College football all-time power rankings: The 30 best programs ever

Dabo Swinney and Nick SabanDabo Saban 2
Dabo Swinney and Nick SabanDabo Saban 2 /
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(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

6. Miami Hurricanes

  • All-Time Record: 633–363–19 (.633)
  • All-Time Bowl Record: 19–22 (.463)
  • National Championships: 5
  • Conference Championships: 9
  • Consensus All-Americans: 35
  • Heiman Winners: 2

The Miami Hurricanes are one of the legendary college football programs of the modern era. The Hurricanes carved a reputation for churning out NFL stars. Miami has the record for most first-round draft picks in a single NFL draft and the most consecutive years with at least one first-round draft pick. These records and a host of others almost did not happen.

When Lou Saban left Miami for Army in 1978, the program was in a fiscal mess. In 1979 the board of trustees at the university was going to vote to either eliminate the program or go down to Division 1-AA. Executive vice president Dr. John Green convinced the board to give 1-A football another chance and hired Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Howard Schnellenberger to be the head coach. Schnellenberger promised a national championship in five years. The former Bear Bryant disciple delivered.

In 1983, Schnellenberger’s fifth and final season, the Hurricanes went 11-1, winning the national championship, defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers when Huskers’ head coach Tom Osborne decided to go for a two-point conversion and the win instead of the extra point and the tie. When Schnellenberger left for the USFL, Miami looked to Oklahoma State coach Jimmy Johnson to lead the ‘Canes.

Like his predecessor, Johnson would only coach five seasons. During those five seasons, Johnson would go 52-9 and win another national title. Johnson would also coach Miami’s first Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde. Johnson’s last three seasons would entrench the Hurricanes as one of the country’s elite programs going 34-2 during that time.

After Johnson became the second coach to leave for professional football, the ‘Canes hired Dennis Erickson, who also stayed just five seasons. Erickson would win 63 games, coach the Hurricanes’ second Heisman Trophy winner — Gino Toretta — and win two national titles before leaving to coach the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.

It’s All About The U! (and new Miami shirts, jerseys and hats at Fanatics)

Larry Coker would win the Hurricanes’ last national title in 2001. Miami’s style of play caused a paradigm shift in college football. While many teams valued strength and size, the Hurricanes put a premium on speed everywhere on the field. When teams could not catch the Hurricanes, this caused many other teams to adopt the same philosophy on speed.