If you grew up as a college football fan in the 1980s, nothing made your heart skip a beat more than watching Miami and Florida State play.
It was black and blue football. It was nasty. It was the equivalent of watching the Bears and the Packers go at it. Big hits, big defensive plays, heart-stopping action and blood on players' uniforms.
That's no longer true for Miami football. What was once a legendary program is now a shell of its former self. The Hurricanes won four AP titles in a 13-year span (1983, 1987, 1989 and 1991) and a BCS Championship in the 2001 season. From 2000 to 2002, Miami won 34 consecutive games. The Hurricanes were world beaters.
But ever since Miami left the Big East for the ACC in 2004, things have gone horribly wrong. Six bowl appearances have resulted in four losses with the Peach Bowl and MPC Computer Bowl trophies all stark reminders of Miami's postseason mediocrity. To the victor goes the spoils.
Scandals have riddled the program. There was that awful brawl with Florida International in 2006. Against the Golden Panthers? A second-year program in the Sun Belt?
The Nevin Shapiro scandal put the program back on its heels. Alleged booster interference, improper benefits, late-night parties and a general lack of oversight by the athletic department all painted Miami football as a desperate program on the edge of implosion.
But every year, there was one game that Miami fans could look forward to and that was its rivalry game with Florida State. This game was supposed to mean more because both schools were in the ACC and both schools were in rival divisions—we expected to see a Florida State vs. Miami matchup every year in the ACC Championship.
Florida State has made two ACC Championship appearances. Miami has made none.
We now have a rivalry game that has only seen Miami win three times since joining the ACC. It's a damn shame. This rivalry was good for college football. It still can be, but not if the fans don't show up.
This year's game is at SunLife Stadium. Two years ago—at the same stadium—the announced attendance for this storied rivalry game was 75,115. But attendance at SunLife Stadium has become a joke recently. It's tough to sell college football to sports fans in a major metropolis. Miami, like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, is a pro sports town. Go Heat.
Still, it's sad that such a great rivalry doesn't have the same meaning it once had. Even football fans who don't root for Miami or Florida State understand the meaning of "Wide Right I." And "Wide Right II."
There is an entire generation of sports fans that doesn't understand the meaning of this rivalry game. The importance. The legendary outcomes.
Miami vs. Florida State is now just another conference game.
And we, the football fans, lose.