The University of Miami recruited top players and won championships. When New Year’s Day rolled around, the Hurricanes often figured in the battle for the national title.
They won five from 1983-2001, with such outsized personalities and performers as Michael Irvin, Jim Kelley, Warren Sapp, Vinny Testaverde, Cortez Kennedy. They won and they competed. They made the Hurricanes loud and proud.
And then it all vanished, in a haze of scandal and mediocre coaching and competition for players with Florida and Florida State.
Well, they’re back. The Hurricanes, unranked now but not for much longer, knocked off No. 16 West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday night. The Hurricanes (9-4) have won a bowl game for the first time in a decade, celebrated a bowl win for the first time since 2006’s MPC Computers Bowl.
“I hope the people watching this game that have a say in who’s who in college football got a good feeling about us, that we’re on the rise,” said first-year coach Mark Richt, a former Hurricanes quarterback from Boca Raton who previously enjoyed great success at the University of Georgia.
Success, of course, breeds its own problems, as it will at Miami. Junior quarterback Brad Kaaya, named MVP after throwing four touchdown passes, will likely opt for the NFL draft, as tight end David Njoku quickly did after the game. Replacing Kaaya will be a huge chore.
But that is for another day. The University of Miami is on the right path, in the right hands, with every chance to build on what it has achieved. It sure brought back memories.
That’s a nice night’s work for the players and a challenge going forward for Richt.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman