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’95 Orange Bowl Game Last For Vintage Stadium

January 1, 1996

MIAMI (AP) _ Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz remembers when Arkansas’ Joe Namath failed to score late in the fourth quarter on consecutive quarterback sneaks against Texas in 1965.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden recalls his national championship and the ones that got away.

After today, the Orange Bowl will be played without the stadium that bears its name. When No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 8 Florida State walk off the field, the Orange Bowl in Miami will be history.

Next year, the game, sponsored by FedEx, will be played at Joe Robbie Stadium about 10 miles northwest of the city on county land where sky boxes orbit like Saturn’s rings and parking’s aplenty.

``There are just so many great moments,″ said Holtz, who has been on the sidelines in the stadium with the Fighting Irish, Arkansas and William & Mary. ``It will be a very nostalgic game to play the last game here. I think it’s a special place.″

Holtz gushes about Orange Bowl Stadium, from its halftime pageantry to its great games. He says he can recall every bowl played in it _ when Namath was stopped and Texas won 21-17 in 1965, when the Fighting Irish’s Raghib ``Rocket″ Ismail’s last-minute 91-yard punt return for a touchdown was called back on a clip, ensuring Colorado’s first national championship in 1991.

His counterpart for today’s game isn’t so sentimental. After all, the stadium is still home to the dreaded Miami Hurricanes.

``Our failure here has cost us maybe three national championships,″ Bowden said. ``It’s a difference if you like the modern or tradition. Tradition ain’t bad.″

Sitting under a goalpost speaking to the media on Friday, Bowden spoke about the kick Nebraska missed against the Seminoles in 1994. ``We won the national championship right here,″ he said.

The decision in October 1994 to move the game was necessary for the Orange Bowl to get a spot in the bowl alliance. Staying in antiquated Orange Bowl Stadium meant forgetting any national championship games. It prompted Miami City Manager Cesar Odio to say the soul of Miami had been sold to the NCAA.

``It’s old news. We have already been through all the agony and disappointment,″ said Orange Bowl president Don Kubit. ``When people think about the decision, they recognize that it was intended to be part of the alliance to get the big game _ we wanted the big game.″

The Orange Bowl Stadium has seen plenty of big games since it began in the mid-1930s as a 5,000-seat wooden bleacher field known as Rodney Burdine Stadium that hosted motorcycle racing. Numerous renovations and a change of name later, the 75,000-seat bowl can boast it has presided over the crowning of 13 national champions.

Many of its fans say it may be one of the best places to see a game.

``It’s a magical place to watch a football game,″ Kubit said. ``Its sight lines are terrific, fans are close to the field and it’s a loud and intense stadium.″

Fans recollect the greatest NFL seasons of the Miami Dolphins, watching the Miami Hurricanes during four national championship seasons or when they themselves played on the turf as high school players in state title games. They wonder how the lure of money can move the main event.

The stadium will still be used for Hurricanes home football games, soccer matches and various other events. Many of the players, even if they had never set foot in the stadium previously, say they are honored to play the final game in the old Orange.

``It’s emotional. I grew up watching many of the games here,″ said Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell, who went to high school in nearby Fort Lauderdale. ``It’s a special time for me. ... We’re very well aware of how many people are going to remember this game.″