George Mira Jr. Interview Part 5

In part 5 of George Mira Jr's interview with the 'Canes, he talks about his favorite memories and stories as a Hurricane, some of the more memoral rivalries he experienced, and about some of the camaraderie at Miami. Don't miss this final installment of the interview!

CT: What was your favorite overall memory that summed up your time at Miami?

GM: It would be my senior year, in a game against Notre Dame. That to me summed it up. 22, 21 tackles or something like that, the defense played phenomenally. Everything we worked on as a defense clicked in that game. Fumble recoveries, sacks, a lot of pressures. That game to me brought everything together.

CT: Did it also have anything to do with the fact that it was Notre Dame?.

GM: Well yea, that too. But for some reason it all came together. To me, that was a huge win. That game was bigger than the national championship that year.

CT: I heard that in that game, the Orange Bowl was as loud as it's ever been. I heard it was literally moving and shaking and that you guys could feel it from the locker room.

GM: Oh yeah. I want to say there were 82,000-84,000 fans. It was so packed that the sideline was packed, and I remember the national championship game wasn't as full nor felt as chaotic as that Notre Dame game. I mean that game was huge, HUGE. CBS sports was there and got us coming out of the tunnel, and it was covered in reporters. That game was gigantic.

CT: What's it like to play such a big game in the Orange Bowl?

GM: Oh, it's something you'll never feel again. You walk out there and the euphoria was just unbelievable. It's just gigantic. I've been to the Super Bowl and it's not even the same. The Fiesta Bowl in '86 was big but to be in the Orange Bowl for a game of that magnitude was indescribable.

CT: Did you guys ever feel the stadium move like the fans did up in the stands would during big games?

GM: No, we'd tune it out. We'd tune out the fans and all of that. You could hear it in the locker room, but once you step on the field we tune it out. Although, in the closed part of the endzone sometimes, I couldn't make my adjustments. We had to relay everything. As far as people though, we just tune out.

CT: Did it take a couple years to get used to? I would imagine as a redshirt freshman in '94, having never played in such a big game, it was pretty overwhelming.

GM: Yea, it took me a couple years. CT: Is that something the kids who are coming in now are going to have to learn?

GM: Yes. They are going to walk into Dolphin Stadium and be like ‘holy [expletive]'. Some of these kids are used to stadiums that maybe have 500 people. They're going to have to learn how to adjust to that. CT: What other things are they going to have to adjust to?

GM: Well, they have to make adjustments to the size, speed, playcalling. Not just the speed of the players themselves but of the game. The game overall is just a lot faster. Everyone is fast, everyone runs.

CT: Is that what they mean when they say that at some point, the speed of the game just slows down for you?

GM: When they say the speed of the game slows down for you, they mean that you just see the ball better. You can actually focus into that ball. It's not a fuzzy glance at the ball. In football, when you mean you slow the game down, it means you focus and see and understand the blocks and stuff. I would know how to adjust. You're seeing it. They aren't just objects, and that's what it means to slow down.

CT: Well, we've gone over your favorite memory. What's your least favorite? GM: Well, my junior year we played against the University of Cincinnati. They had a guard up there, I don't remember his name. #77 or 71. He beat my ass all game. It was like he was on a mission to just beat me, and I had 2 interceptions in that game and ran one back for fifty yards and got tackled, but overall it was a horrible game. I got pounded. This guy drove me 10 yards back. I remember he drove me back so far back I ran into Bennie Blades. I got mad, I threw a guy back over the kicking net and got myself a penalty. I just got my ass kicked that whole game. I felt like the entire University of Cincinnati team focused on beating me. I really did, I was getting hit everywhere. In the legs, up top. They just beat me.

CT: Was it embarrassing to watch afterwards on film?

GM: Oh yea, are you kidding me? The thing of it is is that every time you made a bad play, you didn't care what the coaches thought, you knew that your teammates were going to ride your ass so heavy…That's what would be worse about it. You got tackled, got blocked, got run over, whatever, you KNEW the next day everyone was going to see it. I'm telling you right now the coaches were the least of my worries. I'll never forget one time we were watching film and a fullback had come up and nailed Bennie Blades and just lit him up and ran for a touchdown. The next day it was like ‘What happened Bennie? You got trucked, bro'. I never got run over, I tell him all the time. I may have gotten blocked, but never run over. And then Gerald Fordham, the safety from the Maryland game who tipped the ball but couldn't catch it in that comeback 1984, his nickname was ‘Toast'. We'd be at practice and the sirens of an ambulance or something would go off and the guys would tell him ‘Hey Toast, the ambulance is coming to get you because you got burned!' That's how the competition was in our team. Like me and Bennie Blades. Me and Bennie are very, very close. And Bennie Blades was all world, but my senior year I think I had more return yardage off interceptions than him. So, last game of the season he's talking big smack and I told him ‘I got more return yards'. It pissed him off, and we were playing at East Carolina. I told everyone ‘guys, if he gets a pick, you better clip somebody.' So he gets an interception and he returns it 50 yards for a touchdown, and I clipped a guy. It's funny because after he scored the touchdown, he looked for me. He ran up to me to brag. I told him ‘look at the flag!' He's still pissed about that.

CT: I'd imagine you guys were blowing them out at that point. That might actually be the worst thing I've ever heard of.

GM: You have to win, man. The interception counted, it's just that touchdown that didn't count. I love him to death, though. Here's another story. In the Fiesta Bowl, I made a tackle on the sideline, and when I got up, I looked around and there was Coach Paterno about 10 yards from me. I ran over to him and I go ‘hey Coach, I just wanted to shake your hand and let you know it's great playing against you.'

CT: How'd he react?

GM: He patted me on that back and said ‘George, you're doing a fine job, just get back in there.' It made my chest swell up about three inches. He's great, man. He's awesome.

CT: You've spoken about Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida, Oklahoma etc, but we haven't spoken about Florida State yet. Who in your mind is the single most hated rival?

GM: Florida. The Florida State rivalry is a mutually respected rivalry. The Florida rivalry is a deep down hatred. Everybody hates Florida. It just goes back to the gator flop; it goes back to them thinking they are the state team because they are named after the state of Florida. It's a heated rivalry. The UF game in 1984 was the most violent football game I ever played in. I say to this day it's the most violent football I ever played in. Just the tenacity of both teams. They were vicious teams, hard hitting teams. That team was a Charlie Pell product. Charlie Pell was a tough, hard nosed kind of coach. Teams take on the personality of coaches. The guy who came in the next year was very nice. Once we played Arkansas who had a coach who was very religious and very nice. It freaked me out. I tackled a guy and when he was down he gave me his hand. I smacked it away and I told him a bunch of obscenities. He just looked at me and said ‘hey, there's no reason to talk like that.' He was a very religious man and his team was the same way, but that whole Florida game was just violent. It really was.

CT: So you're happy to see the rivalry get back up a little bit?

GM: It should, they should. It's a good thing not because it's a heated rivalry, because all these teams at one time played eachother. It's good for the state of Florida. I understand Florida and the SEC and having a lot of tough teams, but they should. It's just a good rivalry and they should have it. Steve Spurrier was all for it. A lot of powers to be didn't want them to play because both teams would get beat up and then have to go into conference play.

CT: I guess the last question I want to ask is what do you expect this season and can you give us a fearless prediction?

GM: I'd say 9-3 and they'll be close to winning the ACC.

Special thanks to George Alvarez for making this interview happen.

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