Appalling. Unconscionable. Incomprehensible. Mind-numbing. Deplorable. No, that’s not my response to the unraveling Nevin Shapiro investigation that set The U aflame. Instead, these words just begin to describe the absolute farce the Miami Dolphins scheduled for their tilt against the Denver Broncos on October 23rd. You read that right, the Miami Dolphins are honoring the 2008 (I was under the impression major sports anniversaries were held in multiples of five years) Florida Gators national championship team. Of course, the Dolphins chose their home game with the Broncos to honor the Gators because of a certain 3rd-string quarterback you may have heard of played a prominent role on that team. Many questions have to be asked:
-The Miami Dolphins associate with South Florida, a unique region in southeast Florida that encompasses the counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. The University of Florida is located in Gainesville, over 300 miles north of Miami and even farther from a sociocultural standpoint. Miami is an urban, cosmopolitan hub in the generally low-density, homogenous South: I can’t speak for South Floridians, but I can say I am on an entirely different wavelength from my fellow New Yorkers in Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Buffalo and even Albany. Besides, UF isn’t even a big enough presence to transcend in-state regionalism like a Ohio State or a Michigan could. So how many non-alumni even associate with UF in Miami? I always scoff at Syracuse’s (and even Rutgers’) lame ad campaigns atop cabs claiming them to be “New York’s Team.”
-You could say the Dolphins are more than just taking advantage of an opportunity to use football messiah Tim Tebow as a cheap hook; a player of their own, rookie center Mike Pouncey will attend, along with other members as well as coach Urban Meyer. Okay, so where’s the ceremony for the 2005 National Champion Longhorns (hell, Texas isn’t far from the edge of the panhandle) when Vince Young rolls into town riding pine along with the Eagles?
-WWTD? What would Tuna do? You can bet your veal parm if he were still sheriff we wouldn’t hear a lick about this.
-This is what it’s come to for the Dolphins to draw fans? A ceremony for a college team? Why not honor the local rec league volleyball champs? As you may not be aware, attendance has always been a struggle for Miami, even for the playoffs. I was surprised at the relative ease at which I could procure a ticket (to their ill-fated wild card tilt against the Ravens in 2009) and that with visibly empty seats scattered throughout they still set an attendance record. They’ve already tapped out the cache of their lame-o minority owners and halftime concerts, so they’re back to the drawing board. They couldn’t employ the Heat maneuver, because Aaron Rodgers and Troy Polamalu weren’t on the market. Oh, and if you’re trying to generate fan interest during the offseason, I wouldn’t recommend wooing a college head coach while you already have one in employ and wind up returning empty-handed. So the Dolphins begin 2011 with both their coach and quarterback crawling back in. Hey, Don Shula looks good in those Nutrisystem ads, and Dan Marino always exudes a healthy glow and tan on CBS. Time to give ‘em a call and saddle up one last time.
-The Canes call Dolphin Stadium their home (unfortunately). How about some common courtesy for a roommate? Apparently, the Dolphins made an offer to U officials to have a 10th anniversary celebration of the 2001 title team, but the school understandably declined. Why tag along with other schools for some crappy ticket-grab the Dolphins are orchestrating? Besides, the U would probably like to lay low for a little bit anyway, given the circumstances.
And this is where I get really upset. That the Dolphins would do something silly is merely humorous. But I want an outcry from The U. It’s become increasingly apparent there is a massive void in leadership, based on the relationship Shapiro carried with school officials (including former AD and now Dolphin CEO Paul Dee and school president Donna Shalala) as well as the failure to compromise for a better fate to the Orange Bowl (how the hell did Jeff Loria dupe the now-ousted county mayor Carlos Alvarez into picking up the tab for his new playpen?). Now the ‘Canes wallow in mediocrity out in Bumblefuck, FL, regularly featuring swaths of empty seats during games on TV. They may as well prop up some bleachers and play on campus to larger crowds. While I’m confident the U won’t get the death penalty, I can pray Shalala will be shamed into resigning assuming the school gets a five-year bowl ban and scholarship reduction (entirely speculative on my part) and new blood can invigorate the once-mighty program. Gotta feel for Al Golden, but even knowing what happened to the U I'd make the departure from anonymity in Philly every time.
Given the outcry this story has generated locally, and the level of desperation the Dolphins are stooping to, this merely reinforces what I've always said about Miami: its a 'Canes town, baby.