Jogging out to the practice field Monday morning, Miami players were loose. Some even smiled.
"It's like the first day of camp," one said to another.
In a sense, these Hurricanes are walking where no other college football team has ever been. A few hours before practice, they were told UM was taking an unprecedented preemptive strike by banning itself from a second straight postseason.
The move could reduce future sanctions the NCAA is expected to hand down after its investigation into past recruiting infractions. The review of what appear to be major rule violations has already spanned 20 months.
Saturday's game at Duke could've sent Miami to its first ACC Championship Game, but instead it'll close another season in November. Not since the NCAA sanction of 1981 and the four-loss 1982 season has UM missed consecutive postseasons.
Despite weeks of rumor and speculation about the ban, the move caught players off guard.
"I think everybody was in a state of shock, actually," QB Stephen Morris said. "It is what it is. It's a disappointing feeling, but we have to move forward."
Interim athletic director Blake James delivered the news in the weekly Monday team meeting. James said he participated in the decision-making process along with UM president Donna Shalala and the school's legal team.
James and coach Al Golden could not say whether self-imposing two bowl absences would free the Hurricanes from future postseason sanctions.
Michael Casagrande, South Florida Sun Sentinel
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USF: Emergency QB
TAMPA - With USF down to a single healthy scholarship QB after injuries to B.J. Daniels and Bobby Eveld, the Bulls are giving TE Evan Landi reps as an emergency backup quarterback, should anything happen to new starter Matt Floyd in the final two games.
Landi came to USF as a QB but has gotten all his playing time at WR and TE. He has been sidelined with an ankle injury but ran sprints with the team Sunday night in his return to practice and said he'll be healthy for Friday's game at Cincinnati.
Eveld's injury is a third-degree separation of his left (non-throwing) shoulder, an injury that typically has a three-month timetable for a full recovery, allowing him to return healthy for the start of spring drills.
DEEP CONCERNS: Coach Skip Holtz remained specifically upset about the number of uncontested deep passes Miami completed, including touchdowns of 87 and 65 yards, against a USF defense schemed to avoid such a problem.
"I can handle a (well-covered spectacular catch), but the one that discourages me, the one that frustrates me, the one I don't think we can tolerate as coaches or players, are the ones where they throw the ball and there's nobody there," Holtz said. "There's no reason for that when you call three-deep zone for a guy not to be there."
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
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FSU: Jenkins goes pro
TALLAHASSEE - Brandon Jenkins' days at Florida State have officially ended. The senior DE said he had decided to enter the NFL draft.
"It was a tough decision," Jenkins said. "I feel like my time, it's been good."
Jenkins, a potential first-round pick, said he made the decision recently and informed coach Jimbo Fisher on Monday.
Jenkins had been considering coming back to FSU after a season-ending foot injury suffered in the opener Sept.1. Because of how early the injury occurred, he would have had likely received a medical redshirt.
"I am very supportive of Brandon's decision. We had a great talk," Fisher said in a statement. "It is best for him to go and become an NFL football player, which he most definitely will. We were very blessed to have had him here at Florida State."
Coley Harvey, Orlando Sentinel
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UCF: Block party
ORLANDO - A week after having a field goal and punt blocked, UCF bounced back to block two kicks during a loss to Tulsa on Saturday.
Junior DT Jose Jose got his hand on an extra point in the third quarter and Cam Henderson got up to block a fourth-quarter field-goal attempt. It was the first blocked extra point for UCF since E.J. Dunston blocked one at UAB last season.
"The key is to get push and then get the hands up," coach George O'Leary said. "Too many guys try to get height before they get push and close the distance so you get the angle of that ball.
"I thought the defensive line did a great job on both the PAT and the blocked field goal as far as getting push and then elevating. It was well done."
Paul Tenorio, Orlando Sentinel
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USF: at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. Friday. TV: ESPN
Florida: at Florida State, 3:30 p.m. Saturday. TV: Ch. 28
Miami: at Duke, 12:30 p.m. Saturday. TV: TBD
UCF: vs. Alabama-Birmingham, noon Saturday. TV: FSN