And it's about time Miami coach Randy Shannon let his guard down and pumped his fist in the air.
Miami has the talent to win, but it was lacking the leadership that sparks the desire to win. It starts at the top, with the usually stoic Shannon, who was finally able to let loose and have some fun in the Canes' win over North Carolina. Shannon, cornered by criticism heading into that game, remembered how to chest bump. Even former players like middle linebacker Dan Morgan have said that Shannon needs to show more emotion -- heck, a smile would be nice -- because the players feed off of that.
"You know what happened?" Shannon said in a telephone interview this morning. "Those guys let me have fun. That's basically what it was. We weren't doing the things we needed to do in practice, and like anything, you've got to stay on top of the guys until you can see they're starting to make that change. We weren't being consistent. When we played Duke we had a good week of practice, I thought we were being consistent, I jumped around a little at Duke and had some fun with the players because I'd seen it at practice. Against North Carolina I saw the same type of tempo in practice. I told those guys, let me have fun. Let me enjoy myself, just by the way you practice and prepare."
Vaughn Telemaque told me after the loss to Florida State that the Hurricanes were still looking for a leader. Days later, he became one.
It makes perfect sense on this team that the leader comes from the defense, because that's the strong side this year, the group that, if Miami is going to win the ACC title, will win it for them. Telemaque, Brandon Harris and Sean Spence were the players who called the meeting.
"I thought it was great," Shannon said. "I can't force it on them. To have a players-only meeting, they have to call it. Those guys become your leaders and believe in what we're doing. I thought it was great for the football team."
Telemaque and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple had a brief exchange on the sideline during the Carolina game. It doesn't even matter what was said.
All that matters is that somebody finally cared enough to say it.