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Happy Birthday Jimmy Johnson

Today, we celebrate the 76th birthday for perhaps the greatest coach in UM history, Jimmy Johnson.

Notre Dame v Miami Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

There have been 25 coaches throughout the history of the University of Miami, dating all the way back to 1926. Howard Schnellenberger, Butch Davis, Dennis Erickson, UM has been littered with legendary coaches. However, no other head coach is more beloved to Hurricanes fans than Jimmy Johnson, and today, July 16th, we’re celebrating JJ’s 76th birthday.

Jimmy is remembered so fondly at Miami for several reasons. First, Johnson was the head coach in the mid-1980’s for the Hurricanes when UM started to get their reputation for swagger, confidence, and also winning, and winning a lot.

Yes, Miami had won their first national championship in 1983, the year prior to Jimmy’s arrival, but once JJ came to Coral Gables, the Hurricanes took winning to another level.

From 1984 to 1988, under Johnson, Miami went 52-9, which gives JJ the second-highest winning percentage in school history (.852). Most importantly, Jimmy was the head coach who led the Canes to the 1987 National Championship.

Also, as mentioned before, Johnson was in charge when Miami started gaining attention throughout the country, and while others may call it “showboating” we know it as swagger. The best thing about it, Jimmy absolutely loved how his team played. Former players will tell you that JJ pushed them in practice, but also wanted them to play the game and play it with confidence, which they did.

Johnson welcomed the title, “Bad Boys of Football,” that the media gave his team, and under the coaching and guidance from Jimmy, Miami really became “The U.” No other coach in the history of the program, has suited his team, a time and a city so well, fitting the attitude of Miami like a glove.

Even though his teams may have been viewed as hoodlums or gangsters from the outside, those who have been around this program for a long time know the truth, and his former players say to this day that he taught them more about life than the game of football.

When Jimmy left following the 1988 season, as well documented in the “30 For 30” it devastated his players and coaching staff. Even though I'm also a Cowboys fan, JJ will always be a Hurricane to me. I have no doubt in my mind, that if Jimmy had stayed a few more years at Miami, he would’ve captured several more titles.

“I was born and raised in South Texas. I went to school at University of Arkansas, won a national championship on an undefeated team. But my home is South Florida, and my school is the University of Miami.”

He’s been gone from UM for 31 years now, but Jimmy’s legendary status is still larger than ever. Not only is he still a South Florida resident, he’s remained close to the Miami program. He’s come back to speak to the coaches and players.

And more recently, new coach Manny Diaz (Jimmy 2.0) took his staff down to the Keys to visit Jimmy.

So here’s to you coach Johnson, happy birthday and thank you for everything you’ve for the Miami Hurricanes.