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The Hurricanes are picked to win the conference, but may still be serving a self-imposed postseason ban as they await official NCAA sanctions for alleged violations involving a former booster.
Associated Press | File 2012
Miami quarterback Stephen Morris (17) said he didn’t watch last year’s ACC title game, which the Hurricanes sat out as part of a self-imposed postseason ban.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Forgive Miami football coach Al Golden if he isn’t ecstatic about the Hurricanes being picked to win the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Virginia Tech had been the preseason pick to win the Coastal Division for each of the past six seasons, but the poll is the least of Golden’s concerns.
What if the Hurricanes were to win the Coastal Division?
Could they play for the ACC title?
Miami tied for the Coastal Division crown last year with North Carolina (which was ineligible for the ACC title game because of a NCAA bowl ban) and Georgia Tech, but Miami was facing unspecified NCAA sanctions and chose to self-impose a postseason ban.
Miami also had gone that route in 2011, when Golden’s first Hurricane team had gone 6-6.
Still, there’s been no final word from the NCAA on violations alleged to have been committed by jailed former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.
“The fact we’re sitting here today with all we’ve encountered the past two years, and people think we have a chance to win the Coastal, is testament to our student-athletes and everyone that’s stood by the University of Miami,” Golden said at the recent ACC Football Kickoff.
“This has been as hard as anything that I’ve ever seen anybody encounter in college football. When we took over at Temple, we had the longest losing streak in the country. Temple hadn’t been to a bowl game in 30 years. We were 120 out of 120 and that wasn’t as hard as what we’ve gone through the last two years at Miami.”
Golden didn’t watch last year’s ACC title game, in which Florida State defeated Georgia Tech 21-15.
Neither did Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris.
“I didn’t want to watch it,” Morris said. “I just had a good time with my friends. Played some cards that night and probably watched a movie. I don’t know.
“It’s tough knowing you’re supposed to be in the game and everything.”
With UNC ineligible, Miami would have gone to the ACC title game because it beat Georgia Tech. But Miami opted last November to self-impose another ban.
“As much as I want to talk about it, I really don’t know what to say,” said Morris of the possibility of a third straight postseason at home.
All of the alleged violations took place prior to Golden’s arrival following the 2010 season. He replaced Randy Shannon at the helm of a program that had won five national championships.
“I didn’t know what was waiting behind curtain No. 5,” Golden said. “But, that’s what drew me to the University of Miami — the ability to attract that kind of talent. It’s a program, when it’s right, that can be as good as anywhere.”
The possibility of two high-interest, big-money games a year between Florida State and Miami was one of the forces behind the expansion that brought Miami into the ACC for the 2004 season,
When Boston College followed in 2005, the teams were split into divisions, setting the stage for a championship game between the Seminoles and Hurricanes.
Not only have the Seminoles and Hurricanes not played each other for the title, but Miami hasn’t played anybody in a championship game.
“For the ACC to get back to where it wants to be on the national scene, the University of Miami has to do its job,” Golden said. “Clearly. Florida State and Clemson have made a move back into the national picture. Virginia Tech has been the most steady. [The Hokies] have been consistently good for a long period of time.“We had a chance to play in that [ACC] title game last year and, if you play in that game, you have a 50-percent chance of making it to a BCS bowl game, but we had to forego that opportunity.”
Miami actually was picked to finish fifth in the Coastal Division in the preseason last year before finishing 7-5 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
“If you just think about the firestorm that we had a year ago at this time and what we were headed into, I hope our kids learned how to be process-driven,” Golden said. “Whether it’s being picked fifth last year or being first, it’s the same devil to me, if they’re listening one way or another.
“I think our kids are locked in, so I would be surprised if any of this is affecting our attitude, our determination, our unity or what we want to get done on the field today.”
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