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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks Upon Meeting the University of Miami Hurricanes

1990-03-09

What a day in the Rose Garden. And welcome, all of you especially -- and all of you to the White House. It's great to see Senator Gramm and Senator Mack, and distinguished Members of the United States Congress here, Dante Fascell and Congressman Bennett. Sam Jankovich, the director of athletics at Miami; and, of course, Dennis Erickson and his staff; and then the number one football team in America, the Miami Hurricanes. For all of us name-droppers, it's been 2 great weeks. Last week, the San Francisco 49ers -- [laughter] -- were in here, and the NFL's team of the eighties. And now, we've got the college football team of the decade. The 'Canes have lost five football games in the last 5 years; that's all. A 55-and-5 record. And your Sugar Bowl win this year marked the University of Miami's seventh straight trip -- seventh -- to a New Year's Day bowl game.

And when sports fans think of a college bowl over the last 10 years, they think of two of the biggest games in college football history. January 1, 1984, your team started making college football history when you went 10 and 1, and then upset Nebraska 31 - 30 in the Orange Bowl -- one of the greatest wins ever. And then one that some of you young guys remember, November 25th, 1989. Your titanic struggle with the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame this year resulted in a 27-to-10 win over the then top-ranked defending national champion in what many consider the game of the year. But with Miami, there's also great memories of great championships. Back in 1984, the Nebraska game at the Orange Bowl brought you your first national championship -- national title. And then you beat O.U. in the Orange Bowl to win the 1987 national title. And just when the opposition thought the storm had passed, you beat the Crimson Tide soundly in this year's Sugar Bowl. Three national titles, three great championship games.

And not only have you played great games, but you've produced some of football's greatest players. Take a look at the Miami dynasty of quarterbacks. What is it about the water in Miami? Jim Kelly of Buffalo, Bernie Kosar of the Browns, Vinnie Testaverde -- Tampa Bay, and Steve Walsh of the Cowboys. No wonder they call it Quarterback U. Well, the team of the eighties heads for the nineties with Craig Erickson as quarterback, and your passing game is taking full flight. In fact, some say that when Craig throws the ball, anything that flies that far should be showing an in-flight movie and serving a meal. [Laughter]

But behind this Erickson Express, if you will, this offense is the number-one-ranked defense in the country, led by All-American defensive linemen Greg Mark and Cortez Kennedy. And I hear it's easier to get a tax cut through Congress than a ball carrier through that defense. The man behind it all is right here, Coach Erickson. It was your rookie year as Miami's coach, and yet you made them national champs. And coaching is never easy, but that first year is always the toughest, and you did a great job. And congratulations to all of you. In the best American tradition, the Hurricanes have shown that they won't settle for second best. Thank you and God bless you all. Welcome to the White House.

Coach Erickson. President Bush, first of all, we'd like to thank you for the Miami weather that you brought with us today. It's very nice. And secondly, we've had a lot of honors and a lot of accolades since winning the national championship, but for us to have the honor to come to the White House and visit with you is truly the greatest honor that any football team could ever have. And we've got a lot of great young guys here that worked very hard to win the national championship. Five of them were here in 1987 with President Reagan. We've got a lot of other young ones here that hopefully will be here in 1990, 1991, 1992. [Laughter] But on behalf of the University of Miami, the administration, my coaching staff, and the football team, we would like to present you with this jersey which signifies that we were number one in the country.

The President. Well, congratulations again, and thank you all. That's terrific.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

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