The 2001 Miami Hurricanes football team is widely regarded as the best ever in college sports history. With a perfect record and top ranking for most of the season, no one could predict that they would lose to Nebraska on national television with less than two minutes left.
The “2001 miami hurricanes schedule” is a list of the games that the 2001 Miami Hurricanes played. The Hurricanes went 12-0 and won their first national championship. They are considered by many to be college football’s best ever.
No one yelled, ‘GOAT!’ or imagined they had just unlocked legendary status when the 2001 Miami Hurricanes celebrated their sixth national title in the Rose Bowl locker room 20 years ago.
To be honest, the players and coaches were relieved that they had accomplished the objective they had set for themselves a year before. They were so focused on winning a national title, on leadership, responsibility, and — as silly as it seems now — proving themselves, that assigning this squad a place in college football legend seemed impossible in the moment.
Those who suited up in 2001 comprehend — and gloat about — what they did in one magnificent season only now, with the perspective of history and time. It extends beyond skill, which is self-evident: There were 38 first-round choices in the NFL draft, including 17 first-rounders and at least one Hall of Famer in Ed Reed. Frank Gore was the No. 3 rushing back in a loaded running back room. Sean Taylor and Antrel Rolle are reserve defensive backs in a deep defensive backfield. With Vince Wilfork as a backup, the defensive line is packed.
“Any college institution, anytime, anyplace,” center Brett Romberg said. “Our mental tenacity, I believe, was just as astonishing as our physical and athletic prowess. We were motivated by our minds. It’s incredible when you have men that perform exercises even though it’s 115 degrees outside and you feel like you’re breathing through a sock, and then turn around and do it again for a buddy who needs support. We exchange puzzled looks, as if we had no idea how we got here. It’s almost as though life doesn’t exist at all. It seemed like something out of a fairy tale.”
One of the things we love about sports is that the discussion over who is the best team in college football history will never stop. Of course, Miami players will stick up for their own club and proclaim that 2001 Miami is the GOAT from the rooftops. I, too, am a big believer in that group.
As the Miami beat reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that season, I had a front-row seat. I grew up in South Florida and avidly followed the four prior Miami national champs. The Nebraska Cornhuskers established their claim to the greatest-of-all-time crown after defeating the Gators in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl when I was a freshman at the University of Florida. Tommie Frazier leaving Gator defenders in his trail still haunts me.
Since 2001, I’ve covered a number of national winners who might make a case for themselves.
Starting the season as the runner-up to in-state rival Florida provided Miami with all the incentive it needed to win the national championship. Getty Images/Matthew Stockman
Due to the coronavirus epidemic, I sat in the press box at Hard Rock Stadium in the most unusual environment for a national championship game this past January. Alabama defeated Ohio State on the field in front of me to finish a 13-0 season with three Heisman Trophy candidates on offense, including winner DeVonta Smith. Given all of the obstacles that the Crimson Tide will face in 2020, the Crimson Tide may easily make their case.
So can 2016 Clemson, a squad I covered as an ACC reporter throughout the season. I’ll never forget being on the goal line at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, when Deshaun Watson delivered the game-winning 2-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow to help Alabama defeat Alabama 35-31 and end the season 15-0.
Consider the 2013 Florida State Seminoles, a team with so much skill that all 22 of its offensive and defensive starters were drafted into the NFL. I also assisted in covering that squad.
But I’m still a fan of the 2001 Miami Dolphins, and I’ll let former Dolphins linebacker Jon Vilma explain why. When the two were both playing for the New Orleans Saints, Vilma got into a discussion with former USC running back Reggie Bush.
Vilma was a member of the Hurricanes in 2001 and Bush was a member of the Trojans in 2004, two of the most talented teams ever constructed.
“They were pretty terrific,” Vilma said recently, “but I told Reggie, ‘You guys were quick and athletic, and we were equally fast and athletic.’” “‘Our distinction is that we were going to attempt to outhit you,’ I said. We weren’t attempting to show off how swift and athletic we were by sitting here. We were attempting to demonstrate our toughness.
“‘You may get a run, but I assure you for the next 60 minutes, we’re going to kick your ass,’ we said. You could win one, but we’re going to win 20 and it’s not going to stop.’”
That campaign began in 1997, when Miami was at its lowest moment as a football school, with NCAA penalties limiting the number of scholarships available to 15 in that signing class.
Andreu Swasey, who was the strength and conditioning coach at Miami in 2001, stated, “We felt like we couldn’t miss on anybody in recruiting.” “Because you’re trying to find the people who will lay the groundwork for the next four years. We were particularly focused on character, personality attributes, and whether or not they liked football. We knew a youngster could run and be athletic, and we knew how to teach him. We were searching for the other intangibles.”
They signed two-star safety Ed Reed out of Louisiana and under-the-radar offensive lineman Joaquin Gonzalez out of Miami, while passing on junior college transfers Jeremy Shockey and Bryant McKinnie. They continued to recruit additional athletes, like Vilma, who felt compelled to show their worth in subsequent classes. That mindset quickly spread across the whole squad.
When you ask Reed about the 2001 squad, he talks about the leadership that came from that drive, not the victory.
“On that team, we truly had leaders, and I don’t believe that can be equaled,” Reed remarked. “In terms of football, I don’t believe anybody in college football could compete with us. There has never been a team like this before [at Miami]. And I’ve discussed it with others, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, whatever, you can speak.’ We, on the other hand, were the result of their efforts. We kept an eye on it and refined it. That was really perfection.”
Despite how much the 2001 team has been lauded in the years after winning the national championship, the Hurricanes began the year rated No. 2 behind Florida, whom they had destroyed in the Sugar Bowl to end the previous season. That gave me the push I needed. As was the case in October, when Miami, although being voted first in both surveys, was placed fourth in the Bowl Championship Series rankings. These are the same rankings that kept Miami out of the national championship game in 2000.
Clinton Portis was one of several future NFL players who helped the Hurricanes win the Super Bowl in 2001, cementing their place in football history. USA TODAY Sports/Paul Chapman
Quarterback Ken Dorsey stated in a piece I wrote for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in October of that year, “People all around the nation don’t recognize our skill or our team’s ability. That appears to be the case every year. We’ve seen it before. That lack of respect is something we’re accustomed to playing with. It provides us with an additional motivation to go out and perform well each week.”
Imagine a club with 38 potential NFL draft selections feeling belittled. But, more importantly, the emphasis was not on their skill, but on regaining the respect that the players believed they had been denied since high school.
There are some striking moments from that season that I remember well. First and foremost, the players and coaches were approachable. The team’s captains were its finest spokespeople, participating in all of the interviews that were requested of them. We had availability with players three times a week, an open locker room after games, and access to practice.
Because of their openness, we were able to get to know the players and coaches better and create a connection with them, allowing us to convey their tales in a more detailed manner — and provide a balanced narrative as the season progressed. There was nothing that was too “big time” for anybody. We could observe firsthand what motivated that group.
Despite dominating practically every team it faced, Miami had to battle Boston College in a tight game in November. It was really chilly. The offense was a disaster. Four interceptions were thrown by Dorsey. There were no touchdowns for Miami. “I can’t believe they’re going to botch this,” I thought as I watched from the press box, knowing full well that a trip to the national championship and the Rose Bowl was on the line.
Mike Rumph, Matt Walters, and Reed united to rescue the day with one of the most legendary plays in Miami history: a Walters interception that was deflected off Rumph’s knee and landed up in Reed’s hands for the defensive touchdown. Great teams, it is said, must overcome adversity along the road. That marked the end of Miami’s season.
But it’s the overwhelming power that I remember the most. The way Miami shattered Syracuse and Washington’s will in back-to-back games, outscoring them 124-7. Syracuse and Washington were hardly insignificant teams. At the time of the match, both teams were rated in the top 15 in the world. The Huskies had defeated Miami the year before, but it seemed as though they would rather be anywhere other than the Orange Bowl in prime time, while the Hurricanes happily kept their foot on the throttle to make a point.
“Those were not your typical NFL athletes. They were All-Pro players in the National Football League “At the time, Washington coach Rick Neuheisel noted. “This was during the BCS era, so no one had an advantage from the standpoint of the College Football Playoff, where all of the top players would go to the winners, as is the case with Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State right now. Miami lacked that advantage. They just gathered so many excellent players that everyone was left wondering, ‘How did they do it?’”
Paul Pasqualoni, a former Syracuse coach, was also added: “That squad was very skilled, dynamic, and defensively sound. We were defeated 59-0, and we concluded the season with ten victories. So I believe that sums up how fantastic they were.”
Then there was the first half of the BCS national championship game versus Nebraska, when Miami made the Cornhuskers seem like a sluggish backwater squad unfit for the big stage. The Hurricanes were up 34-0 at halftime and could easily have won 59-0 if they had elected to play their starters for the duration of the second half. Instead, they used their bench players and won 37-14, a score that does not represent the game’s overwhelming superiority.
Or that group.
As a result, I continue to consider Miami to be the best team of all time. But, at the time, I was very much like the players, as I wrote my report of the game in January 2002.
“UNBELIEVABLE!” was the title of my gaming tale. There were no GOATs or legacies mentioned, simply a sentence at the bottom that said, “This UM team has entered exceptional company.”
I had no idea that one sentence would grow to symbolize so much more in the years to come.
The “2001 miami hurricanes stats” is a case for college football’s best ever. The Hurricanes went undefeated that year, and were the only team to win a national championship in a non-BCS conference.
- 2001 miami hurricanes roster depth chart
- 2001 miami hurricanes coaching staff
- 2001 national championship football box score
- 2001 miami hurricanes highlights
- 2001 miami hurricanes record