The start of the football season is close. How close?
Coaches and two players from each ACC school will travel to Charlotte, N.C., this week for the league’s annual kickoff event, held Wednesday and Thursday. The Hurricanes will speak to the media on Wednesday afternoon, with wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, safety Jaquan Johnson and coach Mark Richt representing the program at ACC media days.
If you’re a Miami basketball fan and disappointed to see the 20-9 Hurricanes rating only about a No. 7 or 8 seed in most of the Bracketology projections out there, just settle down and let it all play out.
There’s a game at Florida State on Saturday night and then the ACC tournament to reset the picture. Remember that Syracuse made it all the way to the Final Four last year as one of the last of eight ACC teams to get into the NCAA field, and the Orange started out with a No. 10 seed.
Jim Larranaga has built quite a reputation on a couple of Sweet 16 appearances at Miami and a shocking Final Four run with George Mason. He’ll get the benefit of every doubt from the bracket-builders based on that history, and on wins over Duke, Virginia and North Carolina this year.
Long-time Miami followers will remember when it was lot tougher than this to get a little national boost.
Rick Barry, February, 1964. Miami News photo.
The Hurricanes went 23-5 in the 1962-63 season and didn’t even make the NCAA tournament. There were only 25 teams in the field back then and Miami, an independent, didn’t rate one of those spots. Never mind that the Hurricanes upset Duke 71-69 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in December. It just wasn’t happening.
What Miami got instead was an invitation to the NIT, and that’s where the program got its first-ever postseason victory. Miami beat St. Francis 71-70 at Madison Square Garden in New York but lost the next night to Providence, the eventual tournament champion.
It was even tougher to take what happened in 1965. Rick Barry led the nation in scoring with an average of 37.4 points per game and the Hurricanes went 22-4 but they weren’t eligible for the NCAA tournament because of NCAA recruiting violations.
Barry scored 50 or more points six times in that senior season and also averaged 18.3 rebounds per game. That put him at the top of a sensational consensus All-America lineup that also included bill Bradley, Gail Goodrich, Cazzie Russell and a high-scoring big man from Davidson named Fred Hetzel. Barry, Bradley and Goodrich went on to be inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and Hetzel was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1965 draft by the San Francisco Warriors.
As a strong competitor in the ACC, Miami won’t get overlooked like that again.
Overall, it was a long road to achieving the level of recognition that our top state schools have now in basketball, and the Hurricanes got there first.
Miami’s initial appearance in the NCAA tournament was in 1960, followed by FSU in 1968, Jacksonville in 1970, Florida in 1987, South Florida in 1990, Florida Gulf Coast in 2013 and North Florida in 2015.
Miami defensive end Demetrius Jackson has a vote to help improve the futures of major-college athletes across the country.
Jackson, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, was one of three ACC players chosen to participate in the NCAA’s Division I rulemaking process.
The other ACC players are Duke’s Madison Granger (track and field/cross country) and North Carolina State’s Harli Hubbard (softball).
As members of the ACC Autonomy Committee, “they are invited to attend various ACC governance meetings and participate as members of the voting delegation at the 2018 NCAA Convention,” according to a press release.
That activity falls under the purview of the NCAA’s Division I Council, which will be chaired the next two years by UM Athletic Director Blake James.
Major Move by the ACC, God is good.. been waiting for this .Changes can start being made which are needed!!🙌🏾🙏🏾💯 and ideas can start to form
Faced with widespread calls to improve the conditions in which NCAA athletes play, study and live, the NCAA in Aug. 2014 voted to establish the council to let college administrators, faculty and players meet and solve related issues. A group from the big-money conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12, collectively known as the Power Five — meets to change rules specific to those conferences and their 65 schools.
Jackson, like Granger and Hubbard, is on Miami’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). UM said he logged more community service hours than any other athlete, in any sport. He was named the football team’s Community Service Man of the Year and earned the ACC Top Six Award for Service. He participates in 5,000 Role Models, a non-profit group in Miami, which serves as an in-school dropout prevention program.
On the field, he has played in 17 games, starting six, and last year recorded career bests in tackles (28), tackles for loss (6.0), sacks (2.5), pass break-ups (4) and quarterback hurries (2).
“To be selected as one of three student-athletes in the ACC to participate as an NCAA autonomy representative is truly a fantastic honor,” Jackson said in a press release. “I look forward to sharing the voice of other student-athletes throughout the ACC, while enhancing their overall collegiate experience. I look forward to the work ahead with my fellow ACC representatives.”
Nonetheless, UM true freshman wide receiver Ahmmon Richards, senior cornerback Corn Elder and senior punter Justin Vogel were the second-teamers.
The teams were selected by 48 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).
Richards, from Wellington High, led all freshmen receivers nationally with 866 yards, which broke the school record for a freshman (840) set in 1985 by Michael Irvin. Richards scored two touchdowns and caught 46 passes. His 18.83 yards-per-catch average was nation-best among freshmen.
Elder, who returned for his senior season rather than enter the NFL draft, tied for the ACC lead in pass break-ups (12) and made one interception. As is the case with many top cornerbacks, quarterbacks rarely tested him.
Vogel, a preseason first-team selection, was consistent and powerful, averaging 43.78 yards per punt with a long of 58. Coach Mark Richt said recently Vogel was “one of the best I’ve ever seen.”
Miami’s third-teamers include sophomore running back Mark Walton (fourth in the ACC in yards, 1,065, and touchdowns, 14); senior wide receiver Stacy Coley (tied for third in touchdowns, nine, eighth in receptions, 58, and 12th in yards, 703); and senior right guard Danny Isidora (UM’s most consistent and durable lineman, with 38 consecutive starts).
Honorable mention honors went to tight end David Njoku, who was second among ACC tight ends in yards (654) and touchdowns (seven) and fourth in catches (38); kicker Michael Badgley, who was 20-for-25 in field goals, and 9-for-9 from 40 to 49 yards; true freshman linebacker Shaq Quarterman, the first true freshman middle linebacker to start for Miami since Dan Morgan in 1998, who tied for UM lead in tackles with 79; and senior safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who broke up seven passes, made 70 tackles and registered two interceptions.
The Florida Gators are in the AP poll’s Top Ten so they must be pretty good.
Why, then, is there the feeling that our state just isn’t all that special in college football anymore?
I attribute it the following chart, which demonstrates better than any deep analysis of roster strengths or coaching credentials why Florida, FSU and Miami aren’t really scaring anybody to death this Halloween, and why the South Florida Bulls deserve a spot in any discussion of the best programs in our state.
Team Best 2016 win Last win over ranked team
Florida (6-1) Kentucky, 45-7 No. 3 Ole Miss (10-3-15)
FSU (5-3) South Florida, 55-35 No. 11 Ole Miss (9-5-16)
USF (7-2) Navy, 52-45 No. 22 Navy (10-28-16)
Miami (4-4) Ga Tech, 35-21 No. 22 Duke (10-31-15)
UCF (4-4) East Carolina, 47-29 No. 6 Baylor (1-1-14)
What’s the best win of 2016 overall for this bunch? Call if FSU over South Florida. The Seminoles don’t get brownie points for beating Ole Miss in the season opener now that the Rebels are 3-5 and 1-4 in the SEC.
Miami and Central Florida are going to have to scramble to qualify for bowl games. A win at Notre Dame would have changed that for the Hurricanes, but enough already about that.
Florida could win the SEC East or stumble badly down the stretch for the second consecutive season. Flip of the coin.
FSU lost 63-20 to Louisville, which would be more easily forgotten if Louisville were going to the ACC title game or the College Football Playoff. Neither is true.
Any way you slice it, we’ve clearly forfeited some of the old bragging rights from championship seasons past.
Right now you’d have to say Alabama is the state-of-the-art state in college football, with the Crimson Tide at No.1 and Auburn No. 11.
Michigan comes in second (Wolverines No. 2 and Western Michigan No. 17).
Incredibly, Washington and Florida are too close to call in third. The Huskies are all the way up to No. 4 with Washington State at No. 25. If you want to argue the No. 10 Gators and No. 19 Seminoles outweigh that combination, go ahead. Look back to that chart above, though. Nothing much has been proved on the field yet.
The University of Miami defense – already a question mark heading into coach Mark Richt’s first season – was dealt a major blow Saturday when the school announced that defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Jermaine Grace have been permanent suspended from the program.
School released a statement that said:
“The University of Miami announced today that red-shirt junior Al-Quadin Muhammad and senior Jermaine Grace have been permanently dismissed from the Hurricanes football program for violating NCAA rules. The University will, however, continue their financial aid through graduation. The decision was made in consultation with outside counsel and after discussions with the NCAA enforcement staff. As no staff members or boosters were involved in the violations, the program will not be subject to sanctions and, at this time, the University deems this matter closed.”
The players were under investigation for allegedly receiving improper benefits in connection with a luxury rental car company.
Grace, a senior, led UM in tackles last year with 79 while Muhammad, a junior, led the team in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (5). Both were projected starters.