From the 1980s to the early 2000s, it was all about "The U". In recent years however, since the National Championship loss in 2002, the Miami Hurricane football program has been steadily spiraling down. Rock bottom has occurred during the past year, where Miami not only lost to the historically inferior USF, but also had 6 starters convicted of illegally accepting money from a booster, which could lead to harsh penalties for the University's football program.
It all started in 1978. The front office held a vote to consider dropping Miami football down to 1-AA or get rid of it completely after a controversy involving some players tossing a man into a lake, just the start of a "bad-boy" persona in Miami.In '79, they hired Howard Schnellenberger and everything changed. By '83, the Hurricanes were National Champions. He bolted for the NFL immediately after, and Jimmie Johnson took over. In '87 the U won the National Championship again, and this time went undefeated in the process. Johnson left in 1989, and Dennis Erickson replaced him. He proceeded to win the national title in his first year with the school. The U continued to build their reputation for bad sportsmanship, evident by the '01 Cotton Bowl Classic in which they received 9 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Following theis season, the NCAA passed "The Miami Rule" which gives a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration and taunting. The Canes won their fourth national championship in 1991, a season remembered by the infamous "Wide Right" game, and another undefeated season. Another coaching change followed shortly after, with Butch Davis taking the helm. NCAA sanctions led to down seasons from '95-97, but a return to prominence was near in sight. Davis left after 2000, the first Miami coach in 20 years to leave without a national championship. Larry Coker took over in '01 with one of the greatest college football teams ever assembled. This team included future NFL pro bowlers such as Ed Reed, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma and the late Sean Taylor. They won the national championship in a 37-14 blowout over Nebraska, but this would mark the pinnacle of the Canes success. The heartbreaking loss in the 2002 National Championship marks the last time they reached the big game as of yet.
The bad got worse. Back in the '80s and '90s, the bad boy attitude was accepted, because Miami was the best team on the field nearly every game they played. But in the 2000s, however, that was no longer the case. '06 saw the U pitted against Florida International (FIU) in the most infamous brawl in NCAA history. The administration proceeded to take action: they fired the coach and engineered a program initiative to stay away from recruits with bad attitudes. Apparently, that was the wrong decision from a wins perspective. During Randy Shannon's tenure from '07-10, the Canes went 28-22 with a 0-3 bowl record.
Al Golden is the current coach, and is off to a bad start with a tough loss at Maryland that I attended. (Which featured some very noteworthy jerseys) The question is: How did a University with 5 national titles in 20 years fall so far so fast? The only answer is recruiting. Other schools are getting those players that Miami used to find in local places. Different strategies and schemes have led to a move away from that, but getting back to their roots is the only way that Miami will get back to their winning ways.