I was originally going to write about O.J. Mayo, because what better way to forget National Signing Day than to write about the Memphis Grizzlies.
I just got off a 45-minute phone call with the world’s biggest Miami Hurricanes fan. He is also my father.
Points of discussion:
How did Miami fare on National Signing Day?
“I swear, I’m ready to coach this team,” are the first words out of his mouth. This is not a good sign.
I sent him an email earlier that read: “Hey, 18 of our 27 signees are three stars, so we’re extremely well-positioned for four more years of above-averageness!” Apparently he did not think this was funny.
This was one of the greatest pools of talent in Dade County history, he says. “And we land 2 of the top 100,000 guys!”
I think to myself that this is not a national championship-contending ratio.
He asks me if I know anything about Gainesville High’s Kevin Nelson, our top defensive recruit and the No. 3 inside linebacker prospect in the country.
Supposedly he has “‘tude,” like Ray Lewis I-will-be-the-best-to-ever-play-here kind of ‘tude. I remind him that wide receivers Lance Leggett and Sam Shields had this ‘tude. They did not fare as well as Ray Ray.
My father suggests dejectedly that maybe this is the blue-collar class that brings us all the way back.
Immediately, my thoughts turn to RB Damien Berry, our best offensive player and the kind of “blue-collar” guy Pops refers to.
The only way Berry can get consistent carries this year is if he has pictures on head coach Randy Shannon, and even then Shannon would probably find a way to burn the pictures along with all of his remaining timeouts.
It’s a numbers game, Dad says. A couple of our five offensive linemen – two of them four-stars – will pan out. They have to. Our O-line is a sieve.
This word “sieve” is a synonym for “colander” and “strainer.” I have only heard it used in reference to Miami’s offensive line.
My father says that if we hit on some of these linemen, highly touted redshirt freshman RB Lamar Miller should be really good for us.
I tell him that if Lamar Miller is as good as we think he is, Randy Shannon will promptly move him to fullback.
We discuss the firing of defensive line coach Clint Hurt and his new replacement, Kentucky’s Rick Petri. This move lit up the message boards – they have decided that Petri is the guy that finally turns the D-line around.
My father and I conclude that, hey, the guy’s been a defensive line coach his whole life. He must be really good at it.
Maybe Randy is starting to feel the pressure. He’s firing guys. He knows his job security hinges on our “140-pound quarterback” staying healthy.
Then again, I offer, if Jacory Harris breaks in two, at least Randy will have an excuse for sucking.
Is Pace quarterback Stephen Morris – #49 QB overall, 3 star – the real deal? The real deal compared to what?
My fathers says that if he’s not the guy, we’re in bad shape. I clarify, continued bad shape.
Best case scenario, Harris stays healthy for two more years and then we start a redshirt freshman QB in 2012. We’ve been in this position before under Larry Coker. How could we not have learned our lesson?
Pops says we’re going to be hard-pressed to win 10 games this year. I tell him he’s really going out on a limb and reiterate my long-running prediction: 7-6, Emerald Bowl victory.
He says it’s all relative. He was listening to Bay Area radio (he lives in San Francisco) today and fans are in meltdown mode because the Giants won’t resign Lincecum, the GM is a bum, and they haven’t won a World Series since 1954, as the New York Giants.
I say, yes, it’s all relative, and then I ask him who will win a title first, the Giants or the Canes.
We both agree. Giants.
Will the Hurricanes build an on-campus football stadium during our lifetimes?
He is cautiously optimistic that the Canes will have a 40,000-seat venue in the heart of Coral Gables in the next 25 years. However, he is also cautiously optimistic that he will live to be 104, which leaves us considerable wiggle room.
We ask each other what it would take for UM President Donna Shalala to spend real money on a head coach. Filling seats in our empty stadium would more than compensate for the expense. What are we missing?
Shalala wants to make the university into a premier research institution, which is fitting – because when you think Miami, you think South Beach, Dwyane Wade, P-Diddy and premier research institutions.
Would my father be a better head football coach than Randy Shannon?
Actually, we’ve been having this conversation for a full two years now. He says that since Shalala is such a tightwad when it comes to financing athletics, he would take a drastic pay cut should the position become available to him.
I say things could be worse. An interstate rival could have landed the No. 1 class.
We talk about linebacker Arthur Brown’s potential transfer to Kansas State. My father says Brown just doesn’t have it.
I tell him that before I come to this conclusion, I would like to see him play just one meaningful down. Just. One. I tell him that it is quite possible that if every talent scout in the country had him ranked as the top defensive prospect coming out of high school, it is quite possible that these talent scouts are right and our talent guru, Randy Shannon, is wrong.
I say that whatever “it” is, Brown must have “it” more than linebackers Daryl Sharpton or Romeo Davis had “it,” no?
Not according to the coaching staff, says Pops. Arthur looks lost in practice – more lost than Sharpton, who made a career out of lost.
We speculate about what this looks like – being more lost than Daryl Sharpton. Is Arthur running in the opposite direction on run plays? Or is it worse? Does Arthur need help putting his pads on just to get to practice?
We turn to Phil Mickelson, because on days like these, we need something to cheer us up. The analysts on the Golf Channel suggest that Phil has toned up. He no longer has a soft midsection, which will help his swing plain.
My father is quick to shoot down this notion, citing Phil’s “bra fat” as evidence.
We stay on Phil because, you know, it’s been a rough day if you’re a Canes fan. So my father comments on Phil’s “fairy-ass white shoes and white pants.”
My dad describes a man he saw on the streets of San Francisco today holding a sign that read, “Squid Party.” He tells me that it is more likely that he will one day hold a sign that says “Squid Party” before he wears “fairy-ass white shoes and white pants and a white belt.”
We finish our conversation by talking about Joe’s Stone Crabs, the ESPN coverage on South Beach, Warren Sapp on “PTI” and the giant hole in the ground where the Orange Bowl used to be.
We talk about Jeremy Shockey and Jonathan Vilma – how cool they are. And we talk about the four Miami alums that made the All-Decade team.
These things give us solace, or at least remind us of the glory days.
This is what it is like to be a Hurricanes fan on Feb. 3, 2010. This is what we mean by “All about The U.”