When winning becomes commonplace, the shock of a loss can be met by players in various ways.
Miami coach Mark Richt reflected on Sunday night in a teleconference leading up to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game against top-ranked Clemson (11-1) — and again on Monday — that he believes the Hurricanes (10-1) handled their 24-14 loss Friday at Pittsburgh in a constructive way.
What lies ahead at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, is enough to make any hangover from a loss immeasurably better.
“To hear that it looks like the winner of the ACC is in [the College Football Playoff], Richt said Monday during his weekly radio interview with WQAM, “let’s face it — if you said in January or whenever we started our preseason that we’re going to end up playing for the ACC Championship and the winner goes to the College Football Playoff, we’d be as excited as we can be.
“And that’s what has been generating back at our spirits ever since the loss.”
UM, which fell five spots from No. 2 to 7 on Sunday in both the AP and Amway Coaches polls, will learn their new College Football Playoff ranking at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN. They were No. 2, but will undoubtedly drop out of the top four spots that secure a place in the four-team playoff at season’s end. A win against Clemson, which is expected to rise from No. 3 to 1 on Tuesday, could vault UM back into the coveted top four. But nothing is definite until the final CFP rankings are revealed at noon Sunday.
The Canes dropped from a 7 1/2-point underdog on Sunday to a 9 1/2-point underdog Monday.
Richt said it’s hard to pinpoint how a team should handle a loss like the one that came Friday after more than a year of only victories.
“I don’t really expect a certain emotion after the game, whether it’s being mad or being sad or being whatever,” he said Sunday night. “I mean, everybody has an emotion after a game like that, and players and coaches alike.”
“You talk about being in the tank,” he added Monday. “I know the players were in the tank. I was in the tank. It was just a rotten feeling, an awful feeling after that ball game. … So, the initial reaction by the team really [doesn’t] shock me one way or another. I’ve seen it all after games like that. I’ve seen guys cry, I’ve seen guys slam things on the wall, I’ve seen guys just be quiet and listen.
“But I think what’s most important is being able to regroup and understand that at least see what we need to do to make corrections, and then [do] what we’ve got to do moving forward to give ourselves the best chance of success.
“I think everybody is doing that. … When we left the locker room, I felt like everybody was in a good place.”
Richt does something that his predecessors might not have done, or at least talked about, after wins and losses, and even sometimes after practice.
“I listened to some of the interviews with our players with the media,” he said. “And I thought they did a wonderful job of that, so we’re in a good place right now.”