There’s only one reason why the Miami Hurricanes football team could count 2015 as a success, but I doubt you could guess it correctly given three tries.
If you believe it was because former Head Coach Al Golden was fired, think again.
If you give full credit to Interim Head Coach Larry Scott for turning the season around, think again.
If you believe it was the Miracle in Durham where the eight lateral occurred, think again.
If the team knew the reason why the season could be a major success, the Canes would not want it to be that way.
Firing the head coach in the middle of the season usually means the season is done, and the rest of the way is for rebuilding the team for next year. Scott took over and got the job done, posting a 4-1 record with key wins over Duke and Pittsburgh.
The season’s overall record, 8-4, is a two-win improvement from last year’s team that went 6-6 in the regular and would end up 6-7 after a loss in the bowl game. This year, the Canes still have a bowl game to play.
Scott encouraged the players to have fun and believe in each other before taking the field against Duke. The final play of that game may have brought the team’s spirit up, but that was not the turning point of the season.
In my eyes, a major success in sports is not just defined by wins and losses, but by how a team fought through adversity. The season would become a major success after defensive back Artie Burns’ mother passed away unexpectedly the night after Golden was fired.
No one wanted it to be that way. However, the tragedy left the Canes with a stronger sense of brotherhood and strength in themselves as a team. Football became less of a priority to players, coaches and everyone on the staff. Brotherhood and family became more important to the team.
Burns knew right away that he had to continue playing football and not take a game off. Picking a brother up after he’s been down helped Burns and the rest of the team improve their game. That made them mentally stronger. The support for this team was off the charts, and the players had fire in their eyes. All the doubt had come to an end.
The university deserves credit too for helping out Burns. The athletics department set up a GoFundMe account where their goal was to raise $10,000 in order to assist the Burn’s family. According to cbssports.com staff writer Jerry Hinnen, over $30,000 had been raised within the first seven hours of the account going public. Ultimately, $40,000 would be raised.
The importance for Burns and his family is not just the money. The fact that the goal was quadrupled meant that they had more support from the community than they had expected. That is family right there.
All the pressures and criticism leading up to this point were now set aside. The players were free to play the game they loved without much stress. When on the field against Duke four days later, the Canes had someone to play for: Ms. Dana Smith.
Here is a video by CanesAllAccess further explaining how the Canes went from rock bottom to the highest point of the season in just one week.
Correction, Dec. 8: This blog post previously referred to Ms. Dana Smith as “Ms. Dana Burns.”