College Football | Orange Bowl gets last squeeze
As pregame tradition dictates, a cannon will boom and white smoke will pour from a tunnel leading out of the locker room. The Miami Hurricanes will...
The Associated Press
MIAMI — As pregame tradition dictates, a cannon will boom and white smoke will pour from a tunnel leading out of the locker room. The Miami Hurricanes will emerge and run east into the night, traipsing across ground where John F. Kennedy spoke, Joe Namath made good on his Super Bowl guarantee and the Miami Dolphins were perfect.
A rusty old building, nothing but steel and concrete and ghosts, will shake in delight.
And an era will end.
For 70 years, the Hurricanes called this place home. The Orange Bowl, now an exquisite eyesore, hosted everything from Super Bowls to the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, from Hollywood movies to hurricane evacuees.
And, by the way, some of the finest college football games were played there, including 11 that decided national championships.
On Saturday night, the Hurricanes will play there for the 468th and final time.
"I guess the old girl had to be retired at some point, since we couldn't get enough money to get her built up the right way," said Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp, a 1994 All-American at Miami. "She goes out the greatest stadium in America, in my mind."
At the beginning, she was.
Billed at its opening as "the largest and most modern steel stadium in the nation," the Orange Bowl — or Roddy Burdine Stadium, as it was originally known, a nod to the department store magnate who got it built — was beyond compare.
"A beautiful structure without peer in beauty and adaptability," wrote Jack Bell in the Miami Daily News on Dec. 10, 1937, the night the place was dedicated.
The Orange Bowl's best days were decades ago. More than a few seats are falling apart. The scoreboard is as modern as bell-bottoms. It's not uncommon to see something fall off the structure during games. Some visitors make the sign of the cross as they enter the elevators. There's drips from the ceilings, rust on all corners, puddles in the concourses and evidence of decay almost everywhere.
"Not the prettiest place on earth," said former Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, who led the Hurricanes to the 2001 national championship. "But it was our home."
A cherished home, too.
The Hurricanes won three national titles on their home field, all when the Orange Bowl game was played in the Orange Bowl stadium. They won a record 58 consecutive games there during one stretch, were victimized by plays forever known as the "Florida Flop" and "Hail Flutie," and put a historic 58-7 beating on Notre Dame there in 1985, the worst loss in Fighting Irish history.
Namath's Jets won the 1969 Super Bowl there over the Baltimore Colts, the one the quarterback guaranteed he'd win. Flipper, a dolphin that swam in a tank behind the east end zone during Dolphins games, was a star attraction for years. Dan Marino's Hall of Fame career started at the Orange Bowl in record-setting fashion.
But the night perhaps most fondly remembered by Miami football fans was Jan. 1, 1984.
Nebraska vs. Miami, Orange Bowl, national championship game. The Cornhuskers closed to 31-30 in the final minute and coach Tom Osborne simply didn't want the game to end in a tie, so he went for a two-point conversion with the title on the line.
Ken Calhoun deflected Turner Gill's pass, and Miami prevailed.
After more than a half-century of often-mediocre football, the Hurricanes had won it all.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:30 PM
Zags going dancing for 13th straight year
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.