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CB Brandon Harris tabbed All-American

Brandon Harris  Sophomore cornerback Brandon Harris became the first University of Miami player since Kenny Phillips in 2007 to earn All-America honors this week when he was awarded the honor by the SI.com, the Associated Press and Phil Steele Magazine.

Harris, an All-ACC First Team selection, earned second team All-America honors by SI, third team honors from AP and fourth team honors from Phil Steele. Harris led the ACC in pass break ups (14) and passes defended (16) and tied fifth nationally passes defended per game and finished third at UM in tackles with 52 (37 solo, 15 assists). 

Phillips was named an AP third team All-American in 2007 at safety. There's little doubt Harris, a graduate of Miami Booker T. Washington, will be one of the favorites to win the Thorpe Award next season. 

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A Review of "The U," ESPN 30 for 30

So I watched the 30 for 30 documentary The U . It was great on so many levels.

I enjoyed it far too much, though I am admittedly an easy mark. Play a '80s rap track over a tunnel brawl and I’m yours. My awareness and passion for college football coincided with Miami’s rise to prominence and the documentary was nostalgic for me. I had a hate/love/hate relationship with the Canes as they managed to simultaneously embody everything I desired and loathed in a football team.

The rise of the Canes was also a small part of a larger cultural influence, the first unfiltered crossover of hip-hop and inner-city black culture into mainstream America, at a scale unseen since Motown (before that Blues, Jazz). Unlike Motown, these influences weren’t mainstreamed, softened, and massaged for a different audience. Think of Animal House when the guys encounter Otis Redding Day away from the frat house party circuit ("Wait’ll Otis sees us! He loves us!"). In the 1980s, you got the same rap lyrics in Salt Lake as in Harlem, and it was as raw as a drive-by and as unrefined as pure Colombian.

College football traditionalists weren’t just having their Saturday afternoon defiled by Miami’s antics; they were seeing tangible reminders in the behaviors of their kids and on the evening news. Miami was part of a much larger cultural sea change. Fashionable rebellion morphed from Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC to Run DMC, Eric B and Rakim, and 2 Live Crew.

Miami Hurricane fans were a garishly dressed bandwagon, comprising of three primary factions: the city of Miami, student/rich kid Northeasterners with profound drug habits incapable of getting into any reputable private school (Miami was sort of a dumb Duke), and the most aggrieved members of every inner-city across America who identified with the Cane bravado. One of my friends described a woman at the Cotton Bowl: a double-sized Florida Evans clone from Good Times, wearing three layers of form-fitting lycra shorts over sweats and hair curlers, who kept screaming, "Fa**ot a** Longhorns, b**ch a** fa**ot b***hes, y’all gonna get whooped!" And she was right. We were. She was a Dallas native, but identified with the Canes.

What has always been most compelling to me about Miami is that they defied as many stereotypes as they fulfilled. The documentary hinted at it, but let me connect some dots. Of the Miami players interviewed, only Irvin truly got what made them unique. Though the Canes had more than their share of real criminals (while repositories of Heartland Values like OU, Nebraska, and Colorado actually equaled and topped their exploits in the late '80s through the mid '90s), most of their players were just hard-edged dudes.

Ultimately, the rise of The U wasn’t solely about harnessing the South Florida athlete. It went deeper. It was linking them together in a shared culture of athletic achievement, a unified badassed coherence. Miami played smart and together as much as they played mean. Aggression penalties were a means to an end, not indiscipline, and they ran offensive schemes that were out in front of 80 percent of the rest of college football.

In its perverse way, Miami was disciplined and focused. Maybe not for study hall, mind you, but as it related to football. They were entirely self-regulating and self-policing, like a well-run syndicate. If you didn’t show to summer conditioning, other players ostracized you or drove you from the team. There was no powerful authority figure that reigned in excess, disciplined players, or defined program culture—no Bear Bryant or Joe Paterno; this was a program run by players. I point specifically to Michael Irvin and Jerome Brown. Their personalities became the formative culture of Miami Hurricane Football, just as they would both go on to define the cultures of their NFL teams. Play hard on and off the field, attack all weakness in your opponents and teammates until it calluses or dies, and bully and dominate whoever will let you. Maybe stab a teammate in the neck with scissors if he gets lippy.

Players pushed each other (no Cane would ever sit out a practice with an injury for fear of being Wally Pipped), and former players were the most brutal—it became a Miami ritual for NFL Canes to call their old dorm room number and harangue whatever poor freshman answered. The coach’s job was to run interference with the police and administration, run good schemes, award playing time to the hungriest, and hoist trophies.

A lot of Texas fans have their own personal defining brutal moment from that 1991 Cotton Bowl : Samuels getting KTFO on the opening kick, Randall Hill’s tunnel run, and the 200-plus yards of penalty yardage—and those things certainly made an impression on me—but there were five things that always stuck with me because they delineated so cleanly between big-time college football and our SWC parochialism. They embodied what made Miami unique from everyone else at that time.

Scheme

Erickson ran a one back, 3 WR offense. That was heady stuff back then, and Miami always ran pro style offenses. On the opening play, our defense comes out in our base 4-3 with OLB Boone Powell lined up on the Miami slot WR. Face palm. We played straight man-to-man the entire game. Probably why Miami was able to convert a 1st-and-40, among other things. We were playing 5A high school football schematically. We were football dumb. Miami was football smart. An underrated aspect of Miami’s success. It’s about the Jimmys and the Joes, but Miami never lacked for Xs and Os.

Talent

Count up the NFL players on the field from both teams—no big difference. But Miami didn’t have any weak players and we did. Even their mediocre guys could run and play with intensity. That particular Miami team had good defensive talent, but on offense, they were no powerhouse.

Wesley Carroll (NFL bust), Randall Hill (straight line speed, lifetime No. 3 or No. 4 NFL WR), and Lamar Thomas (slow, lifetime No. 3 NFL WR) didn’t set the NFL on fire. QB Craig Erickson was a NFL bust. But in their system, that talent worked even when they didn’t have Michael Irvin and Andre Johnson catching balls. Miami enabled athletes. Put enough fast and skilled guys on the field with a chip on their shoulder with good coaching, and positive things will go down.

Player Development

I remember a much-publicized factoid that was circulated by the press between both camps pointing out that Miami didn’t have a guy on their team that could bench 400. We had a dozen or whatever. We thought it was an advantage, but Miami players laughed out loud at our ignorance and mocked us. Our S&C program was pretty much about lifting. Miami players ran, ran, and ran. Up hills. Up staircases carrying irregularly shaped items (anvils, barrels, tires). Pushing cars. Boxing. Carrying teammates. Dragging tires. When they lifted, they focused on power cleans. Functional strength.

I’m reminded of the finale from Rocky V when Rocky gets challenged in his neighborhood bar by Tommy Morrison to come into the parking lot and settle their dispute. A couple of big fat bar patrons, Rocky’s boys, say, "Hey Rock, you need a hand?" Rocky appraises them and says, "This is a street fight, not a pie-eating contest." Miami made the same appraisal 10 years before everyone else.

Focus

Miami was the "undisciplined team," but it was our stars that were out all night before the game, many of them drinking. McWilliams had no handle on his own players, and Erickson didn’t either. But Erickson’s players had a handle on themselves . The Canes huddled in their hotel and played dominoes, while we were happy to be there and celebrated. Kings of our little SWC molehill. The game was just a reward exhibition. Miami was pissed to be there, angry that they’d dropped two games, and wanted someone to pay for it on a national stage.

Attitude and Aggression

If you saw the documentary, or the Canes play during their height, this needs no explanation.

Obviously, the director of the piece was a Miami apologist, but he didn’t hold back on the discussions of criminality, scandal, bounties, and wrongdoing. They were both hilarious and unsurprising. I was galled to hear several idiot Miami players justify robbery because they didn’t feel they had enough weekend meal money and were somehow owed by society, but Michael Irvin said it best, "There was no conspiracy against us. No media plot. We were very bad boys, and we enjoyed being bad boys."

So what did U think?

Calicanes You are a blow hard just like UMike

The canes of the 80s and 90s were kids. So what. They didnt rape or harm anyone. thats what theycame from, butthey were undisciplined. I give you that.

They shocked the world.

They wouldnt be happy with 3rd string all american awards like UMike would be.

Take that 3rd team AA and put it where the sun dontshine.

UM fans want championships. Not 3rd team medals. And if youare the type that rejoices at tyhat, Umike, then the fake cane fan is you. Because I dont know howold and tired you are, butyousound it. I've been a cane fan since the late 70s. No Im not an alumn. 90% of fans arent. Im one of them. And I donate money to the U and i support them and I will rant and rave and throw shoes at the TV when they play crappy. I reserve the rightto do that. I am one of those city folk from the 305 who bleeds greenand orange.

Cali...an excellent review. Great point about the X and O's being ahead of their time. I think that's lost on a lot of us.

I think you're right when you said they teams were good not only because of the talent, but the personalities and overall team culture. Randy Shannon had mentioned that he thought the amount of work it took to be that good was missed in The U.

Go Canes!!!

Barton and Linder committed to the Canes today!

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