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But Are They Really "Back?": Miami (FL), Texas, and the NIL liberator

Miami Texas
Can Miami (FL) and Texas finally "be back?"

Can Miami (FL) and Texas finally "be back?"

I'll never forget January 1st, 2019, watching the Sugar Bowl. I was stunned that Texas upset Georgia in that game. Sam Ehlinger essentially carried Texas on his back the entire game, as he did all season in 2018, and rushed, not passed, his way to beating the Dawgs. During the post-game interview during the trophy presentation, Sam Ehlinger would utter two words that would inevitably sign his death warrant for the next two years of his career. Yup, you guessed it, "We're Back!" Texas would end up going 8-5 and 7-3 and winning both of their bowl games in Tom Herman's final two seasons before getting the ax, and new head coach, Steve Sarkisian, would end up going 5-7 in his first year in 2021. Safe to say, Texas wasn't back at all.

Miami (FL) is a similar story to Texas. A once juggernaut program in the early 2000s has been a shell since joining the ACC in 2004. They've averaged five losses a year from 2004-2021 and have a whopping 3-11 bowl record in that span. A far cry from a program that put an insane amount of talent into the NFL from those early 2000s teams and won 5 national championships in 19 years.

Miami (FL) and Texas were two programs that were once feared teams in the world of college football. Then by certain misfortunes, they turned into laughing stocks in seemingly a blink of an eye. However, the NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) era of college football is upon us, and these two schools have quickly taken every advantage imaginable, from the lack of guidelines to NIL. For Texas, the oil money boosters finally have the legal path to funding the program to acquire high-caliber players to come to play for them. For Miami, guys like Nevin Shapiro have also flooded out of the woodwork to pay whatever it takes to get high-caliber players to come to play for them.

So, with NIL running rampant on college football, this begs the question for these two once elite programs, are Texas and Miami (FL) back?

The answer is no. But could they be soon? That depends.

Any college football team's success starts and ends with recruiting. Texas, in recent years, hasn't done terribly in recruiting by any means. Their last five classes rank as 3rd, 3rd, 8th, 15th, and 5th. However, as previously mentioned, the results haven't reflected their recruiting success. Miami has had one top 10 class in that time span, but 4 of the five ranked top 20.

So, if a team's success starts and ends with recruiting, why haven't these teams been successful on the football field? Coaching. And let's face it, when both teams have had four different head coaches in the last decade, that's not any recipe for success, no matter what talent you have. Do you think Alabama's or Ohio State's of the world would be as successful if they kept hitting the reset button with coaches every 3-4 years? Not a chance.

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So let's break down both teams' situations and give a verdict on their chances of "being back."

Texas

Texas comes into the 2022 season pulling in a top five recruiting class and killing it in the transfer portal in Sarkisian's second year at the helm. Coming off a 5-7 season where you blew a massive lead to arch-rival Oklahoma and losing to one of the worst teams in college football in Kansas means Coach Sark has to make this an eight to nine-win team minimum in 2022. Especially at a school like Texas, where winning is demanded immediately. This could be possible since Texas pulled off one of the biggest transfer heists in history by grabbing quarterback Quinn Ewers from Ohio State. With a perfect 1.000 rating, Quinn Ewers is generating a lot of hype for this Longhorns team coming into the season.

However, my lack of faith in Texas has nothing to do with their talent. They've never really been devoid of that. My lack of confidence is in Steve Sarkisian. In eight years as a head coach of Washington, USC, and Texas combined, he has never once won ten or more games in a season. His best year was his only full year as head coach of USC when he went 9-4 and won the Holiday Bowl. And while it seems like he conquered his demons of alcoholism that derailed his tenure at USC, taking on a job as cutthroat as Texas feels like it may be too tall of a task for him.

In my opinion, 2022 and 2023 will tell us what we need to know about Sark at Texas. With another "1.000" QB in Arch Manning and top class coming in, there's no excuse for him not to succeed going forward. This season, Alabama comes to Austin to play the Longhorns in another edition of "Saban vs. his former assistants," If Sark can manage to defeat the Crimson Tide, that would do a lot for his future there being a long one. Even if that upset doesn't happen, if Sarkisian can manage to get to 7-9 wins this season, follow that up with a double-digit win season in 2023, and continue to recruit at a high level with the help of NIL, Texas could very well "be back." But with a move to the SEC looming, I'm not sold. Verdict: They won't be back

Miami (FL)

Miami (FL) is starting 2022 with another new head coach; this time, it's one to take seriously. Mario Cristobal, a former Hurricane football player, returns home in an attempt to be the man to revive a Miami (FL) program that has been irrelevant for about 20 years now. Miami (FL) is coming off of a 7-5 season where they didn't get to play their Sun Bowl game due to COVID. Since joining the ACC in 2004, Miami (FL) has only been close to an ACC title once, when they made the ACC title game in 2017 when they got curb stomped by Clemson 38-3.

Miami (FL) fans have been desperate for their Hurricanes to be back for a long time. With Cristobal commanding the army and NIL seemingly taking off like a rocket for the program, the future is seemingly looking brighter than ever. Miami's recruiting class currently sits at 9th in the country, and they are currently leading for three top-50 recruits on the board. But can Cristobal and booster-led recruiting raise Miami (FL) back from the dead? This is a better time than ever for precisely that to happen.

About a decade ago, Miami (FL) was hit with some very light sanctions over a scandal where Nevin Shapiro, a booster for the program, gave impermissible benefits to Miami (FL) athletics for eight years. In today's college football, where NIL is king, Miami boosters have come out swinging and are seemingly helping lock up top talent left and right. You give Mario Cristobal, a guy who had great success at Oregon, a slew of talent he's never had before, and the sky is the limit.

Not to mention, the ACC is wide open more than it has been in quite some time. Clemson is coming off a down year for their program, and Pittsburgh just won the conference over Wake Forest, for crying out loud. Miami (FL) has all the tools they seemingly need to win the ACC and revive the program finally. But will they? Only time will tell. Unlike Texas, it seems way more likely to come true.

Verdict: They'll be back