One hell of a ride

The image that defines this season is Kyle Wright lying on his back after scrambling for his life, late in a game that was already over, trying desperately to make a play.

This season will be defined, at least as of now, as a failure.

The team did not qualify for a bowl game. They lost their last four games.

It seemed as if most of the players who Larry Coker recruited quit on Randy Shannon at about halftime of the North Carolina State game.

Five wins, in hindsight, seems lucky for a team that only really played one complete football game.

This team played a brand of football that was, if nothing else, reactive; they just didn’t go out and make the types of plays that great teams make.

The season was so disappointing that even Michael Irvin, as devoted an alumnus as you will find, could not even bring himself to come to the last game at the Orange Bowl for fear of the team embarrassing itself (he proved to be a sage).

This season was, in the minds of impatient Hurricane fans, supposed to be the year that we returned to dominance. Fans expected an ACC title and a BCS bowl.

Looking back, it is hard to imagine why. This roster was left barren by Larry Coker. The talent on this team is not what Canes fans are used to having. There are maybe 30 players on this roster who have the heart to be considered in the same sentence as their predecessors.

And that is why 10 years from now this season will be looked back on as one of transition.

This will be the season that Randy Shannon took the reins and began to transform the program back to where it needs to be.

The strife that occurred will be seen as growing pains, as the first steps back toward the Promised Land that is the BCS.

What this team needs, and what Shannon promises to deliver, are new faces. For those calling for the heads of coaches, that is not what I mean. This team needs players who buy into the system. It needs playmakers. It needs miles and miles of heart.

The final perspective that I have of this season is one of uneven emotion. Never before has one team left more people uplifted (after the Texas A&M and Florida State games) and downright miserable (after pretty much every other game).

I applaud the effort of an elite few, but deplore the majority for mailing it in. I look forward to next season, but I dread similar results to this one.

When I look back at this season, I see it as unfortunate, but probably necessary.

Nobody wants to lose. However, in order to become elite, sometimes a starvation period is necessary to trim the fat.

Dan Stein may be contacted at