Let's just call this the Mark Richt effect.
If Al Golden had returned to lead a team that finished 8-5 a season ago, would Miami have made the preseason Top 25? I think we all know the answer to that.
Now, Richt is an upgrade at the head coach position. He has won at a much higher level than Golden ever did. His addition has clearly given the Hurricanes the benefit of the doubt in this updated Top 25 -- even though their recent history proves they don't deserve that quite yet.
But this is not about Miami -- not really. This is about Richt, who generally gets the benefit of the doubt himself. His Georgia teams may have averaged between nine and 10 wins a season, but they came to be known as perennial underachievers, which is one reason why Richt lost his job.
Since 2008, Georgia started every season ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 (including four in the preseason top 10). Four times, they ended the season unranked. Only once did they finish the season ranked higher than where they started.
Miami, meanwhile, has not started the season ranked in the preseason Top 25 since 2010. The last time the Hurricanes ended the season ranked was 2009. This is a team that has to learn how to win. Even Richt has tried to temper expectations since arriving, knowing full well folks in South Florida and around the country would expect immediate results given his track record and location. His 145-51 career record makes him the winningest head coach Miami has had since it became a powerhouse in the early 1980s. But Miami needs more than just a winning coach to reverse its recent history.
Does this team have the potential to be a Top 25 team when the season ends? Yes. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is already being discussed as a future first-round pick. His presence alone makes Miami a team that is worth watching. But there are so many holes across the roster, including receiver, offensive line, linebacker and defensive back. During the spring game, Miami did not have enough receivers or offensive linemen to rotate in by the end of the game. There remain questions about the defensive line, too, considering the way it vastly underachieved under Golden.
There is talent on the team. There always is at Miami. But it might be expecting too much to declare this a Top 25 team right now.