UM holds pep rally before Canes-Gators game
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) -- University of Miami students and fans of the school's football team came together Friday for a pep rally less than 24 hours before Saturday's highly-anticipated game between the Hurricanes and the University of Florida Gators, the first match between the longtime in-state rivals since 2008.
The rally took place between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Norman A. Whitten University Center on UM's Coral Gables campus. The game, which is expected to draw record crowds to Sun Life Stadium, is set to kick off at noon Saturday.
A student said this display of team spirit is the beginning of a long night of partying. "I'm probably not going to sleep tonight," he said.
At the All Canes store across from campus, a freshman said, Canes-related events more than exceeded his expectations of what the college experience would be like. "This is what it's all about right here," he said.
Another UM student said he will probably be getting up at 5 a.m. Saturday to make sure he sees the game, even though he admits he normally does not wake up before noon. "This is a big deal; if we go out tonight, we're going to be back [on campus in the morning]; we're going to be pulling off an all-nighter."
A long line snaked all the way around All Canes as students and fans alike waited to get their hands on white gear. Canes admirers are calling the Canes-Gators showdown a "White Out" game.
All Canes manager Harry Rothwell said the store has not seen this much traffic since the team's last title game 10 years ago. He compared the sales to three black Fridays "all combined into one."
"It's just amazing," Rothwell added. "The Canes fans are out in force; they're excited about the game."
A lone Gators fan braved booing from Canes supporters. "I completely understand where I am," he said.
A Gator get-together is scheduled for Friday night at Tobacco Road in Brickell. "It should be pretty crazy," said a Tobacco Road employee. "We sent out 18,000 invitations, and the phone has not stopped ringing."
The game could potentially be the last one between the two Florida teams for the rest of the season. Miami is not a member of the SEC, and UF is already committed to playing other teams. Gators team officials said, given this set of circumstances, it is not financially beneficial to match up with UM beyond Saturday's game.
At the UM pep rally, 6,000 white shirts were handed out to students who plan to attend the game as part of their push to turn Sun Life Stadium white.
"It's the biggest game of the year," said a female student.
"It's the biggest game of my life," said another Canes supporter.
UM president Donna Shalala addressed the crowd at the rally. She told the students to get a good night's sleep, a request that was met with laughter.
Buses taking UM students to Sun Life Stadium are scheduled to begin heading out of the Coral Gables campus at 9 a.m. Saturday.
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