No. 13: Miami

Call it The Homecoming. Mark Richt, after more than 20 years learning his profession at Florida State and then Georgia, is coming home.

All Coach Richt did was win 10 games a year in Athens, a couple of SEC titles and it wasn't enough. Oh, well. I'm not surprised Richt was gone from Georgia. He hadn't won RECENTLY enough against the right teams. But I thought he'd wind up at Virginia or take a year to relax

But he came back to his alma mater, The U. That's step No. 1. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The Canes are coming off an 8-5 season and return 16 starters. That's step No. 2.

They have a schedule which includes Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Appalachian State, and Georgia Tech in the opening month, which means it should or could be a 4-0 start. That's Step No. 3.

One of those starters is quarterback Brad Kaya. That's step No. 4. That's the biggest step.

Combine that with Richt running the show and the Hurricanes HAVE A CHANCE to be contendas.

Calling Miami a sleeper sounds odd. But the golden days of the U Swagger are long gone. A good start this season could be wiped out quickly by Florida State, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. The Canes face Tech and ND on the road, which makes it even tougher.

The keys here are Richt, who knows how to build and knows how to coach and Kaya, who might be the best NFL prospect among the QB class. With a little luck, no major injuries and some prime time moves by Kaya, this could be a 9 win season for the Canes, which will get them where A Jerseyguy put them in the pre-season, on the fringe of the Top 10.

 The countdown: No. 16 Pepper Hamilton (Baylor), No. 15 Georgia, No. 14Michigan State [/membership]