It Could Happen to _
Two years ago, when coaches Al Golden and Jim Larranaga were hired, was there any question who you expected would turn his team into a title contender the fastest? Revisionist history and 20/20 hindsight aside, I don’t think there was a question – and we were all wrong.
With the ‘Canes new #3 ranking in men’s basketball – the highest in program history – the Larranaga faithful are growing in numbers, the BUC is selling out, and the hoops bandwagon is getting full. This, from a program who usually can’t attract much of a following from the same fans who support the football team, and has largely been relegated to an afterthought activity on a rainy Saturday for the 2 alumni that still live in south Florida.
The success of the men’s basketball team is well-documented and won’t be rehashed here ad naseum. Suffice it to say they are scary good and we as ‘Canes fans have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to in the coming years with Larranaga at the healm.
What stands out to me from the past few weeks is not just how GREAT the team is, but how unlikely this success was and how strong the devoted following of ‘Canes hoops has become. Even the stars of the Miami Heat want to come to OUR games! It reminds me of the people you used to see on the sidelines of the Orange Bowl back in college. Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Diddy, whatever, were dedicated ‘Canes football fans at one time.
Now, many would say those days are over: Gone are the celebrities on the sidelines; gone is the Orange Bowl; gone is Miami’s mystique; replaced only with parity across the sport and recruits being poached from our back yards. Better to adjust our expectations to 9-3 seasons and hoping for an ACC Bowl Berth.
To those nay-sayers, I ask: Did you ever think Miami basketball would be 10-0 in the ACC, #3 in the country, and selling out every home game?
Likely not. I know many still want to dismiss what is happening as a fluke and downplay Larranaga and this team’s success. However, I think Miami football fans – even those who root for another college basketball team – should EMBRACE what is happening in Coral Gables right now. This Cinderella story is reminiscent of the Schnellenberger ‘Canes and is proof positive of what coaching can do to turn a program around. Against all odds, in the toughest basketball conference, at a football school, with a coach in the twilight of his career, in Miami where there are a million things to do, this is all happening.
Call me an eternal optimist here with another Sinatra-inspired blog title, maybe the Valentines fever and my love of the ‘Canes has taken over my brain again, but doesn’t this – and shouldn’t this – give us all hope that it is possible, even LIKELY that ‘Canes football can come back and enjoy the same type of success? The excuses stopping it from doing so seem pretty petty and insignificant in comparison to those which the basketball team has overcome. Moreover, the revolutionary support that students, alumni, and fans are giving this team shows what Golden is capable of accomplishing with just a couple of signature wins.
So for those who have gone against Journey’s counsel and stopped believing, I have to ask: why not? Why not the ‘Canes? Did people think we could come back and be better than ever after probation in the 90s? Yet, we put together the most talented football team ever to take the field in 2001.
I think if Coach Larranaga and Men’s Hoops have taught us anything, it is: