In his second season as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, Mark Richt has some believing this may actually be the time Miami turns a corner and fulfills the expectations place don the program when they joined the ACC from the Big East. Despite a few flashes in the pan with good starts to a season here and there, Miami has long struggled to be the football power the ACC thought it was adding, but could 2017 be different? Former Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya seems to think so.
In Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, Kaaya says he has no regrets over making his decision to turn pro with a year of eligibility remaining at Miami, even though he feels he could have been a part of something truly special with the Miami Hurricanes had he stuck around fo the 2017 campaign. How special? How about College Football Playoff contention?
“I thought of both scenarios, but at the end of the day it was an opportunity that I’ve wanted since I was six years old — to play in the National Football League,” Kaaya said in a story by former college football reporter Joe Schad, who currently covers the Miami Dolphins for Palm Beach Post. “And while I think I could have won a national championship and a conference championship had I stayed at Miami, it’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Super Bowl — and play in an NFC Championship or AFC Championship.”
The thought of Miami winning a national championship may be a bit of a reach influenced by close ties to a program, so you can excuse Kaaya for thinking so highly of the once-mighty Miami program. But he does have faith Richt could be on the verge of getting Miami to stay on the right track.
“I think they’ll be in good hands,” Kaaya said. “Coach Richt will have them back on the right page pretty soon. I think next season they’ll be a playoff contender, no doubt.”
Miami went 9-4 in Richt’s first season with the program, complete with the first bowl victory by the program since winning the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl under Larry Coker. Since that 2006 season, Miami has had four different head coaches (including two interim coaches) before landing Richt and has finished in the AP top 25 just twice. The last time Miami hit double digits in the win column was in the 2003 season, Miami’s curtain call in the Big East that ended with a No. 5 ranking and an Orange Bowl victory. The program has since had to crawl through NCAA issues and has not been able to keep pace with ACC powers Florida State and Clemson and has yet to win one ACC Coastal Division championship.
But hey, maybe this is the year the “Is Miami back” question will be able to be answered affirmatively for more than a month.