Editorials

Now the Miami Dolphins, UM Hurricanes have a fighting chance

AP

Let’s hope the most dizzying 48 hours in local sports history releases us from the clinging curse of mediocrity that has befallen our favorite football teams — the Miami Dolphins and the University of Miami Hurricanes.

As the year begins, it’s a relief to know things will change — and we desperately need it to be for the better. Wednesday, Manny Diaz was officially introduced as UM’s new coach. But he didn’t wait to get started. Monday, he fired the entire offensive staff.

It all came by way of a whirlwind of news alerts as the head coaches of our two most popular sports teams were — just like that! — gone. With one coach’s retirement and another’s firing, team honchos ripped off the Band-Aid. Now the rebuilding begins.

We have the hope of winning seasons again. There is no better elixir than a successful sports team to give us a sense of community and of being part of something bigger.

And think of all those T-shirt sales!

Even those who don’t like sports must admit that the goodwill during a hot winning season is contagious. We need that just about now.

We have not felt anything like it since the Miami Heat won their last NBA championship in 2013. That’s almost six years ago. We’re not used to such dry spells.

We praise UM Athletic Director Blake James and Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross for taking decisive action to fix their ailing teams. They knew that they couldn’t afford to string fans along for one more year.

The revolving door started spinning on Dec. 13 when popular UM defensive coach Diaz was hired away to be the head coach for the Temple University football team. Many Hurricane fans were heartbroken. They thought the creator of the iconic Turnover Chain was next in line to be head coach. Turns out he was, with a brief detour.

First came the trigger: UM’s embarrassing performance on Dec. 27 at the Pinstripe Bowl in New York. Our team lost to Wisconsin 35-3. Awful offensive line, awful two-quarterback system and, yes, awful coaching.

Sports writers didn’t get a rest. Two days later, on Dec. 29, at Hard Rock Stadium, South Florida hosted the Orange Bowl against Alabama and Oklahoma.

The following day, Dec. 30, UM Coach Mark Richt, 58, a former UM player who was viewed as a savior three years ago, suddenly announced he was retiring. Of course, we’re not naive as to the cause-and-effect factor.

And in a flash, Diaz, 44, was “it.” Diaz, who the Miami Herald reported had been seen on campus Sunday morning, was named the new head coach 10 hours later. Amid all the good cheer, it seems somewhat cynical to mention that UM won its last national title eight years ago this week. But we are sending the hint and a wink anyway.

And over at the Miami Dolphins’ camp, Black Monday was approaching — that’s the day when head coaches of losing NFL teams feel the backs of their necks tingle, with their heads possibly bound for the chopping block. Adam Gase, December’s “Miami Miracle” aside, was fired by owner Ross.

At a news conference, Ross was straightforward: The Dolphins will be rebuilding and it will be painful.

That’s OK. Sports fans in this town are used to being extraordinarily patient. If UM and the Dolphins find their mojo again, it will have been worth the wait.

Editor’s note: This editorial was updated to correct the date of the UM Hurricanes’ last championship.

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