Are we still not past that yet?
The answer is no, as the perception around the country by some folks that the University of Miami is a “thug’’ football program with “thug’’ players still resonates on social media and in private conversations.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
How long does it take for perception to follow reality? Ten years? Twenty years? Never?
As the No. 7 University of Miami (8-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) gets set to take on No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1) at 8 p.m. Saturday (ABC) at Hard Rock Stadium, some of the UM-hating people are, as usual, coming out of the cracks on social media.
The topic resurfaced Tuesday when University of Miami offensive coordinator Thomas Brown was asked whether he was surprised that the popular “turnover chain” has taken on a life of its own. The turnover chain is the thick, heavy gold chain with the bejeweled orange-and-green U at the end of it that Hurricane defenders are awarded after creating a turnover. They get to wear it for only a few minutes, maybe less, on their bench after the offense goes out onto the field.
Brown called it “the best thing in college football” and said that “it motivates us anytime the defense has success. … It adds a spark for us because it puts us back on the field.’’
A reporter then commented to Brown that the chain “couldn’t work anywhere else but Miami.’’
That gave UM’s offensive coach the opening he needed:
“People always use the word swag about Miami, but it’s just a natural thing.
“I get irritated hearing some comments that people make about our players historically, our players currently using the words like, you know, ‘thug,’ Brown said. “And that’s like idiotic people, because you don’t know our kids at all. Because they enjoy, they show up and have a good time in a respectful way. We don’t get flags. We don’t do disrespectful stuff outside the football field. Judge us by that instead of, you know, giving your own notion about what you think a thug is, because I can direct your attention toward some true thugs around this country that aren’t our guys at all.”
In late December of last year, Brown showed his frustration with the same subject, before the turnover chain went viral.
“The UM defense is a group party. And it appears that their attitude is the bigger the better. You want the turnover chain? Come on down. You want it, too? Definitely.
“Put it around your neck, jump on the team bench and mug for national TV. Various critics on Twitter think it’s disgraceful, bad character, but it’s nothing of the sort. It’s 18- to 23-year-olds relieved and proud and thrilled to have done something to help their team and to have that short moment in the spotlight. Maybe I’ve missed something, but I haven’t noticed those guys taunting other players with the chain. They don’t have enough time before it’s off their necks and waiting for the next recipient.
“The Canes are now ranked 12th in scoring defense, allowing 17.6 points a game, and seventh in interceptions with 13, fifth in team sacks, fourth in turnover margin and first in the nation in tackles for loss.”
And they’re doing it the right way.
Now, that’s something to take pride in, not to scorn.