An elated Orange Bowl crowd carried quarterback Scott Covington off the field that December evening four years ago.
Edgerrin James had just rushed for 200 yards – leading to an upset of the No. 1 team in the nation – and the University of Miami football team was beginning its ascent back into college football’s elite.
Amidst the revelry and mayhem of the night, a skinny 18-year-old freshman stepped foot on the playing field – the same surface that would hold many great performances to come. He grabbed a patch of grass from the west end zone, taking a piece of history with him.
I still have those blades of grass, and as I sit down to write my final column for The Miami Hurricane, that game stands as one of my fondest sports memories at this tradition-filled university.
That team finished with a record of 9-3, a four-win improvement from the previous season. In my four years at UM, I’ve watched the ‘Canes rise to the pinnacle of college football – an undefeated season followed by a national championship. The Hurricanes should’ve won the title in 2000, but were screwed over by the Bowl Championship Series. Instead of that pathetic showing by our neighbors to the North, Florida State, Miami would have defeated Oklahoma in the FedEx Orange Bowl. But I digress.
As sports editor of the paper for the past two years (I resigned last month), I was fortunate enough to cover the Hurricanes’ success. Part of that was staring up at those dark shades of Butch Davis during practice – not exactly my idea of a good time – but hey, it beats studying engineering for four years. No offense to any engineering student or anyone involved in that school. I was there my freshman year, but just realized it wasn’t my thing.
Anyway, Larry Coker is a lot less intimidating than Davis is (there’s an understatement) and I look forward to covering him and the team after I graduate.
But football isn’t the only team sport that has dominated since I’ve been here. I got the opportunity to follow UM’s baseball team and its power over the competition. Don’t let this season’s struggles take away from the two national titles the Hurricanes and coach Jim Morris attained over the last three years. Besides, under Morris’ tutelage, I wouldn’t be surprised if this team turned it around and made it to the Super Regionals or beyond. Crazier things have happened, and well, I should know.
I’ve seen it all at The Hurricane – from the words Headline to Go Here topping a basketball article to reading that due to NAACP regulations, the academic department had to cut funding for the men’s rew team.
But this is a student paper, and if I’ve learned anything during my four years here, outside of class of course, it’s that you’re going to make mistakes. The question is: are you going to handle it like a man? Wait a minute – I think that is the moral from Any Given Sunday. Sorry about that.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve valued my time at UM and this paper, and credit both for the writer I have become and will strive to be. Thanks for the memories.