This Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes will face off against the Florida A&M Rattlers for their season opener at the newly rebranded Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The venue has transformed with upgraded seats, more digital boards and a canopy after sponsorship by the casino, while our football team is also beginning a new era under Head Coach Mark Richt.
After several lackluster seasons, Hurricanes fans have found themselves more jaded and disappointed than ever. With three years since NCAA sanctions were lifted, fans are impatient for the return of the powerhouse team they once knew. It has been 10 years since the Hurricanes won a bowl game, 13 years since they brought home a conference championship and 15 years since our last national championship. To say there is a lot riding on Richt’s performance this season would be an understatement.
Richt, who last coached at the University of Georgia, is largely respected as a “class act” coach. He came to Miami with a 145-51 career record and a 9-5 bowl record. Richt had a slow start in his first season at Georgia in 2001, but quickly improved to finish at a record of 8-4, the most successful campaign for a first year head coach at the school in over 80 years. His second season was even better, finishing with a record of 13-1, a No. 3 national ranking and an SEC championship title. This shows just how effective Richt can be in a short amount of time.
His reputation has even helped UM’s recruiting. Decommitted players rejoined the 2016 recruiting class after Richt took the helm. Looking to future years, the Hurricanes’ 2017 recruiting class is currently ranked ninth in the nation, and our 2018 class is ranked third. These are improvements that Richt also credited to past staff in a press conference on Tuesday.
That his morals and faith have been central to his coaching leads some to suspect that Richt is “too nice” of a coach. In reality, it seems Richt has high expectations for his players. In an interview published last Friday, Richt remarked that the Hurricanes football players could be more “mentally tough.”
Perhaps this is a lesson to take home for all Hurricanes fans: even if our team encounters a few bumps in the road this season, we still need to endure with grace. As successful as Richt has been, the football program cannot be turned around in one day, one month or even one year. We need to reserve our judgements of Richt’s performance until the Canes get at least a few games under their belt. We also need to stay level headed; an early loss doesn’t mean we’re doomed, and an early win won’t guarantee our success.
It’s the first matchup of the season; our university just welcomed a new class of students who spent the summer throwing up the U and counting down the days. Let’s feed off that freshman energy and carry a positive spirit into Saturday’s game.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.