If the Miami Hurricanes play a football game in Sun-Life Stadium, but no one is there to see it, then does it actually happen? Okay, I understand that that was a pretty lame joke. But, as lame as it may be, sadly it holds some alarming truth.
Look in the background at the picture posted above and you can clearly decipher what I’m talking about. No, I didn’t choose a picture from an “Orange-Out Game” in Sun-Life. Those are all empty seats. A clear reminder of not only how far the program has fallen since their dominance of the 80′s and 90′s, but an indication of how far they have to go.
The part about how far they have to go may be what takes the hardest hit. An integral part of the recruiting process in the fall is the official visits. You bring the potential recruit in and let him see the atmosphere he will experience, should he decide that he wants to be a part of your program. Right now, there is no atmosphere in Miami.
Kids today want to play in front of as many people as possible. They want to get noticed. The university can try to sell the recruits on history and tradition as much as they want, but when they walk out on that field on a Saturday afternoon and see nothing but orange, empty seats, it’s almost an instant deal-breaker.
Now granted, the Hurricanes haven’t exactly been winning many games lately and last season’s self-imposed sanctions didn’t help neither. No matter how you play, if the fans don’t see an immediate light at the end of the tunnel, they see no reason to watch. Last season, the ‘Canes played well enough, that under normal circumstances, they would have secured a spot in the ACC Championship Game. With the sanctions, however, that happening wasn’t the slightest possibility.
Trying to sell a young man on being a Miami Hurricane is hard enough as it is already. Although the NCAA admitted their wrong-doings in the initial investigation of the school, they are still going to investigate the program further, just not using the evidence that they deemed inadmissible. So, the program still faces possible penalties down the road.
Now, while the sanctions may be an answer as to why attendance is so poor, that doesn’t necessarily justify it, Hurricanes fans. The Penn State Nittany Lions were hit with one of the harshest punishments in the history of college football last season, yet they still consistently put 80-90,000 people in Beaver Stadium last season. There’s no light at the end of their tunnel for the next four years, yet the faithful still showed up every home game and cheered their team on. Why couldn’t you do the same?
Bottom line is, a good portion of the future success of the Miami football program is in the hands of the fans showing players that they can make something in Coral Gables. With the pool of talent in south Florida and the surrounding areas, these team can be a force to be reckoned with on the field once again. It’s just, people have to be there to actually see it.