CORAL GABLES, Fla.—For Miami, there's no team party, no fancy welcome gift for showing up, no perks that typically accompany a bowl game.
Make no mistake, though: Friday will have plenty of extra significance to the Hurricanes.
A day after learning the university was self-imposing a bowl ban for this season -- a move that apparently caught virtually every player off guard -- Miami returned to the practice field Monday to prepare for the season finale against Boston College. Having a chance to finish over .500 is essentially what's at stake for the Hurricanes (6-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who say pride will play a major role in how they prepare this week.
"I'm disappointed," Miami linebacker Sean Spence said. "But we've got to move forward and make a sacrifice for the program. So when you think about it like that, I'm all for it."
Miami became bowl eligible on Saturday with a 6-3 win over South Florida, a victory that came on Jake Wieclaw's field goal as time expired. Players rushed the field in celebration and many of them spoke afterward about the significance of having a chance to play in a bowl game.
A day later, they were bowl ineligible, part of the university's response to an ongoing NCAA investigation into compliance practices and claims that former booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro has made alleging he provided 72 Miami football players and recruits with extra benefits between 2002 and 2010.
"My job is to get us bowl eligible," Miami coach Al Golden said. "So in one sense, I'm glad we're having the discussion, because we did get bowl eligible. But it just gives us a chance to move forward."
Golden said he has been assured that he will have a full complement of scholarships to offer to incoming recruits for the 2012 signing class -- which only means the university does not plan to self-impose that sort of penalty as well. The NCAA can hand down sanctions of any sort, including a longer bowl ban than one year and scholarship reductions, should it so choose once its investigation ends.
Also Monday, the NCAA flatly denied that its investigation into Miami has been slowed by other college scandals, including the ongoing situation at Penn State. The NCAA comment was in response to Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, saying Sunday that the Penn State matter was impeding the progress of the Miami inquiry.
"The situation at Penn State does not have anything to do with the University of Miami investigation and has not impacted its pace in any way," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said.
Shapiro's claims were first widely reported in a
Schools self-imposing penalties is common. Self-imposing postseason bans in football, however, is not. Texas Tech was believed to be the last major program to publicly acknowledge it did so, and that was in 1997. Other major programs, such as North Carolina, Ohio State, Boise State, West Virginia and LSU, have all self-imposed various penalties in recent months, moves that included voluntarily going on probation or reducing scholarships.
"We've got to deal with it and move on," Miami quarterback Jacory Harris said.
The Shapiro saga represents the latest chapter in Miami's decline from college football's highest echelon, the level Golden has said many times he'd like to lead the Hurricanes to again.
The Hurricanes' last bowl win was Dec. 31, 2006. Since then, 81 different schools have won at least one postseason game -- and there are only 120 schools in major college football.
Over the last five seasons, Miami is a mere 34-28, tied with Rutgers for the 49th-best record nationally during that span. This year's team has won consecutive games only once so far. The last time the Hurricanes won three straight games against other schools from the Football Bowl Subdivision was midway through the 2008 season.
Last week, some of Miami's seniors talked about the significance of having a chance to end this season with three straight wins -- including a bowl. When athletic director Shawn Eichorst delivered the news Sunday, some dropped their heads in disbelief, and a few acknowledged sobbing.
"I really felt bad for the older guys," Miami defensive back Thomas Finnie said. "It was going to be their last game. I know they wanted to go to a bowl game."
So now, senior day against Boston College becomes that bowl game.
"If this is what it takes for the program to get back," senior center Tyler Horn said, "then this is what it takes, this is the sacrifice we have to be willing to make."
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