MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The University of Miami Hurricanes football team has become an also-ran in college football for the last several years. But, starting this weekend, a new era kicks off at the school known as “the U,” that has fans and players hopeful for the future.
Under former head coach Randy Shannon, the once-vaunted Canes squad became uncompetitive against the top teams. Since 2008, the Canes have played 6 ranked teams and have won just three of those contests. In the losses, the Canes were outscored by an average score of 31 – 11.
The Canes team always had talent all over the roster; the problem was Shannon and his staff’s complete lack of ability to develop players. This was never more evident than the case of Sam Shields, who went from a Canes washout to NFL star with a little coaching.
But now, the U welcomes in the Golden-era to Coral Gables. Head coach Al Golden is set to hold his first fall practices this weekend and he’s bringing an old school mentality to the team.
Miami’s players are checking into the same hotel for camp, taking buses together to and from campus for workouts and meetings, and it’s all happening largely so the team can build bonds for the regular season.
“For us, it was just a function of some logistics and made it the best choice,” Golden said. “Every team’s different. So we felt what this team needed, they needed to be in those rooms and kind of not spread out all over. They needed to be maybe rooming with somebody they don’t know very well. It gives more opportunities for unity.”
The addition of Golden has sparked a renewed interest in the Canes from fans and recruits. Golden’s legacy began at Temple University where he took a team that never sniffed a winning record to a 9-4 record in 2009 and an 8-4 record in 2010.
Golden’s ability to rebuild the Owls has UM fans and players hoping he can work his magic again in Coral Gables to bring the school back to national prominence in college football.
But he’s going to be tested early and often with UM’s 2011 schedule. The Canes open the regular season in College Park against the Maryland Terrapins. The Canes then return home for a battle against the always tough Ohio State Sooners and follow that up with a game against the rebuilding Kansas State Wildcats.
The Canes get a reprieve the next week against Bethune-Cookman, before heading back on the road to do battle with the Virginia Tech Hokies and then the next week in Chapel Hill, NC to battle the Tar Heels.
Plus, the Canes have to travel to Tallahassee to play the preseason number 5 team in the country, the Florida State Seminoles.
Golden said Friday the quarterback battle between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris is a dead heat right now, and that the battle will be “decided in the next 10-15 days.” Golden said both Morris and Harris will rotate series with the first team to begin camp.
But Golden reiterated what every UM fan and media observer have said for the past year, the QB position “has to show the most improvement” in training camp.
The Hurricanes will be loaded at running back, which will take some pressure off whichever quarterback is chosen to be under center when the season kicks off at Maryland.
The Canes are also expecting big things from defensive tackle Marcus Forston, who Golden said Friday, should be ready for the second-half of camp. UM will be without massive offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, who will probably miss the entire season.
But recruits are starting to take notice of the hard work Golden has been putting in on the recruiting trail. Golden has almost filled his class months before National Signing day. He’s pulled in several four-star recruits locally and is emphasizing keep local players in Miami.
All of it sets Golden up for large expectations for the coming season and 2012, but Golden has said he welcomes the expectations and will bring back the U to its proper place in college football.