I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… The most important thing in a football program is momentum. When the fans are energized, the media is talking about you, the facilities are improving, and your coaches are confident, you’re going to win. And momentum has been one thing sorely missing from Miami these trying past ten years. No matter how good the recruiting classes looked, the media hype, the ever returning swagger, or how unified these teams are Miami hasn’t been able to seize the day and carry it into the next one. There hasn’t been a meteoric moment that propelled the team’s confidence into a healthy level of arrogance, leading them to the promised land. But this could all change due to one play… Due to one singular play… I have a feeling you know the one I’m referencing.
In 1999, one game turned the Miami program around. One. Singular. Game. The recruiting had been on an upswing and the talent seemed to be returning, but Butch Davis’s seat was scorching hot. Fresh off a shellacking by Syracuse (reminiscent of the Clemson game) the Canes retreated back to the comfortable confines of the Orange bowl, and unleashed their frustration en route to an upset over top ranked UCLA. This was the game that brought the magic back. This was the game that gave the players the confidence they needed to reinvigorate the classic Miami swagger. This was the game that gave the fans a reason to rally behind their embattled head coach. This was the game that not only announced but screamed from the rooftops like a lunatic that the “U” was back. No matter how much kindling one has, it takes a spark to light a fire. “The Return” as many have dubbed it, has the potential to be the spark the Hurricanes have desperately craved for ten years.
It was possibly the most emotional week in the history of University of Miami football leading up to Duke. From the worst loss in Miami history to a head coach being sacked (much to the glee of many fans) to the national media reveling in the Canes’ futility to a beloved mother of a player passing away, things couldn’t have looked much gloomier. But the team stayed resilient, and put together a solid four quarters of football against a decent Duke team. The refs nearly ruined the game for Miami on multiple occasions as their utter incompetence was on hilarious display. Then, when all hope seemed lost… When all was going wrong. We got a miracle. We got what might just be the greatest finish to a football game in the history of football. In eight laterals and six seconds Miami reinvigorated excitement and momentum into the program. This could be a huge moment.
This isn’t an article about the referees, but nonetheless, given the beating the Canes have taken in the media, it is only fair to say something about whether the play was legal or not. I’ll say this- “It doesn’t matter”. You heard me, it does not matter. To be blunt, this is how any sport works, there are some calls you will never agree with that screw your team over and some that screw the other team over. We saw both on Saturday night as the refs gave Duke every opportunity to score on their final drive, and they seemingly exchanged the same courtesy on our final drive. At the end of the day, it is the referees’ decision, and there isn’t going to be any post final changing of the score. Also, this’ll come off as a Miami homer comment but its needed, the national media wants to talk about Duke getting screwed on a call! In a regular season game that barely matters for them as they control their own destiny! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! If you want to talk about a blown call that ruined a team, go look at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl or the 1987 Miami-Notre Dame game. Please, get out of here with the nonsense that Miami got away with one, you owe us a few dozen more to make the score even. Miami fans aren’t paranoid, there is a real Canes hate machine in the national sports media landscape. The great ones are always the most hated.
This could be the moment that electrifies the program. The Canes can seize this momentum and run the table the rest of the season. This’ll likely parlay into an ACC ‘ship berth and another crack at Clemson. Take that momentum going into next season with a new coach and energized fanbase, and you have a snowball rolling down a hill gathering mass by the second about to ram into the rest of College Football. This might be Miami’s moment, they must seize it. If they do, we might have “The Return” of the U.