Five days after they found out the long-awaited sanctions from the NCAA weren’t so bad, University of Miami players finally had a chance to talk about the penalties after Saturday’s thrilling 24-21 come-from-behind victory against Wake Forest.
So what was it like Tuesday when they found out they weren’t being forced to sit out any more bowl games and only being docked nine scholarship over three years?
“It was everything: high-fiving, happy, crying, everything,” freshman receiver Stacy Coley said. “It was a blessing, but in my heart I knew were going to be able to go to a bowl game.
“Everybody was just happy. It was a happy moment.”
Coley, obviously, wasn’t around for a lot of the suffering. Juniors Denzel Perryman and Anthony Chickillo were. They had to sit out bowl games each of their first two seasons because of sanctions self-imposed by UM.
“I wouldn’t say we’re coming out thinking, ‘We’ve got sanctions and stuff coming our way.’ It’s just when we won that sixth game we we’re thinking, ‘Man is it going to happen again?’ ” Chickillo said of potentially missing a third bowl game. When that finally went away, everybody was excited and stuff.
“It was awesome — just a long wait, long time coming. We were all excited. It was just something that just lingered over our program the whole time I’ve been here. So, we love it.”
Perryman said players knew they had no control over the outcome, but “jumped for joy” when athletic director Blake James came and met with the team before practice and broke the news.
“We were pretty happy, but at the same time we had half the season to go,” Perryman said. “We jumped for joy and then went to meetings and got ready for this week.
“Obviously, you’re nervous because you want to know what’s going on. But we got the good news and jumped for joy. I honestly didn’t know what to think. I was just sitting there like everybody else.”
UM coach Al Golden called the week an emotional roller coaster.
“I know they’re excited about it now in there, thrilled that it’s over,” Golden said. “We found a way to scratch and claw and win our seventh [game]. You can’t take any of the previous wins with you to Tallahassee [this] week. That’s over, we have to get better at the things we need to get better at, and we need some kids to step up.”
No. 7 UM (7-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) plays No. 3 Florida State (7-0, 5-0) at8 p.m. on Saturday.
Coming off what he called the worst-performance of his career at North Carolina and six interceptions over his past two games, UM quarterback Stephen Morris didn’t create any turnovers Saturday even though he was off on a few of his passes.
Morris finished 17 of 28 for 191 yards and a 35-yard touchdown pass to Herb Waters.
“My biggest thing was getting back to my game and getting back to going through your reads and not trying to force anything or not trying to make something out of nothing,” Morris said. “My biggest thing was if the first or second read isn’t there and I can’t make play, let’s live another down. Whether it’s take a sack or throw the ball away, it was about playing smarter.”
This and that• Perryman finished with a team-leading six tackles for UM, including a highlight reel, pile-drive tackle of Wake Forest running back Dominique Gibson in the first half.
“He wanted to lower his shoulder on me, and it’s not happening,” Perryman said. “I just squatted down and loaded up.”
Freshman defensive back Jamal Carter was penalized twice on kickoff returns — once for holding and another time for a block in the back.