Despite the obvious fact that Miami may have ruined its chances for a third consecutive trip to the national title game, why does Saturday’s 31-7 loss at Virginia Tech hurt so much for Hurricane fans?
Is it the fact that the ‘Canes were humiliated on national television’s “Survival Saturday?” Is it because quarterback Brock Berlin basically gave the Hokies 21 points that easily could have been avoided? Or how about Kevin Everett’s dropped touchdown on a fake field goal?
Nah, I don’t buy any of these. Granted, all of them are huge factors leading to the stinging pain that Hurricane fans still feel days, if not years (see Washington, ’00) after the defeat. However, there is one reason why it hurts so badly. Miami fans are spoiled. They have become so accustomed to winning that even when the threat of a loss comes their way, the ‘Canes will or at least used to always find some way to win the game.
The only time the Hurricanes have lost in Larry Coker’s tenure prior to Saturday was, according to many, due to the fault of Big XII official Terry Porter’s phantom pass interference call in last year’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State. What the spoiled fans failed to realize last January was the fact that Miami played poor enough in Tempe to put themselves in a position to lose on a blown call to the Buckeyes.
But let’s get back to the present.
Virginia Tech handed it to the ‘Canes on Saturday and this time there was no chance for the typical Hurricane late heroics. Winning is expected no matter what the circumstances are. Despite the cockiness that Miami players and fans have displayed over the past couple of seasons, the Hokies still managed to put a halt to UM’s 39-game regular season winning streak, its 27-game winning streak in the Big East, and likely its hope for a third straight championship game appearance.
My point is proven by a conversation I had with a fellow die-hard ‘Cane fan and media member immediately after the loss on Saturday. All we could talk about was how our New Year’s trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl is now ruined and that we will have to wait and see what city we will travel to for the postseason. Wow, if this does not prove that the expectations at this school have become way too high, I don’t know what does.
On paper, the ‘Canes entered the season with high hopes even though they lost Ken Dorsey, Willis McGahee, Andre Johnson, Jerome McDougle, and Andrew Williams, to name a few. However, fans knew that winning would not come as easy this year, yet, I know they still expected to go undefeated due to how high the expectations have escalated. Down 23 points earlier this season to Florida, Brock Berlin fed fans with expectations by leading an amazing comeback to give Miami a 38-33 victory. The win proved to UM fans that no matter what obstacles may come, the Hurricanes just couldn’t lose. This perceived invincibility was proven once again four weeks ago, when Kellen Winslow’s leaping fourth down catch saved the drive and game for the ‘Canes against West Virginia. Although we should just look at this season, Miami fans can’t forget the Mike Rumph/Matt Walters/Ed Reed interception return at Boston College two seasons ago that saved their 2001 championship run. That game was the beginning of what has made Saturday’s defeat hurt so much.
What has happened this season simply proves that Miami is a very good football team, but probably not championship caliber. And this should be ok. We Hurricane fans are like rich kids who have always gotten whatever we wanted but have to grow up and realize that things don’t always go our way.
Well now we ‘Canes fans are like other college football fans all across the nation. We must rally behind our team to help them finish the season strong. An 11-1 record with a new quarterback, running back, offensive and defensive lines, punter, and kicker is a great accomplishment in my eyes. And with a little help from other teams, the Hurricanes still have a fighting chance to go to New Orleans. Miami fans must fight through the pain and support their team starting this Saturday against Rocky Top Tennessee.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.