BEVO is the mascot for the Texas Longhorns, 3,000 pounds of live, lively steer. Bevo was minding his business in the third quarter at the Cotton Bowl yesterday, with nothing much to do during Miami's rout of his Longhorns but graze on the artificial turf.
Then Ibis, the Hurricanes' feathered mascot, began taunting Bevo, carrying a branding iron with a "T" on the end. Bird-brain. The two faced off, Ibis only missing a red bullfighting cape.
You couldn't help but root for the bull, considering the way all the Hurricanes acted before the nation in a 46-3 victory over Texas.
Obviously irritated, Bevo snorted and charged and bucked. His handlers tightened his reins and alerted security to chase off Ibis, who already had a head start before ending up on the end of Bevo's horns.
Earlier, a Miami cheerleader sprinted past Bevo, waving a flag near his snout that caused a similar reaction.
None of the Hurricanes ever learn.
Promising they had toned down the showboating, hot-dog antics, the Hurricanes were back in full strut as bad-will ambassadors of college football. The Hurricanes began the new year reinforcing their black-hat image, turning in a classless victory.
Poor winners, all.
They were whistled for 10 unsportsmanlike or personal-foul penalities, the crimes ranging from cheap shots to taunting to excessive rub-it-in celebration. The No. 4 Hurricanes were out of control, racking up 16 penalties for 202 yards. The only thing they didn't get called for was high-sticking.
After some rather tasteless gyrating by players in a nationally televised game against California, Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich and coach Dennis Erickson agreed to clean up the act. Violators would serve bench-time. It worked for a while until San Diego State baited the Hurricanes into a brawl in the season finale.
But it was obvious in the Cotton Bowl that Erickson lost control of his team -- or encouraged their misconduct.
"Coach Erickson told us before the game to have fun and then he left the room," said cornerback Robert Bailey, whose mouth was caught on the radar gun at 80 mph yesterday. "We fell in the poll one week when we didn't play. We all said, 'We're going to show them, show all the doubters. Let's give them the bad image they all want to see. The people watching on TV want to see the bad Hurricanes.' "
And that's what the people saw, all right. It's a shame, because the Hurricanes -- arguably the best team in the country -- don't need the extracurricular activities. As they more than proved in manhandling No. 3 Texas, the Hurricanes are so good they can get away with the indiscretions -- and they know it.
"The dirtiest team I've ever played," Texas quarterback Peter Gardere said.
Incredibly, Erickson said, "It didn't seem like we were getting much respect." Come on, coach. Miami -- the team of the '80s, defending national champ? Erickson got the Hurricanes prepared with a whip and chair, stoking the fire until it blazed out of control.
Listen to defensive end Shane Curry: "We may have toned it down too much. Coach Erickson told us to do what we have to do to win."
Nice job, Dennis. The Hurricanes ran with it, running out to the field first to form a raucous reception line for the Longhorns. By halftime, they had 10 penalties for 132 yards and a 19-3 lead.
"We were a little tight, and a major part was their intimidation," Texas running back Chris Samuels said. "They talk a lot. It's that Miami type of aura they travel with. It made us uncomfortable."
Intimidation has been a part of football since the leather-helmet days. Only then they did it with clean, hard hitting.
"We calmed down at the half," Erickson said. "The penalties, I admit, were ridiculous. But stuff had been going on all week."
The "stuff" was the character assassination of the Hurricanes by Texas tackle Stan Thomas.
Spare me, coach. Grow up. Have some class. Take the advice from game referee Jimmy Harper, who said he told the teams to "cut it out and play football."