Special thanks to Linda Robertson at the Miami Herald for her recent piece “Miami Hurricanes fans put their money where their expectations are”. Check it out.
Business is booming at the allCanes shop in Coral Gables. Recession? What recession? University of Miami football fans have not slashed their loyalty budget. They will cut out the luxuries, but not the necessities, which include orange-and-green paraphernalia.
Orange-and-green earrings, soap dispensers, barbecue aprons, key chains, umbrellas, pillows, bumper stickers, pet toys, helmets that convert to snack bowls. Need an orange-and-green tricycle? They have it at the allCanes shop.
And T-shirts, of course. The one imprinted with “The U Invented Swagger” is a big seller, as is the one with 305 on it. There’s a baby onesie that says, “First Round Draft Pick.” Shoppers like the shirt that proclaims “Ohio Stole the Crown in 2002; Miami Stole the King in 2010,” which, if you don’t get it, refers to the controversial Ohio State victory over UM in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl and the Heat signing of Akron’s LeBron James this summer.
The store was bustling Wednesday as Hurricanes fans chose what they’re going to wear to Thursday’s season opener against Florida A&M.
It’s prime time in South Florida. You can feel the nervous energy. Football is back. Touchdowns and tackles provide the perfect diversion from economic doldrums. Step into the fantasy world of the stadium and temporarily forget about the reality of unemployment, salary reductions and underwater mortgages.
Fans want a place to invest their pent-up hope, and if they can’t give it to the stock market they will merrily give it to the promising Hurricanes of 2010. If they can’t give it to the weak lineup of politicians running for election, they will gratefully give it to Canes running for the end zone. This loaded team has UM back in the top 15. Comparisons with the five national championship teams are gaining traction.
Hope lifts hearts — and opens wallets.
“Optimism for the team means merchandise is moving,” said allCanes general manager Harry Rothwell, who estimated sales in August to be 50 percent higher than last year. “The great thing at the beginning of the season is that all teams are undefeated and on the way to a national title.”
The most popular jerseys are those of quarterback Jacory Harris (12), defensive end Allen Bailey (57) and receiver Leonard Hankerson (85), which is fitting because those three will be counted on to provide the dynamic leadership the Hurricanes lacked as they matured.
“We’ve been waiting, and we’re close, even though the schedule is kind of scary,” said Rothwell, a UM fan since he was a kid.
“This is the best team we’ve had since 2002.”
Stephen Nimer, another lifelong UM fan, was in the store looking at caps and shirts. He is one of the poetic brains behind the YouTube rap hit Orange on One Side, Green on the Other from last year and the new song, Throw the U and Rep It.
“Me and four friends made it on a Mac for fun and it really caught on,” said Nimer, 22, who is — shhhh — a Florida State senior. “This is the turnaround year for UM. They’re not young so no more excuses. Florida State will not beat us.”
UM Class of 1976 graduate and season-ticket holder Roger Jeffery drove to the store from his home in Orlando with Hurricane Warning flags flapping from his car windows.
“Randy Shannon’s finally got his team,” Jeffery said. “And if Jacory doesn’t throw the interceptions, he’s one of the best.”
Every customer looked excited as they scanned shelves and racks filled not just with orange-and-green products but orange-and-green expressions of devotion. Even the laconic Shannon smiled from a Nike poster. Billy Corben’s film, The U, played on TV screens, providing an audiovisual trip down memory lane with footage of Vinny Testaverde, Jimmy Johnson, Jerome Brown, Bennie Blades, Michael Irvin, Dennis Erickson, Randal Hill, Ray Lewis and those good old, bad old days.
How will the 2010 team be remembered? FAMU, predicted to be a warm-up, will be followed by consecutive brutal road tests at Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson. Could this be the year UM climbs back to the top?
Nostalgia combined with anticipation inside the store as fans bought the uniforms they will wear during another season of hope.