For what began as a plug for Miami's multiplicity of innkeepers, the first nationally televised college football game of 1961 turned into the very worst sort of a commercial. Not the first drop of rain has fallen on 27 Orange Bowl games, but the second half of the Miami-Pitt match in the Orange Bowl Stadium last Saturday was played in untypical tropical downpours.
Even in such miserable circumstances, Miami led 7-3 with six minutes to play, and the main reason was a sophomore quarterback named George Mira. Playing his first varsity game, Mira put to good use a professional trick he had learned in spring practice from the Dallas Texans' Coach Hank Stram. He backed up to throw instead of turning his back to the line of scrimmage, and picked apart the Pitt defense with hard, low passes, pitching one of them in the first quarter into the belly of End Larry Wilson for the Hurricanes' only touchdown.
But in the fourth quarter, the situation shifted as abruptly as the yowling winds. With Pitt floundering on its 19-yard line, senior Halfback Fred Cox, who had already booted a 31-yard field goal, entered the Panther huddle and directed sophomore Quarterback Paul Martha, back into the game after being knocked cockeyed in the first quarter, to call a play Pitt had, literally, been saving for a rainy day. Just as the players turned to trot toward the line of scrimmage, Cox grinned at Martha and added, "And you be right there, boy."
Martha palmed the center snap and handed off to Halfback Al Clark, who was moving left. Clark relayed the ball to Cox, who sloshed across to the right and outlegged Miami's primary defense to the Pitt 38. There, Cox twisted and conducted a split-second search for Martha. Precisely on order, Martha came across to receive Cox's lateral. He splashed the remaining 62 yards to a touchdown and a 10-7 win for Pitt.
September 24, 1961
"On a dry field," Miami Coach Andy Gustafson solaced himself, "we'd have taken them." Pitt's Michelosen just smiled hugely. He had Cox, and on Saturday Cox was everything.