Sunday, January 5, 2003
Some of the Hurricanes' stars weren't receptive to the media.
PHOENIX (AP) -- Ken Dorsey pushed aside a television camera, Jonathan Vilma shoved a photographer, and media darling Brett Romberg didn't even show up for the postgame interviews.
The Miami Hurricanes didn't handle their Fiesta Bowl defeat very gracefully, probably because they hadn't lost a game in more than two years.
"The loss was, without question, devastating," coach Larry Coker said Saturday, about 12 hours after his team's 31-24 double-overtime loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. "Especially when you're down, you come back and have a chance to win, think you have it won and then you don't.
"It's one of those things that will take a long time to get over. You may never get over it."
Take defeat hard
Many players cried after the Buckeyes ended Miami's 34-game winning streak Friday night. Dorsey, Vilma and Romberg took it especially hard.
Dorsey brushed aside a television camera to avoid a postgame interview, wiped away tears as he took the blame for the loss in the locker room, got sick on the bus ride home and then spent several hours in a local hospital, suffering from dehydration and a possible concussion.
Vilma, trying to keep a sobbing teammate from having his picture taken, nearly knocked a photographer to the ground when he rammed the man's camera into his face and caused a small cut on his forehead.
Romberg, the most talkative player on either team, simply blew off reporters after the game.
The Hurricanes traveled back to Miami on Saturday, still trying to cope with their first loss since September 2000 against Washington. They might have beaten Florida and Florida State to win the state title, and they might have gone undefeated in conference play to win the Big East title, but the 'Canes lost the only championship they really care about.
"If you ever have something bad happen to you, as we all have, when you wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning, then all of a sudden it hits you. It's a gut-wrenching feeling," said Coker, who lost for the first time in 25 games as Miami's coach. "That's what I had this morning."
He wasn't alone.
"I haven't lost in so long, I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to feel," guard Ed Wilkins said. "But it's not a good feeling. I'm still in awe. I picked up the paper this morning and I'm still like, 'I can't believe we lost.' We weren't prepared to lose."
Miami wasn't prepared
Miami also wasn't prepared for Ohio State's defense. The Hurricanes committed five turnovers, lost All-American running back Willis McGahee early in the fourth quarter with a serious knee injury and failed to score after having a first-and-goal on the 2 in the second overtime.
"We didn't protect the quarterback, and we didn't establish a running game," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "In the end, it all showed. We all have to take blame for that."
Dorsey threw two interceptions, fumbled once, was sacked four times and even was knocked out of the game for a play in the second overtime. He gave Miami a 24-17 lead with a touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow Jr. in the first overtime. But trailing 31-24 and facing fourth-and-goal in the second overtime -- with the game and the season on the line -- Dorsey failed to recognize a blitz and threw a fluttering pass that fell incomplete at the goal line. Dorsey finished 28-of-43 for 296 yards.
"Kenny is the most fierce competitor that I've ever been around," Kehoe said. "For him to take the shots he took in this game, I can't believe he got up. He probably had a concussion and he still kept playing. He's an amazing guy. He threw for 300 yards and he got hit 10 times."
Dorsey ended his career 38-2 as a starter. The Hurricanes will have to replace him, Romberg, fellow offensive lineman Sherko Haji-Rasouli, at least six defensive linemen and probably receiver Andre Johnson. That will make it difficult for the team to get to a third straight national title game.