University of Miami

Let it snow? Recent Canes bowl history says no thanks. But Pinstripe forecast promising

Former Miami tailback Mark Walton dives into the end zone against Washington State as snow falls during the the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 26, 2015. The Canes are set to play in cold weather again on Dec. 27, 2018, in the Pinstripe Bowl at New York’s Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Victor Calzada)
Former Miami tailback Mark Walton dives into the end zone against Washington State as snow falls during the the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 26, 2015. The Canes are set to play in cold weather again on Dec. 27, 2018, in the Pinstripe Bowl at New York’s Yankee Stadium. (AP Photo/Victor Calzada) AP

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.

And since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

— Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, 1945.

Good news for the warm-weathered Miami Hurricanes: As of Tuesday, snow was not forecast for the Pinstripe Bowl.

University of Miami coach Mark Richt is known for his “smokin’ hot’’ and “paradise’’ descriptions of South Florida’s weather. The Pinstripe Bowl, in which the Hurricanes (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) will meet Wisconsin (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, will offer a whole new version — despite no snow in the works.

“I ain’t going to lie,’’ UM senior cornerback Michael Jackson said after the Hurricanes defeated Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. “I’d like to go somewhere warm.’’

Sorry, Michael, that won’t happen this year.

The New York City forecast for game day: clear and 37 degrees at kickoff and hovering in the mid-30s most of the game with up to 10-mile-an-hour winds making it seem colder. Weather forecasts often change, however, and Friday’s calls for rain all day with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

Last year’s Dec. 27 Pinstripe Bowl, between cold-weather teams Boston College and Iowa, was “on a Yankee Stadium field more suited for ice hockey,’’ according to the Des Moines Register, which has an average December low of 18 and high of 34. The wind-chill factor last year at Yankee Stadium made it feel like 15 degrees.

“This was a frigid fight,’’ reported the Register of the 2017 game that Iowa won 27-20. “lt was 23 degrees at [the 5:15 p.m] kickoff, the coldest Iowa game anywhere since the coldest game in Kinnick Stadium history — 18 degrees in 2013 against Michigan.”

It’s not like the Hurricanes have never played in chilly weather. This season, UM played in two night games, at Georgia Tech and at Boston College, in which the kickoff temperature hit 41 and 40 and dipped from there. The Canes lost both of them.

The bowl games? After all, they’re in late December and the teams are usually well-equipped with high-tech equipment to keep them as insulated as possible.

UM’s last cold-weather bowl game was at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas — make that the “Snow Bowl’’ on Dec. 26, 2015, when an icy field, exacerbated by a snow storm during the game, set the stage for a 20-14 Washington State victory. In that game, UM coaches called a halfback pass from Joe Yearby with 3:13 left in driving snow, and the ball, which apparently slipped out of Yearby’s hands, was weak and wobbly and picked off by Washington State.

Before that, it was the Sun Bowl again that provided the cold postseason weather to end the 2010 season, when Notre Dame dominated Miami 33-17 in a game that began at 34 degrees, with 14-mile-an-hour winds.

In 2006, the Canes ended the season with a 21-20 victory against Nevada on the blue field in Boise, Iowa in the MPC Computers Bowl, where temperatures dipped into the upper 20s, with a wind-chill factor 10 degrees lower. Miami practiced that week in temperatures even lower.

In 2012, the Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and West Virginia was played in snow and sleet, with “nearly a dozen dropped passes,’’ according to the New York Times account. Syracuse, a team that plays indoors but basically lives in the snow during the winter, won 38-14.

And old-timers will recall the Gotham Bowl, when UM played at Yankee Stadium in 20-degree temperatures on Dec. 15, 1962. The Canes lost that one to Nebraska 36-34, but Miami quarterback George Mira, Sr., nonetheless earned MVP honors with 321 passing yards and two touchdowns.

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Richt was asked earlier this month at the Pinstripe Bowl news conference at Yankee Stadium how he will prepare his team to play a program used to playing in the cold.

“Well you practice for it when we’re down here, that’s for sure,’’ Richt replied. “I know we’ll be having a great practice site [at Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex on West 218th and Broadway] to get our guys out in it. But we played at [Boston College] this year, we played in Atlanta, which was very chilly... and Virginia Tech was pretty cold, too. So, we’re getting used to it.

“Sometimes I think it’s easier to go from the heat to the cold than the cold to the heat. So, we’ll just be excited about the opportunity to practice in it and play in it.’’

Added UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who is coaching his last game for Miami before going to equally cold-weather Temple University in Philadelphia to become the head coach: “Other than wind and precipitation, the temperature— and once you get going —is what it is. We’ll be proper northerners by the time game day comes.’’

Does Wisconsin, a cold-climate team that defeated the Canes 34-24 last year at the Capital One Orange Bowl in temperatures in the 50s at Hard Rock Stadium, have an edge playing in New York City?

“Certainly, we’re used to it,’’ Chryst said. “But what’s beautiful about the game, particularly this one, is it comes down to what happens between the lines. Our whole goal and objective is to get our team ready to play against a really good, talented and well-coached Miami team.”

Yankees president Randy Levine said that weather is always “a big topic” and talked about it before the Pinstripe Bowl.

“I remember when we first announced the game, Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg — a great mayor of New York, great fan— said, ‘Isn’t football supposed to be played in the cold weather?’’’ Levine said. “We’ve had games where we’ve had snow, we’ve had games where it has been 60 degrees, so we’ll never know what happens.’’

It has never been 60 degrees at the Pinstripe Bowl. The warmest Pinstripes were in 2014 and 2015, when the temperature both years was 52 for the evening kickoff and dropped into the 40s by the end.

Miami Herald sports writer Susan Miller Degnan has been the Miami Hurricanes football beat writer since 2000, the season before the Canes won it all. She has won several APSE national writing awards and has covered everything from Canes baseball to the College Football Playoff to major marathons to the Olympics.


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