It's been a tough year for fans of South Florida sports teams. From Dwyane Wade taking his talents to Cleveland, to the Marlins selling off everything of value, to the Dolphins' season doomed from the get-go after they lost Ryan Tannehill before training camp even began, it's been a rough 12 months. If not for the resurgent Miami Hurricanes, this year would have been a total loss.
If anyone deserves a gift or two this holiday season, it's local sports fans. Here are a few things that would make us feel better going into the new year.
1. A healthy Ryan Tannehill. As the Miami Dolphins limp to the end of this season, one thing is painfully obvious: Many of us took Ryan Tannehill for granted, and when he returns, we'll all feel a lot better about the Dolphins' chances. He might never be Dan Marino, but having Tannehill under center every Sunday beats the hell out of what fans had to witness this season.
Just when it looked like the Dolphins had something good going with coach Adam Gase tutoring Tannehill, shit hit the fan and we ended up watching Jay Cutler play football all season. Next year, it would be nice if Dolphins fans could count on having No. 17 under center again. For better or worse, Tannehill gives the team the best chance to win.
2. A plan to make the Miami Marlins great again. What Marlins fans have had to endure this offseason truly isn't fair, but many believe it was a necessary evil to make the franchise capable of competing on an annual basis in the future. It's never easy saying goodbye to a player like Giancarlo Stanton (or even Marcell Ozuna, for that matter), and it's even harder when the story you're told is that a billionaire who just bought a billion dollar baseball team can't afford to pay the MVP millions of dollars.
It is what it is, though, and Marlins fans have lived through worse. All Marlins fans want for Christmas is to know that this time the plan makes sense, and in the future, there will be fruit from the seeds management is planting with this newest painful rebuild.
3. A Miami Hurricanes victory over Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. The Canes have been one of the few (only?) bright spots in South Florida sports this year, but they're on a two-game losing streak, and a loss to Wisconsin in next week's Orange Bowl would likely drop them out of the Top 15.
Ending the season ranked 17th would be a major buzzkill for a team that had national championship aspirations only a couple of weeks ago. A win over a one-loss Wisconsin team would definitely catapult the Canes back into the Top 8 and give them a nice boost of momentum heading into next season. One more huge win at Hard Rock Stadium in front of a national audience would be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to recruiting too.
4. At least one more year of Lane Kiffin at FAU. Everyone involved knew if everything went well, Lane Kiffin's stay at Florida Atlantic University would probably be a short one if not a one-and-done deal. After a 10-3 season, the best in FAU's short history, Kiffin's name has already been in the conversation for the Tennessee job will likely remain in the conversation in the near future if any other spots are vacated post-bowl season.
Kiffin has put FAU on the college football map and brought a lot of fun to Boca Raton during his short stay. It might not be realistic to think he will stay long, but another year of building FAU into a program with some staying power would be a nice gift for college football fans in South Florida this holiday season.
UPDATE: MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH:
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SOURCE: #FAU & Lane Kiffin are finalizing a new 10-year deal.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 19, 2017
5. Better luck in 2018, dammit. The year 2017 was shit for South Florida sports. There is no other way to describe what took place on the playing fields, courts, and ice for the home teams. Here's to 2018 bringing fewer injuries, more wins, and, to be honest, much better players than 2017 gave us. Because 2017 was shit. Oh, we said that already.
South Floridians deserve some sunshine on our asses next year after all the cloudy days the Marlins, Panthers, Dolphins, and Heat put us through.