Miami opened spring practice this past weekend with the dark clouds that have hovered around the program slowly beginning to part.
Now that the school has received its notice of allegations from the NCAA, there is at least an end point to an investigation that has dragged on for more than two years and forced Miami to cut scholarships and self impose postseason penalties for 2011 and 2012. In his first comments since the notice was received, coach Al Golden told local reporters:
"That's signaling of the beginning of the end to me was big," Golden said. "You could almost sense it in the building and for the players that we have a chance to move forward now. We know that there's at least a terminal date now as opposed to being in the gray and we're excited about moving forward."
You can certainly understand why there was a sense of relief, particularly for the players, who have been living in a suspended state of, "What will happen to us?" But the notice of allegations, which has not been made public just yet, does not signal that the clouds have completely parted just yet.
There may be some sunlight coming through the clouds, but Miami could still face sanctions in addition to the ones that have been self imposed. The potential exists for another postseason ban, and/or more scholarship reductions, along with some time spent on probation. Nobody knows just yet what will befall Miami when the process ends.
But this first step is obviously important for Golden and his players. They know more today than they did last month; and they also know the end is near. Though the future remains a question mark, they are at least closer to the end. That seems to be enough for Golden and his players this spring, as they begin their quest for 2013.