If you were watching college football in the 1980s, 1990s and the early 2000s, you might be surprised to learn that the Miami Hurricanes were a terrible team back in the 1970s.
They had some talent from time to time like Ted Hendricks and All American defensive lineman Tony Cristiani. Also, All American running back Ottis Anderson was one of the best in the nation, but the teams were not among the nation’s best.
In the story line of this book, which is covering the rivalry between Miami, Florida and Florida State after the arrival of Bobby Bowden, the Canes were struggling at that point in history.
Carl Selmer was coaching the Hurricanes when coach Bowden was hired by Florida State, but the previous season was a super disastrous 2-8.
When Bobby Bowden first arrived in Tallahassee and he was preparing for the 1976 season, he had
nothing to go on but the game film of the previous season. Then, the Hurricanes came out and just destroyed their mortal enemies, the Seminoles. It was an ugly 47-0 beating with no prisoners taken.
But, unfortunately, the Hurricanes didn’t have Florida State on their schedule any more and Colorado was next. The Buffaloes weren’t a top team in 1976, but they were pretty competitive in the decade of the 1970s, and Colorado just stomped all over Miami, 3-33.
But, strangely, the Canes played much better against 5th ranked Nebraska and then two games later against 2nd ranked Pittsburgh. They lost 4 games in a row to Colorado, Nebraska, Duke and Pittsburgh to drop to 1-4 on the season. Bad record, but that was a tough schedule.
The schedule got quite a big easier temporarily with a really bad TCU up next. The TCU Horn Frogs were worse than really bad, actually. They didn’t even win a game all year and Miami hosted the Frogs and obliterated them, 49-0.
They followed up with a win over Boston College, 13-6.
But, that was it as the schedule became difficult again.
1976 was not a particularly good season for the Penn State Nittany Lions and Joe Paterno. The Lions only won 7 games against 6 losses, but one of those wins was against the Miami Hurricanes.
It was another 12 years before the famous Catholics vs Convicts game, but up next was 13th ranked Notre Dame. Dan Devine was coaching the Fighting Irish and this was a good team, but still a year away from it’s national title team of 1977 and Joe Montana. Miami had to travel to South Bend, but they actually gave the Irish a good game. Notre Dame did make Touchdown Jesus happy with a 40-27 win.
Next up was the hated Gators. Florida had probably the most talent of any of the three Florida schools with guys like Wes Chandler, Willie Wilder and Derrick Gafney. The Gators beat the Canes, 19-10 to drop Miami to 3-7 on the season.
Integration had everything to do with these schools being behind some others back in the 1970s. The future would change when these schools started tapping into all of the talent that was in the state of Florida and other locations of the deep south.
The season was coming to a close with only a game with Houston remaining. Early in the season, the Seminoles crushed the Cougars of Houston. But, the Cougars had improved and they won the SWC in their first season. Miami barely lost to Houston, 16-21 and the Hurricanes finished the 1976 season with a 3-8 record.
The Hurricanes weren’t completely devoid of talent. They had sophomore Ottis Anderson who led them in rushing for 3 seasons and then was a first round draft pick by the St Louis Cardinals.
Miami coach Carl Selmer didn’t last long and after his second season, the Hurricanes brought in Lou Saban. There doesn’t seem to be any connection between Lou Saban and Nick Saban other than their are/were football coaches. But, under Lou Saban the situation at Miami began to change. But, that’s for another season and another chapter.
This Miami team may have finished 3-8 on the season, but they beat Florida State badly. They did lose to the Florida Gators, but they fought hard. The Florida Gators were the Florida state champions of the 1976 season.