The Miami Hurricanes have won five National Championships and had a shot at six more going into the Bowl games in various years. How would a four-team college football playoff have affected Miami during their two championships eras?
The Miami Hurricanes won their first National Title with arguably the biggest upset in College Football History. The Hurricanes were a double-digit point spread to what at the time was being billed as the greatest team in college football history over 30 years before the College Football Playoff.
The Hurricanes went on to four more national titles. Jimmy Johnson finally won his first in his fourth season in 1987, Dennis Erickson succeeded Johnson and won the title in his first season in 1989 and added a second in 1991 and Larry Coker won the title in his first season in 2001 after succeeding Butch Davis.
The irony of the college football playoff is if it was in effect in 1983, the Hurricanes might not have won their first title until 1987. They had chances in 1985 and ’86. How would a BCS Championship or College Football Playoff have affected the Hurricanes during those and many other seasons ranked among the Nation’s elite?
They were ranked fifth in the polls going into Bowl season. Nebraska was 12-0 and number one. Texas was 11-0 and headed to the Cotton Bowl.
Miami was one of seven teams with one loss. Four of those teams were ranked between three and six with one loss and no ties. Auburn and Illinois had multiple wins over teams that were ranked in the top ten at the time they played. The Hurricanes had wins over then number 12 West Virginia and then number 13 Notre Dame.
Auburn and Illinois would have likely gotten the third and fourth bids to the playoff. If it had been the BCS era, Nebraska and Texas would have played for the National Championship. As it was in 1983, the Big Ten (Illinois) and Pac Ten Champions (UCLA) went to the Rose Bowl, the Big Eight (Nebraska) Champion to the Orange, the SEC Champion (Auburn) to the Sugar and the Old Southwest Conference Champion (Texas) to the Cotton.
The ACC Champion and Independents at the time like Miami, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Penn State could choose which bowls to play in during their best seasons. It was often predicated on the highest-ranked team. The teams would usually commit before the end of the season. This caused Miami to not be able to play Colorado in the 1990 Orange Bowl Game.
As the leagues and Bowl games continued to evolve, so did the matchups. Did the evolution of determining a true national champion help or hurt Miami? Many would say the first true national championship matchup at the end of a season was the 1987 Fiesta Bowl Between Miami and Penn State.