University of Miami

Michael Irvin goes on College GameDay as guest picker in Orlando. You know who he chose

Miami Hurricanes discuss UM-UF rivalry

University of Miami defensive end Scott Pathcan (71), tight end Will Mallory (85), and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (2) talk about the excitement around playing the Florida Gators in this year's season opener.
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University of Miami defensive end Scott Pathcan (71), tight end Will Mallory (85), and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (2) talk about the excitement around playing the Florida Gators in this year's season opener.

The Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators are ushering in the season Saturday, so it was an obvious choice for College GameDay to open up its season the same day in the same city.

ESPN’s signature pregame show set up at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday ahead of the season opener and put on a Miami- and Florida-centric broadcast in Orlando. Manny Diaz and Dan Mullen both made appearances for interviews, and Michael Irvin, Tim Tebow and Steve Spurrier all joined the panel for a roundtable discussion about the rivalry throughout the show.

Irvin then rejoined the show for its signature picks segment, donning his old No. 47 jersey and making his choices for conference champions and College Football Playoff teams. Unsurprisingly, the former Hurricane has plenty of faith in Miami. He picked his alma mater to beat the No. 8 Gators on Saturday, win the Atlantic Coast Conference and get to the Playoff for the first time.

Desmond Howard agreed with Irvin and picked the Hurricanes to upset Florida. Lee Corso did not.

Corso, who grew up in Miami, said he was picking “the Canes” before he pulled out a Florida beanie and placed it atop his head.

“I was just checking if you were listening,” he joked after his gaffe.

Earlier in the show, Diaz, who was also the subject of a feature story about his time working as a production assistant for ESPN, called in from the team hotel for a video interview with Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and Howard. It touched on a handful of familiar topics, including the coach’s relationship with Mullen and his decision to start quarterback Jarren Williams.

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Herbstreit, who will be the color commentator for ESPN on Saturday at Camping World Stadium, asked Diaz what he learned from the Hurricanes’ midseason losing streak in 2018, when he was the defensive coordinator.

“It’s the work you put it in in the offseason. It’s the investment you put in that’s going to dictate how you respond when things get tough,” Diaz said. “If you haven’t invested a whole lot when things get tough, it’s easy to let go of the rope and say, ‘Hey, this is more than I bargained for.’ But when you’ve put a lot in, and you’ve run the 110s and you’ve done the work out in the heat in Miami in the summertime, when something bad happens, you’re going to say, I worked too hard to just give this thing away without a fight.”

Even earlier, Irvin, Tebow and Mullen all joined the panel to discuss the history of this oft-dormant rivalry.

Irvin, however, began the segment with more praise of Diaz.

“I love what they are doing now and I think getting Coach Diaz to do what he does because he allows these teams to be who they are,” said Irvin, who was an All-American wide receiver on the Hurricanes’ 1987 national championship team. “You’ve seen him posting on social media. He has the guys over all the time. It reminds me a lot of what Coach [Jimmy] Johnson used to do. He used to always tell us, ‘You guys go and play, and have fun. I’ll worry about the backlash.’ As long as you’re winning, it’s all good—as long as you’re winning—and I think Diaz is doing some of that.”

Herbstreit responded: “It would get misrepresented as the swag and the trash talking, but there was obviously a lot of substance to it. These teams in the last 10 years, they’re trying to talk, but there’s no—”

Irvin jumped back in, cutting off the analyst to give his answer for what has gone wrong.

“You have to put the work in,” the Pro Football Hall of Famer said. “There is no getting around that and I tell people all the time: Our hardest games were at practice. They were at practice. They were the best games. We would go at it and walk off the field. We’re still boys, and then come Saturday that’s fun day.”

Tebow also had some praise for Miami and all three of the Power 5 Conference schools from Florida.

All three schools, the Heisman Trophy winner said, “changed the game.”

“When you talk about all three schools, though, what’s impressive is at one point in time they changed the game of college football,” Tebow said. “Coach [Spurrier] did it with the ‘Fun ‘n’ Gun’ at Florida with Danny Wuerffel and everything that he was doing. Y’all did it with your swag and you didn’t care what people thought, you didn’t care what people said, you did what you were going to do. FSU did that for a 12-year span with coach [Bobby] Bowden when they were top-four in the country for 10 years in a row or something like that, so every single team, they changed how the game was played at a certain time. I think that’s what makes Florida football was so special.”

Davis lamented the way all three teams have fallen off, relatively speaking, since their respective heydays in the past decades.

“It used to be, win the state championship, you were in a really good position to win the national championship,” Davis said, “but that’s not the way it is anymore.”

Again, Irvin jumped right back in with his opinion, this time on the state of recruiting in Florida.

“That’s because everybody’s coming in, taking our players,” he said. “That’s the reality right now.”

As for what to expect from the actual game Saturday, Tebow expects there will at least be plenty of talking.

“I only got to play in it one time,” the former quarterback said of the game, “but it was probably the most trash talk in any game I’ve ever played in.”