Dolphin optimism, hurricanes reaffirm Miami as soccer city
Let me settle things for anyone who might still doubt this: Miami is, at heart and to the core, a football city. Part of that is pure longevity. The Miami Hurricanes entered their 87th season this week and the Dolphins are gearing up for their 57th, so it’s the teams, the sport, that have helped lift us and previous generations.
Cheering on the Fins and Canes as they lifted us up or moaning as they let us down has been as important as family in our lives, and to our parents and grandparents. And, hey, if we aren’t there for the next Super Bowl win or National Championship parade, our kids surely will be! (Right?)
As UM begins a new era with former champion Cane Mario Cristobal at the helm and the Fins mark the 50th anniversary of the perfect season, each team’s history loosens and flexes again, their hold on us only making than to strengthen.
Old ghosts stir the memory, George Mira to Ted Hendricks, Larry Csonka to Don Shula, the men who laid the bricks, the foundations.
I say. Yes. It looked like it was basketball town or close enough for a one-minute argument there, four years being about a minute total. LeBron James came along and brought the bomb and the national spotlight. Promising him “not one, not two, not three…” The NBA titles made the Heat public enemies. That was delicious!
It was as if the dolphins and the hurricanes were politely stepping aside and saying, “We’ll wait.”
Do not mistake yourself. The expert-led Heat compete relentlessly, continue to win in the post-Dwyane Wade era, and enjoy an extremely loyal and passionate following in South Florida, one of baseball’s Marlins, hockey’s Panthers , Inter Miami football and the rest should all envy.
This is the week that King Sport unfolds, with the Canes and Fins both looking ahead and for the first time and only seeing the start of the regular season. And twenty years since one Miami team’s last national title and the other’s last playoff win hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for either, only underscoring the grip of the soccer.
UM begins its home season next Saturday with a soft tune-up against Bethune-Cookman.
The Dolphins kick off at home the following Sunday, September 11 with a fastball against rival New England – as there are no soft openings in the NFL.
We are in the waiting room, anxious as future fathers.
This is the great unknown.
Will dolphins and/or rods be great?
Say this, though: the hope and optimism for both teams is exceptionally high. These are feelings that defy measure, but you feel it too, don’t you?
It’s not that UM and the Dolphins both have new head coaches in Cristobal and Mike McDaniel. Heck, that happened twice recently with Mark Richt and Adam Gase taking over in 2016 and Manny Diaz and Brian Flores in 2019. Before that, Randy Shannon and Cam Cameron came on board together in 2007.
No, it’s that Cristobal, whose rods are ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press preseason poll, is proven and at the top of his game after a great run at Oregon. UM paid big for him and for him to assemble one of the best coaches in the country. With Tyler Van Dyke back at quarterback, an ACC title run doesn’t seem far-fetched.
And it’s that McDaniel, taking over a team with back-to-back winning seasons, arrives from San Francisco with a bit of buzz as a run-game guru, which showed in Saturday’s 48-10 win over Philadelphia. which ended the pre-season. . Above all, it’s that Tyreek Hill came on in a mega-trade with Kansas City — all that potential on display in a 52-yard completion from Tua Tagovailoa in the opener on Saturday.
ESPN’s 2022 list of the NFL’s Top 100 Players included four Dolphins, Hill highest at 24th followed by cornerback Xavien Howard 29th, new tackle Terron Armstead 69th and wide receiver Jaylen Waddle 74th. Hill’s addition is described by ESPN as sending “expectations for this once fledgling offense into the stratosphere.”
Still, overall expectations for the Dolphins and Canes outside of South Florida are mixed.
Buffalo, the Fins’ new AFC East roadblock, is the Super Bowl betting favorite at 6-1 odds. Miami is a midfielder tied for 16th at 40-1. What Tom Brady was seemingly forever, Josh Allen is now: the guy Dolfan dreams of.
UM’s national title odds, according to DrafKings Sportsbook, are tied for 13th at +9000, with Alabama (of course) favored at +125 and ACC rivals Clemson fourth seed and thus on the college football playoff track. Besides Clemson, North Carolina State (No. 13) is also ahead of Miami in the AP poll and Pitt is right with The U at No. 17 among ACC teams.
The potential of both Miami teams will show up quickly as the Dolphins have a tough first four games in Patriots-Ravens-Bills-Bengals and UM is at No. 6 Texas A&M in its third game.
In the meantime, enjoy the anticipation as King Sport is back as surely as Miami is a soccer city feeling new muscles and flexing.