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The Orange Bowl Taught Me About The Miami Hurricanes

Long live the Orange Bowl

Last University of Miami Game in Orange Bowl Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Saturday’s game between the Miami Hurricanes and FIU Panthers won’t draw major national attention, but for those in South Florida and who are close to the UM program, the day will be filled with emotions and memories. The game will be played at Marlins Park, which of course sits in the same location that the famous Orange Bowl once stood.

From 1937 until closing its doors following the 2007 season, the OB was one of the most iconic locations in all of the city of Miami, and was also the home of the Hurricanes. Through those years, the Old Lady saw UM establish themselves as one of the most iconic college football programs, winning five national championships.

The Orange Bowl wasn't just any old stadium, either. At its peak, it became perhaps the most intimidating home field advantage of anywhere in the entire nation, as the Hurricanes won 58 straight home games here from 1985 until 1994.

For so many thousands and thousands of Canes fans, the Orange Bowl is the stadium they were introduced to the game of football, and where they fell in love with the game, and the University of Miami, even current UM coach Manny Diaz.

This is also the case for myself. My father took me to my first Hurricanes game when I was eight years old in 2002, and over the years it became my second home. Thanks to my dad, his tailgating buddies and the strangers who sat by us, I learned about the game of football, the history of the Canes, and really about the city of Miami.

Yes I attended Heat games at the American Airlines Arena, Dolphins/Marlins games at Pro Player Stadium/Dolphin Stadium/Land Shark Stadium, but no other place did I feel the culture of Miami more than at the Orange Bowl.

From our seats, I learned about Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary, the pro-style offense, who Jimmy Johnson was, and why you always try and sit in the shade for a day game in Miami.

From our seats, I watched the greatness of players like Devin Hester, Sean Taylor, Calais Campbell, Greg Olsen, Willis McGahee, and so many others. I watched Miami versus Florida State several times, I saw the brawl between the Canes and FIU in 2006.

There was nothing quite driving to Little Havana and pulling up to that giant cathedral of football on a Saturday afternoon. The troughs in the bathroom, the benches, it may have been a dump, but it was our dump.

It was always special to walk into the stadium and look overhead and see the giant sign that read, “The City Of Miami Welcomes You To The Orange Bowl.”

I’ll never forget being at the final Hurricanes game in 2007 against the Virginia Cavaliers. We all knew how that game ended, but just being there was surreal. I remember walking out of the OB for the last time and feeling the walls, thinking how in a few short months, it would all be demolished. And when they finally did bulldoze it to the ground, you could almost feel the emptiness throughout South Florida.

So as the Canes return to these sacred grounds for Saturday’s game, whether you’re watching it live, tailgating in Little Havana, or catching it on TV, think of the Old Lady, and always remember, R.I.P. the OB.