On Labor Day, the University of Miami Hurricanes will begin their season with a game against the Louisville Cardinals, the team that kicked the snot out of them in the Russell Athletic Bowl last December. It's a great opportunity for head coach Al Golden to set the tone for his fifth season at the helm. He has no more excuses this year. The U enters this season free of distractions. There is no longer a cloud hanging over the program because of NCAA investigations.
However, the Canes have a tough schedule. They could easily go 2-8, but I believe this team can go undefeated if university president Donna Shalala loosens the screws a bit. One thing I noticed about last season is that the players were uptight during games. They played with no emotion. It seemed like the team had been told to play like Boy Scouts. That is not Miami football.
The Canes were successful in the '80s and the early '00s because those teams played on the edge, smash-mouth football with some trash-talking. I know Golden's team can play the same way. I've seen it at practice, where the players are competitive and getting in one another's faces. For some reason, that didn't happen last season.
UM Football Team Will Win if Shalala Backs Off
Under Golden and his predecessor, Randy Shannon, the team has been controlled by Shalala. She wants players to comport themselves like they're attending Duke University. Canes players seem afraid to celebrate after making a big play. That's not "bringing the swagger back," as the UM commercials proclaim.
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SHOW ME HOW
Even the atmosphere at home games is boring. It doesn't feel like a college football game. Instead of catering to the kids paying tuition, the school is more concerned with appeasing the old fogies who buy suites. The administration can start by playing the song I made for the documentary The U at home games. It has swagger.
It's time Shalala lets these boys off the leash. If that happens, there's no college team that can beat the Hurricanes.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.