While the Miami Hurricanes and Notre Dame Fighting Irish have not faced each other during the regular season since 1990, the two did square off in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve 2010. Both teams are drastically different from the squads that faced off in El Paso that day, but they share at least one thing in common: a desire to return their programs to past glory.
For the Canes, the Sun Bowl was entirely a transitional game. Head coach Randy Shannon had been fired after losing Miami's regular season finale against USF, and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was in charge as interim coach at the time.
Current Canes coach Al Golden was still employed at Temple University, and the allegations of disgraced athletic booster Nevin Shapiro (which is keeping Miami under a cloud of potential NCAA sanctions) were not yet known by the larger public.
The Irish were finishing up year 1 of current head coach Brian Kelly's tenure. Hired after he guided Cincinnati to a 12-0 regular season record in 2009, Kelly was tasked with cleaning up the mess of the Charlie Weis era, when Notre Dame saw early promise give way to mediocrity (an unforgivable sin at the school).
In the meantime, the Irish have made tentative steps toward respectability, while the Canes are seemingly stuck in first gear. Notre Dame went 8-5 for the second straight season in 2011, earning a berth in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State.
The Canes went 6-6 in Golden's first season, but proactively turned down a bowl berth in hopes of easing NCAA penalties for the school's role in Shapiro's impermissible benefits scandal.
This being college football, most of the major players from the 2010 Sun Bowl are long gone. Michael Floyd, who caught 6 passes for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns that day, is in the NFL after being the first round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2012 NFL Draft. Tommy Rees, the freshman quarterback who started for the Irish, now backs up Everett Golson, having lost the starting job to Golson this summer.
Also gone are Miami's top rushers from 2010, Lamar Miller and Damien Berry. QB Jacory Harris, who threw 3 interceptions in 7 attempts before being benched, graduated from UM last spring. Leonard Hankerson and Tommy Streeter, who caught touchdown passes from current Canes QB Stephen Morris that day, are both in the NFL now.
As is normally the case in college football, new stars will step up to fill the voids left by their predecessors.