Still, Miami will never be like other big-time football schools. The city around the private university of 13,500 is too diverse, too cosmopolitan to turn the campus into Happy Valley U. "It's a rough town for support," says senior defensive end Bill Hawkins. "At other places you see all kinds of signs and stuff supporting the college team. Here, there's almost nothing, just one sign at a little bar on U.S. 1. But I think we thrive on that."
Given all that, it may just be time to declare that Johnson, he of the Texas twang and the freeze-dried hair, is one of the best college coaches alive. His four-year record at Miami is now an astonishing 41-8. Who else can you hang the Hurricanes' success on? Johnson and homegrown Florida athletes, of whom Miami has 62 this year, are the consistent threads.
And what are we to make of Florida State? First, the Seminoles had better find a quarterback who can lead and throw deep. (State's next opponent, Southern Mississippi, may help cure this deficiency.) Second, the Seminoles had better do some soul-searching. They're not No. 1 anymore. They're not even the best team in the state.
"They must've had a lot of busted plays," said Hurricane defensive end Willis Peguese after the game. "I mean, they can't be that bad. It was ridiculous. Too ridiculous. I just stopped and said, 'What is this?' "
It's hard to salvage much from such wreckage. But then young men can always bounce back. Or as Miami's Ellis slyly notes, "They still got the rap video. They got that."
But listen. Isn't that the sound of molars meeting videotape?