Miami Introduction

Sixty minutes tells all. The questions of these long summer days will soon be answered. Can Larry replace Butch? Is this the year that Miami finally wins its first National Championship since 1991? Can you replace a Moss with a Jones? A Morgan with a Vilma? An 11-1 season with 12-0? How about this as the first question of the 2001 season – will Miami beat Penn State?

Yes.

What other option is there – losing? No chance. Not after last season's BCS snub. Not after five long years of sanctions. Not when the boys in navy and white on the other side of the ball have been a thorn in the Canes' side on more occasions than one. The Canes cannot lose to Penn State on September 1st or everything they've worked for is lost. Cries of "overrated" will flood talk shows from South Beach to Seattle. Fans will call for Coker's resignation if he somehow goes 0-1 with a Miami team whose second string should beat Penn State's first on any given day. The questions and doubt will begin creeping in all over again. Cane fans are sick of questions. There is no more room for doubt. It is time for results. This Saturday is part one of a twelve-step process that will only be complete with a trip to Pasadena. The "Run for the Roses" has begun and Penn State is about to become the first of many Miami casualties this season.

Canes fans are days from finding out this Hurricane bunch are contenders or pretenders. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of one man: Larry Coker.

Dress rehearsal is over Coach, the curtain is about to rise and the crowd is ready to be entertained. Are you ready? All eyes are on you. The media has had a field day since Butch's departure. You weren't the top man for the job. You weren't even number two. Some out there call you "Head Coach by Default." Are you going to sit there and take that or will you prove them wrong? You wanted this job and you got it. Run with it Coach.

Joe Pa will be ready. When isn't he? You don't win 321 games accidentally. You prepare. You study your opponent. You think one step ahead of the guy you're coaching against. You have your boys ready to play and then unleash them with reckless abandonment. The real "coaching" goes on day in and day out until kickoff. Once that ball is in the air they rely on instincts. Have the Canes ready, Coach because they are in for the emotional ride of their short-lived football careers.

Any Cane baller who thought last season's October 7th match up against Florida State in the Orange Bowl was intense, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. State rivalries aside Miami, this weekend is legendary. Win or lose fans of both squads will remember this match up. Saturday night is going to be a whirlwind. Hell, one day Hollywood could make a movie about it.

Let's set the stage. Over a one hundred thousand will arrive at newly renovated Beaver Stadium and few will be chanting "We've got some Canes over here… woosh…woosh."

Prime time, under the lights, Miami has just run out of the tunnel and the "boos" and expletives are raining down like a South Florida tropical storm. Across the stadium miracle boy Adam Taliaferro is slowly leading his troops onto the field. There won't be a dry eye in the house. "Win one for Adam" will be the battle cry and this hungry bunch of Lions coming off that devastating 5-7 season will be out to prove a point. After all they have been through the past twelve months, they are not trembling in their boots when they hear the name Miami. They missed the Canes' 2000 season. They had their hands full.

Too bad. They should've been paying better attention. Miami is lethal.

While the Nittany Lions were licking their wounds, saying prayers for a fallen soldier and stumbling through Paterno's second losing season in 35 years, the Canes reestablished themselves atop the college football world. Miami exercised demons of the past in 2000 beating rivals Florida State and Virginia Tech. Penn State sunk to a new low, getting thumped at home by the mighty Rockets of Toledo. Ouch. That "We are… Penn State" quickly became a whisper.

Come Saturday, the first ten minutes will tell all. Miami's fate will be determined. If Coker's Crew is ready, they will withstand the emotional waves pouring out of those newly renovated Beaver Stadium seats. Ignore the bright lights and screaming fans. Don't get caught up in Penn State's tradition -- prepare to keep building upon Miami's. Forget JoePa's record and get Larry a win of his own. These current Canes lobbied for Coker – prove that he deserved this job. Let Adam Taliaferro be nothing more than an after school TV movie to Miami players. It is tragic. Shed a tear, show some respect, give praise that he survived and move on. Play ball. Few outside of Coral Gables even remember Marlin Barnes – yet us true Canes still hurt at the mention of his name. But, the game goes on -- it has to. There is no alternative.

Penn State will provide the Holly wood drama and hope for that storybook ending come Saturday. Not this time. Not against Miami. The Canes are blowing into town and have made a few revisions to that script. Halfway through the first quarter when the butterflies are long gone prepare to see an aggressive Miami team hungry for a huge road win. The first of many in the 2001 season.

Born and raised in Miami, Chris Bello now lives in San Diego, CA and works as a freelance writer. Feel free to send your comments or to contact him for potential writing assignments at cbello@san.rr.com

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