Got my Swagg back.

9 Oct

The Playmaker. One of the forefathers of that winning tradition at the "U". Football is back. That extra edge I needed is back along with it.

Most importantly the “U” is back.

Coincidence?? I think not.

When Randy Shannon was hired as the head coach of the University of Miami football team, I told my buddy Roach that in a couple years the team would be back on top. I knew the next two years would be tough, transition years. It was tough watching those lossed to Florida and Cal last year. But I knew this year ahd to be different.

They are still not ready for the big time, too young and too undiscilpined, but next year is their year I believe.
I knew the year before their last championship that they’d be ready back in 2000 when they got hosed out of the championship game by the NCAA when they had beaten FSU head to head (and Washington had the same record and had beaten Miami that year).

You could just tell they had the horses. Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Santana Moss, Andre Johnson. Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma. Maybe the greatest of all their championship teams.

Yes I’m from Texas. But my biggest fantasy (besides getting laid) as a kid was to go to University of Miami and be the team mascot, Sebastian the Ibis. Running out on the field with team from the tunnels amidst the smoke to all of the fans at the old Orange Bowl.

I also wanted to be a professional baseball player. Neither dream was realized. the best I could muster was a visit to Navarro Junior college in Corsicana, Texas and a pamphlet from the U of M a few days later. I saw the price of out of state tuition and my jaw dropped. My parents hadn’t planned on me going to college and I was barely able to graduate high school anyway, so I settled for a 500 dollar booster club scholarship and went to community college.

But still I watched with interest. Since I’ve been a fan of football I’ve been a Canes fan. ’92 was a rough year, the loss to Alabama, ’93 wasn’t easy to take with teh Fiesta Bowl loss to Arizona, ’94 was the Orange Bowl loss to Neberaska, ’95 they were a non-factor and also had their 58 game home winning streak snapped by U-W, and the losses kept piling on……but they hired Butch Davis eventually and he brought the program back into the spotlight.

So after Davis left and they won, the next year the wins were becoming harder to eke out, and though they were undefeated going into the Fiesta Bowl game of ’03, I had a weird feeling that something was wrong.

First, for whatever reason, whenever they go out to Arizona, things go bad, even going back as far as 1987 when they lost to Penn State. So I took the halftime “kick the field goal” competition between the school’s fans as an omen (even watching Edggie George hog the mic from Warren Sapp during the halftime show seemed prophetic).

So what happened? Miami claws back only to get screwed at the end by a bogus pass interference call.
But you can look back at a lot of reasons besides that call of why they lost.
1. they didn’d get the ball to Kellen Winslow enough
2. The Maurice Clarret strip of safety Sean Taylor (R.I.P.) on a key interception cost them some points.
3. The Roscoe Parrish fumble early in the 4th quarter was costly as well.

The fact that I am still holding onto this loss is a testament to my love for the “U”.
Also my favorite football of all time, Michael Irvin went to college there. I’ve seen all the key games on ESPN Classic. I’ve beaten everyone with the ALL time Miami teams on the NCAA Football video games (even got it down on lock with the classic teams from ’87, 89,’91, ’01, and ’02 teams).

So I’m just happy that they are competitive again. With Coker (who seemed like a nice guy) as the coach, they seemed to have lost that edge they always had.
People hated the “U” players because they were too breash, too much celebrating, and dirty.

But that was why I liked them. Those championship teams were vicious, nasty and the defense had some of the hardest, quickest linebackers and safeties you’d ever seen. Sean Talyor had the potential to be the greatest safety in NFL history before his life was tragically cut short (one of the saddest days of my life).

I liked the fact that no one liked the Canes, it made me like them more. I’ve always considered myself one of those polarizing kinda characters as well, either people absolutely love me or hate me. I can dig it.

But they lost that Ali-esque-swagger along the way, and you could see it slowly seep away and soon they were settling for the Emerald Bowl and going 9-4 instead of 12-1 or 11-2.

So when they hired Shannon I was excited, here was an alum. He had won a championship in ’87 as a linebacker. He knew what it took to win. He also had a piece of the legacy.

Somewhere along the way old players and supporters were not on the sidelines anymore to cheer their old school on. Their was no accountability to uphold the winning tradition, and it showed.

But now I think Michael Irvin has a reason to be proud. You see former players on the sideline again. You see former players as coaches (former great Michael Barrow is the linebackers coach).

And with the latest win (albeit sloppy) over Ou this past weekend. There is a sense that this crop of players is getting it. The old Canes teams knew that no matter how things were going, they were still going to win. They had that P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude) that carried them through games. They KNEW they had it. They had that swagg going.

Stud quarterback had “USWAGG” cut into his fade last week and a reporter asked him about it. He said that it was about getting that swagger back, that “U” magic. It was something that needed to be brought back to the program.

It was exactly what I wanted to hear. This year a BCS bowl. Next year, a BCS championship.

Can’t wait for December when Billy Corben’s documentary on the “U” comes out. The timing couldn’t be better.

I’m 30, after one of the most successful years professionally, and most disastrous romantically, I’ve recovered my own swagger. I’m ready to dust my shoulders off again, get my swagg on and do this thang. And every Saturday each Miami win, will make my week just a little bit better.


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