Dolphins fans, Hurricanes fans and the cross section of South Floridians who are both don’t know what to do with themselves. Something strange is going on. We find ourselves at the intersection of Optimism & Happiness, someplace our two flagship football teams haven’t been, together, for a while.
That is why it has fallen eerily quiet down here. Have you noticed?
Fans of both teams who have spent the past decade-plus making a regional pastime of complaining and avidly honing the art suddenly have nothing to gripe about. Sports radio call-in lines have gone silent. My email inbox has grown cobwebs.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and Canes defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio have emerged from their safe rooms and shed their Kevlar vests, no longer afraid to be seen, no longer public enemies.
With some fans quiet for the lack of complaint, others are mute with caution, wary of expecting the best when results mostly have been the enemy of hope ever since UM last won a national championship in 2001 and the Dolphins last won even a single playoff game in 2000.
How to act? Do we croon “happy days are here again” with joy unfettered? Do we offer a curmudgeonly, hard-bitten “whoa, now?” It’s been so long, we need a handbook.
This week the Dolphins and Canes both are 2-0 and preparing for home games.
That’s modest, no cause for confetti. But do you know rare even that is?
Hard to believe but in 48 shared seasons since 1966 this is only the fourth time that has happened, and the first time since 1999. And never before have both teams won at home the same weekend to each go 3-0.
UM is all but assured that Saturday against small-school Savannah State. The Dolphins’ task will be taller Sunday against the Falcons — but Miami is a two-point home favorite, according to most early betting lines.
The Dolphins would not have been favored in this game one year ago.
Neither team has been renowned lately for fast starts, with the Canes’ last 3-0 breakout coming in 2004 and the Dolphins’ in 2002.
I know. This feels premature, right? “Don’t get carried away,” you are thinking.
Well, forget that.
Get carried away!
Be excited while the excitement is at hand, Canes crowd and Dolfans. You all have waited long enough.
UM boomed to No. 15 in The Associated Press poll after beating Florida (dipping to 16th on Monday after a bye week).
And the Dolphins’ big win at Indianapolis on Sunday had coach Joe Philbin telling his jubilant players, “We got a hell of a team in the making!” Philbin is no orator and is usually stoic; his Packers players used to call him “the pilgrim.” He is typically reserved, rarely quotable. What he told his team Sunday showed uncommon, raw enthusiasm.
His words apply to both the Dolphins and Canes right now — “We got a hell of a team in the making!” — and they are mirrored in the way fans are feeling.
Find an unscientific but interesting barometer of joyfulness in my Herald blog, where I invite fans to vote in Dolfan and Canes “satisfaction meter” polls every game.
When last I checked Monday, overall Dolfan satisfaction was running at 98.7 percent — with 72.2 percent calling themselves “very” satisfied. For UM fans it was 96.6 percent overall and 71.3 percent “very.” (Understand, you don’t get those kinds of numbers in a blog poll. I could ask, “Do you wish for world peace?” and not get 98.7 percent.)