Thursday, July 12, 2007

College Football at its Best - The U - Miami Hurricane Football

It's another installment of "College Football at its Best".....and today we focus on The U -- the Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes.....providing his thoughts about The U is Manny Navarro.....he is 29-years-old and has been a reporter at the Miami Herald since he was a 17-year old senior at Miami Braddock Senior High....he was born and raised in Miami and grew up a huge Miami fan in general....he wrote that his job is a dream come from true....he has covered the Hurricanes beat for two years now and has been running the Eye on The U blog for two years.....I want to thank Manny for his time - it is much appreciated....
  • Eye on the U

  • 1. Who would you take as the head coach to lead an All-Miami team - Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson (photo), Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, or Larry Coker - and why?
    Tough one and I'm kind of torn between Schnellenberger and Johnson. But beca
    use I believe the Hurricanes were at their best when Johnson was coach, I'll take Jimmy. Nobody really personifies what UM was during its most exciting period than Johnson. This was a man who not only recruited some of the best players in UM history, but loved to gamble on fourth down and really loved to take chances and maximize the talent he had. Yes, Erickson won two titles, more than any other UM coach. But he won his first one with Jimmy's players. And let's not forget how the Canes would have won another title in his last season in 1988 if not for a bad call at Notre Dame in a 31-30 loss. That Canes team by the way opened the season with a 31-0 drubbing of top-ranked Florida State, an thrilling come-from-behind win at Michigan, an 18-16 win at home against 8th-ranked Arkansas and a 23-3 blowout of Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Johnson basically had Miami ranked No. 1 or No. 2 going into its bowl game from 1985 to 1988. And he also knew how to put together a great staff. The choice is simple -- Jimmy.

    2. What is the greatest Miami football game that you have seen - whether it be in-person or on television? Explain the game and why it was so great.
    Wow. How in the world do you pick just one. If I could, I'd pick the entire UM-Florida State series and all of the Wide Rights and the Wide Left, the first national championship game in 1983, the
    2002 national title game (Yes, I know they lost to Ohio State, but what a game), the great comebacks at Michigan in 1988, against the hated Gators at home in 2003 and any of the big wins against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

    But honestly, of all the great games to choose, I'd have to go with the 1998 home game against third-ranked UCLA. The Hurricanes were not ranked and had just lost 66-13 at Syracuse the week before. It seemed like for every step forward the program was taking under Butch Davis, a bad loss to Virginia Tech, Syracuse or some other Big East school was holding the Canes back. Then, UCLA walked into the Orange Bowl looking for a spot in the national title game. Edgerrin James (photo) ran wild and Miami won possibly its most important game on the comeback trail from scholarship reductions and the dreadful 5-6 season of 1997. The game was back-and-forth and while likely not the most exciting, the most meaningful because it helped net the recruits that would make up the 2001 national title team and put the Canes back on the map.

    3. Who do you hate more as a rival - Florida, Florida State, Virginia Tech, or Notre Dame - and why?
    Another great question that is awfully tough to answer. For Mia

    mi fans, no team is honestly a better rival than Florida State. The games, the battles have always been classic. No two programs mirror each other more as far as the players are concerned. The speed is equal. The talent is usually equal. I think if you asked a Canes fan, they'd say their favorite rivalry is with Florida State because the Seminoles are really the only team Miami has played on a yearly basis for a long time. But the most hated? That's a whole 'nother topic.

    While Notre Dame is a program UM fans hated during the 1980s when the teams actually met on the field, Miami has not played the Irish since 1990. And while there will always be a special place of hate for Notre Dame, no team is more disliked than the Gators. Florida, now at the top of the college football world, ducked UM when it was on its own magical ride and backed out of the annual series because they didn't like get blasted by the Canes. UM fans took their beatings from Florida in the 1960s and 1970s and never liked the fact the Gators decided to take a step back after 1987 and only renewed the series in 2002 after UM had gone through its struggles in the 1990s. So, to most Canes fans, the most hated rival has to be the Gators.

    4. Since 1970, who are the five greatest players to wear a Miami uniform and why?
    At any other college football program, this might be easy to answer. But at The U? Home of the most first round talent-producing NFL school in the country. Good grief. First name that comes to mind is Michael Irvin (photo - right). The Playmaker was all that and a bag of chips. One of the greatest receivers in NFL history and a cornerstone of the 1987 national title team. Does anybody honestly bleed orange and green more than Michael? I don't think so.

    Second name that pops into my head is Vinny Testaverde. Quite possibly the best UM quarterback ever. Heisman trophy winner. Went 21-1 as a starter and has played for 20 seasons in the NFL.

    Next is Ray Lewis. If he doesn't get you excited to watch football. I'm not sure who will. He was a first-team All-American and honestly has become one of the best linebackers in NFL history.

    My next choice is Ed Reed. Probably will never be a greater playmaker on special teams and defense. Ed picked off 21 career passes at the U and returned five for scores. He produced turnovers and blocked kicks that led to 106 points and was a key factor on the 2001 defense which produced a record 45 takeaways during the national championship season. We all know what he is doing now with the Ravens.

    And finally, my last choice, is Edge. Edgerrin James started the recent run of talent in the backfield. He won two NFL rushing titles with the Colts and was responsible for what I think was UM's most important victory in its comeback from scholarship reductions, the 49-45 win against UCLA in 1998.

    5. Make your case why Miami football, as a whole, is the best football program in the country?
    I could sit here and try and convince you why UM is currently the best football program in the country. But the truth is, it is not. Right now, the Canes have a ways to go in terms of matching the long-established history of the Michigans, Notre Dames and Ohio States of the world and the current dominance of Florida and USC. But pound for pound at least in the last 25 years, no program has produced more talent or delivered more excitement and championships than the University of Miami. The five national titles since 1983? Unmatched. The 89 players taken on the first day of the NFL Draft? Unmatched. The 47 players taken in the first round since 1984? Nobody is with 15 of that number. The 12 top five finishes since 1983 in the Coaches Poll. Unmatched. There are other reasons. The 58-game home winning streak. The Orange Bowl, one of the best home-fields in the history of college football. The fans.

    But honestly, the reason the University of Miami is the best college football program in the country to watch is because of the swagger. I challenge you to tell me there has been a team more entertaining to watch in the last 25 years than the Canes. Who could have scripted anything like UM showing up to the 1986 Fiesta Bowl wearing battle fatigues. How about Randal "Thrill" Hill bringing out the pistols against Texas after running under the stadium after scoring a touchdown in a 46-3 blowout? How about 3rd and 43 followed by a bomb and a first down? How about a Ray Lewis or Sean Taylor knockout blow? How about Wide Right Part I, II, and III? How about Kellen Winslow's 'I'm A Soldier' speech? How about Michael Irvin's All About The U campaign? How about the backfield? Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore? How about Devin Hester in the open field? Or Warren Sapp in the middle. I could go on and on. But the bottom-line is the University of Miami has owned the eyes of college football fans everywhere for the past 25 years. And I know I'm not the only one who can't wait to see what the next 25 years brings us....

    Once again I want to thank Manny for his time....on Monday, Penn State will be the featured football program...

    1 comment:

    twins15 said...

    Good stuff as usual...