Sports teams in South Florida haven’t been particularly kind to their fans in recent years.
It’s been over two years since the Miami Heat completed their back-to-back championship run and as far as the Dolphins, Hurricanes, Panthers and Marlins are concerned, there hasn’t been much to get excited about for quite some time.
There is a bright side to all this futility though.
With the calendar flipping to 2016 comes legitimate optimism surrounding all of the local South Florida teams.
Granted, some things are much more viable than others, but that doesn’t mean fans should give up on any of them just yet.
Going team-by-team, here are the top positives surrounding each of them in 2016.
The hiring of Adam Gase has a lot of people in Dolphin-land excited. There is something that Miami’s coaching staff has lacked in recent years and Gase’s work history suggests that he’s the right man for the job.
Over the past few seasons it has felt as though the Dolphins coaching staff has been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, forcing players to do things they aren’t necessarily comfortable with and adjust to the style of play that the coaches wanted to utilize.
Gase is known for evaluating the talent he has to work with and creating ways to turn that talent into a success on the field. Had he been around last season things could have gone very differently for a Dolphins team that had plenty of talent but could never get in sync.
Miami also brought on board a new general manager, Chris Grier, who has vowed to end the dysfunction in the organization.
Considering he’s been around the team for the last 15 years, it’s a safe bet that he knows exactly what he’s talking about when bringing up the internal problems with the franchise.
Miami Hurricanes (football)
Just like with the Dolphins, the most encouraging thing surrounding the Hurricanes is the hiring of new head coach Mark Richt.
Widely considered the best head coaching hire this offseason, Richt returns to his alma mater with an impressive track record and coaching pedigree.
The Canes also have a strong recruiting class and talented returning players.
Miami Hurricanes (basketball)
Head coach Jim Larranaga has the Canes Hoops team playing quite well on both sides of the floor.
The team has steadily climbed the rankings since beginning the season outside of the top 25. Miami is currently ranked in the top 10 in both the AP Top 25 Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The Hurricanes still have a couple months to hone their craft and prepare for the NCAA Tournament, where the team is hoping to make a run to its first appearance in the Sweet 16.
It’s a great time to be a Panthers fan as the team is enjoying one of its best seasons ever.
Florida went on a 13-game points streak that included 12 consecutive wins, vaulting them to the top of the Atlantic Division standings.
The amazing thing about the Panthers is that what fans are seeing this season should only be the tip of the iceberg.
With so much young talent beginning to mature, as well as the players still in the minors, the future is ridiculously bright for the Panthers.
New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Barry Bonds give some big-name power to the Marlins dugout.
The hope is that the two legendary players will help the young ballclub take that next step.
Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon are all locked up to long-term contracts and it appears that owner Jeffrey Loria is finally willing to open his wallet and allow the team to bring in some pricy free agents.
Miami just signed free-agent pitcher Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal.
A day later the Marlins locked up Gordon for five years, $50 million.
The Heat’s core is strong with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic but it’s the future that could really get fans excited.
Pat Riley has a plan for how he wants to approach the big free agent class of 2016.
One decision he will have to make is whether to attack the open market, which features Kevin Durant (unrestricted), LeBron James (player option), Andre Drummond (restricted), Dwight Howard (player option) and DeMar DeRozan (player option), just to name a few.
Another choice Riley will have to make is what to do with ascending center Hassan Whiteside, who will draw a big contract regardless of where he ends up playing next season, Miami or elsewhere.