Miami Hurricanes former HC Howard Schnellenberger social media tributes extensive

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 1981:(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 1981:(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images) /

The death of legendary head coach Howard Schnellenberger was felt throughout the Miami Hurricanes athletic program with tributes pouring in across social media from alums, fans and the media. Schnellenberger passed away on Saturday at the age of 87. The Miami Hurricanes hired Schnellenberger in 1979.

The Miami football program was on the verge of being eliminated or downgraded to Division I-AA (now FCS) when Schnellenberger was hired. Schnellenberger led the Hurricanes to a 9-3 record and victory in the Peach Bowl over Virginia Tech in his second season in 1981. Two years later Miami won a national championship.

Tributes for Schellenberger ranged from current Miami head coach Manny Diaz to former Hurricane Alonzo Highsmith to local media personalities. Schnellenberger was a larger-than-life legend in Miami sports history. National media personality Dan LeBetard stated it best declaring Schnellenberger on the Miami Mount Rushmore.

Miami finished 41-16 in four seasons with Schnellenberger as the head coach. Declaring the State of Miami, a virtual 30-mile fence around South Florida, Schnellenberger focused recruiting locally and set the blueprint for how Miami could win at a high level. The Miami dynasty doesn’t happen without Schnellenberger.

Schnellenberger was the patriarch of the Miami Hurricanes football program. When he left for the USFL and a $3 million per year contract after the 1983 championship season, Jimmy Johnson succeded Schnellenberger and after an 8-5 inaugural season, Johnson led Miami to a 44-4 record over the next four seasons.

The legacy of Schnellenberger will live on with Miami forever. Schnellenberger was the coach of former Miami Hurricanes quarterback and head coach Mark Richt. Richt was succeeded by Manny Diaz. The Schnellenberger coaching tree lives on at Miami. Diaz and Richt both paid tribute to Schnellenberger.

Another former Schnellenberger player who paid tribute was Highsmith. Highsmith had 74 rushing yards during the 1983 regular season but added seven carries for 50 yards and a touchdown in the 31-30 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for Miami to claim the 1983 national championship.

The legacy of Schnellberger remains in Miami today not only with Diaz as the head coach but his approach to making recruiting the best players in South Florida a priority. College football has drastically changed since then, but the presence of Schnellenberger remains. Miami athletic director Blake James paid tribute.

Local media and celebrities also paid tribute to Schnellenberger. Some perspective was added that although Schnellenberger won one national championship at Miami, the other four do not happen without his vision. Johnson and Dennis Erickson had Hall of Fame coaching careers because of the foundation set by Schnellenberger.

Some local media personalities paid tribute to the impact Schnellenberger had on Miami and South Florida not just on the football field. Miami became a national brand because of the exposure the football team received after winning its first national championship in 1983.

The one travesty is that Schnellenberger was never indicated into the College Football Hall of Fame during his life because his 158-151-3 record and .514 career winning percentage did not reach the standard of the .600 winning percentage needed to be inducted. Schnellenberger was far beyond his record.

Next. Miami legend Howard Schnellenberger dies at 87. dark

After leaving Miami, Schnellenberger revived the football program at Louisville and created one at Florida Atlantic. Not many coaches are the patriarchs at three different football programs. The tributes came from all over the country, but the testimonials from Hurricanes, Cardinals and Owls communities were the most prevalent.