We suddenly have reason to root for Miami, thanks to Georgia castoff Mark Richt as the Hurricanes’ new head coach. In the name of arrogance, who would have thought that possible?
The No. 15-ranked Hurricanes (3-0) are winning impressively and, most importantly, without the poison from the days of former Miami coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson. Their players liked being venomous villains.
There’s a reason those “Catholics vs. Criminals” T-shirts sold so well when Notre Dame and Miami played in the Johnson-Erickson years.
I’ve written this before, but it can’t be said enough times: the Jimmy Johnson-Dennis Erickson Hurricanes were the bane of youth and high school football coaches. How do you teach sportsmanship when TV celebrates antics of a dominant team? Kids, after all, mimic what they see on TV.
But now Miami is led by Richt, the jilted Georgia coach, who properly prepared his team for their latest victory, a 45-10 road trip at upstart Appalachian State of the Sun Belt Conference.
Appalachian State’s fans thirsted for such a big-time college football afternoon in their cozy, 29,000-seat Kidd Brewer Stadium. When single-game tickets sold out in hours, 5,000 temporary seats were added. The fans turned out in record numbers, 34,658. An App State lead would have been blood in the water to a shark, but Miami led 21-0 in the first quarter.
Imagine how the Johnson-Erickson Hurricanes would have grumbled about playing a football game in Boone, N.C., population 17,186 (half Saturday’s attendance). Imagine how insufferable Michael Irvin and Warren Sapp would have acted on the field as the Hurricanes added to their blowout lead. There wouldn’t have been enough tree sap in western North Carolina’s mountains to gum up their acts.
That Johnson-Erickson college football toxin lingered for years in South Beach and undermined their six successors prior to Richt.
Remember 2006 under Larry Coker? In the midst of Americans dying and having limbs blown off in the Iraq war, Kellen Winslow II shouted in the locker room “this is war” … “they’re out there to kill you” … “we’re soldiers.” This was after he hurt a Tennessee player with a block.
Remember 2010 under Randy Shannon? Miami’s players brawled with little Florida International University. On the TV broadcast, Miami analyst Lamar Thomas, a former Hurricane, encouraged the on-field fighting.
Miami might finally have the right coach to cope with its South Beach climate, thanks to Georgia’s fans running him out of Athens.
MORE ACC and ECU NOTES
— Anybody notice Mark Richt has Miami climbing in the polls while his old school is up and down? More specially, has the Georgia fan base noticed? They forced the Bulldogs to dump Richt despite a 145-51 record in 15 years with nine double-digit-win seasons.
Miami has climbed from unranked in the preseason to No. 25 the next two weeks to No. 15 this week.
Georgia was No. 16 in the preseason under new coach Kirby Smart and climbed to No. 9 after beating North Carolina. But the Bulldogs fell to No. 13 after escaping with a 26-24 win over Nichols of the Football Championship Subdivision. Mysteriously, they’re back to No. 11 despite being forced to come from behind to beat unranked Missouri 28-27.
— Virginia Tech (2-1) is next up for ACC killer East Carolina (2-1). The Pirates have won six straight against ACC schools, including the Hokies as victims twice. ECU defeated North Carolina State two weeks ago, 33-30. Beating Virginia Tech helps the Pirates with recruiting in the talent hotbed of Virginia.
It’s the fourth straight year Virginia Tech has played East Carolina home-and-home. Give retired coach Frank Beamer credit for not being afraid to schedule a home-and-home series with a Group of Five conference school. New coach Josh Fuente may not be too happy, though, that his 2-1 team has to take on the Pirates.
— Wake Forest (3-0) won’t be the same team for the next two to four weeks. That’s the time sophomore quarterback Kendall Hinton is expected to miss after suffering a sprained knee in last week’s win over Delaware. Wake Forest needs the explosive-play dynamic that Hinton adds to the offense.
— Duke travels to Notre Dame 50 years after the Blue Devils lost 64-0 at South Bend, an Irish victory that turned out to be the most important to their winning the national title.
Notre Dame entered the weekend ranked No. 2 to Michigan State. But when Michigan State that same Saturday had to come from behind in monsoon-like conditions for an 11-8 win at Ohio State, the teams flip-flopped. Notre Dame remained No. 1 and Michigan State No. 2 in the final AP and UPI polls despite the teams finishing with 9-0-1 records and a 10-10 tie on the field played Nov. 19, 1966 in the Game of the Century. The National Football Foundation’s MacArthur Bowl named the teams national co-champions.
Notre Dame doesn’t have a conference title to play for with a 1-2 start, but Duke Coach David Cutcliffe can still motivate his 1-2 team to play for the ACC Coastal title.
Follow Tom Shanahan of Today’s U on Twitter: @shanny4055