CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — It had been 1,082 days since Miami players could walk outside their locker room, hit the fields adjacent to the school's athletic complex and have a bowl practice.
On Saturday, that all changed.
No longer having to worry about the anvil of an NCAA probe hanging over the program and national attention focused on conference championship showdowns, the Hurricanes started practicing Saturday for what will be their first bowl game since 2010. By Sunday night, Miami will have accepted an invite somewhere, probably to either the Russell Athletic Bowl to play Louisville or the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
"It felt great," Miami coach Al Golden said. "It was unbelievable. The whole week felt great. I didn't answer one question about the NCAA. It was unbelievable. Got a great recruiting group in here today. We just took care of business. I know they're excited about going to the postseason and growing and learning. You can see it. They were giving good effort. It was hot but they gave a good effort."
Miami self-imposed bowl bans in 2011 and 2012 because of the NCAA investigation, one that revolved around the actions of a former booster who was also running a $930 million Ponzi scheme. If Miami had chosen not to sit out those postseason contests — three in all, since the Hurricanes also passed up a chance to play in last year's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game — then it's possible the NCAA may have kept the school out of this bowl season.
All that reason for worry is gone now. The NCAA has ruled, and Miami is back in bowl business.
"It feels good," said Allen Hurns, who leads the team with 1,138 receiving yards and is 19 yards shy of a Miami single-season record in that department. said. "The last two seasons we weren't able to go to a bowl practice, but now we can, so we're enjoying every moment of it."