The return of swagger: ‘The U’ is back

As a kid, I was always entertained by the University of Miami (FL) football team. Whether it was seeing NFL players introduce themselves by saying they attended college at “The U”, or seeing those bright green and orange uniforms, something has always caught my eye about the University of Miami football team.

I did not know how influential the Miami Hurricanes were until I was in high school. It was then that I saw the ESPN: 30-for-30 documentary entitled The U and fell in love with what they stood for. The documentary captures the historic rise and fall of the Miami Hurricanes beginning in the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. The Hurricanes won five national titles during this span of time, winning a title in each of the following seasons: 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, and 2001. It wasn’t about the national championships that drew me to the Hurricanes, but rather the style in which they played the game.

During this span of time, the Miami Hurricanes produced some of the best players that graced the game of football. Some of these players include Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp, Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, and many others. Many of Miami’s alumni would enter the NFL Hall of Fame as well.

In the 1980s, the Miami Hurricanes won in dominant fashion. What I loved about the Hurricanes was that they combined impressive performances with trash talk, controversial celebrations, and smash-mouth football. On offense, Miami put up lots of points. On defense, they would hit you in the jaw repeatedly (figuratively speaking, of course) until you surrendered.

In my opinion, this was the greatest generation of football that was played at the college level. The Miami Hurricanes created a new culture just by the way that they played football. Many people across the nation called the Hurricanes thugs because they felt that Miami played dirty. When Miami played Notre Dame in 1988, the game was dubbed as the Catholics (Notre Dame) vs. the Convicts (Miami).

All of these references to the team being thugs and convicts did not phase the Miami Hurricanes. As a matter of fact, they embraced this cocky, swagger-soaked reputation that they wore with honor. This is the origin of how The U Invented Swagger.

Fast-forward 30 years. The University of Miami has not won a national championship since the 2001 season. The Hurricanes have only one win in a Bowl Game since 2006, beating West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in 2016. Miami has also had numerous recruiting violations come to light over the years since 2002 as well, causing the NCAA and the University to impose self-imposed bans on the team. This means that the Miami Hurricanes are ineligible to play in a Bowl Game, even if they qualify with a sufficient record.

The year is 2017 and the Miami Hurricanes are not under any self-imposed bans. The Canes have started the season by going 9-0. The Miami Swagger from the 1980s has also resurfaced in the way that this team plays.

The Hurricanes have come out to rectify all the wrongs from the past 15 years and to return The U back into a consistent title contender year-in-and-year-out. The Hurricanes of 2017 are very similar to the Canes from the mid-1980s. Reason being is that some fans out there feel that this Miami team is also a bunch of thugs.

One of the reasons they think that the Canes are thugs is because of the Hurricane Turnover Chain. When a player creates a turnover on the defensive side of the ball, either an interception or a fumble recovery, that player is awarded with a gold chain by the coach and other players. Many people feel that rewarding players with a gold chain is thuggish behavior.

Another sure sign that Miami’s swagger is back is by the creation of new apparel that highlight this attitude. When the Hurricanes were playing well in the mid-1980s, many different shirts were created to capture the moment.

In modern times, Miami has been selling out of shirts with the turnover chain printed on it. Celebrities and former alumni are showing up to games and wearing their own gold chains.

Miami also brought back some of that fire from the old-school U, recording their first win against Notre Dame since 1989, at the height of the Catholics vs. Convicts rivalry. This was also the first time that Miami and Notre Dame have faced-off as top-10 teams since 1989. Between 1987 and 1990, Miami and Notre Dame faced off as top-10 teams every single season. And in 1987, 1988, and 1989, the winner of their game went on to win the national championship.

When No. 7 Miami faced off against No. 3 Notre Dame on November 11, the Hurricanes reclaimed their crown and defeated the Fighting Irish in the traditional Miami way; with big plays, trash talking, and controversial celebrations. One celebration by Hurricanes wide receiver Braxton Berrios eluded to the Catholics vs Convicts rivalry, as he ran off the field with his hands behind his back as if to show that he had been handcuffed.

Many people think that this type of behavior is bad for the game of football, but I disagree. I think that there needs to be more teams like Miami. The Hurricanes have become a national story once again and are pushing the envelope in exciting fashion. At the end of the day, people will tune in to see Miami win and the antics that will follow, or they will tune in to see Miami get defeated. It is fun to see anyone push the envelope, and I think that the Hurricanes do that in a positive way for the networks that broadcast their games.

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