Unlike the NFL, college ball has no preseason appetizer to holds fans over until the football is real. Instead of getting a quarter-season of fake games like in the NFL, the best college fans get are a few sparse clips on Twitter of their favorite school's team half-assing a practice in shorts before the season opener.
For University of Miami Hurricanes fans, that season opener is less than three weeks away, when the Canes take on the LSU Tigers September 2 in Dallas. Dust off your car flags and turnover chains: College football is back.
While the eighth-ranked Canes ready themselves for the season opener, UM fans are undoubtedly doing the same. Canes faithful come in all shapes and sizes. Like South Florida itself, this fan base is more diverse than any other in the entire nation.
UM fans are unique and hard to place in a box, but there are a few definitive kinds of Canes fans everyone knows. Here are just a few:
1. The Canes Bro. Every group of Canes fans has at least one Canes Bro. If you can't pick out the Canes Bro, that means it's probably you. Canes Bro has "305" in at least one of his social media handles, and he's aggressive. If you watch closely enough at the tailgate, there are always a couple of friends who are nervously giggling at him but on the inside very worried they'll have to fight an entire group of people because he won't stop yelling at strangers.
Canes Bro didn't start off as Canes Bro. He was taught the secretive art like an assassin who received a katana from a legendary swordsmith in Okinawa, but instead of training under a swordsmith, Canes Bro learned how to be the fan he is from his uncle in Hialeah.
2. The Tailgate Aficionado. Every fan base has a select few members who can be labeled professional tailgaters, but Canes fans take the cake when it comes to expertly partying in parking lots. Cruising the lot at Hard Rock Stadium before a game, you're bound to find a pig roasting, lobsters grilling, people funneling beers from who knows what kind of PVC pipe contraption a Canes Bro made in his garage (see above), and a table lined with ten colors of Jell-O shots. And that's all before 10 a.m.
Even when the Canes teams were down during the Al Golden era, true fans continued to rock the tailgate just as they had when the squad was undefeated. Need proof? A true fan like @CutlerRidgeLAZ on Twitter has all the receipts. Tailgating at a Canes game isn't just about the game; it's about letting loose after a long week of working hard to afford living where the rest of America vacations.
3. The Mom and Pop Canes Fan. Although the in-your-face Canes Bro might be the first kind of UM fan that comes to mind for many neutrals, plenty of longtime Canes supporters who seasoned veterans who've seen both the good and bad days. Mom and Pop Canes fans are a tried-and-true bunch. They've seen it all: from the irrelevant days before the '80s glory years to the dominating teams of the '90s and early '00s, all the way through the putrid Golden years and into Mark Richt's promising teams today.
Mom and Pop Canes fans are basically the same mold as most Dolphins fans. They're great at tailgating, respectful, and pretty much just here for a getaway from a hard workweek. Win or lose, they'll be back next week — same place, same time. When the team loses, they don't get mad; they're just disappointed.
4. The Brand Canes Fans. This can be tough to swallow, but everyone needs to acknowledge this phenomenon without necessarily labeling anyone with the dreaded "bandwagon fan" tag. Brand Canes fans are around 20 to 23 years old, which means they've never really seen the team at its best. They support the Canes because it's the cool thing to do, not because they care deeply about victories or the school's tradition. Every fan base has these people, but the Canes are stacked with them.
Loving UM, for them, is equal parts rooting for the home team and simply loving the sweet Canes gear that hits the shelves at Champs every year. They don't go to UM — which isn't a requirement to love the Canes by any means — but if you didn't know any better, you'd think they spent all of their parents' money in the school bookstore.
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5. The #CanesFam Fan. When it comes to true Hurricanes devotees, the best of the bunch are #CanesFam fans. What is a #CanesFam fan? As the hashtag indicates, it's Hurricanes fans who've used social media to connect their personal group of Canes fans with others, thus forming a gigantic family around the UM squad.
Twitter and Facebook have done a lot of bad in this world, but connecting sports fans in real life is genuinely up there in terms of the good the social media platforms have brought into our lives. What begins as a friend of a friend who knows a guy from joking about the Canes on Twitter has now created thousands of real-life photos like the one above: like-minded people who seem to have known one another forever but only recently met in person.
#CanesFam really is a family, and anyone can be a member. If you don't fall under any other kind of Hurricanes fan, this is where you can plant your flag in September.