Wuerffel: "He's like a New Testament person. He gets slapped up side the face, and turns the other cheek and says, 'Lord, forgive them for they know not what they're doing.' I'm probably more of an Old Testament guy. You spear our guy in the earhole, we think we're supposed to spear you in the earhole. That's kind of where we're a little different."


On a fire at the football dorm that destroyed 20 books: "But the real tragedy was that 15 hadn't been colored yet."


On the Death Valley nickname: "Most of our guys have never been to Death Valley. (LSU's stadium) is the Death Valley, isn't it? Or is there another one? There's two of them. That's right. There's two Death Valleys."
On the state of the South Carolina program (widely attributed, but probably not an original): "We aren't LSU and we aren't Alabama. But we sure ain't Clemson."
On Dabo Swinney's anger over the above quote: "I said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do? I didn't say it.' Smart people don't believe everything they read, and they don't believe hearsay. ... I guess Dabo believed it."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pitt Hate Week

Former GE CEO Jack Welch once said “change before you have to”.

Welp, too late for that shit.

What we saw last Saturday night was the culmination of everything we the fans have come to resent about the Miami Hurricanes and all saw coming as soon as Al Golden failed to get the open Penn State job last winter.
All the classic elements of an Al Golden game were there.

Team improperly motivated? Check.

Completely out-schemed by a half-wit coach? Check.

Team quitting when the adversity mounted? Check.

Lack of quality depth glaring through at the worst possible moments? Check.

Look, every loss this season up to this point had some sort of believable mitigating circumstance.
This one had nothing. We thought this program had turned the corner. We thought that the days of the bend-but-don’t-break, passive mentality were gone. We thought the young studs had finally been let off the leash.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, I post on a Canes message board A LOT. It is my own little corner of the internet. It is one of the funniest places in the world, and alternatively one of the most frustrating. But ultimately I keep going back in times like this because there is a select handful of fans that post there that I consider to be like me: smart, passionate fans of the TEAM. One of my favorite posters wrote this after the loss, and it should be read by all. Forgive me, because this is a little long, but do yourself a favor and stick with it.

In early 2012, I had a conversation with a former Miami staffer who landed at Alabama. I congratulated him on Alabama's championship and told him that it must be nice to coach so many studs. He looked at me and said, "Miami's good players are better than Alabama's good players." 
I couldn't believe it. Alabama was the national champion. Miami was 6-6 and coming off an embarrassing home loss to BC. Alabama had multiple projected first round picks. Miami had a few mid and late-round guys. But he was insistent. 
"Lamar Miller is better than Trent Richardson. Olivier Vernon is better than Courtney Upshaw. And Seantrel Henderson is better than any lineman we've got. Watch them in the pros." 
Now that we've seen those guys in the NFL, we know he was dead-on. Why were the programs so far apart on the field? The coach said it came down to football infrastructure (training table, strength and conditioning, medical staff) and depth. He left out coaching, for obvious reasons, but you can assume that's another factor. Once those guys get to the NFL, he said, all the external things will become equal and raw talent will prevail.
Golden has done a better job than Shannon in terms of player development; specifically, strength and conditioning. Perryman, Dorsett, Walford and Duke all got bigger and stronger without losing their speed. But why is a team with so many elite players struggling in a talentless Coastal division? 
Coaching is an obvious factor that is being addressed in every other thread on this board. The other factor is depth. In my view, there are three reasons depth is not where it needs to be: 
1- We cannot identify undervalued South Florida talent. We are the anti-Louisville in this regard. These South Florida three-stars should be the main source of depth for this team, along with blue-chip young players.
2- The camp has produced nothing. I've discussed this before, but it bears repeating: the camp is the biggest indictment of the Temple crew's talent evaluation skills. If Paul "Delaware" Williams offers a kid at the camp, I just assume it's a wasted scholarship.
3- The Temple coaches have a Northeastern, Parcells approach that does not work here. This relates to numbers 1 and 2. Golden says that you support the star players with "coal shovelers." His idea of a coal shoveler is a low-rated, low-maintenance guy who has ideal measurables to develop. That's crap. 
The meat of this program should be South Florida ballers who may lack a measurable or two. The guys that go to Louisville and talk **** to our five-stars. Football players, not projects with good attitudes. If we had been stacking these guys for four years, this team would look much, much different.
Right now, our best players are better than anybody's best players. Anybody. Watch Perryman, Dorsett, Flowers, Duke and Walford in the pros. No other Power Five school can match those upperclassmen. Four years later, Miami is still undefeated on Sunday and .500 on Saturday.

There is nothing I could write that sums it all up better than that. And so, it is time to make a change. Miami had a chance to do this before they had to, and passed, and now it is time to pick up the pieces again.
__ __
This is by far the fastest I can ever remember a season going by. Seems like literally yesterday that I was having people over for a Labor Day BBQ and kicking them all out at 4 so I could be left alone for an hour before the game started.

Think about where this team was at the beginning of the season.

We had no clue if Brad Kaaya would be any good or not. Turns out he is the most promising thing to happen to this program in YEARS.

We thought Clive Walford was an inconsistent head case. We thought Phillip Dorsett was a one trick pony. We thought Stacey Coley was going to be the next big thing. We thought Duke Johnson was a really good back that couldn’t quiiittteee carry the full time load. We thought Denzel Perryman was a Butkus Award Contender.

Well, Walford is now statistically the best tight end in the history of “Tight End U”. Dorsett is all of a sudden one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft. Stacey Coley had an AWFUL sophomore slump. Duke Johnson became arguably the greatest player in the history of the program. And Denzel Perryman…well, we were right on that one.

I am going to, for the first time in a long time, legitimately miss this year’s senior class.

I do not feel like these guys were talent blockers…and it isn’t just the ones above.

Anthony Chickillo, Thurston Armbrister, LaDarius Gunter, Jon Feliciano, Shane McDermott…these are all guys that made major contributions to this team. They weren’t just the oldest guy at their position; they made shit happen, and more often than not were a credit to the program.

Senior Night sees them face off with Pitt.

I hate Pitt. Ever since I was young I remember playing them with their ugly ass uniforms and “historic legacy”. The most vocal part of that legacy is Mark May, so to that I say *armpit fart*.\
Really the most memorable Pitt moment of my lifetime is when they had Larry Fitzgerald, one of the all time greatest wide receivers, coming into the game with a twenty-something game streak having caught a touchdown.

Miami stuck their attack dog, Antrel Rolle, on him, and he didn’t register so much as a peep until late in the 4th quarter. Miami had pulled most of their starters and Fitz predictably caught a touchdown…and Pitt celebrated like they had just won the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup at the same time.
F Pitt and f their “historic legacy”.

Here is how this game is gonna go. Their stud running back, James Conner, is going to run like 50 times for like 4.5 yard per carry. That doesn’t sound effective, but it means they will get a 1st down every 3rd time he touches the ball.

They will occasionally throw to their stud receiver, Tyler Boyd, and he is going to catch a couple of balls over our defensive backs who have not been trained to turn their head around and look for the ball. I know this is counter-intuitive, but that actually makes it harder to get an interception. Who knew?

Anyway, Pitt will probably win because Miami looks checked out for the season. Maybe Miami wins to preserve a 7-5 record and the Yankee Pinstripe Bowl instead of the Beef-a-roni Bowl. Either way Al Golden will say it was a tough game because…oh horror of horrors…the game was played at night. And we just played the always physically toll-taking Virginia Cavaliers. And blah blah blah blah.

I hope that the seniors get sent off with a win. And then I hope the administration does the thing that anyone with balls would surely do.

Fire Al Golden. He is a good dude, and I think he legitimately cares. I wish he would have worked out, because there are a lot of things about him I really enjoy.

But it has become clear that we have to change.

It is the only way to make sure that the NEXT group of seniors doesn’t get wasted like this one did.