Miami already was projected by the Atlantic Coast Conference media to win its Coastal Division and meet Florida State in the league title game Dec 2 in Charlotte, North Carolina
The nation’s highest profile college football analyst has joined the party.
“I think Miami's going to end up winning their division, and I think they'll end up playing Florida State in the ACC championship this year,’’ ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said during a teleconference on Wednesday.
That was the way Herbstreit ended his talk about the Canes, when he was asked about the program and his expectations for this season. He said a lot more, indicating he was thoroughly impressed with coach Mark Richt’s resurgence.
“I think it's exciting to see the direction that they're heading right now under Mark Richt,’’ Herbstreit said. “Just thinking about this program seems like for over a decade has just been -- we've always been waiting for the Canes to come back to college football and be that team that they were not only back in the '80s and '90s, but some of those great teams they had in 2000, and 2001 and 2003.
“I think Mark Richt being an alum — I personally thought Mark Richt after Georgia probably would step down and go find some other things that are appealing to him beyond coaching. He's such a humanitarian that I thought he might go that route. This was maybe three years ago. I just felt like maybe he was running out of a little bit of gas. Man, not only is it great for Miami, him going down there, it seems to have, in my opinion, given Mark Richt a second wind. He looks as young and energetic as I've seen him.
“He looks excited about the challenge of trying to bring his old school back to the glory years. He has, from everybody I've talked to, the support, which is so important at that school, of the brotherhood and the Miami alums... Think about it, nine wins in his first year?”
Herbstreit did not talk specifically about Malik Rosier, the new UM starting quarterback, but indicated the season’s end result will have a lot to do with him.
“...They're going to be able to run the ball with Mark Walton. They're going to be able to make plays with the receivers they have. It's impossible to know how good they're going to be at quarterback. Is it just going to be, hey, don't lose the game? Or is it going to be a guy that can actually make plays? Because I think eventually to be able to compete on the road in Tallahassee, to be able to beat Notre Dame, to be able to go on the road in Chapel Hill and win some of these games, you need more — in this case, I think you need more than just a game manager.
“I really can't have a strong opinion about the Miami quarterback situation until we see them play probably the first few games. I know their third game is on the road in Tallahassee, that's when we'll obviously have an idea. But this defense is going to be outstanding. Last year they were great. Most of them are back this year...”
If the Canes do indeed face FSU in the ACC Championship, it would be their second time playing the Seminoles. UM, which opens the season Sept. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium against Bethune-Cookman, meets FSU in Tallahassee on Sept. 16 in the third game of the season.