The University of Miami Hurricanes finished 2012 with a record of 7-5 (5-3 in ACC play). At one time, five losses for the Hurricanes would have been unthinkable. From 1991 to 1996, the Hurricanes finished as Big East Champions five of the six years, with a national championship win in 1991.
So Miami was sitting in great position to attract a great recruiting class and continue to dominate as one of college football’s most prestigious programs.
However, in 1994 disaster struck the University. Tony Russell, admitted to helping students earn Pell Grants fraudulently.
See, Miami had self-imposed sanctions on itself in 1991 for numerous infractions against the NCAA. This was enough discipline for the NCAA until the Department of Education found out Miami was helping students obtain Pell Grants fraudulently.
Then in 1995, the NCAA took over the investigation and found that more than $400,000 worth of improper benefits were given to players and Miami failed to implement the drug testing policy the NCAA required.
As a result, Miami received a postseason bowl ban for the 1995 season and was docked 31 scholarships from 1996 to 1998. Many folks called the scheme the largest centralized fraud ever committed and petitioned for Miami to shut down its football program.
Things quickly went south for Miami in 1997, as it finished 5-6, fifth in the Big East. The Hurricanes did not win a Big East Championship again until 2000.
So the question has to be asked, will Miami ever be able to bounce back from these sanctions and climb back to the glory it once had?
Well, it certainly looked to be headed in that direction from 2000-2003. Miami won a Big East Championship all three years and finished with only four losses combined from those three seasons.
In 2001 the Hurricanes won the National Championship game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 and returned to the championship again in 2002, this time losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes 31-24 in two overtime periods.
In 2003, the Hurricanes won the Orange Bowl and were sitting pretty once again, as one of the top teams in the country.
Miami had nine players selected in the 2004 NFL Draft. Six of these players were first round picks. That should give you an idea of just how talented these Hurricanes were.
Just for fun, let’s list some names of the players selected in this draft from Miami. Safety Sean Taylor, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive tackle Vincent Wilfork and linebacker D.J. Williams were all on the field together in 2003 for Miami.
Those guys can all hold their own in the NFL and could easily make up an NFL all-star team. That sort of talent on a college roster is insane.
So naturally, Miami was back right?
Well, unfortunately, the Hurricanes moved to the ACC in 2004, and have not won a conference, or national championship since. In fact, Miami hasn’t even been close to a championship win from 2004 to now. The Hurricanes have at least three losses in every season since 2004.
So are the days of Miami as “The U” finished? Can the Hurricanes ever regain a spot as one of college football’s premier programs?
Write me on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS or comment below with your opinion.