Frank Costa

Tracking proCanes - Frank Costa - Part II

Part II: Frank’s thoughts on the current state of the program, favorite things, word associations and more! Click here to read Part I.

proCanes: What do you think about the current state of the hurricane football program, and why do you think it went down the way did, and how can it get back up to where it was when you were there?
Frank Costa: If you talk to any of the ex-canes that were there when we were there winning National Championships obviously we are not happy with where we are. Looking at a team like Florida winning two titles in the last three years, that used to be us and now it’s Florida. That’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling that I have in my stomach. You don’t like to see our team play in a bowl game that in my opinion is a very minor bowl. When I was there we played on New Year’s Day every year and that was just a given. We were going to play in one of the four or five major bowls and that was it. I’m not happy with where we are and if you ask Randy he will say the same thing. There is too much talent at their disposal to not win at least 10 games every year in my opinion.

Now, the reason it got that way? From everyone I talked to, after Butch left Coker took over because the core group of guys that were returning and real successful the year before wanted Coker as a head coach. So they kind of forced the hand a little bit and got him to be the head coach. Larry, as much as I know him, love him to death, what a nice guy he was, he really was a nice guy, I am not so sure that he was in the long-term the best guy to take over after Butch was the coach. He did a good job running the offense and had great years with Kenny Dorsey and those guys and they were very dominant at that time but I think recruiting slacked off a little bit and just replenishing the talent was lagging behind and the team started to lose their luster. Right after the Ohio State game I think that is where the program started to turn. You now have to dig yourself out of that hole. You have to get the talent back in. Randy did a great job last year in recruiting. A lot of those guys played and he obviously did a good job. If he keeps recruiting and getting the players in there he can get them back up. It doesn’t take 4 5 years to get back on top. Butch took us back up after Erickson left and we were on probation. We had some down years there because of the probation but Butch got the program right where it was a few years prior. It can be done, and I think it will be done. You just have to get the players there and coach them up.

pC: What's a crazy Story from your days back then?
FC: There were some crazy guys down there that I played with. Some crazy dudes man. I don’t know. Everyday was crazy. Something different would happen. Unbelievable. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that you could actually put on your website.

pC: Donnell Bennett is now a head coach of a HS team down here. Would you ever think about going into coaching yourself?
FC: Not at this point. I don’t have the time to make a living coaching. If I were to get into coaching, I would have to start at a lower level and my income would not be there. My wife is a stay-at-home mom and for me to support three other people and probably have to pick up and move, I just couldn’t do it. If I was a single guy, maybe, but at this stage of the game, I am 36-years old and been at my company for nine years and I manage a lot of people’s money and thankfully my business has done very well. I couldn’t just toss it out the window. With my competitive nature I would love to do it. I don’t have the time to do that and it wouldn’t be fair to my family to just take my income and get rid of it and take a severe pay cut and be a GA somewhere. As much as I think I would enjoy doing it and this point there is no way.

pC:I say a word and you tell me the first thing that pops in your head:
Randy Shannon: Dedicated
Coker: Good guy
The Orange Bowl: Crazy
Dolphins Stadium: It’s the Dolphins’ stadium
The Ibis: John Routh
Art Kehoe: That’s my man
Erickson: No comment
Coral Gables: Beautiful
Fiesta Bowl: Nightmare

pC: Do you pull for the Eagles as your NFL Team?
FC: I had a personally dealing with them that didn’t go so well. Long story short, one thing was said and another thing was done which kind of gave me a sour taste. I don’t really have an NFL team. I watch the NFL very closely, actually more closely than the college game, believe it or not. I am very much in tune to what is going on in the NFL. I don’t have a particular team I watch, but there are particular players that I love watching play, obviously quarterbacks.

pC: Who’s your favorite QB playing now?
FC: My favorite QB that I like watching play is Peyton. The way he prepares for a game. The mental part that he has going into games and the way he is so in tune to with what is going on, mentally. He is not the most physically gifted quarterback. He is real good at just going to the right place with the ball, making good decisions, getting his team into the right play, making adjustments. I do love watching him. Obviously Brady, hopefully he comes back healthy, because he is such a great competitor. He is so accurate and tough as nails. Kurt Warner, say what you want, if you keep that guy upright he can throw the football as good as anyone who has played the game. Warner throws a beautiful ball. He has a quick release. He doesn’t have a canon for an arm but man can he throw it. I like watching Ben and a lot of these guys but I can watch Brady and Peyton play all day long. They are just so damn good. My favorite of all-time though is Montana. As much as I love Danny [Marino]. Marino is my boy. When I was down there I got a chance to play some golf with him and meet with him. I like Dan personally and no offense to Dan because he could deliver the rock, but Montana in my opinion is a little bit above everyone else.

pC: Do you follow the NBA or Major League Baseball?
FC: I follow baseball more closely than the NBA. I used to be a huge NBA fan but to be honest with you, the way the game gets played now. I don’t love watching the NBA until the playoffs come. I used to watch it religiously but not anymore. I’m a Phillies fan. We finally had a very nice year winning the title and that was great. We had a great ride here with that.

pC: I was pulling for the Phillies because of Pat Burrell.
FC: Pat! He’s not there anymore and down in Tampa now. I pulled for him though. He had ups and downs when he was here. He took a lot of heat. Some of it was warranted. He was very streaky. When he was good, he was real good and when he was bad, he was embarrassingly bad. He would have plate appearances where you would cringe. Trust me, you are talking to probably his number one fan. I would literally almost get into fistfights when people would come down on him. I would back him to the hills. He was here for about 9 years. He had a nice run and his last at-bat was a monster at-bat in World Series. He almost hit it out of there and it ended up being the winning run of the World Series. They really took care of him when they did the parade. He was at the very front of the parade. The fans gave him standing ovation after standing ovation. They kind of knew he was on his way out and they really showed him a lot of appreciation. To be honest with you, as tough as the Philadelphia fans are, they really gave him a free pass for most of the time he was here. They didn’t kill him. I have seen them kill Mike Schmidt and he is arguably the best 3rd baseman to play the game and they would just kill him. They killed everybody. They hate everybody. They took it easy on Burrell. I don’t know why? You always have people with their opinions, but they weren’t tough on him. They didn’t sit and boo him. Here and again they would. For the most part they gave him a free pass. Even people in the media were like why is he getting a free pass? Why aren’t the fans murdering this guy. They really didn’t. Whenever he did something right they always jumped on his back and got behind him. Kind of funny. You don’t hear that about Philadelphia fans. They are brutal. They want Andy Reid and McNabb out of town.

pC: Favorite Food?
FC: Crabs with spaghetti. My wife is an excellent cook. She is Italian as well and she can cook her butt off. She makes a crab sauce with spaghetti that is out of this world. That’s my favorite dish.

pC: Favorite Band or Group?
FC: It’s funny. Being the old man I am at 36, I listen to the financial channel when I am in my car because it is what I do. I try to keep up on things. I listen to a lot of sports radio because I am obviously a sports fan. That consumes most of my radio time. When I am listening to music, I am usually listening to the old bands. Led Zepplin is probably a band I will sit and enjoy the most.

pC: Movie you could watch over and over?
FC: The Good the Bad and the Ugly.

pC: TV Show other than Dancing with the Stars?
FC: [Laughter] The Office

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
FC: My spare time, when I have it, I love being with boys and my wife. I am very fortunate to have a healthy and happy family. We’re close, so if I’m not at work or with my clients I am with the kids and my wife just watching the kids grow. I can have the worst day in the world and when I walk in that front door and see my kids’ face, I forget about it.

pC: Websites you check daily?
FC: Obviously I go on my company’s website and the financial websites and check that boring stuff out, nothing that would be too interesting. I always check out and your news channels and things like that. YouTube is a great site! They’ve got some funny stuff on there.

pC: Back to your college days for one more question.Is there one play that sticks out? One you reminisce about or one you remember as one of your best plays?
FC: One of my best plays? Oh, I don’t know. To be honest with you, it’s funny. This conversation we are having right now is probably the most football I’ve talked about myself in ten years. I really don’t talk football a lot about myself. I don’t talk about my own career hardly at all. Not with my wife, not with my friends. Because, although there are good memories and it was a great experience and I had the opportunity to play with guys that are future Hall of Famers and got a chance to be on national TV and the front cover of magazines, there was also some unfulfilled dreams of playing in the NFL and my experience in Miami wasn’t all good. I never watch any of my old games. They’re on tape, my parents taped them. It’s hard, it’s not easy for me to go and watch my old games. I would rather just live in the now. Not the past. To be honest with you, I don’t think about my own career or talk about it at all. Sometimes it can be a little bit depressing. I had expectations of going on and playing in the NFL, having success and I felt like a lot of those things were taken from me for whatever reason. The opportunities to pursue I felt were taken away from me and it was a hard pill for me to swallow. It was a very tough transition for me after I had decided that football was over, to move on. I know it is for a lot of athletes. I know I am not the only one in that boat but it was tough to pick myself up and figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I have gotten past it and thankfully I have a great job and have been successful and moved but it’s something I don’t think about it anymore.

Click here to read Part I

We at would like to thank Frank Costa for giving us his time to do be the first interviewee for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Stay tuned to next week when we will have an interview with another former QB from the U who not only won a national championship but had a long career in the NFL.

Tracking proCanes - Frank Costa - Part I is kicking off a new “Tracking proCanes” feature where we will talk to stars from the past about their days at the “U,” the pro’s and what they are doing now. To kickoff the new feature spoke with former starting quarterback Frank Costa. Costa started the ’93 and ’94 seasons for the ‘Canes finishing with a 19-3 record as a starter. His career included a quarterback controversy in ’93 but was also highlighted with wins over Colorado and a memorable win over top-ranked Florida State in ’94 in front of a raucous crowd at night in the Orange Bowl. Read below as Frank talks about his high-school days, days as a Hurricane, pro and more!.

Part I: Where is Frank now? His days as a Hurricane and more!.

proCanes: Could you first let the fans know what you have been up to since you left UM?
Frank Costa: Well I’m originally from Philly, and after Miami, I just kind of bounced around while still calling Miami home-base. I graduated in ‘94 and after that, I came back home to Philly and got ready for the draft and everything else. For whatever reason it didn’t go as well as we wanted it to and I ended up going to Cleveland briefly. Things weren’t working out there, so I went to the Miami Dolphins briefly and then to Philly to the Eagles. I just kind of kicked around but never really got anything going with any of those situations. None of those situations were actually very good for me in regards to having a legitimate chance to compete for even a 3rd string position.

I then went over to Europe, played in London for a couple of years. Then I came back here and played for the Regional Football League, which was around just for one year. I played for the Mobile Admirals. It had a regional concept. There were 6 teams to start off in the first year and they had a regionalized draft so if you went to school in Florida, or Georgia, or Alabama, you would play for that team. It was actually a really fun league, the competition was good. I mean half of our roster had ex-NFL players on it. We had some decent players on our team and we ended up winning a championship and that was really fun. I totally would have gone back for a second year. At that point I had some endorsement deals and everything lined up but the league folded because we couldn’t secure some TV deal, so that kind of hurt.

After that I was just traveling so much, I was getting ready to get married, I really needed something more stable and trust me if football was working out for me I would’ve pursued it, but I was spinning my wheels. I needed something more stable so I moved back to the Philadelphia area for good and I got into financial planning back in October of 2000. I’ve been a financial advisor since then. I’m in my ninth year now. I’m with AXA and I got married in December of 2000. I’ve been living in Jersey for a while. So that’s kind of where I am now.

pC: Have any kids?
FC: I’ve got a couple of boys. A four-year old boy and a one year old.

pC: Is the four year old throwing a football yet?
FC: He played flag football this year. It was his first year playing and he’ll play tee-ball in the Spring. He enjoys it. He likes to run around. Typical boy. I mean they’re both big kids. My one year old, he’s huge. He’s like in the 99th percentile. He’s a big bruiser. It will be interesting to see.

pC: Do you come down at all to any games?
FC: You know I haven’t been down for a couple of years. The last time I was there was for the home opener when they played Colorado. I was at that game and I haven’t been down since. It’s kind of hard with the kids. Just taking them on the plane. I do follow from afar. I watch them on TV. But I don’t travel to games.

pC: Do you keep in touch with any former team-mates or coaches?
FC: Well, to be honest, I used to keep in touch with Art Kehoe, who was the offensive line coach down there forever. He’s from the Pennsylvania area and he recruited me. I had a good relationship with Art and through a couple of the coaching changes he stuck around. Erickson left and he was there with Butch, and then when Butch left he was there with Coker, and I would always give him a call and see what’s going on. He ended up getting fired, and going to Ole Miss and I haven’t spoken to him in about a year or so.

pC: So Art Kehoe recruited you, were you a Miami fan growing up? Were they always on your list?
FC: I was always a Penn State fan. I grew up in Philly and I always rooted for Penn State growing up since it was our local team, but I always did admire Miami as much as anybody. They were really, at the time in the 80’s, revolutionizing the quarterback position at the college level. They were doing things that just weren’t being done. Coming out of the 70’s most teams were pounding the ball and running the power sweep and pro-passing style offense wasn’t really happening in most colleges. When Bernie Kosar was there and they won the first national title that’s when they really started implementing that and when you’re a quarterback you really admire those things; throwing the ball, spreading the field, they had their quarter back making a lot of decisions. So I was a Miami fan and because my appearance, physically, a lot of people compared me to Vinny Testaverde. My high school friends would tease me and call me CostaVerde and all that stuff. The Miami thing was always there. When I was getting recruited my senior year of high school there were a lot schools recruiting me but it really came down to Miami and Penn State at the finish line. Those were the two schools for me.

pC: When you got down there, you were behind Gino, who won the Heisman. He was a tough act to follow. What would you say was the toughest thing about playing here at UM?
FC: I was kind of young, I was still 17 years old, turning 18 in that September. So it was great to get a chance to red-shirt and sit and see Craig Erickson play his senior year and then get a chance to back up Gino for two years. I never really played any meaningful games during that time but got the chance to be around someone who won the Heisman Trophy and just got to pick his brain. He had a ton of success doing it the right way and I learned a lot from him. And then, when it came time for me to start playing in ‘93, really the toughest thing was the expectations b/c we were so competitive every single year being top 1,2, or 3 team in the country.

We had a tremendous turnover in our roster that year. We only had one offensive lineman returning, the other four guys graduated. We had no receivers coming back; we had no tightends coming back so they were all new. Our running back, Donnell Bennett, had played the year before so we essentially had one or two starters coming back on offense and I was obviously new as well. Our defense had a lot of turnover as well. We went from having an extremely talented group of wide-outs with Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland, Kevin Williams, Darryl Spencer, and Coleman Bell to all new guys stepping in. We didn’t have any playing experience, so the expectation level was very high for us to continue the success that was there for so long, but we were all getting in and getting our ears wet at the same time, so it was hard. We weren’t an experienced group, and we all made mistakes kind of becoming acclimated to the college game. So that was probably the toughest part and the expectations were extremely high. When they weren’t seeing it on the field the fans weren’t real happy with us and neither were we. We didn’t go to Miami to not play well and not compete for a National Championship.

pC: Talk about the '93 season.
FC: We were a very inexperienced group in ‘93 and we actually started off pretty well that season. We won our first game in Boston College. BC was top 20 that year. We went up there opening game and beat them pretty handily and then we came back and played Virginia Tech at home and we beat them like 21 to nothing [21-2] and at the time the game was ugly, we didn’t play well but we did beat them 21 to nothing. That was really the first year Frank Beamer had that team going. They ended up finishing in the top 20 as well so at the time it looked like we only beat VT who had been a doormat for so long 21-0. But looking back, in hindsight, that was when they really started becoming a program.

Then we played the big game up in Colorada, they were like #5 in the country at the time with the big fight, Kordell Stewart, Johnson the wideout, Westbrook and Rashan Salaam. They had a really good team and we ended up beating those guys up there. It was a huge win for us. As inexperienced as we were and as ugly as it looked at times we were playing pretty well. We were 3-0 and we beat three pretty good teams, 2 were on the road. We came home against Georgia Southern. I played very poorly in that game and still don’t have an explanation why. Probably took them a little too lightly since they were a 1-AA team and we had Florida State coming up the next week, kind of a sandwich game between Colorado and Florida State, typical look-over game. Obviously it is stupid to do that but that’s what happened and I didn’t play real well in that game and ended up getting benched for the second half. Then we went to Tallahassee and played Florida State who ended up winning a national title that year. We hung in there for the first 3 quarters. We had more first downs, more total yards and time of possession. We just didn’t execute real well in the red zone and they ended up scoring a touchdown on us to make the lead 11, I believe. Then it came down to the 4th quarter. I started pressing and trying to comeback and threw an interception returned for a touchdown and then I got benched and that was it for my junior year. They started Ryan Collins for the rest of the way.

pC: What would you say was your toughest memory of your entire career, would it be that FSU game or the Washington game?
FC: The Florida State game was a tough pill to swallow, but in all honesty they were just a better team than us and they had us at home. You have to remember going into that game they were a 14-point favorite. They just had a better team than us that year. They had more experience. We had beaten them something like 4 years in a row. You know eventually a team like Florida State, they are going to get you once and again. They caught us at a real good spot; the game was closer than the score indicated. So, I wouldn’t say the Florida State game was such a bad memory. We got beat, and that sucks but the subsequent benching was the most difficult time I had at Miami and mainly because I felt like the finger was getting pointed at me. It was all my fault, it was no one else’s fault. I was very clear with Coach Erickson at that time, that I was unhappy with the decision he made because I felt I was being made the scapegoat. We led the nation in dropped passes at that point. We were averaging 5 drops a game but none of the receivers got benched. The schedule got real soft after that. Four out of our first 5 games were against top teams and then after that we played some really weak teams. He benches me, Ryan comes in and he played well. In my opinion I felt it was against some weaker competition, so Coach Erickson looks like a genius because he now makes the QB change, we’re winning games, except for the West Virginia game which we ended up losing up there, which I didn’t even play in. We then went to the bowl game and we got whipped against Arizona and then I had a long talk with Coach Erickson after that game basically saying you have to let me compete for this job, or I have to go somewhere else.

pC: So, you did think of transferring at some point?
FC: Absolutely. At that point I was very much frustrated with my situation. I waited a really long time, very patiently, for three years to get an opportunity to play and I felt like the way it shook out I wasn’t given the opportunity that I thought I deserved, so I just flat out told him: I do have a decision to make, but if you give me the opportunity in the spring to compete for the job and if at the end of spring you can tell me I don’t deserve the start then that’s fine. I don’t think that will be the case but I need it to be fair. And he promised me that, that would be the case. We went into the spring and I ended up winning the job and got a chance to play my senior year.

pC: What about the Washington game?
FC: The Washington game, that was tough. It was more fluky than anything else. I think if we played Washington ten times that year we beat them 9 times, they weren’t better than us, if you look at that game a five-minute span is what changed it. We were up 14-3 at halftime and we had all the momentum in the world on our side and then some strange things happened in a 5-minute period.

pC: Including the coin toss…
FC: We kicked off both halves. You know Warren Sapp made a real nice decision before the game to elect to kickoff and not defer when we won the toss so we ended up kicking off both halves. They get the ball and they run a screen pass to their fullback of all players and he goes for like 80 yards. They kickoff to us, we get the ball back, I throw an out-route to Jammi German and he falls, so the corner sitting there he takes it for six. We fumbled the next kickoff, I think, and they got the ball at the 5 yard-line and scored again. They scored like 20 unanswered points in like 4 or 5 minutes span. It changed the game. They ended up beating us and that was hard. We had the streak going and that is obviously one that lasts forever and you didn’t want to be the guys to lose that streak but that didn’t hurt as much to me, personally, as the Nebraska Game. The Nebraska game was the toughest loss to deal with, because there was so much on the line at that time.

pC: How Was Erickson as a coach? Many say he ran a loose operation? How was your relationship with him since he was an offensive guru at the time?
FC: The program was run loosely by him. He was by no means the strict disciplinarian. He wasn’t your Tom Coughlin-like coach. Coming on the heels of Jimmy, I don’t think Jimmy was either. Miami had that rebel kind of aura about them and I don’t think that changed a whole lot. I think it changed when Butch got there, but I didn’t play for Butch but I just know from talking to some of the guys. Dennis let a lot of things go. Say what you want about Dennis and he has flaws just like we all do, but he was good at game planning. Attacking weaknesses in the defense and creating mismatches. That was one thing that he was good at. I think his people skills and dealing with college kids is probably where he wasn’t as strong. And particularly in my situation, we would go at it. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, obviously the benching we didn’t see eye-to-eye on. And that kind of hit me square between the eyes. My senior year we got along well enough to compete for the National Championship on New Years Day but my relationship with Dennis when it’s all said and done; we haven’t talked to each other since New Year’s Day in 1995. Let’s put it that way.

pC: Who is the toughest guy to go up against in practice that you had to face on a daily basis and who was the best player on your team at the time?
FC: Ray Lewis was still younger. Ray was a freshman in ‘93 and sophomore in ‘94. Not that he wasn’t a good player because he was, but he wasn’t quite the man that he became. Let’s put it that way. But you could see he was going to be that type of guy. But Warren was closer to my year. Sapp could be real dominant when he felt like it in practice and most of the time he did feel like it and he was real hard to go up against. There were times at practice where they had to take him off the field just so we could get some stuff done on the offense because we couldn’t block him. He was the best player that in practice I would go up against but I’m not really going up against him and I don’t block him but I just have to go up against the defense. He was the best player on our team by far. He really was probably the best defensive player in the country that year. I know he didn’t get the Outland trophy, which that was really a robbery, but he was dominant. He was dominant that whole year and if it wasn’t for the incident at [NFL] Combine then he would have been a top five pick. He was just so quick and so strong and just a great athlete and that’s why he was so successful at the NFL level. The guy has some great athletic ability and for him to be that big and move that well. He could even dance. I didn’t watch the show [Dancing with the Stars] but I heard he did a pretty good job on the show too.

pC: So who would you say you were closest to on the team in terms of teammates? Who was your best friend or guys that you really hung out with a lot?
FC: I was close with Gino when he was there. Obviously after he graduated he moved on with his life so that was it, but he was one of my closer friends my first couple of years. A couple of offensive lineman, some nondescript guys who I still stay in touch with were my friends. One guy wasn’t even on scholarship the other guy didn’t play a whole lot. But of the guys that were on the field and playing, to be honest with you, I didn’t have a real tight relationship off the field, for a number of reasons. For me personally once football was over, because it was such a huge part of my life, I would remove myself from it on a personal basis and kind of hang out with the people that weren’t on the team just to get an outlet and get away. The other thing is in ‘93, I felt like most of the team sided with Ryan. When Ryan took over he was the player of choice on the team. And that kind of hurt too, so I didn’t have a super close relationship with most guys on the team. It was more of a working relationship. I respected them, they respected me. I got along with the guys, it’s not that I didn’t get along with them, but as far as personal relationship, there was nothing real super close with those guys.

pC: You went through a lot in terms of the time with Ryan. What did you think about the quarterback situation this past year with playing both Robert Marve and Jacory Harris?
FC: Well that’s a hard thing. I think if you talk to any quarterback they are not in favor of that. Just from being competitive, for one. But two, it’s tough to get in a rhythm. Quarterback is very much a rhythm position and you need to get a feel for the game and it’s real hard to do that if you’re coming in and out of the game. Very seldom will you see an offense be consistent when they have more than one quarterback playing the position. It’s very, very seldom. I don’t agree with it. I never have and to say at the beginning of the game we’re going to put a guy in these situations. I would never like that as a starter. And it’s hard for the back up too. The guy has to come in cold off the bench to try in and get into the flow of the game in a couple of plays of the game or a couple of series of the game. It’s not easy to do. Listen, Randy has a reason why he’s doing it and obviously he is the Head Coach and knows a hell of a lot more than I do, but I don’t know of any quarterback that would be okay with that. Then you’re looking over your shoulder you never feel real comfortable with your situation that if you make a bad throw and you’re going to get yanked and maybe yanked for good in the games. I wouldn’t like it. That’s not something I could see how you could be 100% comfortable as a quarterback if you have that lingering on your shoulder.

pC: Who was the most influential person in developing your game and becoming a very good college quarterback to say the least?
FC: I had influences from a couple of people along the way. My dad always helped me in any way he could. In athletics period. Not that my dad was a quarterback because he was not, he was an athlete. He was not a quarterback so he would find out who was the best or smartest guy around in the Philadelphia area as far as quarterbacks were concerned or quarterback knowledge and go pick that guy’s brain and have me work with that person. If he didn’t know the answer, he would figure it out and he always instilled a lot of good things as far as qualities are concerned: hardwork, outwork the other guy, if your team goes out and practice that great go practice with them but when they’re not practicing you can go out there and get better them. So, he instilled a lot of qualities that not only translate to athletics but also in the world. I was gifted by being 6’4” and having a good arm but the other stuff all came from just busting my rear end. He was a huge influence.

I worked with Rich Ganonn. Rich and I went to the same high school. So Rich and my head coach in high-school were classmates. In the summertime before my junior year and also before my senior year I did work with Rich throwing the ball and he taught me a lot. He was influential.

When I got to college, Gino was very instrumental in helping me learn about the college game and Bernie Kosar would call. I did speak with him [Bernie] a lot and he was a good guy. When I was going through my tough times I spoke to him quite a few times. He was actually going through a similar situation in Cleveland at the time with Vinny and Belicheck. He didn’t have to do that but as I’m sure you’ve heard in the past Bernie is just that kind of guy. He was a guy that I had looked up to prior to getting to Miami. He was just a great guy to talk to. He gave me a lot of good solid advice through some tough times in my life. I will always be grateful to Bernie and what he did for me.

pC: Why the #11?
FC: I was 14 in high school not because of the CostaVerde thing. The whole CostaVerde thing stemmed from me wearing #14, being the Italian guy, being dark hair, 6’4, kind of looked like him a little bit, our playing styles were similar so that was always my number. When I got to Miami it was retired because Vinny had won the Heisman, so I wasn’t able to get that and my two choices were #11 because Dale Dawkins had just graduated or #15. I didn’t really like #15, so I took #11 because basically it was available.

pC: When you were at UM, how was it in terms of film study as the QB. I hear Kyle Wright wasn’t big on studying film. How much time did you spend in the film room? How important is that?
FC: My studying of film began at a young age. Even when Gino was playing, I did a lot of film study. You always had to be prepared as a backup but also it’s a good habit to get in to. Personally, I watched a lot of film, just to get an idea of what the other team is trying to do.

pC: Were you ever able to call your own plays?
FC: As far as calling my own plays. I always had the liberty to check at the line. Dennis would send in the plays unless it was the 2-minute drill. When you come to the line of scrimmage and see something he would have no problem with me calling my own play. If he calls a play and you were going to run directly into the blitz he would prefer you to check out of it into a better play. There was always the liberty to do that.

pC: Who was your favorite target?
FC: Chris T. Jones. He played for a couple of years for the Eagles but then got hurt and bounced out of the league. Chris was my best receiver at the time, and probably my favorite target.

pC: Where was the toughest place to play?
FC: The toughest places I went to, other than playing Temple at the Vet and playing on that field. That field was like playing on concrete. Thank god that place has been imploded and mind you I grew up about 2 blocks from that stadium. What a *hit-hole it was. In Tallahassee is not an easy place to play. It is loud there, a lot of fans, they play that damn song the whole game. Syracuse is just a really loud place because of the dome [Carrier Dome]. We went up there in 1992 and that was actually the year before I started playing and we almost got beat up there. Then we played up there in 1994, in fact they broke a record for attendance that game. You couldn’t hear yourself think. That’s probably the loudest place. That was really a loud stadium. To be honest some of the games we had at the Orange Bowl, when we had Florida State my senior year at night that place was rocking. That place was crazy that night. I don’t know if I have been in a stadium that crazy. We played at Penn State with 100,000 people but they weren’t as loud as the 80,000 in the Orange Bowl. No way.

pC: What do you think about the move to DS?
FC: I know why they did it. You talk to any of the old ‘Canes and the Orange Bowl is our home. The stadium isn’t even in Miami. It’s hard and I know why they did it and they had to do it. I completely get it, but to me it’s not home. When they started playing the Orange Bowl game there, to me it wasn’t the Orange Bowl anymore. It is what it is and until they build something else, that’s where we’ll be playing. I don’t particularly like it. The Orange Bowl wasn’t a nice place, it was old, outdated but it had a lot of charm to it and the people in the city liked the place. I know why they did it, but I just don’t like it.

Click here to read Part II.