It's All About The 'U' Standard

It's All About The 'U' Standard

Almost two weeks ago, I began writing an article on my hopes and expectations for the year. As I've noted elsewhere, about 750 words in and a bunch of compiled statistics - things like 3rd down conversion, pace of play and what I hoped we'd see this year on both sides of the ball - I stopped. I was numb to this seemingly endless cycle. I legitimately could not bring myself to repeat some of the things I've hoped for over the course of the past 3 seasons.

A Brief Look Back

I've noted that, in 2013, just before the season started, I spoke with a few of the team's presumed leaders. I asked about broad things, like philosophy (though not in those words), the team's culture, and a host of items I thought were fundamental to whatever progress I hoped to see that year. I was not surprised to hear some of the things they mentioned, but the tone, as I've said other times, was consistent: "everything is whatever; we'll do whatever as long as we win and ball out." You see, culture is not something you can build or state and simply expect it to occur - no matter how many times you repeat words, values or expectations. By almost any definition, culture is a result of the things you do. And, for it truly work, it has to be authentic. Its authenticity comes into question when players do not see the expected results or even close. I think it's fair of many of the players to wonder about alternative approaches.

The strategies our coaches choose trickle from a broader philosophy. Ironically, none of it matters anymore. Conservative vs. aggressive, 3-4 vs 4-3, and the endless discussions about culture are all secondary to an evaluation of this season. What is the standard the 'U' will set? This comes from the very top - beyond our coaches and even the athletic director.

The Evaluation of this Season

The evaluation of this season should not come down to a debate about whether we "improved" from 6 wins or in some statistical categories. I find it misleading, if not outright deceptive, to get into this type of message:

- concede there was a car wreck,
- total a vehicle,
- later get into a second car crash in a new vehicle that isn't as 'bad'
- and consider that to be an improvement

You see, the Miami Hurricanes 2014 football team was talented. While not perfect, most, if not all, would concede that it performed beneath its capacity. Ultimately, the end of the season had a disastrous downturn. We can talk about the weather, other cars, the passengers, etc., but in the end the result is the same: we did less with more.

I have a bigger problem: somehow, we've allowed the 'U' standard to be completely re-constructed.

Yes, we should still evaluate based on context. Looking at "final" wins without context is mostly irrelevant - just like statistics without context are not useful. Yes, the college football landscape has changed. It's more competitive. I don't think anyone is asking for or expecting immediate greatness. While some may point to the immediate turnaround at Ohio State under [admittedly difficult to write] the excellent leadership of Coach Meyer, the circumstances are not all the same. They don't need to be in order to fairly evaluate our results up to this point and going forward.

Because of Miami's geographic location, we'll always have access to very talented players and on the cusp of a relatively superior (in terms of talent) team. It bears repeating that we had 7 drafted players on last year's 6 win team. The 'U' standard is about getting more from less. The entire program was built on bucking what's conventional to produce more and stay ahead of the curve. That's what coaching is about. That's how winning is done.

My biggest fear for any new coach at Miami isn't that they'll be able to make our program "seem" good enough and competitive. Instead, my biggest fear is whether they'll be the type of leader who can potentially navigate through the ACC, into the college football playoffs and ultimately make us competitive for Championships. No, it doesn't mean we have to win them all. But, yes, it means we have to begin to do more with whatever we have. The only evidence we currently have is that we've done less with more. I'll support anyone, including Coach Golden, who can buck that decade-long trend.

Our Bottom Line

No more excuses. As a notable coach in another sport has often said, "we have enough." That attitude would be reflected in our players. Whatever we have, it's enough to compete and win. Whether we win the ACC championship, go 5-7 or whatever outcome, at the end of this season, this program needs to get back to judging itself by a single, high standard:


If that does not occur, we need to go in a direction that gets us back on that course. Immediately. Setting that standard will continue to attract the very best talent the region has to offer and beyond.

Comments (3)

Butch Davis has been there, and done that.

More with less. 31 less, to be more specific.

And thanks, Lu, for sparing the statistics. Besides, Golden will cherry pick the few he wants to address.