Location: Coral Gables, Fla.
Bowl appearances: 31
NFL first-round picks: 54
Losing seasons: 18
10-win seasons: 14
Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: College numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)
The skinny: Miami enters its first season under coach Al Golden.
The good: With South Beach nearby, along with dozens of other beaches, beautiful weather and five national titles, the program should be an easy sell. Former Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta and Golden like it so much they both have homes less than two miles away from campus. Miami has a football tradition that can rival that of any in the country, and the graduation rate has been among the best in the country in recent years. There’s enough talent in the state of Florida to go around, but the staff doesn’t have to look much further than its own county. While the alumni base is small, a large percentage of the program’s most loyal fans grow up in the nearby South Florida neighborhoods and are aware of its rich history.
“Not only is the scholarship at Miami here worth $55,000, but with that there’s more value in that because of what Miami can provide you from a social aspect,” Golden said. “Most people, the first thing they think about are parties. That’s like one of 50 things you can do when you’re in this kind of diverse setting. Our kids go to the beach, they fish, we have kids who go out to the Everglades or central Florida and hunt. We have art shows, festivals Key West. When USC and Miami are right, when they’re right, they’re hard to beat because not only are they top 50 institutions that can play top-level football and have a track record of producing NFL players, they also can give you everything.”
The bad: The Hurricanes don’t have the room or the money for a stadium on campus, so they’re forced to play in an NFL stadium 20 miles away. Unless it’s a marquee opponent like Ohio State, the tailgating scene at Sun Life Stadium is lacking and the venue seems bigger than the game. The Hurricanes are also competing with four professional sports teams, including the Dolphins, for fan support, and have one of the country’s smaller alumni bases to start with (approximately 154,000). Golden said that the program’s relationship with the Dolphins, while respectful, isn’t as close as it was with the Eagles when he was in Philadelphia. Miami is also competing with rivals Florida State and Florida -- not to mention the country's other premier programs -- for in-state talent. While the history of Miami football is what defines it, it’s also what creates an enormous amount of pressure for every new head coach.