Former Hurricanes offensive linemen Joaquin Gonzalez and Sherko Haji-Rasouli attended practice Tuesday morning at Greentree Field. Both were part of the 2001 national championship team that beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.
Gonzalez, 33, still lives in Miami and is chief marketing officer for Tire Group International. He is married and the father of a 5-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. Haji-Rasouli, also 33, is married to his college sweetheart and has a 2-year-old daughter and is about to become the father of "a very hairy baby boy,'' Gonzalez joked. Haji-Rasouli is one of the tire company's heads of sales for the Middle East and Africa.
I chatted with Gonzalez after practice.
"I wasn't there on Sunday for the scrimmage, but Sherko was,'' Gonzalez said, "and he says it was a lot more intense today, like they had cracked a whip on them. That's great to see. One of the things I was very happy to see and one of the things that wasn't there when I was around was the fact that they actually keep a tab on each player during practice.
"There's a constant competition between offense and defense and at the end of each drill, right before each break, if they run 12 plays on, let's say, inside run and the defense loses 8-4, then the defense has to go out and run an up-down -- like a sprint where you touch the hash and run back to the other side of the field -- before they can take their break.
"I thought that was really cool, because that mean's they're constantly competing against each other. If you keep tabs, it keeps you wanting not to lose. And it was so hot out there, too. I wasn't even playing and I had boob sweat,'' he said, laughing. "When you get three minutes of break, trust me, you want to take advantage of all 180 seconds. That's a motivational piece right there. That's something we didn't have."
Gonzalez said that "when Al Golden came over to say 'Hi,' I told him it was a great idea. It builds team unity and keeps guys engaged. it doesn't let you take a play off."
"Gonzalez also said he loved the new Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence. "The new locker room, the training room, the study hall area is really bad-ass,'' he said. "I wish it were there when I was playing. Gonzalez actually won the Draddy Award, better known as the Academic Heisman and now known as the William V. Campbell Trophy, and received a $25,000 prize to be used toward a graduate degree.
However, Gonzalez had already graduated with his Master's in Business Administration, so he said the $25,000 went back to UM to be used in an academic capacity.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN