Last evening I got to tune in and see Mark Ingram snag the Heisman Trophy award by the slimmest of margins. Ingram is definitely a deserving candidate and I was very happy to see that Toby Gerhart, the running back out of Stanford, got some love nationwide. It has been a great season and the bowl game madness is on the very near horizon.
Following the Heisman presentation there was a 30 at 30 special about the “U”. For those of you who are unaware, the “U,” are those pesky Miami Hurricane footballers. The special documented the transformation of the program over the decade of the 80’s into the early 90’s. It is truly an amazing tale how quickly the team was able to turn around and become a national contender in such a short period of time.
The U was the team in the city of Miami. Even bigger then their NFL team the Miami Dolphins who had a quarterback by the name of Marino. Some of you may have heard of “laces out” Dan Marino. Think about the players that the U has produced. Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, and the list could go on for days. The U, should really be called the NFL U. So many outstanding NFL players came out of this fine “athletic” institution.
The story of the transformation really brought to the public how this school became truly focused on football, even above academics. The team was bigger than the University. This resulted in a drawn out tug of war between coaches such as Jimmy Johnson and the President of the University. The players and team knew they were bigger than the school and they embraced it. Was this such a bad thing for the University?
I mean it did bring in millions and millions of revenue to the University every year. These millions were used to put in new academic buildings and programs. So even if the players at times would give the school a bad rep on the national scale, enrollment continued to sky as did the academic programs and buildings. Maybe perception was not reality in this case?
The program really highlighted how legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger completely changed everything and pushed the Canes into the national forefront. Unfortunately, he left following his first national title leaving the program deeply disheartened. The program had nothing to fear though with the arrival of the now legendary Jimmy Johnson, and then Dennis Erickson. I mean the coaching changes really added to the aura of the madness that was the U. Had Schnellenberger stayed for the whole decade, they may have won another national title or two, but the U, may not have been as entertaining and grasping of the national public as it was.
One other note I want to make about the U during the decade of the 80’s and even now. They never have shied away from scheduling a schedule with the utmost difficulty. They consistently scheduled the Seminoles, the Gators, the Fighting Irish (when they were good), the Penn States. This year was no different as they played powerhouses like Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Florida State, and Georgia Tech. Why can’t more teams be like this today? Most top teams play their conference schedules, and then maybe one tough out of conference opponent. The U never shied away from anything and still were able to maintain a 58 game home winning streak during the 80’s.
The only thing that really mystified me about the entire program was how much the former Hurricane players embraced the bad boy image. They seemed to love the thought that they were known as Thug U and really are not offended in any way by the perception. Michael Irvin said it best when he said, “We were bad boys, we knew it, and we loved it.”
So what are your thoughts on the U? Were they a good thing for College Football? Is it right that their players such as Michael Irvin embrace the bad boy image that they had? Then finally, is the U on the way back to becoming a National Title contender in the future with the likes of Jacory Harris and co?
Stay tuned for the next edition of the Sportskraze.