Miami Hurricanes football is just ten days away. We can almost see the smoke and hear Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" already. But this Canes season is different: The stakes are exponentially higher thanks to another coaching staff reboot. Fans are as restless and thirsty as ever to get back into the national championship picture, and the Canes desperately need to beat Florida State this season — something they haven't done since 2009.
Other than that, things are superchill, no pressure at all.
The team has made numerous considerable changes (more on this later), so it's time to ask a tough question: What, other than complain or fire off tweets, has the fan base done to promote change?
This season represents a fresh start for the Hurricanes program, and that certainly can carry over to the fans. Last season, the Canes drew only 285,363 fans. By comparison, Florida State and the University of Florida drew 512,534 and 630,457, respectively, in their seven games, compared with the Canes' six matchups. Other fan bases have begun mocking Canes crowds as "e-fans" because they'd rather watch a stream at home.
But this year represents an opportunity to end all of that slander, to stop all of the pregame photos of an empty stadium, and to get out to the game.
Here are just a few reasons Hurricanes fans need to make it a priority to do something they have apparently forgotten to do: Get out to Miami Gardens to support their team — at the stadium, not Beef O' Brady's or Joe's house.
5. The stadium itself is legitimately "an event" now.
For years, all we've heard about Miami sports fans is how they're really just "event fans" — meaning they'll show up only for a glitzy good time, not to suffer along with a losing team. And lately, watching the Canes underachieve in the blistering heat at Sun Life Stadium hasn't exactly been on the top of most of our to-do lists. Luckily, Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins just plopped about a half-billion bucks into making their tenants the happiest renters on Earth.
The newly rechristened Hard Rock Stadium, like Marlins Park, is now a top-of-the-line venue in American sports. Throw all that "there are better things to do in Miami on a Saturday" stuff out the window this season. If you're making that argument in 2016, you're just not as good a UM fan as you claim to be. This isn't that hard. It happens in cities across America with teams that have neither the championship history nor the stadium that the Canes now enjoy.
4. The University of Miami heard your requests, and now it's time to return the favor.
You wanted coach Al Golden gone, and now he's gone. You wanted the school to invest in a coach with a proven track record, so the team went out and broke the bank for Mark Richt and his new staff. You wanted the school to make football a priority, and UM has definitely taken the steps to do so. The team has even given you things you didn't ask for, such as the vastly improved stadium. The University of Miami has gone above and beyond to change the course of where the program was headed under Golden, and now it's time for fans to head out to the stadium this season and support their actions.
3. Recruits want to see a great game-day atmosphere.
Just like uniform and helmet designs, fans matter to 16- and 17-year-old kids; anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is full of it. Seeing a stadium full of fans might not be the biggest factor in a recruit deciding on where to go, but it can definitely be a tiebreaker. If Miami wants to begin consistently landing the types of players Florida, FSU, Alabama, and Ohio State land, getting game-day support from the fans is key.
No kid grows up dreaming of playing football in front of a bunch of empty seats. When the Hurricanes aren't good, attendance numbers aren't good, and people notice. Other towns might see attendance take a dip when their school is having a down year, but Miami routinely sees it plummet to almost nothing. If Hurricanes fans want to see their school attract the sort of players who can help the team win a national title, they would start by attending the games to see what they have to offer now.
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SHOW ME HOW
2. The Hurricanes players who stuck through Al Golden deserve support.
The senior and junior Canes players who all stuck it out during the torturous time of the Al Golden era deserve actual money from your wallet — but because that's illegal, you might as well make their last seasons in Miami memorable for all the right reasons. If quarterback Brad Kaaya indeed has the Heisman type of season many predict, his draft stock could soar to a place where coming back to school makes no sense. For senior Canes players who are fringe NFL prospects, this is it for them, and it really hasn't been that great of a ride thus far. What Hurricanes fans should keep in mind this season is that a lot of the players who stuck through the Golden era deserve a lot of credit. It's much easier for us to get through those tough times complaining on our couches.
1. The Miami Hurricanes can regain a home-field advantage they've lost.
Mark Richt and the Hurricanes are here to start something fresh from the ground up, and fans can take this opportunity to do the same thing themselves. Pointing to the number of rings the team has won — the last nearing two decades ago — can take you only so far. It's time to cheer on the players as they create new memories, ones that happened since we stopped using AOL discs to access the internet. It's been that long since the Hurricanes had a home-field advantage. This is the year fans can inconvenience themselves for a few hours on six weekends out of the year for the right to continue to throw up the "U" every chance they get.