Miami won its sixth game of the year on Saturday, 40-9 over South Florida, and put themselves one win away from playing in their first ACC Championship.
And then it was taken away Monday morning.
For the second straight year, the Hurricanes have decided to self-impose a bowl ban in advance of NCAA sanctions stemming from violations revealed in an August 2011 Yahoo! report.
In his second season at the helm, Al Golden has led the Hurricanes to bowl eligibility twice now with nothing to show for it.
Golden had this to say following the announcement, "Come at me. Bury me all you want. Attack me all you want," Golden said. "These kids who have stuck it out, who have stayed here, who have never gotten one week in two years without hearing about all this nonsense, don’t blame them. And I appreciate all those kids that not only stayed here, but those guys that answered the bell, that answered the call to come here and fix this. And we will get it fixed."
The aim of this column is not to criticize Miami for imposing the ban. Today's administrators, coaches and players are stuck in a rough situation, paying for sins committed long before they arrived in Coral Gables. Sanctions are certainly coming, and nothing would be worse than finding themselves in the situation Ohio State is currently in.
It's the timing of the announcement that I question. I wasn't in the locker room or coaches' offices at Miami, but I'd have to imagine the Hurricanes' morale is low after climbing their way to six wins and the top of the ACC Coastal Division only to have the rug pulled out from under them. Announce the ban before the season and get everyone on the program on the same page.
Miami should be in the clear to chase its postseason dreams by 2014, when Golden's first recruiting class is in its fourth season. By all accounts the Hurricanes should be able to compete for the ACC championship, and maybe more, by then. So the good news is, there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's a long, long tunnel, though.