Howard Schnellenberger, the coach that built the University of Miami’s football program into a dynasty, passed away March 27 at the age of 87.
Schnellenberger, with his gruff voice and thick mustache, coached football for over five decades. He walked the sidelines dressed in a three-button blazer, wide tie and colorful pocket squares, even into the 2010s as the game became more casual.
Schnellenberger’s best successes on the field came during his five seasons at UM where he resurrected a program that administrators considered shuttering. In Schnellenberger’s time at UM, he compiled a 41-16 record, two New Years Six bowl wins and a unanimous national championship in 1983.
“He helped our university grow during a critical period of time and established a foundation for future success, on the football field and off,” UM’s Athletic Director Blake James said in a statement. “He will forever be a Hurricane.”
Before Schnellenberger, UM football sifted through six coaches in 9 years and hadn’t finished ranked in over a decade. At UM, Schnellenberger recruited and coached future NFL hall of famer Jim Kelly and Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde.
Schnellenberger helped create a dynasty at UM, but before that he was a critical component in two other great sports runs.
Schnellenberger was Paul “Bear” Bryant’s OC at Alabama where he won three national titles. He is also famous for having recruited future hall of famer Joe Namath to come play for Alabama. Schnellenberger also coached under another Miami legend Don Shula for seven years, including the undefeated 1972 Dolphins.
He also established the Florida Atlantic University’s football team, which still competes to this day.
Schnellenberger’s passing led to an outpouring of love from his former players and Miami members.
“Words can’t describe the respect, admiration and luv I have for U,” tweeted former UM quarterback Bernie Kosar who was part of the 1983 national championship team.
Current head coach Manny Diaz tweeted: “RIP to the legend who created it all!”
Schnellenberger is survived by his wife of 61 years Beverlee and their two sons Stuart and Tim.
“Even though he never smiled, he was always smiling in his heart. We loved all the moves and challenges,” Beverlee said in a statement released by FAU. “Howard always treated me special, like a queen, and was truly a husband…you will always be my love. Now and forever.”