Jimmy Johnson built Hall of Fame career with Miami football program

Aug 5, 2017; Canton, OH, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 5, 2017; Canton, OH, USA; Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Prior to succeeding Howard Schnellenberger after the 1983 National Championship, Jimmy Johnson was 29-25 in five seasons at Oklahoma State. Johnson became a College Football Hall of Fame coach with the Miami football program that laid the foundation for his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, Johnson will be inducted this weekend. The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies were canceled in 2020 because of COVID. Johnson 52-9 in five seasons coaching the Miami football program. Miami 44-4 in the final four seasons under Johnson.

Schnellenberger set the foundation for a college football dynasty the Miami football program had for most of the era from 1983-2002. The Hurricanes won five national championships in those 20 seasons. The first four occurred between 1983-1991. Johnson took the Hurricanes to another level.

Schnellenberger realized the elite football talent in South Florida. The late legendary Miami coach initiated the State of Miami for Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Miami was to install a virtual fence around the tri-county South Florida area in recruiting to keep the best players with the Miami football program.

Johnson utilized that and then created a culture that led to the Hurricanes middle three national championships. Johnson got Miami close in 1985 and 1986 with losses in their bowl games preventing national championships. The swagger and bravado Miami played with made them the most polarizing team in college football.

"Jimmy Johnson (Dallas Cowboys, 1989-1993; Miami Dolphins, 1996-99)Like the 49ers’ Bill Walsh, Johnson’s tenure wasn’t as long as many already enshrined, but he made the most of those nine seasons with two Super Bowl wins as the Dallas Cowboys went from 1-15 in his first season in 1989 to 36-12 in his last three years in Dallas with the back-to-back Super Bowl victories.Why he was elected: Johnson is credited with the extensive use of the draft chart to make trades, while his Herschel Walker and Steve Walsh trades netted him four first-round picks, four second-round picks and two third-round picks. He turned those picks into a team that won three Super Bowls — two for him and one for Barry Switzer.With the Cowboys, Johnson drafted 18 players who would start in Super Bowls, including three Super Bowl MVPs, and 15 players who would be selected to a Pro Bowl. In Miami, he drafted four players who would go to a combined 19 Pro Bowls (Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain) and none of them were first-round picks."

The greatest rival for Miami from 1985-1987 was Oklahoma. Johnson played at Arkansas when Switzer was an assistant coach under Hall of Fame head coach Frank Broyles. Switzer owned Johnson when the two went against each other in the Bedlam Series. Oklahoma won by an average of 24.6 points per game.

Johnson fillped the outcomes with wins in their only meetings in college with the Hurricanes winning annual games from 1985-1987. Miami upset number one Oklahoma in Norman in 1985, won a regular season game in Miami in 1986 and added a victory in the 1988 Orange Bowl to win the 1987 National Title.


The 1988 Orange Bowl victory was also over top ranked Oklahoma. Johnson is revered Miami almost 35 years after he left to become the head coach of the Cowboys. Johnson and legendary Miami wide receiver Michael irvin won the National Championship together in Miami and two Superbowls in Dallas.

Johnson left an roster full of talent for successsor Dennis Erickson to win National Championships in 1989 and 1991. Johnson will become the first former Miami Hurricanes football coach inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Johnson was the first of three head coaches to win National Championships and a Superbowl.

Next. Jimmy Johnson approach with Dallas applied with Miami. dark

Switzer was the second and likely would not have won a title without Johnson building the Cowboys roster doubling as the defacto director of personnel for Dallas. Irvin was already on Dallas before Johnson, but former Hurricanes, defensive tackle Russell Maryland and linebacker Darrin Smith were drafted by Johnson.