Sunday, November 20, 2011

Canes self-impose bowl ban

 BY David Villavicencio 

Al Golden will have to wait at least one more year before he coaches Miami in a bowl game for the first time.

The University of Miami has decided to self-impose a one-year bowl ban one day after becoming eligible for post-season play. Miami has now self-imposed any other penalties.

"We understand and share the disappointment that our student-athletes, coaches, staff, supporters and fans are feeling," the university said in a statement. "But after lengthy discussions among university leaders, athletic administrators and outside counsel, it is a necessary step for our university."

The bowl ban does not come as a surprise as the Hurricanes are currently under NCAA investigation for their connection with rogue booster Nevin Shapiro. It seems like the right decision and could ultimately help the football program when the NCAA decides to rule on their situation. By self-imposing sanctions, the Hurricanes could find themselves receiving a more lenient penalty from the governing body that oversees collegiate athletics.

There are downsides to skipping a bowl game.

First, the Canes could use the extra practice time as they continue to develop under Golden and his staff. Extra practice is never a bad thing but it is especially helpful for a team in transition like Miami. Also, more practice could help some of the younger players accelerate in their development as they look to fill in for the departing seniors and any early entry candidates for the NFL draft.

Second, Miami has not won a bowl game since 2006 when they survived against Nevada, 21-20, in the MicronPC Bowl. That streak will live on at least one more year. This year’s senior class will finish 0-3 in bowl games for their career.

Speaking of the seniors, it means their season and collegiate careers will come to an end next Friday as the Hurricanes host Boston College. I am guessing that is now the way they imagined things would end for them when they signed with Miami four years ago.

But it was a group of seniors that played a role in putting the Hurricanes in the mess they are in with the NCAA. Jacory Harris, Sean Spence and Travis Benjamin were all suspended for receiving improper benefits from Shapiro.

Maybe it is fitting that these seniors will have their final bowl opportunity snatched away from their grasp because of something they did. Unfortunately, their teammates will also miss out on playing in a bowl this year despite having nothing to do with Miami’s pending investigation.

So the Canes will miss out on playing in the Music City Bowl or the Sun Bowl or any other lower tier bowl with ACC ties. The seniors will see their career end without a bowl win and Coach Golden will have to wait another year to add a bowl win to his legacy at Miami.

Sounds like a lot of negative but this is the best thing that could have happened to the Canes.

Golden has a plan for success
Miami will grow from this. Golden won’t let them do anything but persevere. The rumors of the self-imposed bowl ban have lingered from the minute the Shapiro scandal made national news.

Canes fans should be disappointed that their team’s season will end in November. That is not what Miami football is about.

But they should also remember that missing out on a lower tier bowl this year means Miami could be eligible to play in a bowl game next season. As long as the NCAA does not add to the bowl ban, Miami could be playing for the right to represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl next season.

The Canes are 6-5 heading into their final game and have been headed for another disappointing season for a while now. At Miami, you don’t play for finishing with a winning record. Hurricane Nation sets its sights much higher than that.

Golden does too. He is all about rebuilding this program the right way. The man has a plan to get the Canes back to national prominence and this bowl ban is just a speed bump in the road to greatness.

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