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They are programs filled with tradition. National championships. Heisman Trophy winners. Conference titles. Legendary coaches. And yet, at Miami and Ohio State, tradition is as different as the climate in South Florida and Columbus. Miami has tan lines and palm trees. Ohio State has Script Ohio and the Victory Bell.
Woody Hayes would have laughed at the Hurricanes, who had not once posted a top-five national finish when his coaching career came to an end in 1978. The Buckeyes go way back, while the Hurricanes are relatively new to college football's power structure.
In fact, the combatants in tonight's national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl have little in common, save for the undefeated records.
There are no streets in Miami, or Coral Gables for that matter, named after former UM coaches. None stayed long enough to achieve that kind of acclaim. Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis and Larry Coker have guided the program in the past 24 seasons. All but Davis has a national championship ring.
Then there is Hayes, who guided the Buckeyes to 13 Big Ten titles, 11 bowl appearances and three national championships. He won 238 games, all at OSU from 1951 to 1978. He has a street named after him (Woody Hayes Drive) in Columbus, the largest city in Ohio. Though Earle Bruce and John Cooper each won more than 70 percent of their games, nobody has ever forgotten Woody.
Call Miami Quarterback U. Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson, Gino Torretta and Ken Dorsey have given the Hurricanes an impressive lineup of quarterbacks. Testaverde (1986) and Torretta (1992) won the Heisman Trophy, ironically, in years when the Hurricanes lost the national title game.
Call Ohio State Running Back U. Vic Janowicz, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Bob Ferguson, Jim Otis, John Brockington, Archie Griffin, Keith Byars and Eddie George have given the Buckeyes an impressive running game. Janowicz (1950), Cassady (1955), Griffin (1974 and '75) and George (1995) are Heisman Trophy winners. Griffin is the only two-time winner.
The Orange Bowl opened in 1937 and for years was much more prominent than the UM team that played there. It has been home to five Super Bowls and was the home stadium for the NFL's Miami Dolphins until they moved to Pro Player Stadium. Fourteen national champions have been crowned in the stadium, named for the New Year's Bowl game. Miami won three of its five national championships there.
Ohio Stadium has been home to the Buckeyes for 81 years. Built in 1922 and known as "The Horseshoe," the stadium recently was expanded to more than 101,000 seats. A double-decked structure that sits along the banks of the Olentangy River, Ohio Stadium is listed in the National Registry of Historic Buildings. The stadium's original capacity was 66,210. It was dedicated in a game against Michigan in 1922 -- before Miami even started playing football.
Quick, name a UM tradition. Other than winning, there is little that stands out for the Hurricanes. Yes, they enter the Orange Bowl through a smoke-filled tunnel. The "Band of the Hour" has been around in some form since 1928. And Sebastian the Ibis is considered UM's first unofficial mascot going back to 1926.
Then there's the Buckeyes. There are so many traditions, where do you begin? Each time the formation drill of Script Ohio is performed, a different sousaphone player has the privilege of dotting the "i" of "Ohio." Hayes began the tradition of placing Buckeye leaves on Ohio State helmets in 1968.
Since 1934, a Buckeye tree has been planted in honor of each Ohio State All-American. Buckeye Grove is located at the southwest corner of the stadium. And don't forget the school songs. Ohio State boasts an alma mater (Carmen Ohio), two fight songs (Across the Field and Buckeye Battle Cry) and a state rock song (Hang on Sloopy).
The Hurricanes are an in-your-face, trash-talking, confident group. At least that's the reputation. Today, they are more mannerly than the teams of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson, but they possess a unique bravado. The offense is wide-open and has been guided by a who's who of quarterback greats who run a pro-style offense and put up all kinds of points.
The Buckeyes remain old school. Hayes used to say that three things can happen when you throw a pass, two of them bad. Hence, the "3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust" mentality that still seems to prevail. Although OSU teams in recent years have had flashy receivers, the team gets it done with a solid, conservative running game and a tough, no-nonsense defense.