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What Makes The U Different? One Word: Family

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To whoever wonders why Miami players and fans have such a strong bond, it comes down to family.

Notre Dame v Miami
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 11: The Miami Hurricanes take the field during a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Hard Rock Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The phrase, “It’s a Canes thing, and you would not understand,” is thrown around a lot, not just by Miami fans but by football enthusiasts around the country. UM faithful say it for pride, and because it means something, and other people say it because they think it’s a way of mocking the Hurricanes and their fans.

So what’s the meaning behind it? When someone says “It’s a Canes thing,” what does that actually mean? What makes the University of Miami, The U, so different from other schools? Because when you think about it and you’re coming from a point of view outside of Miami, it may not make sense.

I mean think about it. A person sees the UM, and from the outside looking in they see a little tiny private school in Coral Gables, who's football program really only became relevant in 1983. Yeah they have national championships, but everyone has national championships. Why is it that Miami fans and players are so prideful about the program?

What really makes Miami different from other schools can be described by one word, and that word is family.

Now, am I saying that everyone who has played for the Canes and all their fans are actually related? Of course not.

The family aspect of the U is perfectly exemplified by the programs alumni. In no other school in America does former players have the amount of pride for their college team than at Miami. Brent Musburger once said regrading Miami, “Take Michael Irvin, take all those guys, they’re still close to the U, it’s family.”

Ed Reed, Michael Irvin, D.J. Williams, Ray Lewis, the list is absolutely endless. I mean, where else have you seen guys talk about their college to the extent that former Canes do when they’re inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Or really just in general?

And even when they’re not being inducted into the Hall of Fame, former Canes are still showing their pride and passion for Miami.

In one of the most heartbreaking and touching examples of this brother was in 2007. Days after the death of former UM great Sean Taylor, fellow Canes Ray Lewis, Ed Ree and Willis McGahee were shown prior to the game. “Sean is the only thing we’re playing for tonight; this is family right now, and one of our brothers have gone home to rest, let’s send him home right.”

So what else makes the U different, and a family? One thing that unites all Canes fans and players is the simple “U” hand signal. Anywhere in the world, you see someone throw up the “U” and you know that’s your family.

Another thing that binds this program is the fact that players come back to Miami. Several years ago, Michael Irvin came and spoke to the Canes prior to their spring game, and his passion was never in doubt.

This past week was a tremendous example of that. During the week, Edgerrin James and Calais Campbell were at Canes practice and posted a picture with Manny Diaz.

On Friday, UM welcomed back former greats for their alumni dinner, and the list of players that attended were extraordinary.

Then finally at Miami’s scrimmage on Saturday, the sidelines were filled with old-time Hurricanes, as they watch The New Miami. Michael Irvin, Rohan Marley, D.J. Williams, Brian Blades and others were on hand.

Oh and another thing, if you outsiders still weren’t convinced, Miami has some actual blood relates families that have sported the orange-and-green.

Perhaps no family is larger at Miami than the Blades. Bennie was a member of the 1987 National Championship team, and also one of the greatest defensive backs in UM history. Brian was Bennie’s older brother, as was also a standout receiver for Miami. Then Al, Brian and Bennie’s younger brother, was a safety for Butch Davis’ team in the late 90’s and 2000, and is very well remembered for being one of the most passionate and vocal Canes of all-time. Now Al’s son Al Jr. is currently a sophomore and playing for Miami, and is holding down the cornerback position.

It’s not just the Blades family either. You have Michael Irvin and his son Michael Irvin II. Santana and Sinorice Moss. David and Evidence Njoku, and many others.

And above all else, the unity and bond comes from the city of Miami, period. You look at other programs, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, they’re all in small cities with little to no culture. Then you have Miami. It’s just different. Whether you’re a fan or a player, whether you’re born in Dade or Broward, there’s something special about the city of Miami, that links the football program to that area. It’s pride, it’s passion, it’s family. So next time you hear someone say, “It’s a Canes thing, you would not understand,” you’ll know what they mean.