Alabama prepares for Notre Dame at Barry University, a small school without a football team but a rich college football history.
(Photo: Robert Mayer, USA TODAY Sports)
(USA TODAY) One school in Florida has served as the home base for Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, Hall of Fame coaches, Heisman Trophy winners and national champions, and no, it's not one of the big three of Miami (Fla.), Florida or Florida State.
It's tiny Barry University, a Catholic international university in Miami Shores, about seven miles north from downtown Miami - a school that doesn't even field a football team.
What Barry does have is 12 teams competing at the Division II level, and none bigger than the men's and women's soccer teams. Barry soccer - the women's team has won three national championships - trains at Buccaneer Field, a state-of-the-art facility with two fields, a two-story press box and, as the school notes, a playing surface composed of well-groomed Bermuda grass.
For the last 18 years, Buccaneer Field has been the practice facility for one of the two teams participating in the Orange Bowl; this January, for the second time, Barry will also serve as the facility for one of the teams playing in the BCS National Championship Game. For a brief time, there may not be another field in college football with such a rich tradition and varied history.
Barry has seen a parade of legendary coaches, players and teams over the years, beginning with Notre Dame and Florida State in 1996. The coaches who have led teams through practices on Buccaneer Field include Lou Holtz, Frank Beamer, Phil Fulmer, Lloyd Carr, Bob Stoops, Bobby Bowden, Joe Paterno, Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh.
For this year's national championship game, Barry will house Nick Saban and Alabama. In late December, Barry was the practice site for quarterback Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois, which would go on to lose to Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.
The list of players who have practiced at Buccaneer Field reads like a who's who of college and NFL elite. Just at quarterback, the list includes Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady, Jason White, Sam Bradford and Andrew Luck. This week, Buccaneer Field has been graced by Alabama's A.J. McCarron.
A brief list of the programs to call Barry home: Alabama, Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida State, Michigan, Tennessee and Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide are the second SEC team to practice at the school, joining Tennessee in 1997. By conference breakdown, Buccaneer Field has hosted five teams from the Big East, four from the Big 12 and Big 10, two from the SEC and ACC and one apiece from the PAC 12, MAC and independents.
Now, is Barry some sort of good-luck charm for teams participating in either the Orange Bowl or the national championship game? Twenty teams have stepped onto Buccaneer Field; eight have gone to win their bowl game. Barry's teams went 2-6 from 1996-2003, though one of those wins was Oklahoma's national title-winning victory over Florida State in 2001.
Barry has been good to teams over the last eight years, however, as teams that have practiced at the school are 6-3 since 2006. Alabama will focus on one fact: Barry's teams are 1-2 in games that decided the national championship - Oklahoma lost to Florida in 2009 and USC in 2005 after beating the Seminoles 12 years ago.
Come Jan. 7, after Alabama concludes its final practice and enters Sun Life Stadium, Barry will quietly convert Buccaneer Field back into a soccer facility and enter its normal routine. In 12 months, the school will again paint on the white lines and host one of the nation's best teams.
It's quite a college football legacy for a tiny university without, you know, a college football team.
Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports