Crybabies vs. Conquerors.
That’s how Miami Hurricanes fans see their on-again rivalry with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Canes fans detest the Irish for canceling their once-yearly series after Miami began regularly pounding on Notre Dame, most notably 58-7 in 1985.
Catholics vs. Convicts.
That’s how Notre Dame fans view a rivalry that boiled over into hate in 1988 with that aforementioned derisive T-shirt slogan a pair of Irish fans created to mock Hurricanes players. The image of Canes players as convicts has been blasted as racist and untrue, but that slogan has endured to this day.
No. 3 vs. No. 7.
That’s how the rest of the country – at least those who are neutral – looked at Saturday night’s game at Hard Rock Stadium between third-ranked Notre Dame and seventh-ranked Miami.
But before the football game to decide who stays alive in the chase for a national title, Miami fans engaged in perhaps their second-favorite sport – talking trash.
Indeed, 11 hours before kickoff, ESPN’s GameDay crew gathered on the UM campus in Coral Gables, greeted by at least a couple thousand screaming, cheering and sign-waving fans
One Canes fan, enamored with head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, pitched a dream political ticket with a sign that read: “Richt/Diaz 2020”.
Many of the posters took shots at Notre Dame and their mascot, traditions, films and choir-boy image:
“Richt Eats Leprechauns for Breakfast”
“Rudy was offsides”
“Canes vs. Dames”
“Jesus Can’t Save ND Tonight”
Some signs mocked current Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush and former Irish linebacker Manti Te’o and his “imaginary” girlfriend:
“Wimbush more like Wimp bush”
“Manti Teo’s girlfriend is babysitting for us”
Some signs were visual in nature such as the pope wearing a turnover chain and “Touchdown Jesus” holding up a U sign.
Some of the signs were off topic but still humorous, taking shots at Miami’s former coach (Fire Al Golden!) and one of the Canes’ main rivals (“Gators Suck”).
One fan is obviously a fan of former Miami defensive tackle turned movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with a banner reading: “Can You Smell What The U is Cooking?”
Many signs paid homage to Miami’s now famous Turnover Chain:
“Catholics vs. the Chain Gang”
“Gold Chains vs. Gold Helmets”
“The Real Lucky Charm”
And some fans embraced Miami’s bad-boy image:
“I’m a Catholic, but today I’m a Convict”
“I’d Rather Laugh with the Sinners than Cry with the Saints”
“Win or Lose, We don’t live in Indiana”
The GameDay crew, led by host Rece Davis but also including Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Maria Taylor, raved about the Miami fans as the show made its first-ever stop in Coral Gables.
“When they announced GameDay was coming to Coral Gables, this community was on fire,” said Howard, a Miami resident. “But I didn’t expect this turnout. This was more than my greatest expectations.”
This was Notre Dame’s first visit to South Florida since 1989, and Davis struck the perfect note with his opening remarks:
“Through the smoke, the Ibis emerges, the last to seek refuge from a storm, and Sebastian ain’t looking to hide because The U is back!”
Davis framed this as a battle between the turnover chain and rosary beads.
“You think ‘The U’ wants a piece of the Irish? Oh, you know they do,” Davis said. “Vitriol, disdain, the highest of stakes ... GameDay, from the University of Miami, just the way the Irish and Canes ought to be!”
The GameDay crew talked about other big games set for Saturday, but they made numerous noteworthy remarks about the Canes and Irish:
Davis: “They defined an era of college football that has resonated for 30 years, and the turnover chain is evoking the feel of that old Miami swagger.”
Corso: “This rivalry was the best that college football had to offer. It had the best coaches, the best players, the best personality, the best games.”
Herbstreit: “Players became famous for their performances in this game.”
Corso: “I was at that 1985 game. (Miami coach) Jimmy Johnson did not run up the score intentionally. Wait a second … Miami just scored again!”
Herbstreit: “It was how Miami scored. They let you know about it.”
As is GameDay tradition, the crew saved their predictions for the final segment. Herbstreit abstained since he was the analyst in Saturday night’s game, but Pollack picked Notre Dame before diving into UM’s pool.
Howard went with Miami, and retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez, a life-long Canes fan and the “guest picker” for the day, picked his hometown team. (“The swag is back,” A-Rod said. “And (girlfriend) Jennifer (Lopez) is now a Hurricanes fan.”
Corso, who went to Miami Jackson High in the early 1950s, was the last to make his pick.
“I was raised as a kid in Miami,” Corso began. “I lived on NW 22nd Court. I used to sneak into the games on Friday nights in the Orange Bowl. I have always loved Miami. It’s one of my favorite places. … But this is strictly business.”
Corso then put on green beads and an Irish leprechaun hat before making his selection: “Notre Dame!”