What’s up, y’all? It’s been a hell of a week, and this Miami article has been festering in my brain since last Saturday night.
I’ve worn my Clemson gear around Manhattan, Kansas, this week and it’s been shocking. I’ve received an occasional “big game this Saturday...huh” whisper from otherwise stranger-averse Midwesterners, like monks breaking their vow of silence for the first time in 50 years. All I can do is nod my head (I don’t make eye contact of course, because that’s perceived as a threat), because if I laugh, these folks may never speak another word in public the rest of their lives.
Say what you will about Miami (and I’m about to say plenty), but their P.R. department, starting in the mid 80’s and reaching into the early 2000’s, was elite. Even folks in the middle of Kansas are programmed to fear the Hurricanes. I, a man of great culture and consistent access to cable television, know better, but I won’t begrudge them their college football monster.
I fear Miami as much as I fear Bigfoot, but some people are superstitious I suppose.
First off, Clemson isn’t playing the Miami Hurricanes, or at least any version of Miami I’m accustomed to seeing on a football field. This isn’t a team loaded with hard hitting dudes from South Florida. Nah, this is a squad of G5 All-Stars who met up in Coral Gables to improve their draft stock. I don’t begrudge them the opportunity.
How many chances in do you get to test your mettle against the future National Champions in prime time?
You certainly don’t get that opportunity at Houston, or Temple, or U.C.L.A, or USC (granted, U.C.L.A. and USC are technically P5 schools). Sure, you’re going to get your brains beat in on national television, but it’ll be a cool story to tell your grandkids one day. Can you imagine putting your 8-year-old grandchild on your knee and telling them about the time you lost to Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne by 3 touchdowns in Death Valley?
I can close my syes and imagine the child, decked out in Miami gear, curling up on their grandfather’s lap and saying “Pops, tell me about Trevor’s hair again. I love that story.”
While I don’t have an issue with Miami assembling a random group of high achieving players from small (or Pac12) schools, I do find it hilarious. The mighty Hurricanes are sitting in the nerve center of college football talent and have to recruit another program’s quarterback because they can’t find one in the state of Florida. It reminds me of a line from Coleridge’s The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, “water, water everywhere / nor any drop to drink.” Except in Miami’s case, there is plenty of water to drink, they just can’t figure out how to use a straw (whatever you do, don’t take Michael Irvin’s advice on how to use a straw).
In the past 5 years, Miami has recruited the following quarterbacks:
(I know y’all aren’t reading this for my recruiting opinions, but hang with me for a second, I’m setting something up.)
2016 - Jack Allison - 4* - Palmetto, Florida
2017 - N’Kosi Perry - 4* - Ocala, Florida
2018 - Jarren Williams - 4* - Lawrenceville, Georgia
2019 - Peyton Matocha - 3* - Houston, Texas
2020 - Tyler Van Dyke - 4* - Suffield, Connecticut
They even brought in a former 5* QB by the name of Tathan Martell to try and fix the quarterback situation and they still had to raid a G5 roster to find a guy that can sling the rock. The truth is, Miami is the place where quarterbacks go to die. When is the last time The U took the time to develop a decent quarterback (and don’t say Brad Kaaya)?
It’s got to be Ken Dorsey...right?
This reminds me of another program near and dear to my heart. Ladies and Gentlemen, Miami is now on par with the U of SC.
It makes sense though. Miami hired Manny Diaz, and Manny Diaz is Will Muschamp with a better stylist, a personal trainer, and the self control not drown every meal in saw mill gravy.
I have it on good authority the Manny keeps a signed copy of Muschamp’s privately-published self help book Failing Upwards: The Will Muschamp Story on his bed side table, because outside of Will, no one has failed their way into a decent college football job like Diaz.
The comparisons are uncanny.
Will Muschamp - Georgia grad coaching at conference rival U of SC
Manny Diaz - Florida State grad coaching at conference rival Miami
Will Muschamp - Former Texas Longhorn golden boy defensive coordinator who bottomed out when asked to recruit and develop his own talent. (Will’s last Longhorns defense ranked 49th in the nation, and the team went 5-7. He parlayed that into the Florida head coaching gig somehow.)
Manny Diaz - Former Texas Longhorn golden boy defensive coordinator who bottomed out when asked to recruit and develop his own talent. (Manny replaced Will at Texas, but as I mentioned above, Will can’t develop talent, so Manny had a rough 2.2 years in Austin before Mack gave him the hook after BYU ran up 40 points on them in the second game of the 2013 season).
Will Muschamp - Always an offensive coordinator away from greatness.
Manny Diaz - On his second offensive coordinator hire in his 2nd season as a head coach.
Will Muschamp - Replaced a promising young 4* quarterback with a G5 grad transfer in 2020.
Manny Diaz - Replaced a promising young 4* quarterback with a G5 transfer in 2020.
Will Muschamp - Shut out by Virginia in the Belk Bowl
Manny Diaz - Shut out by Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl
Folks, Manny Diaz is Will Muschamp and Will Muschamp is Manny Diaz, which leads me to my final comparison...
Will Muschamp - Owned by Clemson
Manny Diaz - Owned by Clemson
Teams like Clemson don’t need a sad gimmick like a turnover chain to inspire their players to greatness, because greatness is the standard. When a Clemson player comes up with a turnover, instead prancing around with a gimmick and preening for the cameras, they get a pat on the back by Coach Venables followed by a critique of a missed tackle from two games previous.
When you play on the Clemson defense, you’re expected to come up with turnovers. It’s in the job description. When you file the proper form at your desk job, your boss doesn’t turn on a strobe light, sprint to your cubicle, and present you with the “proper form” chain made from gold plated paper clips.
You’re expected to file the proper form because that’s your job.
Wow, Ok, Drew, are you really going to hate on Ed Reed?
Aren’t you afraid?
There are no sacred cows in my world. I fear no man other than Brent Venables after a blown coverage, and Ed Reed is nothing more than a sentient version of the turnover chain.
I find it hilarious that Diaz had to go out and hire Reed as his “Chief of Staff” to try and bring credibility to Miami program. I find it even more hilarious that his “Chief of Staff” is allowed to get after officials during games. Seriously, what sort of undisciplined clown show is Diaz running in Coral Gables?
Clemson has a better version of Ed Reed at their disposal, but I doubt you’ll see Brian Dawkins jawing with an official on the Clemson sideline any time soon.
Want to know why?
Dabo knows how to run an actual college football program. You won’t see C.J. Spiller drawing attention to himself on the sideline because C.J. respects Dabo. I get the feeling that Ed does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, because he knows Diaz is too afraid to tell him to chill out. Reed isn’t at Miami to coach (his job doesn’t allow him to coach players on the field...supposedly). He’s nothing more than a walking, talking turnover chain, a reminder that at one point playing for Miami meant more than hoping for nice December weather in Shreveport.
Miami can have their gimmick chains and gimmick “coaches.” You can slap a fresh coat of paint on a run down shack with a crumbling foundation if you want, but, personally, I’ll take a consistent National Championship level program all day, every day.
You don’t need gimmicks when you’re winning.
I’m ecstatic that Miami is coming into this game riding the hype train. Unlike the rest of the “sports media,” I remember the last time a hyped-up Miami faced Clemson in the ACC Championship game. You know, the Miami that “was back” under Mark Richt because they were 10-1 with a win over Notre Dame. That game ended in a 38-3 beat down and Miami Vice Richt saw the light and retired shortly thereafter.
I’ll give Miami their “Glory Days” (shout out to The Boss) but remember, “Glory Days” is a song about a bunch of folks meeting up to reminisce about the past because they are stuck in a dead end present with no hope for the future.
I’ll leave you with a verse from Bruce that is the perfect metaphor for 2020 Miami football.
I had a friend, was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speed ball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
But all he kept talking about was ...
Y’all stay safe. I’ll see you next week.