A former quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes, Gino Torretta won the Heisman Trophy in 1992 after guiding Miami to the National Championship in 1991. In 2010, Torretta was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Revolution USA’s editor caught up with him in Miami, where he still lives.
Are you a watch guy?
I love watches. As a man, the opportunity to wear jewelry is limited to maybe cufflinks, a chain under a shirt and a watch. Timepieces are gorgeous, especially as you get more into them, and you realize the amount of time in the construction of the watch. You are going to have them for the rest of your life. It’s hard to stop loving them.
Do you remember your first watch?
When I won the Davey O’Brien Award in 1992, which is for the best quarterback (QB) in college, one of the gifts was a brand-new Rolex watch. I thought it was a great watch and I then realized how beautiful and finely made they can be. That was my entrée into the world of watches.
I still have that Rolex, plus six or seven other watches. I don’t have that many, I have a 12-year-old girl and I have to pay for her school. I love watches, though.
How did you get involved with Mido?
Doug Kaplan, the head of Mido in the USA, started doing things with the University of Miami, and they supported our foundation, so we were interested in working with him. I put him in contact with some other Heisman Trophy winners. I really love the Multifort Touchdown watch. The target for this is for alumni, recent grads and old-time grads. It’s a great watch for game day. As I learn more about men and women and watches, there are people that have a watch for every day of the week, and every activity!
What do you enjoy about doing radio commentary?
I love going to college stadiums that I didn’t get a chance to play in. As a player, you go in and you leave right after the game, so you don’t have much of an experience. There is nothing better in sports than the environment around a college football game, it’s really second to none. The fans, the tailgating, the atmosphere, the rivalries. It keeps me involved in the game, which is great.
How is the college game different from today?
There have been rule changes to make the game safer, but I think defenses were better back then. It was a lot tougher back then than in today’s game of spreading the field. Same great athletes, but some of the rules have allowed offenses to score more than ever before. Homeruns in baseball sell, as do points in college football. As a QB, I averaged less than 300 yards passing a game, and I was one of the top passers in the country. Now the top guys are throwing for 350 yards a game. I would love to play today.
You played for five years in the NFL. Do you watch the NFL as well?
It all depends on my travel schedule. If I am home on Sunday, I’ll watch. Nowadays, I follow guys that went to Miami or guys I have met on the job. I live in Miami, but I grew up in Northern CA, so I root for the Raiders and the 49ers.
What part of the process do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy learning the student athletes’ backgrounds and getting the chance to meet them and see what kind of people they are, and how they picked their school. Building relationships with the head coaches is great as well, and getting to know the assistant coaches.
What is your biggest professional challenge?
When I do a broadcast, I try to simplify and make sure people understand what is going on in the game. You can’t forget that’s what you are trying to do. You can’t be condescending during a broadcast, either. I am watching the game like I am playing in the game, and that helps me teach people what I look for to get an edge. I think people become savvy when watching the games. Not many people teach it, and I am analyzing the game while it is being played. When I go watch a basketball game, however, I just go and cheer because I don’t really understand basketball.
Why did you start the Torretta Foundation?
My wife’s grandmother passed away from Myasthenia Gravis and my wife has a strong medical background, and we wanted to make a difference. When I first started doing research, I was surprised that it is one of those diseases where 99% of the time you are dead within five years. People hear about the disease, but they don’t know about it. Your mind stays sharp the whole time the disease is taking over your body. It’s a horrible disease. We have tried to raise money for research into the disease and find some way to help.