The University of Miami stormed onto the college football scene in the 1980’s. After winning the 1983 National Championship over Nebraska under coach Howard Schnellenberger, the Canes went on to dominate college football during the decade like no other team had ever done before, or has since. The U upset the “old order” of college football and revolutionized the way the game was played. A Pro-style offense, speed on defense and an intimidating presence on and off the field were all key ingredients in their rise to dominance. Few liked those Hurricanes; cocky, flashy, and brash. The U quickly achieved the reputation as the bad boys of college football. So how did Miami earn its image, U ask?
It really all began in 1986 under then Coach Jimmy Johnson. The Miami Hurricanes were set to play the Penn St. Nittany Lions in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship. When Miami arrived in Tempe, the team disembarked from the plane sporting military fatigues. At a steak dinner between the two teams before the game, Miami players got up and left the table stating "We don't eat with the enemy". These actions led to a flurry of media attention on the Canes. People wanted to know "Who were these tough talking renegades?"
Showboating and celebrating after big plays became a fixture at Miami, which led to the strict enforcement of excessive celebrations and unsportsmanlike conduct. Participation in public trash talking, bench clearing fights, and fisticuffs in the tunnel before kickoff with other teams drew criticism from many. Winning games and multiple National Championships certainly wasn’t going to stem the tide of national media attention.
Miami appeared to have drawn the ire from the talking heads and much of the public. As a result, one has to ask: Do they, the media, have a negative bias toward Miami? In the mid to late 80’s match-ups with Notre Dame were billed as, “Catholics vs. Convicts”. During that era, 2LiveCrew member Luther Campbell was accused of instituting a “pay-for-play” incentive for UM players. A few years later, Miami was put on probation for players abusing the Pell Grant system. In reporting the scandal, Sports Illustrated printed a controversial cover story, “Why the University of Miami Should Drop Football.”
Last football season UM’s program was dealt crushing blows in the media by a shooting incident involving three players, the infamous UM-FIU bench clearing brawl, and the tragic ending to defensive tackle Bryan Pata’s life. The magnitude of the negative media coverage that ensued was all too familiar to Hurricane fans. We had witnessed this before back in 1986 and several times since then too. The coverage of the fight between UM and FIU was unprecedented. Did anybody know that there was another bench clearing fight that very same day in another game?
So, Legion, we ask U to be the judges. Why is the University of Miami receiving so much extra negative attention from the media? Have they been unfairly targeted, or have they brought it on themselves, or a combination? And, does a bias exist actually and if so, why and who is behind it?