Want to know where the Miami Hurricanes are headed as a program? Then you must first learn where they’ve been, and who better to tell you than ‘Canes Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and Minnesota Vikings draft pick Gino Torretta. I had an exclusive with him on the night of his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
There’s been a tremendous buzz about Billy Corben’s provocative ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “The U.” It reminded us about the time when college football got slammed with a decade long hurricane, with the Canes winning four titles in an eight year period. Torretta, along with fellow QB Vinny Testaverde, were the only Canes to bring home the Heisman in the program’s glory period.
By Paul M. Banks
And since it’s FREAKIN IMPOSSIBLE to watch “The U” online, (If you have the answer for me, please send the link) I posted a couple quotes from Corben’s ESPN page statement, just to set the mood. Here’s one:
Long before hip hop superstars and thug culture filled our airwaves, shopping malls and iPods, the Miami Hurricanes brought street values and hood bravado into America’s living rooms. If the ’Canes didn’t invent the end zone celebration dance, they certainly popularized and perfected it.
“The rule changes now, which we call the Miami rules- to me, they won’t let guys celebrate. You’re a kid, you want to have fun, and as long as you’re not getting in anyone’s face with it, or slowing down the pace of the game, I think you should be able to dance and have fun playing the game,” Torretta said.
I remember watching these young warriors emerge through that smoke to the bloodcurdling roar of Miami football fans. They were not the steeped-in-tradition choirboys of Notre Dame, but they were our hometown heroes: diverse, brash and dangerous. Just like the city of Miami itself.
They spoiled us with national championships: 1983, 1987, 1989, 1991. And then a fifth in 2001. We literally expected to win a national title every year. Beano Cook called the ’Canes “the greatest dynasty since Caesar,” and he was right. I watched this team, over the course of a generation, pump out some of the most thrilling, controversial and brilliant players in football history: Jim Kelly, Michael Irvin, Vinny Testaverde, Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp, Jerome Brown, Jessie Armstead, Ed Reed, Bernie Kosar, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Jon Vilma, the list goes on.
Torretta went 26-2 as a starter for the Canes, and I asked him about the enormity of the 58 game home winning streak.
“It was a tremendous time, we went 25-0 at home, 55-5 overall when I was there, and we felt invincible at home. On the road, we felt like we really had to prove ourselves to everyone that we were here and that comes from not being a traditional power. Our school hasn’t been around as long the Notre Dames or Michigans of the world. That’s what drove us to success back then,” he said.
Torretta was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the final round of the 1992 NFL Draft. But his NFL career was absolutely uneventful and unsubstantial. Remember that sentence. It will be written repeatedly about Tim Tebow in 2014.
After the NFL, Torretta joined Wachovia Securities as a Senior Financial Advisor. Today, he works in the institutional and high net worth marketing team of Gabelli Asset Management. He’s also Chairman of Touchdown Radio.
So what does he think about this year’s Miami Hurricanes squad? He appears optimistic even though most experts are anything but high on the Canes this fall. The team opens Sept. 2nd vs. Florida A&M, and they’ll visit Ohio State the following week.
“Week two versus a team that will probably be no lower than a preseason #2 and why not figure out if we’re back to that level right off the bat?” he asked.
“All these players are coming into their junior season, so it’s no more they’re too young to taste success, or too young to have experience. I’m sure they will shock some people. We’re getting picked fourth in our own division, and always use that as incentive in Miami. I’m sure Coach Shannon will as well, and they’ll be pretty successful this year,” Torretta continued.
And finally, his thoughts on Corben’s documentary film “The U.”
“I loved the first part, the building of the program, Jimmy Johnson, and keeping the program alive. Later on, I thought it was a little bit of sensationalism. You know what, if you were a Miami fan you loved it, because it was a lot of the glory time. If you weren’t a Miami fan, you disliked it, because you remember those times where we were probably kicking your team’s butt,” Gino said.
Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru