15 fan facts about the team behind the team

By Life@TheU

15 fan facts about the team behind the team

By Life@TheU
Before the ’Canes take the field, another team—the team behind the team—labors long and hard, pulsing with school spirit and pride, to ensure that the players are game ready.

It’s been more than 50 years since the ’Canes traveled to the Big Apple for a bowl game, but on Dec. 27, the team will take the field at Yankee Stadium to face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. As with every game, the team behind the team spends countless hours preparing for a victory. No detail is too minor. From sorting mouth guards and cleats, to preparing film crews and band equipment, the people who work behind the scenes help make the on-field magic possible.

As fans prepare to cheer on the ’Canes next week, we’re sharing behind-the-scenes facts about UM’s stellar supporting cast of staff and students.

ibis bird

1. The nine-foot bird

Each home game, a replica Sebastian, at eight feet wide and nine feet tall, gets rolled skateboard-style on to the concourse.

smoke tunnel

2. Up in smoke

The smoke tunnel requires precise coordination: Monitor the countdown on the stadium clock, radio the tunnel, blast the eight 20-pound CO2 canisters, ignite the fire towers, welcome the ’Canes.

gino vargas 

3. A 53-foot road to victory

Gino Vargas drives the 53-foot ’Canes trailer truck to all home and away games. For the 2018 opening game in Dallas, Texas, he drove 52 hours roundtrip.

video production crew

4. Capturing the moment

To get a clear and focused shot, Jasmin Rocha and other members of the video production crew use a variety of high-tech equipment, mounts, and aerial stabilizers.

truck equipment

5. Gameday essentials

For equipment managers, the game-day preparations begin long before anyone takes the field. Everything from shoulder pads to mouth guards are accounted for and transported from the Coral Gables campus to Hard Rock Stadium before the team arrives.

Frost Band uniforms

6. Musical fanfare

The Frost Band of the Hour uniforms were designed by award-winning Broadway costume designer Michael Cesario specifically for the University in 2015.

water buckets

7. Ice, ice, baby

Thirty five-gallon bottles of water and 1,100 pounds of ice—700 pounds prior to the start of the game and another 400 pounds at halftime—are delivered to the ’Canes sideline.

mouth guards

8. Chew on this

Not all mouth guards are created equally and UM’s offensive linemen can chew through two to four mouth guards each game. Athletic trainers customize the silicone molds for each player based on their needs and preferences, and there are always extra on hand.

mark farag

9. The face behind the 40-foot flag

Mark Farag, a senior and member of the Spirit Squad, gets a lot of resistance—when he hoists the 40-foot ’Canes “touchdown” flag and races across the field.

frost band

10. The drumline is lit!

With 140 musicians this year, the Frost Band of the Hour is the largest UM band in more than 20 years. The band includes the first college drumline to install lights on its drums, which light up with different colors during performances.


11. The ultimate playbook

Michael Turner, assistant athletic director of events and operations, and his team use a 76-page “notebook” to coordinate the play-by-play action of different game-day activities and events.


12. Spirit on demand

The Spirit Squad consists of three teams—two separate 15-member teams and the 18-member Sun Sensations dance team.


13. Off the (game) clock

Game days for athletic trainers are often more than 15 hours long. Before the game, trainers play a number of important roles, including taping ankles, wrists, and knees, and adjust braces. During the game, they watch for any possible injuries and respond quickly. And after the game, they are focused on treatment and recovery.

locker room

14. Keep your cool

Inside the locker room the pregame temperature is set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During the game it creeps up to 74 degrees. But after players leave, everything cools off again to 70 degrees.


15. 65,326 'Canes family members

At full capacity, Hard Rock Stadium welcomes more than 65,000 fans. Approximately 450 security personnel and about 600 guest experience personnel check tickets and serve as greeters while managing the crowd flow at the stadium.

Do you want to learn more about the team behind the team? Check out our special feature report.