Howard Schnellenberger, who led Miami to its first national championship and in the process turned a once-floundering football program into a dynasty, died on Saturday, his family announced. He was 87.
What Schnellenberger did at Miami remains one of the greatest transformations in college football history. Before his arrival in 1979, Miami administrators considered dropping the sport as the losses mounted and morale dipped.
But after he helped deliver the 1983 national championship, Miami won three more national titles over the next six seasons. Though he was only there for the ’83 title, the speed and athleticism the Hurricanes first displayed under Schnellenberger became a blueprint for programs across the country.
“The loss of Coach Schnellenberger is immeasurable in so many ways for the University of Miami family,” said Miami AD Blake James in a prepared statement. “He helped our University grow during a critical period of time and established a foundation for future success, on the football field and off. Our thoughts are with his family, friend, former colleagues and players, He will forever be a Hurricane.”
His impact went beyond Miami. Schnellenberger later revitalized his hometown Louisville Cardinals and built Florida Atlantic football from scratch, leaving an indelible mark on three college football programs over three decades.