There are dozens of reasons South Floridians should be cheering for the University of Texas in tonight's BCS National Championship game. Now, I'll admit I'm not completely objective on the subject, but I want to convince you, South Florida, that you should be rooting for Texas tonight and not the Nick Saban-led Crimson Tide of Alabama.
To advance the local part of this persuasive story, I enlisted the help of several board members of the South Florida chapter of Texas Exes, the Longhorn alumni association-slash-fan club. The group runs the site FloridaHorns.com.
Hely Santeliz and his wife, Julia, organize the group. Hely told me that a few locals are lucky enough to be going to Pasadena for the big game, but the rest will gather at Shula's Steak 2 in Miami Lakes.
As for why you, a non-Longhorn South Floridian, should be rooting for Texas tonight, the reasons are plenty. One FloridaHorns board member, Linsey Lovell, pointed out that you should cheer for UT "because we [Texas Fans] all cheered for Florida when they played Oklahoma." But perhaps Steven Scheck, another board member, said it best -- "Two words: Nick and Saban."
It's only been three years. Nick "The Trick" Saban was supposed to be the Dolphins' savior. After winning a national championship at LSU, Saban came to Miami for a chance at the big leagues (and $5 million a year). For weeks, at the end of only his second season, Saban repeatedly said things like: "I'm not going to be the Alabama coach." On November 27 of that year, he said,
"This is the challenge I wanted. I had a good college job. Why would I have left that if I was going to be interested in other college jobs? I took this as a challenge. We certainly haven't seen this through and gotten where we want to go and finished the job here, so why would I be interested in something else?"Then, of course, with a dismal Dolphins record of 15-17 under his belt, Saban proved the worth of his word and the letter of his loyalties, and he abandoned South Florida under the cover of night. To coach Alabama, the very school he denied (angrily sometimes) wanting to work at. The next year, the Dolphins went 1-15, the low point in franchise history. Nick Saban doesn't care about you, South Florida. He hurt you.
If you like Tim Tebow, you'll love Colt McCoy
So Florida, you like tall, strong, smiley, SuperChristian quarterbacks? Well Tim Tebow's college career is over. Colt McCoy, on the other hand, from Tuscola, Texas, has won more games than any quarterback in college history. And he can't so much as pass gas without "giving all the glory to Jesus." They both run well, throw accurately, and occasionally go on mission trips in the offseason. Oh yeah, and McCoy and Tebow happen to be buddies. The Longhorn quarterback can avenge Tebow's defeat. So let yourself root for Colt, South Florida. It's like watching a Disney movie, without the product placement.
"We cheered for Florida when they played Oklahoma"
I was at the BCS Championship last year. There were a lot of fellow Longhorn fans at Dolphins Stadium that night who'd purchased tickets long before the teams were announced thinking Texas would not get screwed out of another chance at the big game (Texas did beat OU head-to-head on a neutral field, after all). And not one of the burnt-orange shirts I saw was being worn by someone cheering for the Sooners. I even saw a few Longhorns getting in on the Gator chomp. True, Oklahoma is a long-hated rival of Texas (Question: Why doesn't Texas float into the Gulf of Mexico? Answer: Because Oklahoma sucks.), but still, what if it was those extra 30 or 40 Texan voices that gave the Gators the inspiration to win it in the end? Reciprocity, people.
Seriously, have you been to Alabama? I'm not saying Texas is without its problems, but a quick nonstop flight from MIA or FLL to DFW will show you that at least Texas has airports. Also, there is not a single person in the entire world (aside from Nicholas Cage's character in Con Air) who, given the option, would choose to go anywhere in Alabama over the great city of Austin, Texas. If you haven't been, trust me, South Florida, you'd love Austin.
Nick Saban again
Really, what a sleazeball. Saban is easily among the three most detestable characters in all of American sports.
The fruit, the color, and the image are all intricate parts of Florida's identity. There's Orange City, Florida; Orange Park, Florida; Port Orange, Florida; Orange County, Florida; Orange Lake; the Orange Bowl; orange blossoms; and the orange skin of George Hamilton. Well, the Longhorns are orange. The team, the mascot, the fans embody the very color (and fruit) that has given this state so much prosperity (and delicious juice). And it's not just orange, it's "burnt" orange. Like a windswept, scorched Texas version. There is nothing Crimson about Florida.
Ricky Williams is a Longhorn
There probably wasn't a more important player on the Dolphins this year than Ricky Williams. And he honed his skills as a Horn. Williams won his Heisman Trophy and set the NCAA career rushing record while playing for Texas. His jersey is retired there. He's a school legend. Mack Brown dedicated an entire chapter in his autobiography to the year he spent coaching Ricky Williams, who, on top of being a great running back, is also probably the most interesting athlete in all of sports. You know who the most famous Alabama alumnus is? Joe Namath, who was a star for the Dolphins' archrival, New York Jets. If you love Joe Namath (and subsequently hate the Miami Dolphins), then root for Alabama.
Doesn't the thought of Nick Saban winning make you sick?
Let me tell you about Mack Brown, South Florida. You'd like him. He's a good coach and a nice guy. And he's loyal (like Don Shula). This is Brown's 12th year coaching at Texas. Do you know what Nick Saban was doing 12 years ago? Neither does he -- he's been a lot of places. Mack Brown is the underdog (the Crimson Sabans are favored by five). It would be fun to see him win (especially for Texas fans). More important for Florida, imagine if Saban wins. Imagine the uneasy feelings you'll have in your stomach as you watch his smarmy grin (and oversized necktie) as he raises the glass trophy over his head. Nobody here wants to see that, right?
Hook 'em Horns!