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Comparing Cristobal’s ‘22 staff to Schnellenberger’s staff in 1983

Mario Cristobal’s first Miami coaches photo will have an all-time feeling in Coral Gables. So where does the ‘22 group stack up around former all-timers?

Miami Introduces Mario Cristobal as Head Football Coach Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Mario Cristobal is putting together one of the all-time coaching staffs in not just Miami Hurricanes, but in college football history. Cristobal’s staff is loaded with talent on both sides of the football, and will be expected to compete for the ACC Championship right away in a down ACC and with a talented ‘Canes roster.

This will be part one of a multi-part series on former Miami coaching staffs that built the legacy of The U. Yeah, yeah I realize the ‘22 staff hasn’t coached a practice yet let alone a game. Let’s have some fun and live a little!

The 2022 Staff

Cristobal comes to Miami from Oregon where he won the Rose Bowl and coached Justin Herbert, Penei Sewell, and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Cristobal is also the former head coach of the FIU Golden Panthers, and an experienced assistant who has worked with Butch Davis at Miami, Greg Schiano at Rutgers, and Nick Saban at Alabama.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 13 Michigan at Penn State Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The ‘Canes OC will be Josh Gattis, the recent Broyles Award winning OC from Michigan. Gattis will coach wide receivers for the ‘Canes, and has also worked under Nick Saban and now Jim Harbaugh as an OC under two demanding head coaches.

Cristobal’s offensive staff also has RB coach Kevin Smith who has worked under George O’Leary and Lane Kiffin; Frank Ponce as the QB coach, who has worked under Cristobal at FIU, and Scott Satterfield at Louisville and App State, and OL coach Alex Mirabal who has worked under Cristobal and around college and high school football for years. Mirabal produced stud NFL right tackle Penei Sewell while at Oregon.

Oklahoma v Baylor Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The defensive staff has their own Sonny Lubick at DC in Kevin Steele. Steele has DC’d some top flight units over his career, including groups at Auburn, Clemson and LSU. He’s potentially being joined by Charlie Strong. Strong is a bright defensive mind that has been a head coach at Louisville, Texas and USF, but also a well respected DC in his own right.

Miami’s DB coach will be Jahmile Addae. Addae is a former West Virginia Mountaineer, who just won the National Championship with the Georgia Bulldogs on Kirby Smart’s coaching staff. Addae has been exposed to some bright defensive minds in Will Muschamp and Smart. Addae has also coached at WVU, Arizona and Minnesota. Addae is considered one of the up and coming bright minds in defensive football.

The DL coach will be Joe Salave’a. Salave’a played in the NFL for nearly a decade, and has been coaching on the west coast since 2008. Salave’a comes to Miami from Oregon where he spent five seasons working with Mario Cristobal in Eugene.

The 1983 Staff

Florida Atlantic v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Hurricanes first National Championship winning staff had a few names that should be familiar in both Dolphins and Hurricanes lore, as well as from other NFL sidelines. Of course the patriarch of the ‘Canes Decade of Dominance was Howard Schnellenberger.

Schnelly had coached under two of the greatest coaches in football history, the 60’s and 70’s versions of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick in Bear Bryant and Don Shula. After serving as the OC for the Dolphins undefeated season, Schnellenberger served as the Baltimore Colts head coach, and made another run as OC of the Phins, before taking over the moribund Hurricanes in 1979.

As we’ll see throughout this piece, a head coach is only as good as his coaching staff and his talent. Where Howard had recruited in ‘Canes legends and NFL stars like Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly, Jerome Brown, and Alonzo Highsmith, he also hired great coaches.

Schnelly’s OC was a Coral Gables regular in Gary Stevens. Stevens will also be a key member of Jimmy Johnson’s coaching staffs and in keeping the ‘Canes pro style passing attack rolling for a decade. Stevens eventually joined Don Shula’s coaching staff working with the Dolphins Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino for a decade. Eventually Stevens left Miami for the Raiders before coaching the Falcons for one season before retirement.


The DC was future NFL staple Tom Olivadotti. Olivadotti is often credited with being one of the masterminds behind pattern-match coverage (and has a fantastic book on the topic). Olivadotti was the DC of the Miami Dolphins from 1987-1995. He also coached in Cleveland, and with the Vikings, Giants and Texans.

Wide receivers coach Hubbard Alexander also stayed on with Coach Johnson, and even followed JJ to the Dallas Cowboys where he won three Super Bowls while continuing to coach Michael Irvin. Alexander also served as the WR coach for Randy Moss in Minnesota.

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears

Schnelly’s QB coach was Marc Trestman. Trestman, often the fodder of ‘Canes rumors, has been all over the NFL and had a very successful run in the CFL where he won three Grey Cups as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes. After coaching Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde and Mark Richt- Trestman has coached in the NFL for most of his career. Trestman had a run as the Chicago Bears head coach, and a 2nd run in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts.

Defensive assistant Mike Archer became another well traveled name through college football. Archer went on to serve as the head coach of the LSU Tigers, and became a long-time college football defensive coordinator and even coached linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-2002.

Of course, Schnelly also brought on Art Kehoe as a GA for the offensive line and that move saw Mr. Kehoe win five National Championships in orange and green.

The Wrap

I personally love taking a trip down memory lane and looking further into the old coaching staffs at The U. The 2022 group looks really strong on paper and I can only hope the results match the expectations I’m building in my head for the ‘22 season and beyond. The ‘83 coaching staff was loaded with coaching talent but we’ll also look at the groups from 1987, 1991, and 2000 for this series.