There’s a storm brewing in Coral Gables.
The Miami Hurricanes are marching back to relevance during Mark Richt’s first season. The Canes are off to a 4-0 start and have looked strong on both sides of the football.
Miami currently ranks No. 1 in scoring defense (11 points per game) and No. 2 in scoring offense (47) among ACC teams. Granted, the Canes have yet to face a challenge as tough as their upcoming matchup against Florida State. Yet, the numbers remain impressive — Miami hasn’t sweated out a single game. The lack of drama is a welcome turn for The U.
On the other hand, the Seminoles are still a dangerous team despite coming off a heartbreaking 37-35 loss to North Carolina. Quarterback Deondre Francois has been a solid dual-threat passer when given the right amount of attempts. Running back Dalvin Cook has finally returned to form after back-to-back multi-touchdown performances.
Though recent history favors FSU in the annual in-state matchup (the Noles have won six consecutive games and eight of the last 10), Miami is currently a three-point favorite heading into Saturday’s game. Perhaps it’s the home-field advantage or the growing perception that FSU is “overrated” after falling short of expectations as a preseason national contender.
Or, maybe oddsmakers are buying into the Miami hype after five games. It’s something many should have seen coming.
Despite how his tenure at Georgia ended, Richt was arguably one of the best coaches in the SEC prior to his firing last November. He was the second-winningest coach in program history and the longest-tenured coach in the conference.
He was also an excellent recruiter which, in a way, was part of his downfall. Georgia was annually a national contender, so Richt’s 10-win seasons wasn’t enough to meet demanding expectations. Then again, only four coaches have won national championships in the past decade. One of them, Les Miles, just got fired from LSU for the same reason as Mark Richt.
Naturally, landing Richt was huge for Miami. Former coach Al Golden had recruited blue-chip prospects to Coral Gables, but he never seemed to get the most out of them. With the surplus of talent Richt inherited in his first season, Miami’s fast start shouldn’t surprise anyone.
And it’s only going to get better. Imagine what will happen down the road when the former SEC Coach of the Year gets his own prospects to sign with the Hurricanes.
Better yet, imagine what’s going to happen if Miami actually defeats FSU in Richt’s first season. What has also helped the Canes throughout their rebuilding process is the surplus of talent in South Florida.
Despite FSU and Florida both having plenty of success during the past decade, Miami has managed to sign enough local prospects to produce impressive recruiting classes. Just think what Richt, a masterful recruiter, will be able to do with a successful Hurricanes team as part of his recruiting pitch.
FSU fans should be worried about the growing beast in South Florida. The Seminoles have enjoyed several years of having their rival stuck in a rebuilding mode and they have reaped the benefits.
But Mark Richt’s revitalizing the old swagger of The U. in Saturday’s game could be an early sign of things to come in the FSU-Miami rivalry.