Ever seen a program with a death wish? It's not enough that the Hurricanes suffered a humiliating loss to Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, or that last year's team was cracked by dissension and complacency. Just when school officials had gotten over last spring's Pell Grant scandal, The Miami Herald reported a separate system of payoffs to the team from former players and one overzealous booster: 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell.
With NCAA sanctions looming, you would think everyone would be on his best behavior, right? Right. In July senior quarterback Frank Costa was charged with drunken driving. Then linebacker Rohan Marley, the team's leading tackier in '93, was arrested for allegedly Irving to run down a cop while making a left turn. Costa pleaded not guilty on Aug. 4, and Marley goes to trial Sept. 12.
Does all this mean the Hurricanes won't excel in 1994? Quite the contrary. The Miami persona feeds off an us-against-the-world complex. Says sophomore linebacker Ray Lewis, "They say, 'Miami's not the Miami it used to be'—well, when we win the national championship, what are they going to say?"
Still, wanting and doing are different things. Last year's secondary was slow, the receivers couldn't hold on to the ball, and the special teams handed opponents too many first-and-10's on the 45. A schedule that includes Washington, Florida State and Virginia Tech will leave little time to correct these Haws. We're not talking instant turnaround here.
Instead, 1994 should be something to build on for '95. Lewis and wideout Jammi German, who were sensational as freshmen, should be even better this season. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp and fullback James Stewart, both juniors, should emerge as two of the nation's premier players. Also, don't be surprised to see more strutting and jawing as these Hurricanes search to regain the chemistry that made their predecessors so fearsome.
"This might be the best team the Canes ever had," Lewis says. "This team is going to go 12-0. Easily."
Not bad, Ray. But with all the rotten karma plaguing this team, nothing—least of all wins—will come easily.