The Miami Hurricanes are 10-0. They're locked into their first appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, where they'll take on the Clemson Tigers at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium December 2. And if the Canes can win four more games in a row, they'll be national champions for the sixth time.
It's most definitely great to be a Miami Hurricanes fan right now.
You know what they say about tough times: If you're going through hell, just keep going. For Canes fans, the past decade-plus has been a dark slice of college football hell. They kept going, though. Canes fans never stopped believing even when Miami disappeared from national relevance.
If you supported the Miami football program through the darkest hours (NCAA probation, Al Golden) and made it out the other end to this season's payoff, you're a diehard Canes fan. Here are a few signs to prove you're among the real supporters:
1. The mention of Terry Porter's name gives you heart palpitations. For most people, the name "Terry Porter" elicits memories of a man who spent 17 years as an NBA player, including one with the Miami Heat. To Hurricanes fans, though, it's the name of a bastard ex-referee who stole a championship from their program, Oceans Eleven-style.
You already know the setting: the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. National championship on the line against Ohio State. Canes up 24-17 in overtime. Ohio State has the ball on the Canes' five-yard line. Fourth and three. Incomplete pass! Canes win the title! Everyone rushes the field!
Wrong. There's a flag. Pass interference on Glen Sharpe. A fresh set of downs for Ohio State. You know the rest.
2. You bought into Al Golden even though you always knew he was a fraud. It's fine. This is a judgment-free zone. You're inside the circle of trust right now. It's OK to admit you fell hook, line, and sinker for Golden's empty used-car-salesmen pitches. You really thought he was the man who would bring the Canes back to the place they are now. You believed in Golden so much, in fact, that you went out and bought a plain white dress shirt and an orange tie.
But it was all a lie. You didn't really believe in Golden and his master plan. You just love the Hurricanes so much you convinced yourself he was the program's savior. Looking back, fans of a team best known for over-the-top swagger and flashiness buying into a plan set forth by a man in a tucked-in white dress shirt and tie seems ridiculous.
3. Your pregame ritual is more family reunion than tailgate. When Hurricanes fans say "It's a Canes thing — you wouldn't understand," they're partially talking about their tailgate ritual. Before a Hurricanes game, you're likely to see the following: a whole pig roasting in a caja china, partiers dancing on a portable stripper pole, people drinking coffee from one-ounce paper cups while playing dominoes, and children throwing a football with their dads — and that's just the scene from one family.
Some people go to Canes tailgates and then leave, because win or lose, a Canes fan party is a always good time.
4. You've never taken a sign language class, but you know enough. Whether it's making the famous U with both hands, holding up four fingers when the fourth quarter begins, or mimicking Florida State's tomahawk chop with four
A diehard Canes fan will tell you it's completely unacceptable to throw up the U with just your index fingers and thumbs. That's Utah. The Canes U is made with all four fingers raised while placed together and the thumbs connected as straight as possible, so as not to make a W instead of a U. Those are the rules.
If you asked a random college football fan to name one thing about University of Miami sports, they would probably say fans throwing up the U. That's saying something for a school that has so much going for it both on and off the field.
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5. You loved the 2001 Hurricanes team more than any of the Big Three-era Miami Heat teams. There are great teams, and then there are teams like the 2001 Hurricanes: simply historic. If you're a true Canes fan, the 2001 squad is the greatest team to touch a football field. Ever. Period.
"Dominate" isn't the right word to describe what the 2001 Canes did to opponents. They whooped that ass by a whopping combined score of 512-117 that season, including 236-72 against teams that entered the game ranked and left emasculated. All in all, the 2001 Canes ended up sending 17 first-round picks to the NFL and 38 pro players in total.