Originally created 01/04/01

Miami pulls for Seminoles



NEW ORLEANS - Miami coach Butch Davis didn't get much sleep after his big win in the Sugar Bowl, and when he woke up Wednesday, he went directly to the team trainer.

"I'm getting treatment on my elbow," he said. "I've been tomahawk-chopping all night. Obviously, I think Florida State will win the game."

Strange as it may seem, the No. 2 Hurricanes became big Florida State fans after beating Florida 37-20 on Tuesday night.

Only with a victory by No. 3 Florida State over No. 1 Oklahoma in Wednesday's Orange Bowl did Miami have a chance at sharing the national title.

"I have no doubt Florida State will win," safety Al Blades said. "And when they do that, we'll be No. 1."

The Bowl Championship Series title goes to the winner of the Orange Bowl, but The Associated Press media panel votes to crown a champion.

Miami held a significant 53-point lead over Florida State in the final regular-season AP poll. That, plus a reasonably impressive victory over Florida, made the Hurricanes confident they would share the championship if the Seminoles do their part.

Davis was to fly back to Miami and attend the Orange Bowl, where his team's fate would be decided. He said most of his players likely would watch the game with friends, then wait to see if the Hurricanes will win the championship.

Regardless of that result, Davis claims the season has been a success.

"Knowing where we came from six years ago to get to a game the magnitude of last night was a huge success in itself," Davis said. "Winning that game makes it that much more sweet."

Indeed, when Davis arrived in 1995, the Hurricanes were a far cry from the teams that won four titles between 1983 and 1991.

Probation and scholarship reductions put them in a hole, and a 47-0 loss to Florida State in 1997 might have been the true indicator of how far the 'Canes had fallen.

"That was probably the game that sent a message to our fans and our alumni that we weren't crying wolf," Davis said. "It said that losing 31 scholarships, there was a price that was paid. There was a huge disparity between our program and Florida State."

This season, Miami struck back with a 27-24 victory over the Seminoles. That win stood as the keystone to their claim on the national title.

Then, with one last chance to impress in the Sugar Bowl, the Hurricanes showed signs of a champion.

They were deep:

Clinton Portis (97 yards rushing) and Daryl Jones (two catches and a 44-yard punt return) barely skipped a beat when starting tailback James Jackson and receiver-returner Santana Moss were hurt.

They bounced back from adversity: Ken Dorsey drove the Hurricanes 80 yards in 12 plays after Florida had seemingly gained momentum with a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter.

They made great plays:

Najeh Davenport stole the ball from linebacker Marcus Oquendo-Johnson for a touchdown when Oquendo-Johnson seemed to have an interception wrapped up.

That's why Davis felt pretty much at peace as he headed home to watch the Orange Bowl.

Even so, it was hard to hide his rooting interest. For one night, at least, he was pulling for the rival Seminoles.

"Hopefully, if that happens we'll get our reservations to go to the White House," Davis said. "Maybe we'll go on the same charter as Florida State."