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Why I’m a Fan of the Miami Hurricanes: Mat Scholtec

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Florida State v Miami
Antrel Rolle, a childhood hero
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Welcome to the refreshed State of the U! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here [https://www.sbnation.com/why-we-are-fans] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

As a child growing up in Florida, it was required to be thrust into one of three buckets: a Gators fan, a Seminoles fan, or a Hurricanes fan. My parents did not attend any of the Big 3, so no specific card was dealt to me at birth. Without familial ties to any school, the onus was solely on me to decide for which team I would root. In the 1990s, this was no simple decision. Miami, FSU, and UF were all nationally prominent programs who had won recent championships in ’91, ’93, and ’96 respectively. After much deliberation during recess one day, I pledged my allegiance to what I thought was the greatest team in the world: The Florida State Seminoles.

This is the part where I ask for your forgiveness for I did not know what I was doing. Clearly, my brain was still developing. Looking back, I likely made that choice due to their neat colors, the cool war chant, and the fact that most of the first grade was also FSU fans. I carried this fandom for many years. In fact, the first college football game I ever attended was the 2004 Orange Bowl: FSU vs Miami. I was there cheering, draped in Seminoles apparel and saddened when good ole Chris Rix ended up blowing another one.

I clearly remember one Hurricanes player’s physicality, energy, and play making that very much stood out to me and that was Antrel Rolle. At the time, I was playing cornerback in high school and tried ever so poorly to model my game after Antrel’s. I would try to catch Miami games because I loved watching him play. To this day he remains my favorite Hurricane and football player. That was perhaps the first of my heart strings at which the Canes pulled. I was still, however, a ‘Nole through and through. Then, the time drew nearer to apply to college. I think it can be objectively stated that FSU is not the greatest of academic institutions. Although I did apply to FSU, I was prudent in also applying to other schools of higher merit as well. That’s when I set my eyes on a mighty fine institution of higher learning with a storied and successful football program: The University of Texas.

My junior year of high school I witnessed the 2006 Rose Bowl on my standard definition television. That game, to me, is the greatest national championship game of all time. When Vince Young single handedly willed Texas to victory over the unbeatable USC Trojans, I was hooked (pun!). That game was so amazing that I immediately started wearing a Longhorns hat everywhere. As I learned more about the actual school, I realized that it could actually be a great place to attend. So with that, I set my goal to go to Texas.

If you’re still paying attention, you’ll notice that Miami wasn’t really part of the whole college equation. That was true. It was true right until my parents drove me down for a tour of the school one August afternoon during my senior year. Have you ever been in a situation with a person, place, or circumstance where without any specific reason, everything just feels “right”? That’s how I felt the first time I was on the Miami campus. UM had been a passing idea until I stepped on campus, and in my heart, I knew that Miami was the place. I abandoned Texas and sent my deposit to Miami. Its magic pulled me in and I’m very grateful it did.

Fast forward and there I am freshman year sitting on my Target futon in Walsh Tower room 716. Early in the year, I saw an opportunity for a job within the athletic department. Mostly on a whim, I decided to apply and ended up getting it. For four years, that job put me front row and center to every Miami athletic event (and more) wearing a jersey and yellow feet. My love for Miami quickly turned to obsession, and I became the biggest fan of The U. There is no other university or collection of people on Earth quite like The University of Miami and its fans. The popular phrase “It’s a U thing, you wouldn’t understand” is entirely true. Unfamiliar outsiders have a certain perception and opinion of Miami, and it’s difficult for them to realize how special Miami truly is. I’m talking about beyond just athletics and inclusive of the family, spirit, and distinction that The U carries. You guys know what I’m talking about…

Anyways, fast forward some more and now my closet is mostly shades of orange and green, my cubicle is draped in Canes swag, I write for a Miami blog, and I’ve never been more excited for the impending football season. Attending The U was the greatest decision I’ve ever made, and I will forever proudly bleed orange and green. The end.

P.S. I gave all my old childhood FSU stuff to Goodwill.

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