Miami football named as the two best first seasons by head coach

Dec 31, 2006; Boise, ID, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US Presswire Copyright Rick Scuteri
Dec 31, 2006; Boise, ID, USA; Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US Presswire Copyright Rick Scuteri /

Dennis Erickson and Larry Coker both won national championships in their first seasons as head coaches of the Miami football program. Coker and Erickson both succeeded coaches who left to become head coaches in the NFL. Erickson replaced Jimmy Johnson who left for Dallas and Coker Butch Davis who was hired by Cleveland.

Mike Huguenin of On3.Com credited Erickson as having the second-best first season by a head coach in college football and Coker as the best in the last 50 years. Miami went 11-1 in 1989 and Coker led the Hurricanes to a 12-0 record during the 2001 season. The 2001 team is regarded as the greatest in college football history.

Coker and Erickson had different paths with the Miami football program. Erickson was the Miami head coach in between Johnson and Davis. In six seasons coaching the Miami football team, Erickson was 63–9. Erickson led Miami to a 44-4 record in his first four seasons with national championships in 1989 and 1991.

Miami lost in the 1993 Sugar Bowl following the 1992 season which cost the Hurricanes the national championship. Miami also lost the 1995 Orange Bowl in the final game under Erickson. Nebraska won its first national title under Tom Osborne with the win. Huguenin wrote about the Erickson era with Miami.

"“2. Dennis Erickson, MiamiSeason: 1989Preseason ranking: 4thRecord: 11-1Final record: 1stThe buzz: Erickson, who had just finished his second season at Washington State, was hired when Jimmy Johnson left to coach the Dallas Cowboys. Erickson took over a program that had gone 44-4 in the previous four seasons, with one national title and two No. 2 finishes.Erickson’s staff included three future head coaches (Sonny Lubick, Ed Orgeron and Tommy Tuberville); one of his offensive linemen (Mario Cristobal) also became a head coach.Behind a defense featuring numerous future NFL standouts (including DTs Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland), Miami opened 6-0, outscoring foes by a combined 250-49.The Hurricanes lost at No. 9 Florida State in their seventh game and dropped from second to seventh in the polls. But they ended the season on a four-game winning streak, including a dominant 17-point win over top-ranked Notre Dame in the regular-season finale, then beat No. 7 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.Notre Dame beat top-ranked Colorado in the Orange Bowl and second-ranked UM ascended to No. 1 in the final polls.”"

Erickson had seven years of experience as a head coach at Idaho, Wyoming and Washington State when he was hired by Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich who was previously the Cougars’ athletic director. Coker had spent more than 20 years as a college assistant and only had head coaching experience in high school.

"“1. Larry Coker, MiamiSeason: 2001Preseason ranking: 2ndRecord: 12-0Final ranking: 1stThe buzz: Coker took over a loaded team after he was promoted from offensive coordinator following Butch Davis’ departure to become coach of the Cleveland Browns. How loaded? Frank Gore, the No. 3 rusher in NFL history, was the No. 3 running back, behind Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis.Among the backups: Antrel Rolle, Sean Taylor, Vince Wilfork and Kellen Winslow Jr. Miami had gone 11-1 under Davis in 2000. In ’01, the Hurricanes won every game but one by double-digits, won every game but two by at least 22, won four times won by at least 40 and three times by at least 58.”"

Coker was hired to provide Miami with continuity.  Prior to becoming head coach, Coker was the Miami offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1995 through 2000. Miami finished second nationally in 2000 after defeating Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Miami won its first 24 games with Coker as the head coach.

The Hurricanes were one questionable call away from defeating Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl from back-to-back national championships for the first time in program history in their second season under Coker. Coker could not sustain the success with Miami. Miami finished 60–15 in six seasons under Coker.

Next. Miami should benefit from 25 scholarship limit lift. dark

After a 7-6 season in 2006, Miami fired Coker. Miami has been searching for a coach to return them to the elite of college football since Coker was dismissed. Winning championships in two different seasons with first-year head coaches is part of the legacy of success of the Miami football program.