It was just a matter of when, not if. The University of Miami, under Miami grad Mark Richt, was thissclose to becoming the "U" again.
You know the program with swagger which went into every game knowing that it was going to win, no matter the situation; the program which regarded a Top 10 ranking as part of the standard equipment issued each season.
This year that seemed to be true because the U came out of the blocks last season, winning its first 10 games, which included a 41-8 demolition of old Catholics vs. Convicts foe, Notre Dame.
This appeared to be true because even with an inexplicable 3 game losing streak to end last season--which included an embarrassing 10 point loss at Pittsburgh to end the regular season, a 38-3 spanking by Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and another loss to Wisconsin in the what was a home field game in the Orange Bow--the "U" was ranked No. 8 in the pre-season polls.
Why such respect?
Well, it was the "U", of course.
Not so fast my friends.
Let's look at some numbers, starting with Saturday's embarrassing 16-13 loss at Virginia, which followed what was almost an even bigger embarrassment at home against FSU (trailing 27-7 in the second half) before pulling out a 28-27 victory.
And that was after the an opening game loss to an LSU team, which is proving to be better than most people expected.
Well, Miami may be worse than most people expected. The Canes are 4-2, but those wins are over FCS Savannah State, Toledo, FIU and North Carolina, who have a combined record of 9-16
Over the past 10 games, the u is a mediocre 5-5. In fact, the entire ACC Coastal Division, of which Miami was the heavy favorite to win in the pre-season, has serious road damage. Going into the heart of the conference season, Duke has the best overall record at 5-1, but the Blue Devils lost a home game to Virginia Tech, which is still shaking off a stunning loss to Old Dominion, which hasn't won since that game and is 0-4 in the C-USA and 1-5 overall.
No ACC Coastal Division team is ranked in the Top 25, status which could affect the ACC when it comes down to placing its champion in the CFB's Final Four, since the CFB Selection Committee looks at strength of schedule when determining tie-breakers.
Although defending ACC champ Clemson is unbeaten and ranked No. 3 in the polls, there doesn't appear to be any ""quality'' win type of games remaining on the Tigers' schedule, with no disrespect meant towards anyone
. And if NC State, which is also unbeaten. pulls off an upset at Death Valley on Saturday, the ACC could really be in trouble, since that will leave the league without any unbeaten champion.
But getting back to the u, what bothered us the most about the loss to Virginia is the sloppiness the Canes are showing on the field and on the sidelines. I have been a big Mark Richt fan going back to his days as an FSU assistant coach and then the head coach at Georgia and then back at Miami.
But (full disclosure) as a Miami guy ( went to school there in another century, the 60s, when it was also the u, when winning 8 games in a season was a major accomplishment, I see a program that needs fixing, not fine tuning.
Sloppy play, filled with stupid penalties and questionable coaching decisions (an on-side kick attempt against Virginia was not necessary and failed miserably, but not as miserably as a year ago when Georgia Tech returned an on-side kick for a touchdown, is not the profile of championship contenders.
The Canes have a bye-week before their next encounter at Boston College on Oct. 26th, a Friday Night Lights' ESPN production.
""Maybe that's exactly what we need to assess everything from top to bottom'' Richt told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. ""If there's a time in season to make certain changes, you can do them, whether it's personnel or whatever it may be. Sometimes time will help you. Certainly, it will be a couple of sleepless nights for me, I know.''
Richt still sees a bigger picture of hope in the future. ""We still have a lot of football ahead of us,'' he said. ""We still have the opportunity to get to Charlotte (the ACC championship game site). That's not dead, that's not over. But certainly Virginia earned the right to win, we didn't do enough to get it done.''
An outsider's view of what is happening at Boston College, AKA The Heights
And after the seventh week, Boston College rested--thankfully. Coach Steve Addazio's team did what it had to do on Saturday at Alumni Stadium-grinding its way to a 38-20 over a Louisville team that is halfway through what looks like a long season.
For the Eagles, who now slide into a bye week with a 5-2 record (2-1 in the ACC), it was a best of times, worst of times type of day.
On the positive side was a balanced offense which, playing without star running back AJ Dillon (sprained ankle) was a model of efficiency, churning out 251 rushing yards, which was split amost equally between David Bailey (28 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD) and Ben Glines (17 carries,107 yards 1 TD).
If nothing else, it looks like Addazio has three quality running backs who can contribute when needed.
On the negative side was the sloppiness of two lost fumbles which turned what looked like an early 14-0 BC 6 minutes into the game into a fourth quarter because of a pair of lost fumbles which allowed Louisville to climb back into the contest.
Addazio will have almost two weeks to fine tune his team in preparation for a meeting with Miami on Friday Oct. 26.
There are still a lot of things to fix on offense and defense, but beyond the Hurricanes, the remainder of the BC schedule looks daunting. And after the way Miami played in its loss to Virginia on Saturday night, the Hurricanes hardly look like an overwhelming obstacle.
BC needs 1 win to become bowl eligible, it needs two wins to assure a winning season, and it might need 3 wins to assure that Addazio, who will have two more years on his contract after this season, returns.
Although 5-2 would appear to be a solid foiundation, none of those options looks like a mortal lock.
After Miami, the Eagles face the blue royalty of the ACC--Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State in successive weeks.
Nor is a regular season finale at home against Syracuse an easy task.
BC has the ability to win ALL of those games. It can also lose ALL of those games, which doesn't provide any comfort zone in the BC athletic offices.
But for now, the Eagles and Addazio can begin their quiet period with a reasonable amount of satisfaction, knowing,, however, that it could all evaporate quickly.
""I thought our kids were really resilient,'' said Addazio. "They had complete confidence. When momentum seemed to be shifting a bit, they steadied the boat, overcame it in the end
"All in all, we're going to head into the bye week 5-2. Have a chance to get rested, have a chance to get AJ back healthy and ready to roll, have a strong football team heading down the back end of the season.'''
Very excited about a Boston College win.