Today’s Miami-Nebraska brings back memories of Husker and Hurricane games of days past. With the memories come the requisite of each program’s current state.
Neither are playing for national championships, as in the 2002 Rose Bowl. Of course, if we’re being honest, only Miami was winning that national championship. Nebraska was the better draw than Oregon as sacrificial lamb.
Saturday’s matchup is much further from the 1995 Orange Bowl, or the 1984 Orange Bowl: Heated contests between two of college football’s best to determine a champion.
Miami and Nebraska are programs in search of identities, which fits the feng shui of today’s host venue: Sun Life Stadium, the Hurricanes’ “home” field.
Sun Life Stadium, or Land Shark, or Pro Player, or Dolphin or Joe Robbie Stadium as it was known in the pre-corporate naming rights days, is as unremarkable and soulless as most NFL stadiums built from the late 1960s into the 1980s.
It’s home — truly home — to the Miami Dolphins, the city’s most beloved team. Others have played there, but are only squatters, both in spirit and principle.
The venue once hosted the Miami-then-Florida Marlins, a Major League Baseball organization with two World Series championships and zero identity.
In 2008, Sun Life Stadium added Miami Hurricane football as one of its tenants. The Canes were sliding well before the move, but exiting the Orange Bowl feels, in retrospect, like the last straw.
Miami losing its final game in the Orange Bowl 48-0 should have been an ominous warning of the years to come. It was the final blow to the soul of Miami football.
Those most vocally bemoaning the state of Miami touch in a recurring theme: The U. lacks its signature U. Swag. Looking for its erosion? Look no further than the deconstruction of the Orange Bowl.
The Orange Bowl wasn’t without it faults. It was old, in a city where so much architecture is flashy and new, and by all accounts, showed its age. Opinions on the surrounding neighborhood vary.
Aside from housing Miami’s tradition, however, the Orange Bowl was near The U. campus.
University of Miami students trekking to Hurricane home games have all the work of UCLA students traveling from Westwood to Pasadena, without the history or grandeur of the Rose Bowl.
Whenever Twitter has a field day with the sea of empty seats at Sun Life, bear in mind the venue is more than 20 miles from campus. It’s almost equidistance from The U. as it is FIU — though FIU has its own, on-campus venue.
The Orange Bowl is Miami football’s No, No, Nanette, its Billy goat, its coin flip for Lew Alcindor.