Miami needs good showing against Oklahoma
Some college football fans weren't even familiar with his name at the beginning of August. But win a couple of games in spectacular fashion as the quarterback at the University of Miami, as Jacory Harris did, and, suddenly, national anonymity is no longer possible.
Heck, he was even being touted as a Heisman Trophy contender until last weekend's dud against Virginia Tech.
And now, with Saturday's prime-time revival of a classic rivalry with Oklahoma on deck, Harris felt compelled to defend himself and, by extension, the Hurricanes this week.
"We're not perfect," Harris said. "Nobody said we were. It's just that the media and ESPN amped it up so much to be something that it wasn't. Because even in practice, our coaches would tell us, 'You know we only won two games. Where did all this hype come from?'"
Somewhere, Michael Irvin is shaking his head.
Do you think Irvin, Vinny Testaverde, Bennie Blades and the rest of those brash mid-'80s Hurricanes were worried about the hype? How about Jamelle Holieway, Keith Jackson, Brian Bosworth and the other Sooners? Think they were concerned with the media?
It's a different time, and don't worry, this won't devolve into one of those "old school vs. new school" arguments. The truth is, those Miami teams are responsible for the winning foundation, the so-called swagger that still resonates today, especially when the program is referred to simply as "The U."
Never mind that the Hurricanes haven't accomplished anything lately to warrant any attention. But that's how it is with Miami — the perception is that it's good, or even great, for college football when one of its storied programs is relevant again.
While that may be true — Beano Cook and Lou Holtz can't stop beating the drums for Notre Dame, although Charlie Weis is (mis)managing to drown out their babble — such status must be earned, and that can only be done on the field.
With season-opening wins against Florida State and Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes were headed in that direction before coming undone in the driving rain against the Hokies.
(Memo, for future reference — a monsoon is more potent than a Hurricane.)
Much was made of "Miami being back," and it seems all that ever meant was the Hurricanes were worth following again.
Had it been that long? And is that a burden?
Sure, but it exists at both Miami and Oklahoma.
The Sooners, however, have dealt with expectations just fine, but that's usually a byproduct of leadership. Bob Stoops is unquestionably one of the top 10 coaches in the country, probably top five. You can question his ability in BCS games (and we have), but the point is he reaches those games almost every year.
Would you be willing to place Randy Shannon, who is 14-14 in two-plus seasons in Coral Gables, among the top five in the ACC?
Probably not, but maybe that's far too simplistic.
Harris is right — nobody's perfect. But nobody wants to hear about that, either.
The Hurricanes should take a cue from Saturday's opponent. Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford, last year's Heisman winner, and then lost to BYU, but nary a word of discontent was voiced in Norman. No one was going to feel sorry for the Sooners, and Stoops did what he was supposed to do — he plugged in sweet-'stached Landry Jones, and OU kept rolling.
And the Sooners intend to keep rolling.