Kirby Freeman's ribs are sure to still be sore this morning. Kyle Wright's ankle probably looks like a balloon. And Eric Moncur might not remember much following his third quarter concussion. But be assured the Hurricanes are all collectively feeling -- and U too -- a lot better today after UM's little miracle last night.
Because that's what it was, honestly, a miraculous finish. I know I wasn't the only person on the field last night who thought Miami's chances died about 40-inches short of the goalline with 5:39 to play. I know I wasn't the only one who didn't think Freeman (1 of 8 for 7 yards and 2 INTs before the final drive) could move Miami 83-yards downfield for a game-winning touchdown. I know I wasn't the only person whose jaw-dropped a little when Colin McCarthy scooped up that fumble and scored and sent UM's sideline and about 10,000 Canes fans at Doak Campbell into a tizzy.
But that's where these Canes had us after seven games -- believing they just couldn't do what they did Saturday night. Then, in what was once-typical UM fashion, they pulled a fast one on the 'Noles AND us. The funny thing is there honestly wasn't much surprise in UM's locker room.
"I knew Kirby could do it," Derrick Morse told me. "We just needed the ball one more time."
Really? We didn't know you could do it.
"We just kept believing," a happy Calais Campbell told me. "Those games we lost, those close calls, we knew we just needed a break. We never stop fighting. We don't quit."
Unfortunately, Calais, many of your fans had quit on you. Before Kirby turned things around and found Dedrick Epps in the corner of the end zone, most Canes fans had lost hope. The bashing on this blog and on many other UM-related message boards had commenced. Canes fans had traded in their green and orange pride for more vile and fury. Even the ones in the stands in Tallahassee were being critical, sounding a lot like the guy in the OB who chastised coach Randy Shannon with the "Why don't your put the names back on the jerseys so we can see who stinks!" following last week's loss to Georgia Tech.
But then, when the comeback was realized, everyone was a Cane again. When UM ran off the field toward its locker room, even Freeman was getting some love. The players no one wanted anything to do with we're suddenly beloved heroes again. The hypocrisy was in full swing. I was happy for UM's players. It had been a while since any of them felt good. It had been a while since any of them had been cheered and not jeered. But I was disappointed with the Cane hypocrites.
I'm not going to tell you how to behave as a fan. It's not my job. Even Randy Shannon said last week fans we're entitled to rip his team when they lose. But I feel obligated to remind U that this team hasn't quit on you. 5-3 isn't the season U wanted. 5-3 isn't the season the guys wearing the U wanted. But it's what their lack of talent has allowed them to achieve. Instead of hating on what Randy Shannon and his players are not achieving, how about praising them for what they have? How about not quitting on them? How about sticking around for the climb back to prominence instead of just being there when they get back on top?
Look at yourself at the mirror today Canes fans and ask yourself if you are a REAL FAN. Then, ask yourself if this team has quit on you. I'll tell you -- they haven't. Should you?
* I wrote this earlier this morning in the Tallahassee airport. Now that I've gotten back home and read some of your comments, I realized some of what I wanted to say might have been misinterpreted. For starters, I'm not criticizing all Canes fans. There are the die-hards who show up to the OB or watch every week on TV. Everyone always has a right to complain and I'm not knocking you for wanting more for your team. But I guess what has really bugged me is the fashion in which some of you have done it. Some of the comments have been crude, unwarranted and just flat out mean. These are young guys who are trying their best. I could understand if the players had totally given up on you. If they were deliberately losing. But being up close to these guys on a weekly basis, I can tell you I don't get that sense at all. If they were quitters, they wouldn't have battled back against North Carolina. Guys like Kenny Phillips wouldn't spend 10 to 15 minutes after the Georgia Tech loss dispondent. All I'm saying is have a little more respect for your team.