CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The negativity began creeping in slowly, then in great waves, once the NCAA ruled and reality settled in like stifling summer smog all around.
Miami would never be back. Not with these sanctions.
It was 1995. Blake James worked in the University of Miami ticket office. He wanted to plug his ears and shut his eyes to the negativity, to stop listening to the doubters. But he was new to the South Florida area, new to the program. Did these naysayers know something he did not? Could they tell him what would happen, even though they did not put in hours working inside the Miami athletic department the way he did, watching former coach Butch Davis, his assistants, athletic director Paul Dee, the players, support personnel?
James wanted to believe in Miami.
James had always believed in Miami. Growing up in Minnesota in the 1980s, he watched the most dominant program in America swagger its way to national championships. The U became a brand recognizable from Miami to Mankato to Malibu. James bought in, and decided to go to graduate school at St. Thomas University in South Florida, hoping to begin his career at the U.
So he believed.
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