Miami has a big decision to make, and it has to make it quickly: self-impose another bowl ban or play to win the school's first ACC title since joining the league in 2004. What should the Canes do? Depends on who you ask, of course ...
Andrea Adelson: Take the postseason ban, Miami. The reason is simple. You do not want to be the Ohio State of 2013.
The Buckeyes should have self-imposed their ban last year, a miserable 6-6 season that ended with a bowl loss. Instead, they did it for this year and now they are the best team in the Big Ten but ineligible for the postseason -- Rose Bowl and potential national championship hopes dead before the season began.
Now, I realize there is a key difference between the 2011 Buckeyes and the 2012 Canes. Ohio State had no shot at a championship last year -- Miami does. Win out, and the Canes are in their first ACC championship game. So there are much bigger risks involved for Miami. It has taken nine years for Miami to get to this point, an incredible amount of time when you consider folks expected this every year when Miami joined in 2004.
So you understand this will not be an easy decision -- Miami choosing between its present and its future. But there is the expectation that:
1. The NCAA takes into account when schools self-impose sanctions. This would be the second straight bowl ban Miami imposes if it goes that route, a sign it means business when it comes to acknowledging the severity of infractions being investigated.
2. Miami will be much better next year, and the likely favorite to win the Coastal Division. Miami is extremely young this season -- the Canes have two senior starters -- and will have most of their key contributors back for 2013, including Stephen Morris, Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett and Denzel Perryman. A preseason Top 25 ranking is realistic. A run at a national championship may be in the offing.
Miami will not make a decision until it becomes bowl eligible, and it cannot wait until after a championship game appearance, should it make it that far. Last year, it decided on a ban Nov. 21.
The truth is, Miami is not the best team in the Coastal this year, and its chances of beating either Florida State or Clemson are slim. Plus, I can’t imagine the ACC would be thrilled with the idea that its potential Coastal champ would be ineligible two straight years, with current division leader UNC already serving a bowl ban for this season. Next year, though, things should be different. Sometimes you have to sacrifice today for the good of the future.
Heather Dinich: Don’t do it, Miami.
Not now. Not when the Coastal Division title and another chance to play Florida State is right on the doorstep. A bowl ban now would be like giving your teenager the car keys for the first time and then grounding him before he even has a chance to plow through the garage door. Miami was already grounded last year. It’s in the driver’s seat now. Let the boys play.
Miami’s president and legal counsel are the ones handling this, as they should be. Al Golden’s job is to win -- just like he did last year until he was blindsided yet again by the administration, telling him they were self-imposing a ban in late November, right after the team had reached the six-win mark. Last year, though, Miami looked destined for something along the lines of Shreveport, La., which I hear is lovely this time of year. It’s a lot easier to walk away from the postseason when it entails spending the Christmas holiday at The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl instead of playing for the ACC title.
This time, Miami could win the Coastal Division for the first time since joining the league. You hear that? Miami and its fans have been waiting for this for nine years. That’s not worth sacrificing in exchange for a preemptive strike against the NCAA -- regardless of what a notice of allegations might say, if Miami even receives one this month. Let the folks in Indianapolis handle this one. If they don’t make the decision for Miami this year, Miami should take what it can get while it still can.
So should the ACC.
If Miami takes itself out of the postseason (or plays its way out for that matter), the conference will be forced to defer to a sub.-500 Virginia Tech, Duke or Georgia Tech team. The best-case scenario for the ACC this year is a Florida State-Miami rematch. To turn that long-awaited matchup down just to appease the NCAA would leave far more folks disgruntled in ACC country.
Yes, Miami will be a more experienced, better team next year, but you could say that for just about every team in the Coastal Division. This is the ACC. There is no guarantee Miami will get back to Charlotte next year. Regardless of how Miami got here (in part through the ineptitude and ineligibility of others), it’s still ahead of schedule in Al Golden’s second season. He has put together a performance worthy of Coach of the Year consideration.
Miami has to let the ACC know its intentions soon -- most likely after it becomes bowl eligible, which could happen on Saturday with a win at Virginia.
Those intentions should be the same they have always been at Miami -- to try and keep winning.