Looks like the Orange Bowl won't be torn down after all.
By Associated Press
Published December 2, 2005
Miami city manager Joe Arriola distanced himself Thursday from published reports that quoted him saying the stadium might have to be torn down and rebuilt, and the Hurricanes might need to play at Dolphins Stadium in 2007 while a new stadium is being constructed.
Arriola told the the Miami Herald that his statements were taken out of context. He said he had been talking about two different subjects: Damage to the stadium from Hurricane Wilma and long-term plans to refurbish the stadium. Arriola backed away from earlier reports, including one Wednesday from the Associated Press that quoted him saying, "We might tear it down and build a new Orange Bowl."
Arriola acknowledged telling UM athletic director Paul Dee that if the long-planned Orange Bowl renovations and upgrades take long enough, the Hurricanes may have to play elsewhere in 2007. He called that unlikely, however.
Several Miami city commissioners told the Herald on Thursday that Arriola would not be the one to make a decision to tear down the stadium anyway.
"Policy decision is made by the commission," commissioner Johnny Winton told the paper. "There's no plan to tear the Orange Bowl down. And I'll be dammed if I do anything to send the Hurricanes to Dolphins Stadium."
HAPPY TO BE THERE: Tulsa, UCF's opponent in Saturday's Conference USA Championship Game at the Florida Citrus Bowl, is almost as big a surprise as the Golden Knights.
The Golden Hurricane sat home and watched while formerly ranked and heavy favorite UTEP lost its second straight to a mediocre team. The Miners' 40-27 loss to SMU gave Tulsa (7-4, 6-2) the spot in the title game.
Like UCF, the Golden Hurricane is in its first year in C-USA, is much improved this season and enters the game having won seven of its past nine games.
"I think when a program goes through two losing seasons, it is pretty expected for the morale to be low, and there was no doubt it was," senior tight end Garrett Mills said. "We were a team that was accustomed to losing, not used to winning and we just did a great job of coming in here and turning that attitude around."
In the preseason C-USA coaches' meetings, UCF was picked to finish last in the East Division, and Tulsa fourth in the West.
"It is two teams that nobody expected to be in this game," Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "I think if anybody placed a milkshake wager on it, somebody would be getting pretty fat right now. (But) there is no question that these two teams are very deserving of being in the game."
RESTED AND READY: Last week UCF gave thanks for having some time off as well as for its spot in the conference championship. The Golden Knights had played for 10 straight weeks. While one can argue that they had momentum on their side - they've won eight of their past nine games - the chance to slow down was a big relief.
"We got our legs back," coach George O'Leary said. "Some of the things that were hurting us were just nagging injuries. ... We've still got a lot of mistakes, but they're being corrected and we're anxious to play in this conference championship."
RECORD CROWD?: Ticket sales for the conference championship game reached 50,000 Thursday, and there's a good chance it will be UCF largest home crowd ever. The high attendance in the Citrus Bowl was 50,220, against No. 8 Virginia Tech in the season finale in 2000. The Knights lost 44-21.
BIG BLOCKER: Miami senior Eric Winston this week was awarded the ACC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which goes to the conference's most outstanding blocker. The award was voted on by the league's defensive coordinators. Winston, a 6-foot-7, 312-pound offensive tackle, is a Lombardi Award semifinalist and a three-year starter for the Hurricanes.