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Why I Became A Miami Fan: The Lt. Philip Nolan Story

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Sometimes, the biggest of fans create their own path.

I was born in 1983. Call it a birthright, call it fate, or thank my birth for blessing Howard and the '83 Canes with enough good juju to force Osborn into a mind-numbingly dumb late game decision.

Of course, I did not come out of the womb wearing orange and green. I didn't use my first few breaths on this earth to utter the words "Go Canes." I didn't live in Florida at all, and still haven't. I didn't go to Miami for school in any capacity. I have absolutely zero personal connections to the actual school itself, or anyone who has ever played there. Yet, 32 years later, here I sit. As die hard a Canes fan as you will find.

It all began about halfway through my high school career. I had spent the last few years working at a local Subway, which would be a completely useless factoid if not for the fact that one of my then-best friends also worked there. As it turned out, for reasons I cannot totally remember, he ended up living with me and my family for a few months. He was a Miami fan (again, for reasons I cannot remember), and I was a kid who had never really paid much attention to sports in general. I had played a few, baseball and soccer, but never had anything more than a passing knowledge of sports outside of that. I of course played Madden and NCAA football, which is a weird thing I know, considering at the time I couldn't tell you much more about the actual teams they represented.

Just watch Miami, I promise you'll love them

Anyway, not to get off track, this friend of mine introduced me to college football during his time living with us. I had a decent grasp on it already, since my dad watched football, and of course the video games. It didn't take me long to get into the pageantry and spectacle of it all. There was just one problem: I was a man without a country, so to speak (some of you will have of course pieced together where my SOTU handle came from already, but if not, try googling that phrase.) This problem was easily solved, my friend said. "Just watch Miami. I promise you'll love them." So I did.

This all occurred in 2001, so you can probably assume where this is going. How could anyone watch that team as a newcomer to the sport and not immediately fall in love? Forget the fact that they won, and won convincingly. Forget the fact that it's of course easier to align yourself with a team who does what they did. I was a brand new fan, thrown into the fires of college football with only a pocket full of video game experiences as supplies. That 2001 team was as close to a video game team as you could get. Swarming defense, gigantic hits, thrilling game changing plays. Huge leads against almost every opponent. It was like someone took a create-a-team from the NCAA video game and put them on an actual field. I was enthralled. Of course, I was still a bit uneasy about picking a team that was so clearly above and beyond everyone else. It seemed too easy.

Then, Jonathan Vilma met Ben Zajicek, and I suddenly couldn't care less about the outside perception. I was a Miami fan, period. That hit was so violent, so abrupt, so perfect, and it cemented my fandom immediately. I didn't care that I was a front runner. I knew this was the team for me, because they embodied everything I thought sports should be. Fun. Stupid, outlandish, loud, brutish fun. My dad is a Notre Dame fan. I couldn't have hated that brand of football any more. Staunch, proper, boring. I wanted my team to be the ones running up the score, and not caring a damn bit about it.

Since then, the Hurricanes ride has been more downs than ups. The Canes were cheated out of a second straight title while I was on a family cruise. I was celebrating a friend's birthday at a hibachi grill joint, knee deep in sake when LSU destroyed the squad 40-3. I was driving on the way to visit my girlfriend, now wife, when Graig Cooper planted his foot and crumpled. I was at my In-law's house when USF beat Miami to end the career of Shannon.

I ran The 7th Floor Blog, now State Of The U, for a few years. Building the foundation for what it is today, and spending way too much of my time trying to justify and cape for Al fucking Golden. I got to spend an hour on the phone with Howard Schnellenberger for an interview. I've been called a half-brother, a fake fan, a sidewalk fan, a front runner, etc. Hell, I even considered jumping ship when the Shapiro mess broke because I was so pissed off that so many people that were supposed to be in charge blatantly let that muppet fart put this program in jeopardy. I celebrated with all of you when the NCAA bumblefucked their way into allowing Miami to basically skate unharmed.

Throughout it all, I stuck with the team. The losses. The embarrassments. Larry Coker. The baseless justifications for exquisitely bad coaching. The hoping that a decade's worth of mediocre three star recruits would somehow blossom into title teams seemingly by magic and/or screwed up recruiting rankings. Fucking Kyle Wright. The bottomless prodding over frustratingly low attendance numbers. No matter what it was, I was there, every Saturday, living and dying with this team.

I became a Hurricane not because I claim a diploma, or I was born in the area, or my parents provided me with a logical connection. No, I became a Hurricane because I was forced by a friend to watch a team that embodied my perfect ideal of sports:

If you don't want us to score, don't let us get in the endzone.