UM began with just a freshman football team in 1926. Its first game was played on October 23, 1926, a 7–0 win over Rollins College before 304 fans. Under the guidance of head coach Howard P. Buck, the freshman team posted a perfect 8–0 record in its inaugural season. Two of the wins were against the University of Havana, one on Thanksgiving Day in Miami and one at Havana on Christmas Day. Miami's last home game at of the season featured a first: the first Hurricane football game played on New Year's Day against Howard at Miami's University Stadium. Around this time, the team adopted the official nickname "Hurricanes", though the exact timing and origin of the name is unclear; some reports suggest it was in reference to the devastating power of the 1926 hurricane that postponed the program's first game by a month, and others that it was suggested by a player in response to rumors that university officials wanted to name the team after local flora or fauna.
Varsity competition began in 1927, with Miami beating Rollins 39–3 in its first game and going on to a 3–6–1 record. The team improved to 4–4–1 in 1928, but it was not enough for Buck to keep his job, and he was replaced prior to the 1929 season with J. Burton Rix, previously head coach at Southern Methodist. Rix's arrival was funded by a group of local businessmen. That off-season, the program, which competed as an independent during its first two years of existence, joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). 1929 saw Miami play its first varsity road game (a 14–0 loss at Southwest Louisiana), and Rix led the team to its first winning season, going 3–2. His tenure, however, was short-lived; off-campus financing for the program dried up in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, and he resigned after one season.
Ernest Brett replaced Rix, and in 1930, Miami played Temple in its first game outside the South, losing 34–0 to the Owls in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On October 31, 1930, the Hurricanes played in one of the nation's first night games vs. Bowden College in Miami. Brett only lasted one year, and Tom McCann became the program's fourth head coach in 1931.
Under McCann, the football program experienced its most successful seasons to that point. After a difficult first year, Miami put together a winning record in 1932 and served as host to the inaugural Palm Festival (later to be known as the Orange Bowl), defeating Manhattan College 7–0 at Moore Park in Miami. A 5–1–2 campaign and another Palm Festival berth followed in 1933, and in 1934, the program played in its first official bowl game, losing to Bucknell in the first Orange Bowl, 26–0.
In 1935, a group of Miami football supporters sought to hire Red Grange as coach. However, the move was vetoed by President Bowman Foster Ashe, in part because of the $7,500 salary that Grange had requested. Instead Irl Tubbs took over as head coach in 1935, and though Miami compiled an 11–5–2 record in his two seasons, it did not play in a bowl in either year.
After Irl Tubbs resigned following the 1936 season to become head coach at Iowa, Jack Harding was hired to serve as both head football coach and athletic director at Miami.
In 1937, the Hurricanes moved into the brand new Burdine Municipal Stadium (renamed the Orange Bowl in 1959), located west of downtown Miami. The following year, Miami played archrival Florida for the first time, defeating the Gators 19–7 at Florida Field, and won the program's first Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title with an 8–2 record. The Hurricanes, though, left the SIAA just three years later, becoming an independent once again.
Harding led the Hurricanes to eight- and seven- win campaigns in 1941 and 1942, respectively, before he was called away by World War II service. Eddie Dunn, a former star running back at Miami under Harding, stepped into the void and served as head coach during Harding's two-year war service. Though the Hurricanes won five games in Dunn's first season, they faltered in the second, winning just one game against seven losses and a tie.
Fortunes changed with Harding's return in 1945, as the Hurricanes went 9–1–1 and returned to the Orange Bowl for the first time since 1934, defeating Holy Cross 13–6 in a memorable game. With the score tied 6–6 and only seconds remaining, Holy Cross quarterback Gene DeFilippo was intercepted by Miami's Al Hudson at the 11-yard line. Hudson dashed 89 yards the other way for the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Harding's Hurricanes won eight games in 1946, but after the team slipped to 2–7–1 in 1947, he resigned as head coach, but continued as Athletic Director. He hired Andy Gustafson as the new head coach, closing out a nine-year tenure in which Miami went 54–29–3 and won at least 8 games in four different seasons.
One of Andy Gustafson's major innovations at Miami was the "drive series" offense, an option-oriented attack from the Split-T formation that relied on zone blocking and featured either a fullback fake or carry on every play. Under Gustafson's tutelage, Miami produced its first All-American, Al Carapella, in 1950 and went 9–1–1 in 1951, including a 35–13 win in its first-ever game against rival Florida State and a 15–14 loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The following season, Miami won eight games and went to a bowl game in consecutive years for the first time in school history, shutting out Clemson 14–0 in a rematch at the Gator Bowl.
In the middle of the 1954 season, the NCAA imposed two one-year penalties against Miami for providing transportation and tryouts to prospective players. As a result, Gustafson's 1954 squad was ineligible to play in a bowl game, and the 8–1 Hurricanes, whose lone loss came 14–13 at No. 14 Auburn, finished the season ranked ninth in the Coaches' Poll, the first top ten poll finish in school history. Two years later, an 8–1–1 Miami team, led by team captain and All-American Don Bosseler, was under consideration to play in the Sugar Bowl, but the program's bowl-ban was not due to expire until ten days after the game, rendering it ineligible to participate. The team finished the season ranked sixth in both the AP and Coaches' Polls.
In the later years of Gustafson's tenure, two-time All-America quarterback George Mira guided the Hurricanes to berths in the 1961 Liberty Bowl and the 1962 Gotham Bowl, where they lost both games. In 1963, the team struggled to a 3–7 record. Nevertheless, Mira, who set many of the school's passing records during his four years at Miami, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior. Following the season, Gustafson decided to step down as head coach and Charlie Tate, an assistant at Georgia Tech, was hired to replace him. Gustafson has the Hurricane record for most years as head coach (16) and most wins as well (93).
Charlie Tate's first seasons at Miami were uneventful, with the team posting a 4–5–1 record in 1964 and a reverse 5–4–1 record in 1965. 1966 brought the arrival of defensive end Ted Hendricks, the only three-time All-American in school history, and the Hurricanes won eight games, earning a trip to the Liberty Bowl, where they defeated No. 9 Virginia Tech, 14–7. In December 1966, the program was integrated when African-American wide receiver Ray Bellamy signed a letter of intent to play football at the university. Miami returned to bowl play in 1967, dropping the Bluebonnet Bowl to Colorado, 31–21.
The Hurricanes had a 5–5–0 season in 1968 and 4–6–0 in 1969, and Tate resigned as head coach two games into the 1970 season, later citing burn out and fatigue from "fighting the money battle and other battles" as the basis for his decision.
Walt Kichefski, an assistant on Tate's staff, was elevated to interim head coach in the wake of Tate's resignation and coached the team to a 3–8 record in 1970. He was not retained the following season and Fran Curci, a former All-American quarterback under Andy Gustafson, was chosen as the program's new head coach. Curci's 1971 team improved by a game, but rival Florida Gators defeated Miami in a game that came to be known as "the Florida Flop."" With Florida leading 45–8 late in the fourth quarter, the Gator defense allowed Miami to score so that Florida would get the ball back and quarterback John Reaves would have the opportunity to gain the 15 yards he needed to break the NCAA record for career passing yards. 1972 brought another memorable finish for Miami, when the inadvertent gift of a "fifth down" by officials enabled the Hurricanes to edge Tulane in the waning moments of the game for a 24–21 win. Curci left the program at the conclusion of the season and was replaced by Pete Elliot. Elliot, in turn, lasted two seasons and stepped down in 1975 to become Miami's athletic director.
Offensive coordinator Carl Selmer was named the program's fifth head coach in six years. Under Selmer, a trend that started earlier in the decade continued, with home attendance declining every year. After finishing 2–8 in 1975 and 3–8 in 1976, the university fired Selmer, citing concerns about dwindling attendance and the loss of local blue-chip recruits to other schools.
After a national search, Lou Saban, formerly head coach of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, and Boston Patriots, was hired on December 27, 1976, as head coach.
Miami only won three games in 1977, but Saban was able to put together a well-regarded recruiting class that included future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly of East Brady, Pennsylvania. Kelly had been recruited by Penn State as a linebacker and agreed to come to Miami after Saban promised him he would play quarterback. Among the other 30 signees in Saban's first recruiting class were 11 future NFL players.
The Hurricanes improved by three games in Saban's second season and Ottis Anderson emerged as an NFL talent. Anderson became the first Miami running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and led the team in rushing for three straight seasons from 1977 through 1979. Anderson set numerous school rushing records and was Miami's career rushing leader until 2014, when he was overtaken by Duke Johnson.
After just two seasons as head coach, Saban resigned in the wake of a controversy concerning football players throwing a Jewish man into Lake Osceola, an on campus lake. He left after the 1978 season to take the head coaching position at Army. Saban's departure, the constant coaching upheaval Miami experienced during the decade, and assorted fiscal problems sparked the university's Board of Trustees to hold a vote on whether to drop the football program down to the Division I-AA level or eliminate it altogether. University executive vice president Dr. John Green was able to convince the board to give Division I-A football another shot and hired Howard Schnellenberger, offensive coordinator for the NFL's Miami Dolphins, to succeed Saban.
At the outset of his tenure, Howard Schnellenberger announced to his staff and players his intention to win a national championship within five years. His five-year plan had two main priorities: installing a pro-style passing offense and upgrading the talent level on the roster through a new recruiting strategy aimed at retaining the best local talent. To help with the offense, Schnellenberger hired former Baltimore Colts quarterback Earl Morrall as a volunteer quarterbacks coach. On the recruiting front, he spoke of mining the "State of Miami", which entailed fencing off the fertile South Florida recruiting base from other programs and cherry-picking the rest of the nation for a few choice recruits. Schnellenberger also sought to exploit the freedom provided by Miami's independent schedule to gain "intersectional exposure" and make the program "national."
On the field, Miami went 5–6 in Schnellenberger's debut season, which was highlighted by a 26–10 upset win at No. 16 Penn State in which redshirt freshman Jim Kelly threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start as Miami's quarterback. Schnellenberger set a bowl berth as the goal of the 1980 campaign and the team made good on its head coach's expectations, winning nine games and earning a trip to the Peach Bowl, where the Hurricanes defeated Virginia Tech 20–10. The bowl berth was Miami's first since 1967 and the team finished the season ranked eighteenth in both the AP and Coaches' Polls.
Miami continued to improve in 1981, going 9–2 and defeating then-No. 1 Penn State 17–14 in a late-October game at the Orange Bowl. In the season's final game, the Hurricanes topped rival Notre Dame for the first time since 1960, 37–15, finishing the season eighth in the AP Poll. The following season, the team finished with four losses following Kelly's shoulder injury. Entering the 1983 season—the fifth of Schnellenberger's tenure—the program had to find a replacement for the recently graduated Kelly. Ultimately, Schnellenberger chose Bernie Kosar as the team's starting quarterback over fellow redshirt freshman Vinny Testaverde.
The 1983 Miami Hurricanes started the season unranked and lost 28–3 at Florida in their first game, though Kosar tied George Mira's single-game school record of 25 pass completions. The Hurricanes rallied by winning their next 10 games, including a 20–0 early-season shutout of Notre Dame, and earned a berth to the 1984 Orange Bowl to play the undefeated, top-ranked Nebraska team that had both Mike Rozier and Turner Gill. The Orange Bowl-berth was Miami's first since 1951, but the program's first national championship remained a long shot, as the Hurricanes entered the game ranked fifth. Miami got much needed help early on New Year's Day when second-ranked Texas, the nation's other undefeated team, lost in the Cotton Bowl Classic and fourth-ranked Illinois lost in the Rose Bowl.
Behind Kosar's passing, Miami jumped out to a 17–0 lead, but Nebraska battled back and cut Miami's lead to 31–24 in the fourth quarter. With 48 seconds remaining, Nebraska scored a touchdown to make it 31–30 and, being the number one-ranked team in the nation, needed only to kick the extra point to tie the game and put itself in position to win the national championship. Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne elected to go for the win and attempt a two-point conversion instead. On the ensuing play, Miami safety Kenny Calhoun tipped away Gill's pass to receiver Jeff Smith in the end zone, saving the game and winning Miami the national championship when it leap-frogged No. 3 Auburn to finish first in the final polls.
Although Schnellenberger had made good on his five-year plan to win a national championship, he left after the season to accept a head coaching position in the USFL. Two weeks later, athletic director Sam Jankovich hired Jimmy Johnson away from Oklahoma State to fill the vacancy.
One of Jimmy Johnson's immediate priorities upon taking over as Miami head coach was to switch to a 4–3 defense. Johnson wanted to implement the change for his first season, but lacking the time, personnel, and staff, he decided to postpone the switch and kept Schnellenberger's 5–2 defensive package for the 1984 season.
The team struggled to an 8–5 record in Johnson's first season, losing a number of noteworthy games. In the next-to-last game of the regular season, the No. 6 Hurricanes squandered a 31–0 halftime lead against Maryland and lost 42–40 in what was then the biggest comeback in NCAA football history. The following week, Miami lost 47–45 when Boston College's Doug Flutie connected with Gerard Phelan for a 48-yard Hail Mary touchdown on the final play in what has been called the Hail Flutie game. The Hurricanes ended the season on a three-game losing streak by dropping the 1985 Fiesta Bowl to UCLA, 39–37, in a game that featured six lead changes.
During the off-season, Johnson made a number of coaching changes, facilitating the switch to the 4–3 defense, and junior Vinny Testaverde succeeded early-graduate Bernie Kosar at quarterback. The 1985 Hurricanes opened the season with a loss at Florida before winning their next four games, including a 38–0 win over Cincinnati that began a then NCAA-record 58 game home winning streak, heading into a matchup at No. 3 Oklahoma. Facing the nation's top-rated defense, Testaverde amassed 270 yards passing and threw touchdowns to Michael Irvin and Brian Blades, while also running for an additional score, in a 27–14 win over the Sooners. The Hurricanes ascended to number two in the rankings following a 58–7 victory over Notre Dame in the final game of the regular season, earning a trip to the Sugar Bowl to play the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers. With No. 1 Penn State losing to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, Miami was in position to capture its second national championship, but those hopes were dashed with a lopsided 35–7 loss to Tennessee.
Miami opened its 1986 season as the third-ranked team in the country and climbed to number two after winning its first three games, setting up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown at the Orange Bowl against top-ranked and defending national champion Oklahoma. After much pre-game trash-talk between Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth and Miami's Melvin Bratton and Alonzo Highsmith, Testaverde tossed four touchdown passes in a 28–16 win. Testaverde's performance led Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer to remark that he had "never seen a better quarterback" in his 21 years with the Sooners, and at the conclusion of the regular season, Testaverde was awarded the Heisman Trophy with the fifth largest margin of victory in the voting's history. The Hurricanes, having seized the number one ranking with the win over Oklahoma, finished the regular season at 11–0, outscoring their opponents 420–136, and accepted a bid to the 1987 Fiesta Bowl to play No. 2 Penn State. There, the team's "outlaw" image grew when players arrived in Arizona clad in fatigues and Jerome Brown staged a walkout of a pre-game steak fry attended by both teams. Before an estimated television audience of seventy million people, Penn State upset the heavily favored Hurricanes 14–10 to win the national championship, forcing seven turnovers, including Pete Giftopoulus' game-sealing interception of Testaverde in the end zone in the game's final seconds.
Led by Michael Irvin and new quarterback Steve Walsh, the 1987 Miami Hurricanes won the school's second national championship and completed its first undefeated varsity season. The season was highlighted by one of the most memorable games in the history of the Miami – Florida State rivalry. Trailing No. 4 Florida State 19–3 in the third quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium, the Hurricanes rallied to take a 26–19 lead late in the fourth quarter on a 73-yard touchdown pass from Walsh to Irvin. Florida State responded with a touchdown in the final minute, but Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden opted to go for two points and the win rather than kick the extra-point for a tie, and Miami's Bubba McDowell broke up the conversion pass in the end zone to preserve the 26–25 victory. More than 60 players on the combined rosters for the game went on to play in the NFL. The 12–0 campaign was capped by a 20–14 win over the then-No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in an Orange Bowl billed as "The Game of the Century." The win was Miami's third over Oklahoma in the last three seasons, accounting for Oklahoma's only losses during that time period.
The Hurricanes had a then-school record 12 players from the 1987 team selected in the following spring's NFL Draft, including Irvin and Bennie Blades, but with Walsh returning in 1988, the team gained the number one ranking with a season-opening 31–0 shutout of then-No. 1 Florida State at the Orange Bowl. The following week, Miami scored 17 points in the final 5 minutes and 23 seconds to top No. 4 Michigan 31–30 at Michigan Stadium. Hopes of a repeat national championship were dashed, however, in the so-called "Catholics vs. Convicts" game, with Miami dropping an emotional 31–30 loss to eventual-national champion Notre Dame on a failed two-point conversion pass in the final minute.
Johnson left the program in February 1989 to become the head coach of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, ending his tenure at Miami with a 52–9 overall record and a 44–4 mark over his last four seasons.
On September 22, 1984, during halftime at the Miami vs FSU game, a theater student from the University of Miami, Juan Valladares of Hialeah, Florida, threw up what is considered and documented to be the first "U" gang-hand sign in frustration to the fact that Miami, at the time had no real identifiable and unique school identity like the FSU "CHOP" or the Florida Gator "CHOMP" hand signs. The symbolic gesture has become the de facto school symbol and is frequently used to identify the University of Miami. http://www.themiamihurricane.com/2014/11/12/fsu-game-inspired-first-man-to-throw-up-the-u/comment-page-1/ http://umtv.miami.edu/shows/sportsdesk/sportsdesk-4-22-16http://welcome.miami.edu/student-life/index.html
Despite having the support of students, players, and even the Miami police and fire departments, offensive coordinator Gary Stevens was bypassed for the head coaching job and athletic director Sam Jankovich chose Dennis Erickson of Washington State to succeed Jimmy Johnson instead.
In 1989, Erickson became just the second Division I head coach to win a national championship in his first season at a school. Erickson's 1989 team, led by Craig Erickson (no relation) at quarterback, rebounded from a mid-season loss at Florida State and moved back into the national championship picture with a 27–10 win over then-top-ranked Notre Dame in the final regular-season game. Miami's 33–25 win over No. 7 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, combined with No. 1 Colorado's loss to Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, earned the program its third national championship.
Miami entered the following season as the number one team in the country, but a 28–21 upset loss to Ty Detmer and No. 16 BYU in the opener derailed both the team's national championship chances and Craig Erickson's nascent Heisman campaign. Later in the year, the Hurricanes lost to Notre Dame 29–20 in a game dubbed the "Final Conflict", as Notre Dame had decided to discontinue the 27-game rivalry, feeling the intensity of the series had reached an unhealthy level. Miami ended the season with a 46–3 Cotton Bowl Classic victory over No. 3 Texas in the 1991 Cotton Bowl Classic in which the team was penalized a bowl- and school-record 16 times for 202 yards, including nine unsportsmanlike conduct or personal foul penalties. On one play, Randal Hill scored on a 48-yard touchdown reception and continued to sprint out of the end zone and up the Cotton Bowl tunnel, where he then pretended to shoot at the Longhorns with imaginary pistols. The program was widely criticized for its conduct, with Will McDonough of the Boston Globe likening the Cotton Bowl Classic display to a "wilding" and Bill Walsh calling it "the most disgusting thing [he'd] ever seen in college sports." After the season, the NCAA responded with the so-called "Miami Rule", which made it a 15-yard penalty to engage in excessive celebration or flagrant taunting.
Also during the off-season, Miami ended its 48-year status as an independent and joined the Big East Conference.
The 1991 Hurricanes captured the program's fourth national championship in nine years behind quarterback Gino Torretta and a linebacking corps that featured Jessie Armstead and Micheal Barrow. Miami's toughest test came in mid-November at then-No. 1 Florida State in the initial Wide Right game; with the No. 2 Hurricanes leading 17–16 in the final minute of the game, Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas' potential game-winning field goal attempt sailed "wide right" of the uprights. Miami completed the second undefeated season in school history with a 22–0 shutout of No. 11 Nebraska in the 1992 Orange Bowl and finished first in the AP Poll, splitting the national championship with Coaches' Poll champ Washington.
Hurricane Andrew devastated much of South Florida in August 1992, causing the program to relocate its preseason practice sessions north to Dodgertown in Vero Beach. That season, Miami went 11–0 against the second-toughest schedule in the country, topping No. 3 Florida State in Wide Right II and No. 7 Penn State the following week in Beaver Stadium. Meanwhile, Torretta became the second Hurricane to win the Heisman Trophy, throwing for 19 touchdowns and 3,060 yards on the season and setting 11 school passing records during his career. Miami earned a trip to the 1993 Sugar Bowl, where the top-ranked Hurricanes were denied a repeat national championship by No. 2 Alabama, 34–13. The Sugar Bowl loss ended the program's 29-game winning streak, which dated to 1990.
The following two seasons yielded less success. In 1993, Miami lost three games in a season for the first time since 1984, failed to win the Big East for the first time since joining in 1991, and was shut out in the Fiesta Bowl by Arizona, leading some to wonder whether the program was in decline. In 1994, Miami defeated Georgia Southern in the season opener for its 58th consecutive home win, setting an NCAA record; the streak, which began in 1985, was snapped two weeks later when Washington defeated the Hurricanes 38–20 at the Orange Bowl. Led by All-American defensive tackle Warren Sapp and sophomore linebacker Ray Lewis, the team rebounded to earn a berth in the 1995 Orange Bowl, where No. 1 Nebraska outscored Miami 15–0 in the final quarter to win the game, 24–17, and the national championship.
With the threat of NCAA sanctions hovering over the program for a variety of infractions, Erickson stepped down after the 1994 season to become head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. Erickson departed Miami with a 63–9 record over six seasons and the highest winning percentage (.875) and most national championships (2) of any coach in school history.
Several early candidates to replace Dennis Erickson, including former UM defensive coordinator and 1994 Sports Illustrated Coach of the Year Sonny Lubick, withdrew from consideration. Eventually, Miami settled on former Hurricanes assistant and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Butch Davis.
The Hurricanes finished Davis's first season with a record of 8–3, which may have drawn a bowl invitation. However, on December 20, 1995 the NCAA announced that Miami would be subject to severe sanctions for numerous infractions within the athletic department. The Hurricanes were forced to sit out postseason play for the 1995 season and docked 31 scholarships from 1996 to 1998. Miami had actually self-reported the violations in 1991. However, when the Department of Education got word that school officials helped athletes fraudulently obtain Pell Grants, it asked Miami to stop its own investigation while it conducted its own. Ultimately, 60 athletes were implicated, but all of them avoided criminal charges after being sent through a pretrial diversion program.
In 1994, Tony Russell, a former UM academic advisor, pleaded guilty to helping more than 80 student athletes, 57 of whom were football players, falsify Pell Grant applications in exchange for kickbacks from the players themselves. The scandal dated all the way back to 1989 and secured more than $220,000 in federal grant money. Federal officials later said that Russell had engineered "perhaps the largest centralized fraud ... ever committed" in the history of the Pell Grant program.
In late 1995, the NCAA concluded that, in addition to the fraudulent Pell Grants facilitated by Russell, the university had also provided or allowed over $400,000 worth of other, improper payments to Miami football players. The NCAA also found that the university had failed to wholly implement its drug testing program, and permitted three football student-athletes to compete without being subject to the required disciplinary measures specified in the policy. The NCAA found that this was evidence that school officials didn't have adequate control over the football program. Miami docked itself seven scholarships as part of a self-imposed sanction in 1995, and the NCAA took away another 24 scholarships over the next two years. As a result of the scandal, Sports Illustrated's Alexander Wolff wrote a cover story that Miami should at least temporarily shut down its football program. Further, On June 21, 1996, Miami football players broke into the apartment of the captain of Miami's track team and struck him repeatedly. In response, Davis suspended three key players for the coming 1996 season. Davis also suspended two other players who were involved in separate violent incidents.
The imposition of scholarship reductions led to a long and sometimes painful rebuilding period for the Hurricanes.
The low point for Miami came in 1997 when they posted a 5–6 record, the first losing season since Howard Schnellenberger's first year in 1979. The 1997 season saw the Hurricanes suffer one of the program's most humiliating losses, a 47–0 beating at the hands of in-state rival Florida State.
The Hurricanes began to reassert themselves in 1998. In late September, Miami was forced to postpone their game with UCLA due to Hurricane Georges. The game was rescheduled for December 5 and for the #2-ranked Bruins, a trip to the National Championship game was at stake. The Hurricanes rebounded from a 66–13 "caning" at the hands of Syracuse and Donovan McNabb to put up over 600 yards of total offense against UCLA en route to a stunning 49–45 victory for the Hurricanes.
The following season carried high hopes and expectations for the Hurricanes. They opened the year with a 23–12 win over Ohio State in East Rutherford. Early success, however, was tempered by tough losses to Penn State and Florida State during a three-game losing streak. The Hurricanes rebounded to win their last 4 games including a 28–13 win over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.
In 2000, Miami was shut out of the BCS National Championship Game. Despite beating Florida State head-to-head and being ranked higher in both human polls, the Seminoles were chosen to challenge the Oklahoma Sooners for the national championship. The Seminoles were also chosen over Washington, who also had one loss and who had handed Miami its only loss early in the season. Washington had been ranked third or fourth in the human polls, behind Miami. The Hurricanes went into the 2001 Nokia Sugar Bowl as the Big East champions and defeated Florida 37–20. On January 29, 2001, Butch Davis left Miami to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Dee promoted offensive coordinator Larry Coker to be head coach to replace Davis.
Miami started the season with a 33–7, televised win over Penn State in Beaver Stadium. Miami followed up the victory with wins over Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Troy State. After building up a 4–0 record, the Hurricanes defeated Florida State in Doak Campbell Stadium, 49–27, ending the Seminoles' 54-game home unbeaten streak. The Hurricanes then defeated West Virginia, 45–3, and Temple, 38–0, before heading to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College. In the final minute of the fourth quarter, with Miami clinging to a 12–7 lead, Boston College quarterback Brian St. Pierre led the Eagles from their own 30-yard line all the way down to the Hurricanes' 9. With BC on the verge of a momentous upset, St. Pierre attempted a pass to receiver Ryan Read at the Miami 2-yard line. However, the ball deflected off the leg of Miami cornerback Mike Rumph, landing in the hands of defensive end Matt Walters. Walters ran ten yards with the ball before teammate Ed Reed grabbed the ball out of his hands at around the Miami 20-yard line and raced the remaining 80-yards for a touchdown, resulting in an 18–7 Miami victory.
After surviving the scare from Boston College, Miami shutout #14 Syracuse, 59–0, and defeated #12 Washington, 65–7 in the Orange Bowl. The combined 124–7 score set what the Orlando Sentinel described as an NCAA-record for the largest margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents.
The final hurdle to the 2002 Rose Bowl BCS National Championship Game was at Virginia Tech. Miami jumped on Virginia Tech early, leading 20–3 at halftime, and 26–10 in the fourth quarter. But despite being outgained by the Hurricanes by 134 yards and being dominated in time-of-possession, the Hokies never quit. Virginia Tech added a couple of late touchdowns, attempting two-point conversions on each. The first conversion was successful, pulling them to 26–18, but receiver Ernest Wilford dropped a pass from quarterback Grant Noel in the endzone for the second conversion. Still, the resilient Hokies had one more chance to win the game late, taking possession of the ball at midfield and needing only a field goal to take the lead. But a diving, game-saving interception by Ed Reed sealed the Miami victory, 26–24. Defeating Virginia Tech earned the top-ranked Hurricanes an invitation to the Rose Bowl to take on BCS #2 Nebraska for the national championship.
In the Rose Bowl, the Hurricanes took a 34–0 halftime lead and cruised to a 37–14 win over the Huskers to capture their fifth national championship and put the finishing touches on a perfect 12–0 season. The Miami defense shut down Heisman winner Eric Crouch and the vaunted Huskers offense, holding Nebraska 200 yards below its season average. Ken Dorsey and Andre Johnson were named Rose Bowl co-Most Valuable Players.
Six Hurricane players earned All-American status and six players were finalists for national awards, including Maxwell Award winner, Ken Dorsey, and Outland Trophy winner, Bryant McKinnie. Dorsey was also a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing third.
The 2001 Miami Hurricanes are considered by some experts and historians as one of the greatest teams in college football history.
Miami started the 2002 season as the defending national champion and the #1 ranked team in the country. Behind a high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Ken Dorsey, new starting running back Willis McGahee, and a stout defense anchored by Jonathan Vilma, the Hurricanes completed their regular season schedule undefeated. The season was highlighted by a 41–16 win over rival Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the first regular season meeting between the rivals since 1987.
The Hurricanes' toughest test was an October clash against rival Florida State at the Orange Bowl. Miami overcame a 13-point second half deficit to defeat the Seminoles, 28–27. The game was clinched when Florida State kicker Xavier Beitia missed a 43-yard field goal, wide left, as time expired. Another signature win came four weeks later when Miami dominated the Tennessee Volunteers, 26–3, before a crowd of 107,745 at Neyland Stadium, considered one of the most hostile road venues in college football.
Miami would finish 12–0 and clinch a berth in the Fiesta Bowl BCS National Championship Game after a wild 56–45 victory over Virginia Tech in which McGahee rushed for 205 yards and a school-record six touchdowns. Both Dorsey and McGahee were named as finalists for the Heisman Trophy, finishing 4th and 5th, respectively.
Miami, in the midst of a 34-game winning streak, was installed as a 13-point favorite in the Fiesta Bowl match up against #2 Ohio State. The Hurricanes took an early 7–0 lead on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dorsey to Roscoe Parrish, but Ohio State seized control in the second quarter behind an aggressive pass rush, bolstered by constant blitzing, and a stifling rush defense. The Buckeyes held a 14–7 lead at the half, and a field goal by Mike Nugent extended Ohio State's advantage to 17–7 midway through the third quarter.
A touchdown run by McGahee brought the Hurricanes within 3 points, but he suffered a knee injury early in the fourth quarter. Miami was able to fight back and force overtime on a 40-yard field goal by Todd Sievers on the final play of the fourth quarter, aided by several questionable calls. Miami scored a touchdown on its first possession in overtime on a 7-yard pass from Dorsey to Kellen Winslow II, and, on Ohio State's ensuing possession, the Hurricanes appeared to have won the game, 24–17, after Buckeyes quarterback Craig Krenzel's fourth-and-3 pass from the Miami 5 fell incomplete in the end zone. Miami players and coaches rushed the field and stadium fireworks were set off to commemorate the program's apparent sixth national championship.
The celebration proved premature. At the conclusion of the play, Big 12 official Terry Porter threw a flag and made a controversial, pass interference call against Miami cornerback Glenn Sharpe. The penalty took the air out of Miami's sails and gave Ohio State new life, first-and-goal at the 1. The Buckeyes scored a touchdown to tie it at 24–24 at the end of the first overtime, and Maurice Clarett's 5-yard touchdown run in the second overtime gave Ohio State a 31–24 lead.
Miami's ensuing possession saw Dorsey briefly knocked out of the game after a hit from linebacker Matt Wilhelm. After backup quarterback Derrick Crudup completed an 8-yard pass on third down, Dorsey re-entered and converted the crucial fourth-and-3 with a 7-yard completion to Winslow. Miami then drove to the Ohio State 2 yard-line, but was held to one yard on its next three plays, giving Ohio State the national championship.
Miami suffered through some offensive struggles in 2003 behind new quarterback Brock Berlin. A blowout loss at Virginia Tech in early November ended Miami's 39-game regular season winning streak and a loss the following week to Tennessee ended Miami's national championship aspirations. The Hurricanes rebounded to win the Big East Conference championship and finish the season 11–2 with an 2004 Orange Bowl victory over Florida State.
Miami joined the ACC in 2004 and despite 3 conference losses, the Hurricanes ended the season with a Peach Bowl victory over rival Florida.
The 2005 season marked the debut of Kyle Wright as Miami's starting quarterback, although the much-ballyhooed Wright would struggle with consistency during the season with much of Miami's success that year fueled by its defense. After a loss to Florida State after placekick holder Bryan Monroe bobbled the snap for what would have been a game-tying field goal attempt, Miami would win eight straight games, including a road win over 3rd-ranked Virginia Tech, only to stumble two weeks later against underdog Georgia Tech. Miami's second conference loss of the season cost it a place in the inaugural ACC Championship game and it competed instead in the Peach Bowl, where it lost to LSU, 40–3.
2005 also saw the program embroiled in more controversy when it was reported several Miami football players had recorded a rap song in 2004 that contained lewd sexual references. The song, recorded by an informal group that called itself "7th Floor Crew" and set to the beat of Aaliyah's "If Your Girl Only Knew", received much criticism in outlets such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Following the negative publicity, the University issued a statement condemning its lyrical content.
The 2006 season included an on-field brawl against Florida International, the shooting death of Miami defensive tackle Bryan Pata, and a four-game late-season losing streak. Only a Thanksgiving night victory over Boston College, in Miami's last game of the regular season, saved the Hurricanes from a losing regular season record.
The day following the Boston College victory, university president Donna Shalala terminated Coker. Coker coached through the postseason, where he won his final game, a 21–20 victory over Nevada on December 31, 2006 in the MPC Computers Bowl.
After a search that lasted two weeks, defensive coordinator and Miami alumnus Randy Shannon was officially introduced as the program's new head coach on December 8, 2006. Shannon reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth over $4 million. As of November 2010, Shannon's .553 career winning record is the worst of any University of Miami coach in four decades.
Shannon's first year as UM head coach in 2007 was one of the worst in the Hurricanes' modern history, with the team registering a losing 5–7 record. Under Shannon, the team failed to reach a bowl game for the first time in a decade, and it was the first non-penalized full-scholarship team to miss a bowl game in more than 25 years.
Media draft experts considered the freshmen on the 2008 team to be one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. The 2008 regular season was highlighted by losses to rivals Florida and Florida State, as well as an upset victory over Virginia Tech. The 26–3 loss to Florida was Miami's first in that series since 1985, snapping a 6-game winning streak against the Gators. Afterwards, the tension between the two teams was heightened when Shannon accused Florida coach Urban Meyer of trying to run up the score with an unsuccessful deep pass into the end zone in the game's final minute. The visiting Hurricanes were 22½ point underdogs in the nationally televised game but only trailed 9–3 heading into the fourth quarter, leading some to wonder whether Meyer was trying to compensate for his team's unimpressive performance.before kicking a field goal with :25 remaining." Miami was knocked out of ACC Championship contention with a late-season loss to Georgia Tech in which the Hurricanes surrendered the second-most rushing yards in school history (472). The Hurricanes finished the 2008 season at 7–6 after a 24–17 loss to California in the Emerald Bowl.
After the 2008 season, Shannon fired offensive coordinator Patrick Nix, citing philosophical differences. Also, starting quarterback Robert Marve left the team because he claimed not to be able to play for Coach Shannon. Shannon placed strict restrictions on Marve's potential transfer destinations and received much criticism in the media. However, the University of Miami claimed in a press release that the restrictions were set because of suspected tampering by Marve's family or others on behalf of the Marve family.
Shannon's staff suffered more upheaval when defensive coordinator Bill Young left to assume the same position at Oklahoma State, his alma mater, in late January 2009. North Carolina assistant John Lovett was hired to replace him.
Shannon hired former Philadelphia Eagles offensive assistant Mark Whipple as Miami's new offensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Several Miami offensive players from the 2008 season returned, including quarterback Jacory Harris, both starting running backs, most of the offensive line and its top six receivers. Shannon has been able to recruit a number of Southern Florida's top high school football players by telling them that they would be able to play immediately. In fact, 21 true freshmen played during the 2008 season opener.
The 2009 season began on a poor note after two back up quarterbacks, Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith both transferred out during fall practice, leaving the young Hurricane team with only one serviceable backup in true freshman A.J. Highsmith. Sophomore Jacory Harris directed the newly implemented offense. To make matters worse, starting defensive end Adewale Ojomo suffered a broken jaw in a locker room fight that led to a season-ending injury, causing the already young Hurricane team to go into their season short handed.
Miami faced adifficult schedule to start the 2009 season with visits to #18 Florida State, a home game against #15 Georgia Tech, a visit to Lane Stadium and the #7 Virginia Tech Hokies and a home visit from the defending Big 12 Conference champions and BCS Champion runner-ups in #3 University of Oklahoma. Some national media outlets and sites such as ESPN predicted at best a 2–2 record for the Hurricanes with some even predicting an 0–4 start.
Miami opened up their 2009 season against their rival the Florida State Seminoles on Labor Day night for a national broadcast for ESPN. Billed as a "Battle of Rebuilding Programs", Quarterback Jacory Harris led a heroic comeback in Tallahassee to beat the then ranked Seminoles 38–34, overcoming a late interception and apparent injury to Harris in the 4th quarter. The next week, Miami welcomed the triple option offense of the #14 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in yet another ESPN prime-time game. Georgia Tech came in hot off of a big ACC win against Clemson University the previous week and held a 4–0 record against the Hurricanes in the last 4 years, including the previous years pounding in Atlanta (referenced above). The 2009 contest would be a different story all together, as the Hurricanes handily beat the Jackets 33–17 at home and allowed only 95 rushing yards in the process. The next week, with the Hurricanes in the national spotlight for the first time in 5 years, the #9 Miami team visited the #11 Virginia Tech Hokies. In pouring rain, Tech defeated the Hurricanes by a final score of 31–7. Beat up and embarrassed, Miami then played the Oklahoma Sooners. Without Heisman Award winner Sam Bradford, Oklahoma took an early 10–0 lead after two early Jacory Harris interceptions. Going into halftime, the Hurricanes trailed the Sooners 10–7 in a highly contested football game. Miami came out for the second with a huge hit on the kick off team by Cory Nelms that forced the Sooners to start inside their own 20. The following play, Sophomore Corner Brandon Harris hit Oklahoma Quarterback Landry Jones and forced a fumble that eventually led to a Hurricane touchdown. The momentum stayed with the Hurricanes as they rode to a 21–20 win over the #8 team in the land. Following the opening four weeks, Miami was 3–1 and was the talk of sports stations nationwide.
Following the gauntlet first third of the season, the Hurricanes won against Florida A&M at home and on the road against UCF, moving all the way up to #10 in the polls. The Canes then had to take on the always tough Clemson Tigers in Miami in what was a contest of speed and athleticism. Turnovers, missed opportunities and stand-out back CJ Spiller led the Tigers to a 40–37 overtime win against the Hurricanes, knocking them out of BCS contention and putting the ACC Championship Game in serious jeopardy. A win against Wake Forest on Halloween kept the Hurricanes in the conference race, which they followed up on with a 52–17 defeat of the University of Virginia in Miami. The next week UNC topped Miami 33–24 with an unimpressive performance by Jacory Harris and the offense. Miami finished up the 2009 regular season with back-to-back wins over Duke and in-state rival USF. Miami's final record was 9–3, finishing in 3rd place for the ACC Coastal Division behind Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
The announcement of the 2009 bowl selections stirred some controversy. Instead of choosing the 3rd best team in the ACC (Miami), the Gator Bowl chose the Florida State Seminoles to represent the ACC against the West Virginia University instead of the Hurricanes because of the retirement of legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden. The Hurricanes were relegated to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando to play against the 9–3 Wisconsin Badgers. Though the Hurricanes were heavy favorites coming into the contest, the Badgers beat up on the Hurricanes consistently throughout the game. Though the Hurricanes started off fast with a big return to open the game by Sam Shields, the Canes just could not maintain any offense throughout the game and had no answer for the power offense of Wisconsin. Going into halftime, the Hurricanes trailed 17–7 and Graig Cooper blew out his knee on the poor turf just before halftime on a kick off return. Though Miami scored a late touchdown and recovered the onside kick, they fell to Wisconsin 20–14 and finished the season at 9–4.
After the 2009 season, Shannon signed the #13 recruiting class in the nation according to ESPN. Shannon addressed many depth issues including offensive line, line backers and running backs, however the media claimed that the staff missed out on several of the more highly touted recruits on signing day, including a couple of "5 star" players. Coaching changes were made before and after signing day, including the departure of defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt to the University of Louisville and the loss of running backs coach Tommie Robinson to the Arizona Cardinals. Shannon replaced them with former Hurricane and current University of Kentucky defensive line coach Rick Petri as well as running back coach Mike Cassano from Florida International University. Subsequently, Shannon has named wide-receiver coach Aubry Hill as the recruiting coordinator for the program. In May 2010, the university extended Shannon's employment contract as head coach through 2014.
The Hurricanes finished the 2010 regular season with a 7–5 record which included losses to rivals Florida State and Virginia Tech as well as the first ever loss to in-state opponent USF in the last game of the season. Shannon was fired by Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt within hours of the loss to USF. Interim head coach Jeff Stoutland, who was offensive line coach under Shannon, led the team into its Sun Bowl matchup versus Notre Dame; the Hurricanes lost the New Year's Eve game 33–17.
Following Shannon's release, Miami hired Temple University head coach Al Golden as their new head coach, on December 13, 2010.
Golden posted a 6-6 record in his first year at Miami. It was only the third time, since 1979, that the program had failed to register a winning record.
In his second season as head coach, the Hurricanes finished with a 7-5 mark. This resulted in a three way tie, with North Carolina and Georgia Tech, for the best record in the ACC coastal division. North Carolina, which had defeated the Hurricanes earlier in the season, would have been declared the coastal division champion based on the ACC tie breaker formula. However, due to NCAA sanctions, they were ineligible for postseason play. Miami finished in second place based on the formula. However, due to likely pending NCAA sanctions from the Nevin Shapiro scandal, the university's administration preemptively chose to forego post-season play for the second consecutive year. Had they played, it would have marked their only appearance in the ACC championship game, since joining the conference, in 2004. It would also have set up a rematch with Florida State, who had defeated the Hurricanes earlier in the season.
In October 2013, after a two and a half year investigation, the NCAA announced that "the committee acknowledged and accepted the extensive and significant self-imposed penalties by the university." Therefore, no further bowl ban would be enforced. As a result, Miami was eligible to compete in ACC championship and BCS bowls for the 2013–14 season. However, the NCAA stripped Miami of nine scholarships over three years.
On October 25, 2015, following a 58-0 loss to Clemson, the worst defeat in school history, the university's athletic director, Blake James, announced Golden had been terminated. Golden was 32-25 in his five seasons at Miami and led the program to bowl games in 2013 and 2014.
Mark Richt was hired as the program's 24th head football coach on December 4, 2015. Richt was previously the head coach at the University of Georgia football program from 2001 to 2015. On December 28, 2016, Richt led the Hurricanes to their first bowl win in 10 years, when they defeated the 16th ranked West Virgina Mountaineers in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl 31-14.
# Came with Mark Richt from the University of Georgia.
Miami plays its home games at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, located approximately 21 mi (34 km) north of the university's main Coral Gables campus. The stadium also serves as home to the Miami Dolphins of the NFL and was also home to Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins until 2011. From 1937 through 2007, the team played its home games at the Orange Bowl, located in the Little Havana section of Miami. In the late 2000s, the City of Miami, the owner of the Orange Bowl, proposed to extensively renovate it. However, those plans fell by the wayside as the city focused on keeping the Marlins baseball team in town, forcing the university to threaten a move to Dolphin Stadium if a plan to renovate the stadium was not in place within 45 days. When the city could not deliver on a renovation plan, the University's Board of Trustees, on the recommendation of UM President Donna Shalala, approved the shift to Dolphin Stadium on August 21, 2007.
At its inception, the program played at Tamiami Park and, later, Moore Park before moving to the then Burdine Stadium in 1937.
The team practices on-campus at the Greentree Practice Fields, which were named the College Football Field of the Year by the SportsTurf Managers Association in 2007. The Hecht Athletic Center, also located on-campus, serves as the program's training facility and is home to the football offices. In November 2010 the university announced a gift of five million dollars from the Ted and Todd Schwartz family foundation that would be used to build the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence. The facility will cater to over 400 student athletes on the campus with a sports medicine facility, training room, and academic center. The facility will also have features specifically designed for the football team. A locker room and players lounge for football players will be a part of the facility, as will a gallery of champions and a dedicated area to the football team's ring of honor. The building is an expansion of the current Hecht Athletic Center.
The 2006 NFC Champion Chicago Bears used the football team's training facilities while preparing for Super Bowl XLI. The other team, AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts, used the Miami Dolphins Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida.
Conference Affiliations1927–1928: Independent
1929–1941: Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1991–2003: Big East Conference
2004–present: Atlantic Coast Conference
The following ten Miami players and coaches have been or will be inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame:
Miami also has two of the longest winning streaks in NCAA Division I history. From 2000 to 2003, Miami won 34 consecutive games, tying for sixth all-time. The streak started on September 23, 2000 with a 47–10 victory at West Virginia and ended on January 3, 2003 with a 31–24 double overtime loss to Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. Miami also won 29 straight games from October 27, 1990 to January 1, 1993, good for thirteenth on the all-time list. That streak was snapped when the top-ranked Hurricanes were upset by second-ranked Alabama, 34–13 in the 1993 Sugar Bowl.
Miami owns the record for the longest home winning streak in NCAA history, winning 58 straight games at the Orange Bowl. The record streak began with a 38–0 shutout victory over Cincinnati on October 12, 1985 and ended with a 38–20 loss to Washington on September 24, 1994. The 58 game streak includes three Orange Bowl victories where Miami was the away team because of the Orange Bowl's tie to the Big 8 conference.
In addition to its own lengthy winning streaks, Miami has snapped four streaks of 20 games or more in its history. The only other school to snap four winning streaks of 20 or more games is Princeton. In the 1984 Orange Bowl, Miami ended top-ranked Nebraska's 22-game winning streak and won its first national championship with a 31–30 victory. The Hurricanes halted top-ranked Oklahoma's 20-game streak and won their second national championship when they defeated the Sooners, 20–14, in the 1988 Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes ended top-ranked Notre Dame's 23-game winning streak with a 27–10 win on November 25, 1989. Miami also ended the 20-game winning streak of UCLA when Miami defeated the third-ranked Bruins 49–45 on December 5, 1998.Consecutive wins: 34, 2000–02
Consecutive regular season wins: 39, 2000–03
Consecutive road wins: 20, 1984–86
Consecutive games without being shut out: 188, 1979–94
Consecutive shutouts of opponent: 4, 1926, 1936, 1941
Consecutive games without a tie score: 345, 1966–95 (NCAA adopted tiebreaker in 1996)
Most first round selections (single draft): 6, 2004
Most consecutive years with first round draftee: 14, 1995–2008
Most consecutive years having the most first round selections: 4, 2001–2004
Miami has played in 38 bowl games, going 19–19. Its most common bowl destination has been the Orange Bowl, where the 'Canes have appeared 9 times and compiled a 6–3 record. Miami's most common opponent in bowl play has been Nebraska. The schools have met six times in bowl play, with the Hurricanes having a 4–2 record against the Cornhuskers.
Miami's traditional rivals are Florida State and Florida. Since 2002, the Florida Cup has been awarded to the team that finishes with the best head-to-head record in years where Miami, Florida, and Florida State all face each other. Five Florida Cups have been awarded, with Miami winning the first three.
Miami also had heated rivalry with Notre Dame through 1990.
Miami also has a rivalry with Nebraska. See Nebraska-Miami football rivalry
The rivalry dates to 1951, when the Hurricanes defeated the Seminoles 35–13 in their inaugural meeting. The schools have played every year since 1966, with Miami holding the all-time advantage, 31–29. Upon the conclusion of their 2003 regular-season schedules, the teams represented their respective conferences in the 2004 FedEx Orange Bowl (Miami being the champions of the Big East, and Florida State being the champions of the ACC). Miami won the bowl game 16–14; it was the only time the schools have met in post-season football play. The 60 meetings between the teams of FSU and Miami eclipsed the rivalry between the Hurricanes and the Gators (from the University of Florida) following their 2010 game; the series of games between UM and Florida is Miami's second-longest at 55 games.
During the 1980s and '90s, the series emerged as one of the premier rivalries in college football. Between 1983 and 2002, the Hurricanes and Seminoles combined to win 7 national championships and play in 14 bowl games with a national championship at stake. The 1988 game starred 57 future NFL pros on the combined rosters. Since 2004, the year Miami left the Big East Conference to join the expanded 12-member Atlantic Coast Conference, the universities have been conference foes, though they are placed in separate divisions within the conference. This alignment creates the potential for the two teams to meet for a second time in the ACC Championship Game, should each win their respective divisions in any particular season. Such a rematch has yet to happen after 9 years of ACC Championship Games, as of 2013.
The series has consistently drawn very high television ratings with the 2006 Miami–Florida State game being the most-watched college football game—regular-season or postseason—in ESPN history, and the 2009 and 1994 meetings being the second- and fifth-most watched regular season games, respectively.
Miami's rivalry with Florida dates back to 1938, making it the oldest rivalry among Florida's "Big Three" of Miami, Florida, and Florida State. The Hurricanes defeated the Gators, 19–7, in the first meeting between the geographic rivals. The Seminole War Canoe was carved in 1955 out of a cypress struck by lightning and was given to the winner of the annual football game. The canoe is meant to symbolize the fighting spirit of the Seminole people that is often on display during games between the Hurricanes and Gators. The canoe is now on permanent display at the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame on the Coral Gables campus.
Miami holds the edge in the all-time series with a 29–26 record against Florida. The two schools met every year from 1944 until 1987, but have not played regularly since then. Florida canceled the annual series after the 1987 season, when the requirement of the Southeastern Conference for member schools to play eight conference games induced the University of Florida to fill out the non-conference portion of its schedule with teams that do not require a home-and-home arrangement, except for Florida State.
From 1986 to 2003, Miami won all six of the games between the schools, including victories in the 2001 Sugar Bowl and the 2004 Peach Bowl. Florida snapped its 23-year drought against Miami with a 26–3 win over the Hurricanes in 2008. The last game between the two was September 7, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium, Miami won 21-16. The two teams are slated to meet again during the opening weekend of the 2019 college football season at the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando, Florida.
While not the most regular rivalry for either school, Notre Dame's games with Miami, dubbed by Irish fans in the late 1980s as "Catholics vs. Convicts" still stand out as one of the most heated feuds in college football history, which included a 58-7 blow out by the Hurricanes in 1985 and a failed Jimmy Johnson two-point conversion attempt to go for the win instead of tying the game in 1988. After not meeting for two decades, the schools faced each other in the 2010 Sun Bowl, with Notre Dame prevailing 33–17. The Fighting Irish hold a 18–7–1 edge. Miami and Notre Dame renewed their regular season rivalry at Soldier Field on Saturday, October 6, 2012, with Notre Dame winning 41-3. They are scheduled to play at Notre Dame in 2016 and in Miami in 2017. The teams meet again in South Bend in 2024 and in Miami during the 2025 season.Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
Howard Schnellenberger – 1983
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award
Larry Coker – 2001
Randy Shannon – 2001
Touchdown Tommy is the cannon that is fired off when the team runs out of the tunnel, after every point that the Hurricanes score, and the conclusion of a victory. The cannon is kept by the Sigma Chi fraternity's Cannon Master and fired off during the games by the senior brothers of Sigma Chi. Touchdown Tommy is the third oldest tradition at the University of Miami, after the Iron Arrow Honor Society and Sebastian the Ibis.
One of the Hurricanes' best-known traditions is the team's entrance scene. The team enters the field through a large cloud of white smoke billowing from its entrance tunnel, amid a tape of a hurricane blasting over the sound system. The smoke comes from fire extinguisher exhaust that billows from a series of pipes welded together by school transportation director Bob Nalette in the 1950s. The pipes were moved to Sun Life Stadium when the Hurricanes moved there in 2008.
Following Miami's rise to prominence in the 1980s, many high school, college and NFL teams over the last 25 years have copied this practice, and in 2001 ABC made a parody of it for a Saturday college football commercial.
In 1997, the university established the 'Ring of Honor' as a way to honor outstanding players who have passed through the Hurricane football program. Members are selected by an anonymous advisory committee, the director of athletics and the head football coach. The names and jersey numbers of the inductees were displayed on the upper deck of the Orange Bowl (which has since been torn down). The inaugural class of included Jim Dooley, Ted Hendricks, George Mira, and Vinny Testaverde. These four players are the only ones in the history of the program to have their numbers retired by the university as well. Vinny Testaverde's number was taken out of retirement for the 2015–2016 football season, at Testaverde's behest. His son currently wears #14.
A second group of players consisting of Ottis Anderson, Don Bosseler, Bernie Kosar, and Burgess Owens was inducted in 1999. After a nine-year hiatus, five new players were added in 2008: Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Jim Otto, former Heisman Trophy-winner Gino Torretta, running back Edgerrin James, and defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy.
In 2009, College Football Hall of Fame defensive back Bennie Blades, running back and former Miami head coach Eddie Dunn, and quarterback Steve Walsh were inducted.
Many Miami players go on to play in the National Football League. The school holds multiple NFL draft related records: most first-round draft picks in a two-year period (11, 2003–2004); most first-round draft picks in a three-year period (15, 2002–2004); and most first-round picks in a four-year period (19, 2001–2004). From 1995 through 2008, Miami set an NFL Draft record by having at least one player selected in the first round of 14 consecutive drafts. The Hurricanes once had a streak of 149 consecutive regular season weeks where a former Hurricane scored a touchdown in an NFL game; the streak started in Week 15 of the 2002 NFL regular season and ended in Week 11 of the 2011 season. During the streak, 33 different former Hurricanes scored touchdowns and a total of 661 touchdowns were scored. Setting a new record for most players from one school, eleven former Hurricanes were selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl, which happened to take place at Miami's Sun Life Stadium.
Of the program's last six head coaches, three have gone directly on to head coaching positions in the NFL:Jimmy Johnson – Dallas Cowboys (NFL)
Dennis Erickson – Seattle Seahawks (NFL)
Butch Davis – Cleveland Browns (NFL)
Howard Schnellenberger resigned as the Hurricanes head coach in order to become part owner and coach of Miami's first USFL franchise to be named "The Spirit of Miami." It did not materialize, and he took the head coaching position at the University of Louisville. (Schnellenberger would eventually end his coaching career at another South Florida school, Florida Atlantic University.)
The University of Miami has also experienced some degree of controversies, scandals and incidents which at times have led to NCAA sanctions, suspensions, and negative publicity for the university. These include a situation in 1978 where three players threw a man into a lake precipitating the resignation of coach Lou Saban, the 1991 Cotton Bowl Classic unsportsmanlike conduct giving rise to the so-called "Miami Rule", the 1995 Pell Grant scandal, and the 2005 "7th Floor Crew" rap song, described above.
2 Live Crew member Luther Campbell was alleged to have been behind what was referred to as a "pay-for-play" system, which involved cash rewards for acts such as scoring touchdowns and big hits, although Campbell has never donated directly to the University of Miami or its athletics department.
On October 14, 2006, in the first meeting of cross-town programs, Miami and the Florida International Golden Panthers brawled after a PAT.
FIU cornerback Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Perelli to the ground after the kick and appeared to punch him in the chin. Another FIU cornerback, Marshall McDuffie, Jr., kicked Perelli in the head. Miami's Anthony Reddick swung his helmet at FIU players and Miami's Brandon Meriweather kicked an FIU player. FIU's A'Mod Ned, who was injured, came onto the field and swung at Miami players with his crutches. The fight lasted just over one minute before the coaches of both teams were able to separate the players. Florida Highway Patrol state troopers and City of Miami police arrived on the field as the fight was going on and remained a visual presence on the sidelines and in the stands to prevent further fighting. The game was delayed approximately 15 to 20 minutes as the officials attempted to sort out which players were ejected and what, if any, penalty yards needed to be enforced.
The next day, 31 players from both schools were punished–18 from FIU, 13 from Miami; the Miami players were handed one-game suspensions, while the FIU players were suspended for the remainder of the season. Three Miami players were suspended indefinitely and the rest were also assigned community service work.
A Ponzi schemer, convicted felon and former Miami booster, Nevin Shapiro, claimed he used investor funds to finance donations to the University of Miami's athletic program and gave an estimated $2 million in illegal benefits to at least 72 current or former football and basketball players and coaches from 2002–2010. A Yahoo! Sports report alleged that Shapiro, through his donations, violated at least four major NCAA bylaws.
During the investigation of the allegations, the university self-imposed a ban on bowl participation. In October 2013, the NCAA announced that the university would lose three football scholarships in each of the next three seasons, but there would be no further bowl ban. The university became eligible again for bowl participation as of the 2013–14 season.
In 2009, Miami-based media studio Rakontur released a documentary film called The U, as part of ESPN's 30 for 30 film series. The film depicts the rise of the University of Miami's football tradition throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. According to the filmmaker, the university chose not to be involved in the project, and denied access to coach Randy Shannon, Paul Dee and Tad Foote, the former president of the university. The film features the rise of the UM football program in the 1980s, but also includes details related to player crime and drug usage and privileges provided to players, including Luther Campbell's "pay for play", in which the rap star reportedly paid UM players for major hits and plays. The film addresses the controversial and pioneering nature of the UM football program. The film was pre-screened on campus on December 10, 2009 with only two student athletes attending and televised two days later on ESPN. The film became the network's most watched documentary program. The U Part 2 was also created to depict the rise and once again fall of their football program.
Announced schedules as of January 17, 2016(P5) Is to denote if a schools is a Power 5 Conference/Notre Dame opponent, which starting in 2017 the ACC will require members to play.
(FCS) Is for Football Championship Subdivision Teams.
The ACC plays an eight-game conference schedule, with four non-conference games to schedule a year. This is Miami's future scheduled non-conference opponents, subject to change.