I grew up in New Jersey. Being a Miami Hurricanes fans is something that does not compute in regards to that fact. However, fandom is something that can be surged into your DNA at any point in life. In younger years, I got really into football. Beyond the simplicity of looking at cool uniforms and saying things like, “look at how fast he can run.” I started to understand the rules of the game, retaining names of players, and feeling passionately connected to wins and losses.
In the region that I’m from, fandom is a heritage. It’s a trust that’s passed down generationally. There was never a question of whom I’d root for in the NFL or NBA. I’m an Eagles and 76ers fan. One of those teams, I currently have tattooed on my body. That was the birthright that was handed to me. My father was relaxed when it came to college football. He was the high school teammate of former Penn State running back Blair Thomas and he’s also from Philadelphia. If you ask him, he’d tell you that he’s a Penn State fan. That’s not a fact that I could backup without squinting. There’s also no great wealth of local college football teams in South Jersey. I was free to chose my own team.
In order to control the communal TV in my house, you had to call “dibs” on the remote. On January 3rd, 2002, I had that power and put on the national championship game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. My dad complained about the last time the two programs played for a championship in the background. “Penn State was robbed”, became his mantra all night long. So there I was, with no collegiate affiliation, watching a glorious gridiron slaughter and loving every second of it. From Andre Johnson’s two TD catches to James Lewis’ INT return, the game was exhilarating and relentless. I love the toughness in Shockey’s catches, the big hits that produced fumbles, and Clinton Portis’ sensational TD run up the right sideline.
The blazing speed, grit, and destruction called to me. And as my younger self would think, I did notice how cool the uniforms looked. I had a lifetime of fandom forging through the years with my other teams. But it just took one game with the Miami Hurricanes.
Since that day, I’ve found a home as a Miami fan. I learned its history and tradition. I get locked into recruiting cycles, coaching switches, and everything in between. Of course, I get the eye-roll when mentioning I became a fan in a championship year. It’s a standoffishness that I understand. If someone told me they became an Eagles fan in 2018, I would give them the hardest eyebrow raise I could conjure. But I’ve immersed myself in this team. From glorious last-drive wins to heartbreaking INTs, the ride has been a rollercoaster.
My commitment to the greatness of the Miami Hurricanes is something I carry every day. The fact that two of my closest cousins are Gators and Seminoles fans also doesn’t hurt. They played for those teams in pop warner football as children and fell in love. Every year we make it out to the marquee matchups. Verbal jabs are created between us and bets are made. Each time I’m in the stadium and see Miami rip through the smoke, I’m so grateful that I called “dibs” years ago.