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Why I'm a fan of the Miami Hurricanes: John Pickens

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My life as a Canes fan, the best game I've ever attended, family, adversity, and the next generation.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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My love for the Miami Hurricanes is hereditary. My brother knew the name Vinny Testaverde before he knew most of his relatives. Our early childhood was filled with stories about Melvin Bratton, Michael Irvin, Bernie Kosar, and Jerome Brown. My Dad grew up in Miami and always supported the Hurricanes. He attended UM in the 1970's and became a lifetime season ticket holder. Two years ago, I wrote an article about a special trip to Lincoln in his honor to watch Miami take on Nebraska.

College football Saturdays were sacred in our family. If for some reason we ever needed to leave the house, the distinguished voice of Sonny Hirsch always entertained us on the Canes radio broadcast. I have learned life lessons from watching the Hurricanes over the years, showing unbreakable loyalty to the program. That being said, it was easy to be a fan early on. When I was five months old in 1985, Miami lost to Florida at the Orange Bowl. Miami went on to win its next 58 home games. Nine year-old Pickens stayed until the final whistle against Washington in 1994, trying to comprehend what it felt like to lose a game I attended.

The probation years were difficult, but Butch Davis quickly brought new life to the program. By the time I reached high school, Miami's sideline was filled with future NFL first rounders. My prized possession from this era is my orange Ken Dorsey jersey, worn with pride and confidence to each and every game from 2000-2002. Ed Reed will always be my favorite player, helped by the fact that our school basketball teams all warmed up to Ballin Boys (and still do).

November 24th, 2001

When asked to name the best game during this era of dominance, most Miami fans would point to wins over FSU, the Sugar Bowl against UF, or the national championship against Nebraska. In my opinion, the greatest game I've ever attended was Miami's 65-7 win over Washington. After September 11th, the rematch between the Canes and Huskies was pushed back to the end of the season. Washington beat Miami in Seattle in 2000, a loss that kept the Canes out of the BCS title game. The energy inside the Orange Bowl that night was like nothing I had ever experienced. Miami tortured UW QB Cody Pickett, racking up five interceptions, two fumbles, and four sacks. The Canes took a 37-0 lead into halftime thanks to an interception return for a touchdown by Jerome McDougle. His dive into the end zone was the perfect highlight to embody the 2001 season that no UM fan will ever forget.

Road Games

I always strongly encourage fans to watch Miami play on the road. Nothing is more satisfying than leaving another stadium with a victory. Don't be afraid of the outcome. As I've been forced to learn over the years, sometimes you have to endure difficult times to better appreciate success. Over the past two decades, my friends and family have traveled to FSU, UF, USF, Clemson, Duke, Texas A&M, Boston College, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas State, Penn State, and Maryland to support the Canes. I doubt September 17th is on your radar this season, but if you're free that weekend, come meet me in Boone, N.C. to watch Brad Kaaya beat Appalachian State.

Adversity

Year after year, Miami fans face the same issues and insults. When will you win the ACC? When will you get your own stadium? Why does the stadium look so empty on TV? Why do so many Canes play better in the pros than they did in college? When will The U be back? I wish I knew the answers. I want immediate success and a return to prominence as badly as anyone. Fortunately for us, Mark Richt seems like the perfect guy to turn everything around. Brad Kaaya is one of the best returning players in the nation. As always, I will remain loyal, try to exercise some patience, and support the program relentlessly.

The Next Generation

My two young children already own every conceivable Miami outfit available at AllCanes and the stores on campus. When my son wakes up in the morning and asks to wear his "Big U" shirt several times a week, I beam with pride. Sebastian "the U duck" often travels with him around the house. This fall, he will attend his first game, as the legacy is passed on to the next generation. Supporting the Hurricanes will always be part of my identity as a son, a brother, and a father. Go Canes.

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