Hurricanes Vs. Seminoles Will Maintain Usual Intensity
For 25 years, the road to the college football national championship has gone through the state of Florida.
With a combined ten national championships among them, the Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles and Florida Gators have made it to the big game a total of 16 times since 1983.
No other state even comes close to boasting that talent. And no other state comes close to providing players to the NFL. We are a football breeding ground.
So you can imagine the significance when these teams play each other. Even if they are having an off-year.
This Monday, the University of Miami Hurricanes will play the Florida State Seminoles in what has become one of the fiercest rivalries in all sports.
The Hurricanes are not even ranked this year and the Noles are ranked 18th, so the game doesn’t carry the national significance that it normally does.
But even during an off-year, state bragging rights go a long way. And the players know that the NFL scouts will be watching, so their careers depend on this game.
In fact, the nation will be watching because the game will be broadcast on ESPN on Labor Day night. The perfect finale for a three-day weekend. The perfect kick-off to the new football season.
And as always, most of these players have already faced each other in high school football, so the intensity between them began before they even stepped onto the collegiate campus.
So what can we expect?
Well the Canes to walk all over them, of course. I am biased, however. Been a Canes fan since the late 1970s when my dad would take me to the games.
Back then, the Canes were pretty mediocre, so they used to give tickets away at the local Burger Kings in order to entice fans to attend the games. And my dad, having been an alum, would take me to the games.
But at that time, the groundwork was being laid for what would become the most dominant team in college football.
A coach named Lou Saban installed a pro-style offense and began recruiting players from South Florida.
Where before the trend in college football was to recruit big, slow white guys from Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, Miami started recruiting speedy black guys from the ‘hood. And in the process, they stepped the game up a notch or two.
When Howard Schnellenberger took over the team in 1979, he promised the community that he would win a national championship in five years. It took him four.
In 1983, they won their first national championship by beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers 31-30, stopping their 22-game win streak. Those slow, white guys had nothing on the speedy, black guys from Miami.
The Canes continued their dominance throughout the 1980s, winning a national championship in 1987 and in 1989 (and another in 1991 and one in 2001).
At the time, Miami-Dade County was going through its most tumultuous decade in its young history. Refugee boatlifts, inner city riots and drug wars had turned us into the murder capital of the world.
We were killing each other, hating each other, mistrusting each other. But the Canes were able to bring us together for at least one day out of the week.
We were proud because these were our guys on the field. They went to our high schools. Played in our streets growing up. And now they were putting us on the map by kicking ass on the football field, which was a welcome change from all the negative press we were getting nationally at the time.
So it really didn’t matter if you did not attend the University of Miami, something most locals don’t do. We were still fans. And when Florida State tried to knock us off our pedestal, we became enraged. We were up for the fight.
It wasn’t just a rivalry between colleges, it was a rivalry between North Florida and South Florida, which as anybody down here will tell you, the further north you drive, the deeper south you get.
It was hick vs. slick. Yee-haw vs Ya-yo. A country mile vs a ten mile overpass. It became very tribal.
And while Florida State boasted some of the most talented teams during this era, they just couldn’t get past Miami. The games, for the most part, always remained close but a series of wide-right field goal misses haunted coach Bobby Bowden throughout the 1990s.
By the time the Seminoles won their first national championship in 1993, they had done so by emulating Miami’s style of football and recruiting the speedy, black guys from Florida.
In fact, colleges throughout the nation began recruiting heavily down here, which diluted the talent pool a bit.
But not so much where other Florida universities were unable to start building up respectable football programs of their own, including the University of Southern Florida, the University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University, which is coached by Howard Schnellenberger (remember him?).
And not so much where the Florida Gators were unable to emerge as the most recent powerhouse, having won the national championship last year and entering this season ranked number one.
So even if the Canes are not going to win state bragging rights on the field this year, they can still dominate on the microphone with their most recent rap video (above).
Back in 1988, the Seminoles came out with their own rap video (below). Then ended up losing to the Canes 31-0.
My prediction for this game: Miami 26 FSU 23.
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