The Miami Hurricanes came into the 1991 Cotton Bowl in a unique situation for the ‘Canes in that era- they were not playing for a national championship. Since 1983, Miami had played for the title five times over seven seasons. But 1990 was different, however, as the ‘Canes had dropped their season opener to BYU in Provo 21-28, and then lost to Notre Dame in South Bend 20-29. 16 points separated the Hurricanes from playing for yet another national title.
Teams in that situation can usually take two routes: dominate the game and defend your honor or come out flat an uninspired in a losing effort. Miami chose the former, and Dennis Erickson’s ‘Canes bullied the Texas Longhorns in front of their home crowd in Texas. Craig T. Smith covered the 1991 Cotton Bowl in SOTU’s “Games We Love” series. It was the epitome of Dennis Erickson’s tenure at Miami (and that Fiesta Bowl in 2001 at Oregon State).
The Hurricanes were coming off of winning the 1989 national championship and were told to be better behaved in 1990. That led to a clean cut loss to the BYU Cougars and something had to change. Coach Erickson once again promised his players would be on their best behavior but Miami’s players decided otherwise.
The Hurricanes came out of the tunnel ready to dominate and intimidate. Robert Bailey, a Hurricanes special teams ace who finally got his chance to start at cornerback for the ‘Canes, decided to open the game with a bang. Bailey, a football and track star from Miami-Southridge High School, comes from one of the toughest neighborhoods in South Florida which marks it as one of the toughest in the world.
Bailey came out to the coin toss promising he would knock out Chris Samuels on the kickoff. He delivered. The five-foot-ten, 175 pound Bailey knocked the Texas running back and kick returner out of the football game. That was only the beginning for Texas as Bailey danced over the KO’d Samuels who struggled to get to his feet. Miami went on to win the game 46-3, and Samuels carried the ball eight times for 30 yards on the afternoon. Alongside is game opening hit Bailey also intercepted a pass in the victory.
Robert Bailey went on to win two Super Bowls in the NFL, one with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995, and another with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Bailey played in the NFL for 11 seasons after being a fourth round pick in the 1991 NFL Draft. Bailey also won two national championships with the Miami Hurricanes in 1987 and 1989. But his most memorable moment for ‘Canes fans? The shot heard round the world.