The Miami Hurricanes are well-situated atop the ACC‘s Coastal division standings with just two league contests remaining. Win both, and they’re playing for the ACC Championship in Charlotte. Or at least they should be, unless they decide to self-impose yet another postseason ban. As has been well-documented everywhere, the program’s under NCAA investigation for a whole host of violations, but have yet to rule. Miami already chose to keep last year’s 6-6 team home to hopefully gain some leniency. But this year, there’s so much more at stake. What’s the right decision for the program?
While we only know as much as your average blogger, the staff of Atlantic Coast Convos decided to take a stab at the question — objectively, of course. You can check out all of our answers below:
Glynn McGehee (Georgia Tech): The Miami Athletic Department has likely had internal discussions, and possibly discussions with the NCAA. The decision on whether or not to self impose a ban comes down to how severe and likely Miami believes an NCAA punishment would be. If Miami thinks that more Shapiro allegations or some other scandal is likely to surface soon, and that a self-imposed ban may lighten NCAA punishment, then go ahead and impose a ban. If Miami isn’t so sure that the allegations will be confirmed, or that a self-imposed ban will deter harsh NCAA punishments, then don’t bother with it. From an ACC perspective though, it would be best for Miami to play in the conference championship game. This has been a rough year for the conference, with a few of the consistently good programs struggling this year. As much as I personally would like to see Georgia Tech play in the conference championship game, it would be better to have Miami play the winner of the Atlantic Division.
Hokie Mark (Virginia Tech): Let’s consider the pros & cons:
You’re afraid the NCAA’s punishment will be far worse.
Go for it because…
1. Miami has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference for eight years now and has never played in the ACC Championship Game. Who knows how long it will be before they get another shot at it (particularly if the NCAA sanctions are heavy), so they better grab the brass ring while they can!
2. If everything plays out as we expect, the Hurricanes will be ACC bowl team no. 3 (behind Florida State and Clemson). In that case, Miami would likely be invited to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando — very good for their fans. If Clemson gets a BCS at-large bid (a very good possibility), then Miami would move up to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. And obviously, should the ‘Canes somehow win the ACC Championship Game, they would go to the Orange Bowl.
3. If Miami were to self-impose a ban this season it would negatively impact the entire ACC (and therefore Miami as well) because there would be no team to take their vacated bowl slot. It’s one thing to turn down $800K because we don’t have enough eligible teams to send to the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl; it’s another thing to pass on the Independence ($1.2M) or, worse yet, the Belk bowl ($1.7M) because there would be two otherwise eligible teams banned from post season play.
I think if you look at the pros vs. the cons, it’s pretty clear that Miami should push ahead, play in the ACC Championship Game (if they win the division) and play in a bowl game. If the “Canes lose another game or two along the way, maybe they reevaluate — but where they sit right now, I say go for it!
Joel Penning (Clemson): This is a tough one. In general, if you have something worthwhile to play for, it’s usually better to do it regardless of the possible consequences. The NCAA can say what it likes, but Georgia Tech still won the ACC in 2009 — no one can take away from me the memory of watching the Jackets’ final drive and knowing that there was no way Clemson could stop it. What happens on the field is all that matters. The ‘Canes only lost to Florida State by 13, and they could reasonably hope for a better showing in Charlotte. The Orange Bowl is a real possibility, and Miami fans and players deserve a team chasing after it. This isn’t like Ohio State last year, which traded an appearance in the Gator Bowl against 6-6 Florida for a season of irrelevance despite a likely undefeated record. Miami will be good next year, but in a Coastal Division full of parity, there’s no guarantee the ‘Canes will be in the driver’s seat in November like they are now. They already self-imposed a bowl ban last year and have by all accounts been extremely cooperative with the NCAA; no one knows how severe their punishment will be, or how seriously the NCAA will take the accusations of a convicted felon. Miami should take the gamble.
Chip Spangler (Maryland):From the ACC’s perspective, Miami should definitely stay eligible for the postseason this year. It is already bad enough for the league that UNC is banned from the postseason. As is unfortunately clear by now, the ACC’s reputation is awful this year, and two winning teams from Florida making appearances in the postseason could help.
From Miami’s perspective, I think it is best that they keep on pushing for and participate in the postseason. I don’t think any potential advantages from a voluntary postseason ban this year outweigh the potential drawbacks of putting a premature end to a year that could include as many as nine or even 10 wins after the postseason. Eventually, the NCAA will make a ruling on the Shapiro allegations, but nobody knows when that will be or what punishment they might receive. With one year of a self-imposed postseason ban already in the books, give the guys playing a chance to enjoy a bowl game makes sense, especially if an additional bowl ban may be coming in the future.
John Cassillo (Syracuse): I’ve always been of the mindset that you shouldn’t willingly strip yourself of something that’s rightfully yours. If the Hurricanes win the Coastal Division tittle this year, why take it away from these kids who had nothing to do with the allegations? Allow them to play for a conference championship and in a major bowl game, because they may not have a chance to come next season. If the NCAA later strips them of that division championship (unlikely, since it’s outside of the violation period), so be it. Plus, from the interest of the ACC, we really can’t afford to lose another bowl team, or have a 6-6 third-place squad playing for a conference title. While certainly not the main concern, the PR issue it could create for the league should be something worth considering.
Obviously, no one from the Miami contingent chimed in on our end. But any ‘Canes fans willing to speak up? What do you think the program should do? Share your thoughts below.