Miami decided to impose a second-straight postseason ban with an eye toward the future.
It was the only real decision Miami leaders could make.
Yes, the Hurricanes miss out at a shot at playing in their first ACC title game. Yes, this is an opportunity taken from players who have worked long hours to get Miami to this point. You can imagine the disappointment when interim athletic director Blake James delivered the news to the team Monday morning.
But Miami hopes this move protects them from future sanctions when the NCAA eventually wraps up its investigation. There are no guarantees, but imposing postseason bans in consecutive seasons -- including one with championship hopes on the line -- show this program has taken the allegations seriously. More often than not, the NCAA appreciates it when schools are proactive.
"We feel it’s a decision that’s best for us moving forward, and we’re excited to move forward as a program," James told reporters on a conference call Monday. "It’s a situation where we respect and understand the process needs to take its course. Like everyone, we’re just anxiously looking forward to getting to the end of this process and moving forward as a program."
That brings us to the future. And for that, we turn our eyes to Ohio State. There is no way administrators could allow themselves to sacrifice what should be an outstanding Miami team in 2013. The Buckeyes opted to go to a bowl game last season after finishing 6-6 and are serving a bowl ban this year, ruining any shot at a national title game appearance, Big Ten championship game appearance or Rose Bowl appearance.
This year, Miami is one of the youngest teams in the nation and returns just about every starter next year. While it is giving up an opportunity to win the ACC in 2012, Miami will be better equipped to make a run at the title next year -- and a real contender to be a Top-25 program in the preseason polls. Though James declined to answer whether Ohio State's situation played a role in making this decision, the answer should be obvious.
That brings us to Al Golden. Many have wondered whether these sanctions would scare Golden off, but James reiterated Monday that the head coach is firmly committed to the program.
"He recognizes what we all recognize in that we all have a very, very bright future as a program," James said. "When you look at the team we have, when you look at the young guys contributing, who we are as a program right now with a lot of our impact players -- freshmen, sophomores, first- and second-year guys -- to have a team that was picked fifth in the Coastal at the start of the year to now be in position to be playing for the ACC Coastal, we have a great future as a program and that credit goes to Al. I know that’s something Al is very excited about and is very committed to the future of the program here."
James used the word "future" three times in that statement. That says all you need to know why Miami made this decision today.