If you tune in Saturday night for this year’s rendition of Florida State-Miami, you’ll notice the Hurricanes in throwback uniforms designed to evoke The U’s late-’80s heyday, a choice that works on a couple levels. One, aesthetically, the clean retro style looks great — compared to the many sartorial atrocities the Canes have rolled out in recent years, that should go without saying. And two, thematically, the entire point of Saturday night, and of Miami football in general right now, is specifically to inspire visions of the past.
Let’s be real: More than a decade removed from the Canes’ last major bowl game, the brand is nostalgia, and has been for awhile. It should be, because nostalgia still plays. To anyone older than 30, the default setting for Miami football is permanently fixed — no matter who you put in those helmets, the first response they elicit will always be of the NFL farm teams that won an astounding 82 percent of their games from 1980-2004 under five different head coaches, outfits that claimed five national titles and (just as importantly, nostalgia-wise) never passed up an opportunity to remind the rest of the world that they knew exactly how great they were. And the world remembers. There’s a reason they’re still making new 30 For 30 documentaries about those teams. They were so good, and so good at being good, that the collective response to the brand they created still resists that little mental box that asks, “Do you want to update?” It’s Pavlovian, or something. The records fluctuate; The U stays The U.