The much anticipated sequel to the heralded documentary “The U”, “The U Part 2” aired this past Saturday night. The movie focused on the emergence and demise of the University of Miami Hurricanes football teams of the early 2000s.
I felt that the movie more lived up to the lofty expectations set by its predecessor, which up to that point was the highest ever documentary in ESPN’s much ballyhooed “30 for 30” series of films (given the promotion Part 2 received and the prominent time slot it was aired at, I’d like to see how it fared against Part 1’s numbers). The movie did a great job of telling the story of how the program, hungover from its collapse following the Uncle Luke and the II Live Crew, Catholics vs. Convicts era the of the late 80s and early 90s transformed into the juggernaut teams of the early 2000s under head coach Butch Davis and the subsequent downfall of the team just a few years later.
I’ll tell you a few things about the movie:
1: I loved it
2: I’m super-biased
3: Don’t judge me
I actually got teary eyed when the movie talked about the Canes’ 2001 Sugar Bowl victory over the University of Florida Gators. It was the first football game I had ever payed any real attention to. I mean I watched football all the time growing up. My dad and uncles always had a game on and they always talked about football. But I never had a rooting interest in the sport until I saw Jeremy Shockey acting like a crazy person after catching an eight yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ken Dorsey. At that very moment I decided not only that he was my favorite player and that they were my favorite team, but that I was a football fan.
I got teary eyed because this was this Canes team was the team that changed my life as a sports viewer. It was easy to follow these Hurricanes teams before the “all internet all the time” era because I lived in Nassau, Bahamas, close to Miami. We got all the local Miami stations as well as The Miami Herald so I was able to read Dan LeBatard and Greg Cote’s columns about them every week. And those guys felt like guys I knew. Some of them, like Vernon Carey and Antrel Rolle, even had Bahamian sounding names. I got teary eyed because the 2001 Sugar Bowl was like meeting long-lost family for the first time. It was one of the first memories I have of caring about anything outside of trying to finally land a girl and finding a pickup basketball game. This was the moment I realized that there were these guys 187 miles from where I lived that were being awesome at life. And I had a front row seat for all of it.
I got teary eyed because I never really payed attention to the NFL until these guys moved to the next level (and a shit-ton of them did). I wanted to see how “my boys” did. I got teary eyed because I remember the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when Willis McGahee’s knee got turned inside out two years later in the Fiesta Bowl. I got teary eyed because seeing Andre Johnson and Ed Reed’s Hall-of- Fame careers unfold almost felt like watching my two big cousins make it. I got teary eyed because I’m still a New York Giants fan to this day because they drafted my favorite player Jeremy Shockey and I still remember how excited I was when my team signed Antrel Rolle.
I got teary eyed because when Sean Taylor was tragically murdered I was really bummed out. When the news broke I made a picture of him my profile picture on facebook (a big deal for a college student in the mid 2000s) and if I wasn’t on thanksgiving break I probably would have thought about shrugging off class…. probably.
I got teary eyed because my dad and I bonded over this team. An avid reader of The Herald, he had been reading about these guys since their high school years, but the things I was seeing and reading were new to me. I was excited to talked to anybody who knew the same obscure stuff I did. I’m sure he was happy to entertain me.
I got teary eyed because the early 2000s University of Miami Hurricanes was one of the first thing I cared about as an adult. It was different then, I didn’t have much responsibility, or bills, I couldn’t pay a girl to look at me and I didn’t have a job to worry about going to.
I got teary eyed because I forgot for a long time but this clip reminded me: the teenage version of me was all about “The U”.