The Miami Hurricanes are in a tough spot heading into Saturday's showdown with 14th-ranked Virginia Tech. Even if the Canes beat the Hokies, they still need Virginia Tech to lose to Virginia a week from Saturday to earn a ticket to the ACC Championship game.
Before the season even got underway, most UM fans felt the season would be a disappointment if the Hurricanes didn't at least play in the ACC title game or reach a BCS Bowl game. But without a win Saturday and some help from the 4-6 Cavaliers, UM will fall short of that goal.
So here's the question: What if UM wins out? What if the Canes beat Virginia Tech, beat USF and beats the Gators (or another SEC school) in the Chick-Fil-A bowl (their likely destination should they win out)? Would a 10-3 record and potential Top 15 finish in the rankings satisfy Canes Nation?
One person it wouldn't satisfy is former Hurricane and WQAM radio personality Dan Morgan. "I wouldn't be happy with it at all," Morgan said. "I came into this season with high expectations. The school and the coaches and players and media had high expectations for this team. I know there were a lot of people who thought we could beat a Florida State and Ohio State. That's where my frustration comes from.
"It's funny. Everybody acts now like there weren't high expectations for this year. But there were. You can't forget about that. Just because we lost those games doesn't mean the expectations aren't as high anymore. If we don't win the ACC, then this season absolutely is a failure. That's what you play for at the University of Miami -- to win championships, ACC championships and not go to these no-name bowl games. We're not a normal school. We're not UCF, South Florida or FIU. We're the University of Miami and the expectations are always going to be high."
Morgan, in his first year with WQAM, has said on the radio plenty of times this season he isn't sure if UM coach Randy Shannon is the right person to lead the program. And he said he'll continue to feel that way, unless he sees the team take some major steps forward.
"They haven't even won a bowl game under him," Morgan said. "How many years do you give somebody to get the job done? I don't know. If you aren't winning the smallest bowl games, what makes you think your going to win next year? We're getting beat handily and we aren't beating good teams. It's frustrating. I don't want to go on there and say so-and-so should get fired. I've got nothing against Randy or anybody. But you have to start beating good teams."
The Hurricanes haven't beaten a ranked opponent since it knocked off Oklahoma 21-20 last October. They've lost three in a row to ranked teams -- Wisconsin, Ohio State and Florida State -- and are only 4-8 against ranked teams under Shannon. But a win Saturday and two more wins after that (that would be five wins in a row to close the season) would go a long way in my eyes of showing at least some improvement.
So, how would you feel if Miami finished 10-3, but didn't make it to a BCS Bowl game?
A FEW MORE TIDBITS...
> If there's one thing I love about Morgan as analyst it is his brutal honesty. And he makes no apologies for it.
"I have thick skin," said Morgan, who did some radio in Carolina before moving back home to South Florida. "I've had that since my playing days. I had people talk about me on the radio, rip me for this and that. People don't like reality sometimes and the truth. I do what I'm paid to do, speak my mind and give my opinion. Everybody isn't going to always agree with me. Some will. But everybody has their own opinion. I love doing the radio thing. It's definitely tough talking about your own school. But I'm paid by a radio station to give my opinion and if something isn't good I can't just sit there and act like it's good."
Two weeks ago, after the Hurricanes were beaten by Virginia, Morgan and WPLG Sports Director Will Manso got into a heated exchange with WQAM color analyst Don Bailey Jr. on air before the Maryland game. Morgan and Manso argued with Bailey Jr. over the team's effort at Virginia with Bailey Jr. citing that "the team doesn't have enough talent or experience." Morgan and Manso countered by calling "another excuse." It eventually got to a point where Bailey Jr. began taking shots at Morgan about things he did when he was a player -- including the 66-13 loss at Syracuse and the lack of defense in UM's win over UCLA a week later.
"There really was nothing fake about it," Morgan said. "We were all pretty heated. Don said some things he now knows came off the wrong way. When your doing radio, it gets heated. Will and I didn't feel the same way as Don. It's just grown men having their opinions and arguing. Nobody was going to win that argument. Don's reached out me since and said if I offended you in anyway, I apologize. Don is a good guy and is obviously real passionate about the Hurricanes. But if things aren't going as well as I think they should be, I'll speak about it. I know Don's opinion varies from mine."
> Morgan said although he has never spoken to senior linebacker Colin McCarthy in person, he has messaged him on Facebook and passed along his number to McCarthy, who wears the same number (44) Morgan wore at UM. As for McCarthy's play... "I thought he's done well," Morgan said. "He's definitely represented the number well. I was happy about it. He obviously is a good dude."