In sports to say that there's a special aura around something is very cliche. We assign that whenever a contending team manages to have various breaks go their way, followed by said team capitalizing on those breaks.
But at Florida International University its a different kind of special. Not one meant to last for this year, but lay the foundation for the next five.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Sweetwater, the neighborhood in Miami that has been home to FIU since the school opened its doors in the late-60's on what was then the original site of an airport (the school still has the original Air Traffic Control tower on campus, but if you're familiar with FIU I don't have to tell you that nor delve into its history).
The parking lots were jammed, and there were tailgaters all over the place, some for FIU, others from UCF.
The consensus was that UCF would win, at least it felt that way when you asked the UCF fans in attendance. UCF not only recruits a good amount of their football players from Miami, but also manages to get a good amount of applicants (I was one of them back in 2002). The Knights fan base was out in full force, and could be heard walking into Alfonso Field all the way from the UCF campus.
As they walked out after seeing their boys lose 17-10, they were either as quiet as a field mouse or just plain condescending.
"I can't believe we lost to FIU," said one fan as he passed by my good friend Albert and I. The gold and black makeup on his face almost completely off. Was it the sweat that wiped it off, or was it the tears?
UCF came into the game 3-0, with Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi, who if others in Miami knew who he was would join the illustrious list of Michelle Beadle, Skip Bayless and many other prominent sports media personalities as "Most hated in Miami," suggesting that UCF should be a BCS team and predicting them to bust the BCS this season.
He's even at times suggested that UCF is more "worthy" of being an SEC team than Vanderbilt.
Except SEC teams don't lose to FIU, especially when T.Y. Hilton is injured before halftime and is held to only three catches for thirty yards, and only one rush for six yards with no touchdowns. At least not right now.
But that will change in due time.
In 2015 FIU will be celebrating the school's 50th anniversary. In only 50 years of existence, the school has plenty to be proud of academically. They're the only public university in Miami, and their law school ranks first in the state as far as their students passing the bar exam, and their business school has been ranked one of the best in the country.
It sounds crazy now, but I see it happening sooner than you think.
As the wave of conference expansion continues, odds are while UCF gets the call up to the Big East, FIU will likely take their place in Conference-USA.
But if I'm the Big East, I'd just skip the middle man and invite FIU now, they already beat one of their teams on the road, then came back and beat a future member of their conference..