Mark Richt and his players speak about winning the ACC Coastal Division first, then the ACC outright, which would get them a seat at the College Football Playoff table.
From there, Richt has said, “anything can happen.”
To get to that stage, his team would have to ditch a dozen years of mostly-mediocre play. As his debut year as UM’s coach draws closer, let’s review Miami’s middling 12-year run as an ACC program, creating a little more context for what Richt is trying to accomplish.
It has been documented here and elsewhere that since joining the ACC in 2004, Miami has never been its champion. It has not played in the conference title game (though it had a chance to do so in 2012, when it self-imposed a postseason ban).
That’s merely the tip of Miami’s iceberg of irrelevance.
In its 12 seasons in the ACC, the Canes have not produced a conference MVP. Never had an offense or defensive player of the year or coach of the year. The only major conference awards the Hurricanes have won: two offensive rookies of the year (Duke Johnson, 2012; Brad Kaaya, 2014) and a defensive rookie of the year (Sean Spence, 2008).
On the annual all-conference teams, Miami has produced 22 first-team selections in 12 years. That’s seven percent of 308 possible selections, or an average of fewer than two per year. That’s not a very large slice of the pie. For comparison, Duke – which was unquestionably the worst ACC team in that stretch, even with its brief and recent revival – had 18.
In ACC games, Miami is 51-45. That .531 winning percentage ranks behind Florida State (.818), Virginia Tech (.719), Clemson (.653), Louisville (.625), Georgia Tech (.546) and Pittsburgh (.542). It is seventh of the 16 teams that have played under the ACC banner at some point since it was first unfurled in 1953.
Miami, which won the Big East in nine of its 13 seasons in that league, is one of five ACC teams that haven’t hoisted a conference crown. Among those programs – which include Boston College, Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville – Miami has the longest title-less drought. The longest streak of any ACC team is N.C. State, which last won the league since 1979 (and yes, former ACC programs Maryland and South Carolina were champs before departing).
Can you believe we’re talking about Miami, a program with five national titles and some of the greatest teams in college football history?
These are the Hurricanes, who have not won 10 games since 2003. That means they have not done so as an ACC team. The other ACC programs that have, since Miami joined the league: FSU and Virginia Tech (eight times each), Clemson (five), Boston College and Georgia Tech (twice), Wake Forest, North Carolina, Maryland and Duke.
Since 2004, ACC teams have won 41 bowl games. Mighty Miami owns two of those wins (2004 Peach Bowl, 2006 MPC Computers Bowl). Since the Canes’ last bowl win, every ACC team but Virginia has gone out on a winning note.
Miami hasn’t finished the season ranked in the AP since 2009. You know who has? FSU, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina and N.C. State.
So yeah, the ACC record book is not exactly awash in orange-and-green. If Richt takes his alma mater where he believes it can go, that will undoubtedly change.