Long-time members of the Miami Hurricanes fan base will appreciate this overlooked subplot within the bigger story that has now blown up since ‘Canes’ football returned to national prominence and ‘the U’ as a contender for the national championship.
This is the story within the story of the Notre Dame-Miami showdown that went on to become one of the greatest games in college football history, and one of those rare battles on the field that actually lived up to and surpassed all the hype leading up to it.
I was surprised to discover what I hadn’t noticed the first time I watched the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary, “Catholics vs Convicts”. Thirty-five mintues (00:35:35) into the film, director and narrator Patrick Creadon, tells, in first person, how his best friend and roommate Pat Walshin got the idea for the infamous t-shirt that fueled the flames of the Notre Dame-Miami showdown that went on to become one of the greatest games in college football history, and one of those rare battles on the field that actually lived up to and surpassed all the hype leading up to it.
In this scene, a newspaper clipping shows a mug-shot of a disgraced UM player with the headline: “UM reserve suspended after drug-charge arrest”. The narrator tells how it was this article that gave him the idea to use the ‘convicts’ label for UM. Luckly, the image of the article (see attached screen-grab) is clear enough that you can read the details of his arrest. You know how when you watch a film more than once, you tend to catch things you didn’t see before? Well, there he was, my former school-mate, Darius Frazier; Hallandale High hero; all-state running back and one of the greatest in Charger history. Back in 1988, the Miami Hurricanes had a monopoly on the recruiting of local athletes, and South Florida, like an Alaskan river with salmon, was (and still is) abundant in great talent. Frazier was one of those highly-touted UM recruits. You could say that Hallandale High is infamous for producing the player who spawned the ‘Catholics vs Convicts’ T-shirt.
Years after Frazier got kicked off the UM team, I attended a Hallandale Chargers football game and there he was, none other than Darius Frazier himself, in the stands, philanthropically giving back to his community by openly taking wagers on the new generation of football players and paying out with copious amounts of drug money, just as many drug dealers have been known to do in their own hood.
In the spring of 1989, a few of my friends and myself tried out for our Chargers Varsity football team. I played the tail back position in the team’s running backs unit. I had the honor of practicing, drilling and scrimmaging along side the next great Hallandale High player: All-State/All-American running back, Daniel Harris. I grew up knowing Daniel ever since Kinder Garden. I even have an old photo of him and I as children in Holloween Costume. That Spring with the football team makes me feel connected to this story within a story.
Theres a running joke about how much of the ‘Canes’ football fan base is made up of Miami locals – some of which are of the criminal element – who never enrolled at UM.
In a twisted sort of way, these days, during this 2017 college football season, I feel proud to be known as a convict.
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