Teams: there are a lot of them. In our effort to bring you the finest "bullshit" coverage of college football, we have begun the best method we could think of to write about teams we know next to nothing about: asking others to write about them for us. Our Visiting Lecturer Series today presents burly seaman Chuck of Miami Hawk Talk, talkin' Hawks.
One: what color is your season? In other words, please explain the metaphorical state of your program through the metaphor of color:
I suppose red would be the obvious choice here, but it's too obvious. Another contender would be pink, reflecting our embarrassment over the Zach Marshall incident.
The color that best describes Miami football right now, though, is probably verdigris. Paint tinted with verdigris retains its color for centuries, but verdigris is also used as a fungicide. So what does that have to do with football? Well, after a couple seasons far below expectations, the conventional wisdom is that Coach Shane Montgomery is in his make-or-break year. Either he recaptures the glory of seasons past, or he gets the boot. So verdigris it is.
Two: What historical nation and period do you resemble most right now?
At Miami, we're big on history. Most wins of any mid-major program, with even more than johnny-come-latelies like Florida or the University of Coral Gables. And, of course, there's the Cradle of Coaches: Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gillman, Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Red Blaik, Paul Dietzel, [NAME REDACTED], Jim Tressel, Sean Payton, Randy Walker, and Terry Hoeppner, among others, spent time in the Miami football program as players or coaches.
Belgium? At their peak, the Phlegms controlled something like a full eighth of Africa. But since then, what have the Belgians done? Finished second to West Germany at Euro 1980. As much as I hate to admit it, Miami is like that too. The RedHawks have exactly one MAC title in the past 21 years. 2003 was a magical season, to be sure, but it was just one season. And in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of college football, 2003 is about as relevant as the Congo Free State. (Of course, Miami might make a splash in some unorthodox manner. Perhaps Butler County Area I Court will declare universal jurisdiction over crimes against sport and go after Jim Delaney.)
Miami: Nuremberg of the West?
Three: You have important players. Discuss a few of them hastily.
Our most important players are going to be the guys whose names you never hear--the offensive line. The o-line has been decimated with injuries the past few years, and the team's fortunes with it. The aforementioned Zach Marshall was set to be a key part of the line this season, but his future's still up in the air. So who knows?
There are a few players who deserve additional mention, though.
On the offensive side of the ball, be on the lookout for Chris Givens and Clay Belton. Givens, a true sophomore, impressed in his freshman campaign. He led the team averaging 17.2 yards per catch last season, and he has serious big-play potential. Belton, a redshirt freshman, is competing for the starting QB spot against junior Daniel Raudabaugh. He's big, he's accurate, and he has a rifle for an arm. Reminds a lot of people of some guy named Roethlisberger. Neither Belton nor Raudabaugh was the clear leader for the job after spring ball; it appears to be open for the taking going into the fall.
On defense, there are three names to keep in mind: Caleb Bostic, Joey Hudson, and Clayton Mullins. Athlon says they're the #6 linebacking unit in the nation. When you combine the decorated starters (Mullins is the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Hudson is a two-time All-MAC honoree) with a deep and experienced bench, the linebackers are probably the RedHawks' greatest strength.
Four: Name two games we might actually want to watch featuring your team.
First: the August 28 matchup against Vanderbilt. Vandy won 24-13 in last year's game, played in Nashville. The Commodores come to Oxford this season to play under the lights on ESPNU. This game will probably be a harbinger for the rest of the season: if the RedHawks come out firing on all cylinders and get revenge for last year, we can expect a good season. If not...well, verdigris is used as fungicide, right?
Second: the Battle for the Victory Bell at Cincinnati on September 20. Miami and Cincinnati first played each other in 1888, making it the oldest rivalry west of the Appalachians, and with 112 games played (the RedHawks lead 59-46-7), it's the fifth most-contested rivalry in all of college football. But that doesn't matter to Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, who doesn't understand why it's a home-and-home series. He'd rather see the RedHawks play at Cincinnati every season. A victory over the Bearcats this year would be doubly sweet.
Four-A: Save us all some time and mention the game were better off NOT watching.
September 13 against I-AA Charleston Southern. Hell, I don't want to watch that one. Thankfully, I'll be in New Zealand on my bar trip, so I can use that as an excuse.
Five: Every hero forgets something in their toolbelt. What does your team lack?
Offensive imagination. It may well be that this was a function of injuries and inexperienced personnel, but the offense I saw out of Miami the past two years wasn't the offense I remember from Big Ben's time in Oxford. Not just the numbers--Roethlisberger was a rare breed of player who put up impossible stats--but the plays run as well. The offense he ran wasn't just high-powered; it was complex. But the past two seasons, the same Shane Montgomery who was Roethlisberger's OC has treated Miami fans to a constant diet of bubble screens and runs up the gut. I don't claim to be some kind of football genius (quite the opposite, actually), but it got to the point where even I could tell what play was coming next. Mixing it up a bit would be a welcome change.
Six: Describe your team with a Jimmy Buffett song. No, were seriousdo it.
I'm not much of a Jimmy Buffett guy. Britpop and its progenitors are more my style; in fact, there's a line from "The Trees" by Pulp that perfectly encapsulates my feelings about the team. But Jimmy Buffett it is, so I'm going with the cautious optimism of "My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don't Love Jesus."
My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus.
It's that kind of mornin',
really was that kind of night.
Tryin' to tell myself that my
condition is improvin' and if I don't
die by Thursday I'll be roarin' Friday night.
Seven: Were master wagerers. Give us a bet to place for up to ten dollars about your team.
Miami plays in a bowl this year. Last season, Miami finished 6-7, losing in the MAC championship game to Central Michigan. They weren't bad, but they definitely didn't live up to expectations. One year later, I think they will. Hopefully, more experienced players at the offensive skill positions will get Shane Montgomery to open the playbook a little more, and the offensive line will avoid the injury bug. If the linebackers play as well as advertised, they'll lead a strong defensive unit. I'm thinking 8-4 or so for the RedHawks, which will get Miami one of the MAC's three bowl slots.
And finally, I'd like to thank Orson for the chance to be a Visting Lecturer. Lord knows it's more fun than how I should be spending my time:
If only BarBri were a third this entertaining.
Steady as she goes, lawya. If you'd like to read more about Miami football, the Library of Congress recommends Miami Hawk Talk. If you'd like to contribute your own Visiting Lecturer post, please contact us at harumphharumph of the gmail email variety address.