|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: It's been 2 decades, and Miami-Oklahoma matchups still classic|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 05 September 2007 10:25|
``I'm going to have a shirt on that says 'Redemption,''' the former wishbone-running Oklahoma quarterback said. ``I've waited a long time.''
He pauses, then laughs.
``A long time,'' Holieway said.
It's been two decades since Miami and Oklahoma starred in an epic rivalry, one to be reborn Saturday in Norman. The tradition-rich schools met in three straight seasons from 1985-1987, a stretch where Barry Switzer's powerful Sooners went 33-0 against everyone else - and 0-3 against Jimmy Johnson's brash Hurricanes.
``When I had the best players, I won,'' Switzer says. ``And when he had the best players, he won.''
The stories, like the games themselves, remain classic.
Oklahoma star linebacker Brian Bosworth and Holieway getting gameday wake-up calls in their hotel from Miami's Melvin Bratton and Alonzo Highsmith. Miami standout Jerome Brown yelling ``fresh meat'' at Sooners entering the stadium. Sebastian the Ibis, Miami's mascot, towing a miniature version of the ``Sooner Schooner'' around the Orange Bowl in the final minutes of the win that secured the 1987 national title for the Hurricanes.
And now, a new generation of Hurricanes and Sooners stand ready to write the next chapter.
``Half of these guys weren't even born yet,'' said Miami coach Randy Shannon, who played in some of those matchups two decades ago when he was a starting linebacker for the Hurricanes. ``I don't even think they know. ... That's old. That's almost 20-something years ago.''
Old, yes. Forgotten, no.
It all started on Oct. 19, 1985, when Miami went into Norman and pulled off a 27-14 victory, one that has some parallels to the matchup this week. The Hurricanes were unranked then, like they are now. Oklahoma was No. 3; this year's Sooners are No. 5.
Johnson's players were confident going into that game. He wasn't.
``I was scared to death,'' Johnson acknowledged.
Oklahoma quarterback Troy Aikman suffered a broken leg on a tackle by Brown in that 1985 matchup, forcing Switzer to turn to Holieway. The freshman was no match for Miami's Vinny Testaverde and his three touchdowns, and the Hurricanes left Oklahoma with a win that vaulted them back into the national rankings.
``When Miami left town, our coaches brought a scouting report to me that they left in the room,'' Switzer said this week, recalling a story while on a call to promote Fox's NFL studio show with Johnson and Aikman. ``And on there, the first thing they had to do to win the game was hurt Troy Aikman. That was a part of their game plan!''
``We didn't play that way,'' Johnson insisted.
``Well, they were coachable,'' Aikman quipped.
But Oklahoma won the national championship that season after knocking off Penn State 25-10 in the Orange Bowl. Still armed with the nation's No. 1 ranking, Switzer brought the Sooners back into Miami's home stadium to meet the Hurricanes again on Sept. 27, 1986.
Bosworth - now a real estate agent in Malibu, Ca. - entered that game vowing a different outcome. He was wrong. Testaverde accounted for four touchdowns this time and Miami prevailed 28-16, its students singing ``Bye, bye, Brian'' as the game wore on.
Round 3 came Jan. 1, 1988, back in the Orange Bowl, undefeated and top-ranked Oklahoma against undefeated and No. 2 Miami for the national championship.
``Game of the century,'' pundits wrote. The Sooners and Hurricanes didn't disappoint on that count, either.
Oklahoma pulled off the ``fumblerooski'' with 2:05 left when guard Mark Hutson picked up the ball center Bob Latham left on the ground and rumbled 29 yards for a touchdown to create some angst, but the Hurricanes held on, 20-14, behind two touchdown passes from Steve Walsh.
That night, after being carried off the field, Johnson called the title ``an exorcism.''
``We had so many outstanding games against Oklahoma,'' Johnson said this week. ``Our guys got up for it. Our guys were ready to play Oklahoma because that's kind of their deal. We always talked about anytime we had a big game, I would tell them, 'That's why you came to the University of Miami, to be on a national stage.''
Bob Stoops, who took over as Oklahoma coach in 1999, still hears stories around town about those three losses.
``I remember watching them back in the mid-80s and there were great teams, great players all over the place, great coaches,'' Stoops said. ``They were great games for sure. And both teams, between the two of them, there's not a lot of losses there.''
Come Saturday, the Sooners and Hurricanes finally get together for Round 4. The teams agreed to the home-and-home about two years ago, and Oklahoma comes to Miami in 2009.
``Many people thought it would be a great series,'' Miami athletic director Paul Dee said. ``I think it is.''
Holieway is probably already thinking about ways to get tickets for the next Oklahoma-Miami matchup - since Saturday's game is such a popular item around Norman that even he's having trouble getting a seat.
``It's 22 years later and we're still talking about these games,'' said Holieway, now a marketer for Oklahoma Healthcare Solutions. ``That shows me we played good - no, great - football against a great team. You had to bring your breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert when you played them. You know what? If I could play anyone again, it'd be Miami.''