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December 22, 2012TUSCALOOSA | Jude Townson Cranford did literally what the Alabama Crimson Tide did figuratively.
Cranford punctured the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes' balloons a little while after the Alabama football team did it.
Cranford left the Superdome late on the evening of Jan. 1, 1993, reveling in Alabama's 34-13 victory over the top-ranked Hurricanes. She happened upon a hotel ballroom that was clearly decked out for Miami's planned national championship celebration.
"I saw this room and the doors were open and it had Miami-colored balloons all over the place," she said. "They had three tied together at each table and it was a big room.
"They knew they were going to win, they had it all planned out. They had 'Miami No. 1' on all the balloons. Nobody was there. I just started popping them. I guess I popped 30 or more with my nails."
To Cranford, a Guntersville resident, it was payback.
"We had been down there five days in New Orleans and we had been treated so rudely by the Miami people," she said. "We were absolutely furious at them.
"Even at the game, when our team came in they turned their backs. They were just so ugly."
Miami fans made a similar impression on other Alabama fans.
"It was pretty ugly," Bert Guy, a 51-year-old Tuscaloosa attorney, said. "There were plenty of Miami fans and nobody gave us any chance to win the game, so there was a lot of taunting."
The party started inside the Superdome, where Alabama fans far outnumbered their Miami counterparts. As UA took control of the game, the excitement built.
"It was so incredibly loud," Guy said. "I was in the end zone at the very top row with my back resting against the wall, and I remember my ears were ringing for about two days."
As the game progressed, Alabama supporters had trouble finding Miami fans to return the taunts.
"By about midway through the third quarter, there were hardly any remaining Miami fans It was just total bedlam by Alabama people after the game," Guy said. "I remember people searching for Miami fans because they had blistered us on the way in."
Alabama fans did find a target at whom to vent in the form of ESPN analyst Lee Corso, who had been outspoken in his belief that the Crimson Tide was overmatched. Corso was surrounded by dozens of UA supporters on Bourbon Street after the game and berated with expletives.
The party continued on the interstate ride back to Alabama. Fans bought white shoe polish and decorated their cars in expression of triumph.
"I painted 'Gino who?' (in reference to Miami's Heisman Trophy winner, Gino Torretta), 'Dazed and Confused,' and 'Alabama's No. 1' all over our windows," Cranford said.