Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Goodbye to 70 years of Canes football at the OB



Orange Bowl circa 1940s, 1950s and today

You knew it was going to happen. It was only a matter of time. After years of neglect by the City of Miami, the Orange Bowl will now be an empty nest. Exactly twenty years ago, Dolphins owner Joe Robbie moved his team out of the Orange Bowl and into a brand new privately-funded stadium he built on his own. In 1996 the Fed Ex Orange Bowl also abandoned the OB. Earlier today, University of Miami president Donna Shalala made it official. The Canes will leave the Orange Bowl after 70 years of calling the OB home.

Like most Canes fans, the thought of UM playing anywhere but the OB was blasphemous. I still shudder to think of the team playing in Dolphins Stadium, with its sterile atmosphere and lack of mystique. You can paint the end zones orange and green with The U logo. The team will still run out of the tunnell through smoke. But deep down inside, it won't be the same. Once you pull into the parking lot, you'll see the signs that say "Dolphins Stadium". You'll see the Marlins baseball diamond covering the playing surface. It's enough to make Sebastian The Ibis cry.

But I've got news for you Canes fans. Life goes on and UM is making the right move. You can either watch your team continue playing in a decaying rusty erector set or you can watch them play in a first-class facility. Hmmm....I wonder what I'd rather have? Don't get me wrong, I love the Orange Bowl as much as anyone. I grew up watching games there. But I also want the best for the University of Miami program. This program has won 5 national championships and deserves a top-notch modern stadium.

Will the Canes lose their home field advantage? Maybe. Yes, Miami won 58 consecutive home games from 1985 to 1994 and 5 national championships since 1983. But was it because of the Orange Bowl? Or perhaps the Canes just simply had better players. I tend to believe the latter. Otherwise, how do you explain all the great Canes victories on the road? I can remember great UM victories at Tallahassee, Gainesville, Ann Arbor, Norman and Knoxville. The great Canes teams won no matter where they played. Why? Because they were simply better.

Let's face it. It's rickety, rusty, the bathrooms stink and who knows what is leaking from the rafters. But regardless of what you choose to believe, there's no doubt when the Orange Bowl is filled for a big game, there's no place on earth quite like it.

Here are some memorable Hurricane football moments at the OB:

December 10, 1937 Georgia 26 UM 0: First football game played at the new Orange Bowl Stadium. Its original name was Roddy Burdine Stadium. The name was officially changed to The Orange Bowl in 1959.

January 1, 1946 UM 13 Holy Cross 6: Al Hudson returns an interception 89 yards for a touchdown on the game's final play to give the Canes the victory. Hudson was a state champion sprinter at Miami's Edison High School.

January 1, 1951 Clemson 15 UM 14: UM halfback Frank Smith is tackled in the end zone for a safety by Clemson's Sterling Smith in the 4th quarter.

October 7, 1955 Notre Dame 14 UM 0: The first sellout crowd in UM history (75,685) witnesses the first meeting between the Irish and Canes. Notre Dame is led by junior quarterback Paul Hornung.

November 27, 1971 UF 45 UM 17: This game was dubiously known as "The Florida Flop". With the Gators comfortably ahead late in game, UF defensive players dropped to the ground and let UM quarterback John Hornibrook score purposely in order to get the ball back for their quarterback John Reaves. Reaves needed just a few yards to break Jim Plunkett's then NCAA record for career all purpose yards. Reaves would break the record. UF players carried Reaves off the field and began celebrating by jumping in the Flipper tank in the east end zone. Furious Miami coach Fran Curci refused to shake the hand of UF coach Doug Dickey.

September 21, 1973 UM 20 Texas 15: The Longhorns entered the 1973 season opener ranked #1 by Sports Illustrated and #6 by the AP. UM was a struggling program on the brink of extinction in the 1970s. None of that mattered this evening. Texas All American running back Roosevelt Leaks' fumble late in the 4th quarter helped the Canes pull off the upset. A small crowd of 30,080 witnessed the shocker.

September 27, 1980 UM 10 FSU 9: Canes defensive lineman Jim Burt knocks down a 2-point conversion pass from FSU's Rick Stockstill to give the Canes the victory. The win was Miami's first over a top 10 team since 1966. The game was FSU's only loss during the regular season.

September 5, 1981 UM 21 UF 20: Backup quarterback Mark Richt replaces an injured Jim Kelly in the fourth quarter and leads UM into field goal range late in the game. Kicker Danny Miller's 55 yard field goal bounces over the cross bar giving the Canes the victory. A sellout crowd of 73,817 witnesses the game. It was the largest crowd to watch a UM game since 1969.

October 31, 1981 UM 17 Penn State 14: The Canes upset #1 Penn State in front of a national television audience. Jim Kelly had an 80 yard TD pass to Larry Brodsky. Safety Fred Marion intercepted Penn State's Todd Blackledge twice, including the game clincher with less than a minute to play. The victory was UM's first against a top ranked team.


January 2, 1984 UM 31 Nebraska 30: Canes win their first national championship upsetting #1 Nebraska and ending the Huskers 22 game win streak. Miami's Kenny Calhoun deflects a two-point conversion pass to preserve the victory. Canes freshman QB Bernie Kosar throws for a then OB record 300 yards and 2 TD passes to TE Glenn Dennison.

November 10, 1984 Maryland 42 UM 40: This game marked the greatest comeback in college football history. Maryland, led by quarterback Frank Reich, overcame a 31-0 halftime deficit to shock the Canes.

November 23, 1984 Boston College 47 UM 45: Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass to Gerard Phelan ranks as arguably the most famous play in college football history. Forgotten were brilliant performances by Canes running back Melvin Bratton who scored 4 TDs and quarterback Bernie Kosar who threw for over 400 yards.


November 30, 1985 UM 58 Notre Dame 7: The Canes crush the Irish in Gerry Faust's final game as Notre Dame head coach. CBS broadcasters Brent Musberger and former ND coach Ara Parseghian accuse Miami coach Jimmy Johnson of running up the score. Notre Dame fans would later call this rivalry "Catholics vs. Convicts" following this loss.

September 27, 1986 UM 28 Oklahoma 16: In this collosal #1 vs. #2 matchup, Canes quarterback Vinny Testaverde threw for 286 yards and 4 touchdown passes-including 2 to Michael Irvin. Testaverde frustrated the Sooners his passing elusiveness as a scrambler and set a record for consecutive completions. Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth made a school record 18 tackles in a losing cause. The Miami defense led by Daniel Stubbs shut down the OU wishbone. Oklahoma was ranked #1 entering the game and was the defending national champions. Testaverde would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.

January 1, 1988 UM 20 Oklahoma 14: Miami wins its 2nd national championship by beating the top ranked Sooners. Once again both teams were ranked #1 and #2 in the nation. For the 3rd consecutive year, the Canes beat the Sooners--giving Oklahoma their only 3 losses during that period. Canes quarterback Steve Walsh threw 2 touchdown passes. Miami fullback Melvin Bratton tied an Orange Bowl Classic record with 9 pass receptions including a 30-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive. Sophomore linebacker Bernard Clark filled in for suspended starter George Mira Jr. and made 14 tackles and was defensive MVP.

September 3, 1988 UM 31 FSU 0: The Noles entered the season opener as the #1 ranked team in the country. Led by All American cornerback/kick returner Deion Sanders, FSU players made a rap video and entered the Orange Bowl with plenty of swagger. When the game was over, the Noles left with their tails between their legs. UM quarterback Steve Walsh threw 2 TD passes and backup QB Craig Erickson added another. The Cane defense held FSU running back Sammie Smith to 6 yards rushing.

November 25, 1989 UM 27 Notre Dame 10: The Canes end Notre Dame's 23 game win streak--the longest in Irish history. The game is highlighted by a 12-minute scoring drive to begin the second half. Miami QB Craig Erickson completes a 44 yard pass to Randal Hill to convert 3rd down and 43. Canes linebacker Bernard Clark dominates the game defensively holding Notre Dame's offense to just 3 points. Miami goes on to win the national championship. Notre Dame finishes #2.

October 12, 1991 UM 26 Penn State 20: Miami's trio of explosive receivers Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland and Kevin Williams, known as the "Rutheless Posse" proved to be too much for a scrappy and tough Penn State team determined spoil the Canes bid for a national championship. Quarterback Gino Torretta threw 2 long TD passes to Thomas and Copeland. Williams added an 80 yard punt return for a touchdown. Safety Darryl Williams made a game saving interception to stop Penn State's upset bid.

January 1, 1992 UM 23 Nebraska 0: The Canes clinch their 4th national championship with a dominant defensive performance. Freshman fullback Larry Jones rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown to capture offensive MVP honors. Defensive end Rusty Medearis had 4 sacks and led a Canes defense the rarely allowed Nebraska to cross midfield. This game marked just the second shutout loss for Nebraska during the Tom Osborne era.

October 3, 1992 UM 19 FSU 16: FSU kicker Dan Mowrey misses a potential game tying field goal in the final seconds. The Canes trailed most the game until Gino Torretta's touchdown bomb to Lamar Thomas late in the 4th quarter. Nole freshman Tamarick Vanover returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. But Miami's defense kept the Canes in the game, including 6 sacks of quarterback Charlie Ward. The game is known as "Wide Right II".

September 24, 1994 Washington 38 UM 24: Led by quarterback Damon Huard and tailback Napoleon Kaufman, the Huskies shock the Canes and end UM's 58 game win streak. It was Miami's first home loss in 9 years.

January 1, 1995 Nebraska 24 UM 17: Nebraska clinches the national championship. Tommie Frazier came off the bench in the fourth quarter to lead the Huskers to a come-from-behind victory. Fullback Corey Schlesinger scored the winning touchdown. Miami led most of the game thanks to 2 touchdown passes from Frank Costa to Trent Jones and Jonathan Harris. But the Canes offense was shut down in the second half and the defense ran out of gas. The victory gave coach Tom Osborne the first of three national championships.

December 5, 1998 UM 49 UCLA 45: Edgerrin James rushes for a school record 298 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Canes to an upset victory. UCLA entered the game with a 20 game win streak and ranked 3rd in the nation. UCLA quarterback Cade McNown passed for 513 yards, 5 TD passes and rushed for another touchdown.

September 18, 1999 Penn State 27 UM 23: Penn State quarterback Matt Thompson fires a perfect bomb to receiver Chafie Fields for the winning touchdown. Fields beats UM cornerback Mike Rumph on the play.

October 7, 2000 UM 27 FSU 24: Ken Dorsey's touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey gives the Canes the lead with less than a minute to play. FSU kicker Matt Munyon misses a potential game tying field goal on the last play of the game. The game is known as "Wide Right 3".

November 24, 2001 UM 61 Washington 7: Canes avenge their only loss of the 2000 season. Clinton Portis scores 4 TDS in front of a raucus sold out crowd.

October 12, 2002 UM 28 FSU 27: Noles kicker Xavier Beitia misses a 43 yard field goal attempt wide left as time expired. Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee rally the Canes from a 27-14 4th quarter deficit.

September 6, 2003 UM 38 UF 33: Former Gator QB Brock Berlin rallies Miami from a 23 point deficit. Frank Gore scores the winning TD.

September 10, 2004 UM 16 FSU 10 (OT): Frank Gore scores the winning touchdown in overtime.

October 14, 2004 UM 41 Louisville 38: After trailing virtually the entire game, Devin Hester breaks the game open with a 78 yard punt return for a TD. Frank Gore added the winning TD at the end.

October 14, 2006 UM 35 FIU 0: First meeting between the two cross-town programs is marred by an ugly bench clearing brawl that results in the ejection and suspension of several players.

3 comments:

Fawzy said...

Jay,

You are kicking ass with this blog! Go off brother, go off!

Christ said...

Despite the mystic, the OB does resemble a toilet seat.

DannyBoyCane13 said...

What were your thoughts leaving the OB after the loss to Nebraska in the 1995 Orange Bowl Classic? I had never seen us run out of gas like we did in the 4th quarter that night. Usually, its the other team that's tired. That night, it wasn't the case. That loss to the Huskers really hurt because I felt that was a game we should have won that night.