The long list of issues that the Miami Hurricanes and their backers have dealt with this season all pale in comparison to what happened Tuesday night.
Senior defensive tackle Bryan Pata was gunned down at his apartment, leaving the University of Miami and head coach Larry Coker in shock heading into this weekend’s matchup with the No. 24 Maryland Terrapins.
"It`s the ultimate distraction," Coker told the Baltimore Sun. "We are preparing to get through today and get to tomorrow. Nothing can ease our pain right now."
Saturday’s contest in College Park will remain on the schedule due to the lack of time to reschedule games in the ACC. Maryland is contending for the ACC title and is without a bye week, leaving NCAA officials no other choice but to force the Hurricanes to take the field in the wake of this tragedy.
"We haven`t talked about [the game] and we don`t plan on postponing the game or canceling the game," Coker told reporters. "We plan on going to practice and working through this as our football family and doing the very best we can to represent our university and Bryan Pata."
Oddsmakers have also stuck to their plan for Saturday’s game, keeping the line fairly steady after hearing the news of Pata’s death. They bumped the Terps to -3 in the hours following the announcement that the game would go ahead, moving the spread only a half-point.
“I`m surprised [the line] hasn`t moved to four,” says Shane Catford, an oddsmaker with betCRIS.com. “It went to three and a half and we didn’t see a lot of action on Maryland. As soon as we went to 3 ½ we saw money on Miami, so we evened it out at three.”
Sharp football bettors are also surprised at Saturday’s pointspread. Miami has been horrific against the spread this season going 1-6-1 ATS (5-4 straight up) and is still getting over the repercussions of the October 14 brawl with Florida International, losing its last two games straight up and against the spread.
“Personally I think the line might be a trap,” says professional handicapper Scott Rickenbach. “For Maryland to open up as such a small favorite looks like a trap. Consider that the Terps are at home, they`re ranked while Miami is not, and the headlines the Hurricanes have been making this season have not been good ones.”
Miami has been overcoming many struggles on and off the field this season. Head coach Larry Coker is on the hot seat, the school was criticized for its lack of discipline after the brawl and starting quarterback Kyle Wright is questionable for this weekend’s game due to a possible broken thumb.
“Even with Wright’s injury, if you consider the offenses equal while also noting that the Hurricanes are the stronger defense you may have a play on Miami here,” says Rickenbach. “Don`t forget that the emotion of the Hurricanes after the recent shooting tragedy could also trigger their best game of the year. I will look at Miami or nothing when it comes to this game.”
While some handicappers look for the Hurricanes to rally around their fallen teammate on Saturday, some believe this is tipping point for a program overflowing w