Miami drubs USF — now comes NCAA

After becoming bowl eligible, Miami must get the NCAA off its back

MIAMI GARDENS

For now, there are two schools of thought about Miami's upcoming decision regarding to play, or not, in the bowl game they became eligible for Saturday.

There's the one, dominant school that thinks Miami must self-impose a bowl ban as part of the bigger picture of putting the NCAA investigation behind as quickly as possible.

These people point not just to the welcome manner the NCAA might take such a gesture. They also say, as coach Al Golden did Saturday, how tomorrow looks better than today — even on a day that was a 40-9 win over ragged South Florida.

"I look out there and you take (senior) Mike James off the field and everyone else is back,'' Golden said of the offense. "I'm excited about the direction that's going and how these guys are maturing."

The other, school of thought is a smaller, more silent group. It numbers 17 people in all. It has no say in what's about to play out. It has no say in anything, period

It's Miami's seniors.

"To tell you the truth, I don't want it to happen,'' senior receiver Kendal Thompkins said of the bowl ban. "But they have to do what's best for the program. This is my senior year, so I would like to play in a bowl game."

What the seniors want matters less than what the school lawyers want. You can say that's unfair and no one would argue. It's also understandable, if you're Miami wanting to get out from under the NCAA screws.

There are questions only the NCAA and Miami knows: What exactly is the extent of Miami's crimes? When will the investigation be closed (the latest buzz has a decision coming down before the new year)?

"I haven't been in a game where we haven't heard those questions,''Golden said. " I've never been in a recruit's home where I haven't had to answer their questions. I can't wait for that day to come."

Golden has become something of a flashpoint, again, after the season-tilting loss at Virginia a week ago. That's to be expected considering the progress report that gave and issues it made.

Know this, too: Golden is the best hope out of this for Miami. Maybe he's the only hope.

Look at this situation. The NCAA is circling, two athletic directors have fled the scene, the fan base is dwindling, facilities aren't up to rivals' standards and there's a reason Miami has never thrown the biggest money at coaches.

The joke goes how the same Miami boosters with fat wallets have attended school events for years. Do you know how they maintain their fat wallets?

They don't contribute to athletics.

The bottom line: Miami fans better hope Golden is The Man. There's no telling just yet. He certainly communicates the vision to build a program and sells himself as a leader in a manner Jimmy Johnson once did.

Can he build like Jimmy? Coach like Jimmy?

That's something you won't see in a second year with so many sideshows going on. He deserves some more time to let his process be processed.

Miami goes to Duke now to play for a first Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Miami fans scoff at that, of course. That's more than a bit presumptuous considering they've never won the Coastal.

"I hope our guys learned from the Virginia game on what we need to do,'' Golden said.

"That's where my focus is."

Saturday's win against South Florida elevated Miami to bowl eligible. A win against Duke puts Miami in the ACC Championship Game.

A win there make Miami a BCS bowl team.

All of which says why the ACC will demand Miami to say this week if it's self-imposing a bowl ban. Which it will. Which it must. Which is a shame for the seniors, of course.

But each week Miami plays two teams on the schedule. The opponent and the NCAA. And it's time to get the NCAA off the schedule as soon as possible.

 

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