Hey, there always will be something bigger and better somewhere. Alabama just added a waterfall feature flowing into the resort-style hot and cold tubs dedicated to its football players.
While Miami presses forward with the big-time basics, however, and that includes coach Al Golden’s dream of an indoor practice bubble, can’t we just take a minute to recognize the outlandish timing of what’s already been achieved?
Miami broke ground on this major improvement project in 2010, back when the U.S. economy was just beginning to crawl out of a withering recession.
The project started with a $5 million donation from Chicago-based businessman Ted Schwartz, a resident of Aventura in northern Miami-Dade County whose family foundation made a similar “transformational” gift to the Miami nursing school in 1999. As for the other $10 million needed to bring the Schwartz Center to its scheduled grand opening in October, well, that came from pledges made by members of the growing Hurricane Club, and it came even while the Shapiro scandal was playing out in a series of humiliating national headlines.
Table for the moment all discussion of what Miami deserves or doesn’t deserve to get from the NCAA. What strikes me today is the fact that people continue to run toward Miami rather than away. Even with bowl bans, even with the realization that Shapiro’s skunky influence once included an on-campus Miami athletes’ TV lounge with his name officially attached to it, the program is getting some things accomplished that weren’t considered possible even during the dynasty era.
Some of it is former players refusing to flinch (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson donated $1 million and his name is painted on the wall as sponsor of the new locker room). Some of it is Golden (he could have left for an easier job but hasn’t).
Put it all together, combined with a dash of excitement over a rare shot at Florida on Sept. 7, and folks down there are operating as if everything that could possibly stunt momentum has already happened.
“I don’t ever really talk about it, really,” quarterback Stephen Morris said last week of the NCAA cloud. “The only time we ever talk about it is when we have a media function and the question gets asked. We just follow coach Golden and stay under his lead.”
Morris is a senior, remember. One more bowl ban and his entire Miami postseason career would consist of a Sun Bowl loss to Notre Dame as a true freshman in 2010. Still, he’s smiling wide in the courtyard outside the new Schwartz Center and talking championships.
As long as we’re counting “wow” factors with Miami, be sure and add that to the list.