Freshman Lovon Ponder will open his career at Miami at strong safety. Following his official…
1. They have earned the right to be under the most intense local, regional, and national microscope. The effects? Where else does a story about a recruit (top recruit and all) become headline news, and fodder for the Cable news stations? It's not because Miami is the only place that has these issues, that's for sure. Hurricane fans, quick to defend themselves and their program, react by claiming opponents are "jealous." Possible indeed, and the constant barrage of negative media views is understandably an annoyance, but only a small price to pay for being the top dog in a sport where passionate loyalties are at the core.
2. They are coming off of arguably the greatest 4-year run of the modern era, and one of the best all-time. This in terms of wins, talent (see the NFL draft), and an astounding rebound---on multiple levels---from a period of probation. The effects? Expectations have never been higher. A season where you beat your archrival twice, are victorious in a BCS bowl, and win 11 games? Deemed a seeming disappointment in ‘Cane land, naturally. The effects run deeper, however. Hurricane fans react to a seeming "drop" in production, whether it be wins or from an individual position, with the same intense microscopic view that they defend themselves against.
3. They are entering a conference where, not surprisingly, they will be treated as the litmus test for all, and used by teams to attempt to prove long-standing perceptions that the ‘Canes continuously reaped the benefits of playing in a "weak Big East conference." The effects? Some would advise the ‘Canes to "be ready"; to be prepared to react to this almost assured onslaught of further efforts to pull the NCAA throne from under the Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricanes, like all perennial powers in any sport, take teams' best shots, week in, and week out.
The obvious theme of these general assumptions is "reaction." The Miami Hurricanes are a "downhill" football program. What does this mean? In football terms, playing "downhill" means being the aggressor, forcing the action, and the flow of the opponents' schemes. For instance, at one of the peaks of Hurricane nostalgia, in the late 1980's and early ‘90's, the Miami Hurricane defense epitomized a downhill mentality. The image of the historic Bermuda Triangle (Darrin Smith, Michael Barrow, and Jessie Armstead) flying across the field and making plays in the opponents' backfield lingers as an emblem for not waiting for the opponents move, but forcing it.
This downhill mentality, on the football field at least, has naturally fluctuated as Coordinator philosophies have come and go. This is understandable, though it is clear that the Hurricanes are at a juncture this year that an aggressive mentality must return. While Miami has stamped itself with the motto "we don't rebuild, we reload," the combination of factors (players to the NFL, new conference, new hurdles) once again must be overcome with an aggressive nature, both on and off the field.
Since entering the football stage in a cloud of smoke, the Hurricanes have carried themselves with the attitude of being the aggressor, playing downhill, while collecting Championships, and allowing the outsiders to sort out varying opinions. Forget the reactions to perception, cherish the success of recent years but don't allow it to distort future expectations, and most of all, do not allow for the new conference and opponents to dictate Hurricane action. There will be no more important time for the Miami Hurricane football program to cling to this mentality, and burst through the doors of a new era with the same voracity they have already done so to the landscape of College football.
If ever a time to grind out the rhetoric, it's fitting here: "It's a Cane thing, you wouldn't understand."
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