Miami football dynasty began with connection to Alabama legend Bear Bryant

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 30: (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 30: (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

The Miami football dynasty began with a legendary 31-30 upset over Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl Game. As promised, head coach Howard Schnellenberger led the Hurricanes to a National Championship in his fifth season. Schnellenberger played and coached under legendary Alabama head coach Paul”Bear” Bryant.

Schnellenberger was recruited to play at Kentucky by Bryant. Bryant left Alabama after Schnellenberger’s sophomore season for Texas A&M where he led the Junction Boys. Schnellenberger began an indoctrination of learning under great coaches when Bryant was replaced by Blanton Collier.

Collier led the Cleveland Browns to the 1964 NFL Championship after leaving Kentucky before the creation of the Superbowl. After two seasons playing with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League following his Kentucky career, Schnellenberger returned to Lexington as the tight ends and wide receiver coach.

In the first of his two seasons coaching with the Wildcats, Schnellenberger’s TEs and WRs would compete in practice against defensive backs coached by Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and Miami legend Don Shula. Shula left the bluegrass after one season to take the same position with the Detroit Lions in the NFL.

After Bryant left Texas A&M for Alabama in 1961, he hired Schnellenberger as his offensive coordinator. Alabama won National Championships in 1961, ’64 and ’65 with Schnellenberger. The 1965 Alabama National Champions were quarterbacked by Pro Football Hall of Famer

Joe Namath


Schellenberger left Alabama to become the ends/WRs coach with the Los Angeles Rams in 1966 where he stayed through 1969. Shula reunited with Schnellenberger when he hired him as the offensive coordinator, TE and WRs coach in 1970. Schnellenberger stayed with the Dolphins through the 1972 undefeated season.

After a 4-17 record in less than two seasons coaching the Colts, Schnellenberger returned to the Dolphins where he was the offensive coordinator from 1975-’78. In 1979 Schnellenberger changed the course of college football history when he accepted the head coaching job with the Miami football program.

Miami went 5-6 in the first season under Schnellenberger. Included on the Miami schedule were a 26-10 upset at number 19 Penn State and a 30-0 loss at top-ranked Alabama and eventual national champion Alabama. The Hurricanes went 18-5 over the next two seasons before taking a step back to 7-4 in 1982.

Miami weekend a win despite outcome versus Alabama. dark. Next

After a 28-3 loss to Florida in the 1983 season opener Miami ran the table that culminated with the epic upset of Nebraska. The legend of the Orange Bowl was born that night. Schnellenberger left for a job with a Miami team in the United States Football League that never materialized. But a dynasty was born.