Just when I thought that recruiting was stupid and I didn’t really care what happened on National Signing Day because it was all about what happened on the field that matters, I found myself doing everything short of a Chinese fire drill on I-95 in celebration while listening to Tracy Howard’s commitment. All that screaming and honking and cheering (sidenote: an apology to my fellow I-95 travelers that morning) awakened something inside of me that has been dead for a while, and I dared to dream what this group of new signees could develop into. Yet, within a few hours I calmed myself down and shook myself with the reality that these new additions to the ‘Canes have not done anything at this point and I needed to keep my expectations in check.
Then, a few days ago, as I climbed the last hill of the class that my spin instructor warned would be the hardest, I heard some words that I had heard a hundred times, yet did not understand until that moment what they meant:
If this is true, let me tell you, ‘Canes fans should be EXPERTS at knowing how to win by now. In the last decade, we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the ecstasy of victory and endured the agony of defeat. And, like the fans of any great program, we believed our “time” was once again right around the corner and that we were simply “reloading,” not “rebuilding.”
“Everybody’s got their dues in life to pay.”
Time after time, just as we thought we were “BACK,” our team has had a way of knocking us back down to reality with all the sensitivity of a slap to the face. I can still remember like it was yesterday crying for several days after the 2009 Clemson loss. Walking quietly out of the stadium in Jortsville in 2008. Nearly having a bottle of Jim Beam cracked over my head for telling a drunk ‘Canes “fan” not to boo MY team in the last game in the Orange Bowl in 2007. The list goes on. Indeed, in some circles, tailgates have become more of a way to anesthetize yourself so as to not be as hurt by what happens during the game rather than in celebration of what your team will do to its opponent.
“Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear.”
Perhaps it is the clarity that can only come after one burns over 1,000 calories in a hot room, but suddenly I began remembering the ever-cheery college-aged JSQ. The one who had only seen her ‘Canes lose ONCE in person during undergrad. Although she grasped on to the front railing of the Orange Bowl in tears as Penn State robbed the ‘Canes of their W in 1999, she didn’t know what losing was. That girl I once was knew Saturdays as that care-free day where you gathered with your friends and the biggest concern I had was how I could make orange and green look cute together. She didn’t know what it would feel like to devote your time, money, heart, and soul into this team and only get tears and heartache in return. But I promise you, a ‘Canes win did not mean nearly as much to her as it does to me today.
“The past is gone.”
With the mass exodus of the 2008 recruiting class to the NFL and the fifty new players that will be on our squad representing Al Golden’s first two recruiting classes, we can certainly say that much of the past has been purged from our beloved football program. All that is left is a legacy to uphold, and almost impossibly high standards for these new players and coaching staff to live up to.
Can they? Can we really put ourselves through this emotional rollercoaster one more time? Are we demanding too much? Are our expectations too high? Should we give up hope and just drink our jello shots and trudge into Sun Life Stadium for more punishment?
Suddenly, as if knowing that I was in need of an answer, Steven Tyler commanded me to “Listen.”
As Steven Tyler continued to croon, I cranked the resistance and pedaled faster and harder as I saw drops of my sweat hit the floor. I felt a lump rise in my throat and my eyes begin tear up as I heard him instruct the 100 cyclists to “dream on, dream until your dreams come true” and I pledged with every pedal stroke that I would do just that.
With the advent of the 2012 recruits to the University of Miami and all signs pointing to Al Golden being able to accomplish the seemingly impossible in the name of the Hurricanes, I encourage you all to do the same. Call me an orange and green kool-aid drinker, but I think the sky is the limit for this new class.