Coming off a 10-3 season that ended with the Miami Hurricanes ranked 13th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, few were surprised to see the Canes debut at ninth in the same poll this year. With much of last year's defense returning and a plethora of offensive talent still residing in Coral Gables, it would be weird if there wasn't a lot of buzz surrounding Mark Richt's team.
What is surprising, though, was another poll published by USA Today last week. That survey has the Canes ranked fourth in the country, not for football-related reasons — but because there are apparently only three other teams more likable in the entire top 25.
The Canes liked by the rest of America? That's new. We're not sure how to feel about this.
Anyone who knows Hurricanes history knows the football program has been the opposite of universally liked. Between the 1980s "convicts" tag placed on Jimmy Johnson's legendary teams that would walk off airplanes dressed in full camouflage to the "invention of swagger" days that saw the Canes dominate college football in the '90s through the early 2000s, there wasn't a lot of love flowing the Canes' way from outside South Florida.
Apparently, that's changed. Why? Because of the Turnover Chain. And because of Mark Richt's legendary explanation of how one should properly eat a sandwich. Yup: Seems that's all it took to change the narrative.
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The poll comes courtesy of USA Today scribe Michelle R. Martinelli, who lays out the Hurricanes' heel turn from bad guys to good guys like so:
The turnover chain took over the college football universe last year, and WE LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. This thing is gaudy, outrageous, spectacular and surely returning as a key motivator behind picks and fumbles. Also, coach Mark Richt has the only correct way to eat a sandwich.
Who knew all it would take for the rest of America to embrace the Hurricanes would be some cool jewelry and a food hack? Two other Florida teams make an appearance in the "Likable Poll" as well: UCF clocks in as the second most likable team coming off its 2017 Cinderella season, and FSU sits at 23 after losing points because according to Martinelli "Native Americans shouldn’t be mascots."
So there you have it: America loves the UM football team. We'll see if that love holds up when the Hurricanes start really kicking asses again.