The Calm Before the Storm

Miami Hurricanes Football

The University of Miami Hurricanes football team played CCSU this past weekend. Who? Central Connecticut State University. If you haven’t heard of them before, don’t feel bad. Most people have not heard of them. Even avid college football fans who hail from Connecticut were scratching their heads in puzzled curiosity as they typed ”CCSU” into the Google search bar on their devices. Miami opened their season with three tough nonconference opponent games, so the obligatory FCS opponent before starting Atlantic Coast Conference play was a given. However, it must have taken some Francis Drake level adventurous digging to find a team that so many people have never heard of before to make sure that the team had that feel good beatdown game before commencing conference play. The Hurricanes found a punching bag- I mean team in CCSU that was willing to be paid for the privilege of getting their heads bashed in for 60 minutes by athletes who were simply bigger, faster, and stronger than they were. So there were plenty of smiles, high fives, and touchdown ring appearances on the Miami sideline. Position coaches and assistant coaches had plenty of fun watching their players dominate against a lesser opponent. Chasing down big plays from behind, running down the sidelines with glee to celebrate their players’ accomplishments. Even with all of the joyous celebrations and watching these young underclassmen get on the field and produce, you could tangibly feel the uneasy anxiety in the air. You could see the tormented smile on Manny Diaz’s face as he fist pumped every positive play while whiping the nervous perspiration from his brow. He had the look of a man who knows that these next few weeks can make, break, redefine, or cement his career and legacy as the head football coach of the Miami Hurricanes. It had a very similar sensation reminiscent of the eerie yet ominous calm we experience right before a hurricane makes landfall.

Hurricanes have two major scientific ironies. They are very destructive and lethal forces of nature that cause massive disturbances in the atmosphere, yet they require perfectly calm conditions in the atmosphere for them to form and be steered towards land. Because of this, you typically have great weather from high pressure systems preceding the violent low pressure tropical systems. This is what is referred to as “the calm before the storm.” That’s the surreal moment that Manny was living in this past Saturday as he watched former Miami Northwestern Bull Romello Brinson make a SportsCenter Top 10 circus catch for a touchdown. He was happy and smiled like a proud papa, but Manny couldn’t help but to be simultaneously worried of whether or not his team was ready for the pressure and storm that will be coming ashore next week. Did we put up the shutters properly? Are we stocked up on nonperishable food and water? Is it going to be okay that I only sandbagged the backdoor and put half a tank of gas in the generator? Did I make sure that my home owner’s or renter’s insurance is updated and do I know my evacuation routes to nearby shelters should a mandatory evacuation be ordered? You could see Manny’s mind matriculating a mile a minute. He is genuinely concerned as to whether or not his team is sufficiently prepared for the football storm that’s coming.

The other scientific irony of hurricanes is that once you’re in the storm, the calmest part of the storm is the “eye” of the hurricane. The eye of the hurricane is calm because it is the center of rotation and has no thunderstorm activity. It’s the best and worst part of the storm to be in because even though it’s the calmest part of the storm, the surrounding eye wall is the strongest part of the storm that has the highest winds, highest thunderstorm activity, and causes the most damage. So even though you get the serene clear skies in the eye, the reprieve is remarkably short before you’re back into the worst of it. Unfortunately, for Manny there will be no break in the form of a 2nd bye. It’s pretty much all storm surge and howling winds for the rest of this season. Manny gets one bye after the Virginia game, which is an absolute must win for him. Followed by another must win game for Coach Diaz up at North Carolina Chapel Hill. Considering the poor results Mack Brown and UNC are earning this season all of the built in excuses are gone. Manny must make it to the ACC Championship game to save his job, but for now he should enjoy the peaceful bliss that Saturday’s game provided him, because that was most certainly the calm before the storm.

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