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Comparing Cristobal’s ‘22 staff to Jimmy Johnson’s staff in 1987

Jimmy Johnson put together an all-time staff at Miami in ‘87. The ‘Canes had multiple future Super Bowl winning coaches, as well as future NFL and college football head coaches on staff.

January 1, 1988: NCAA Orange Bowl Game - Oklahoma Sooner v Miami Hurricanes Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Mario Cristobal is building a legendary coaching staff in Coral Gables. In part two of this series on Hurricanes coaching staffs of the past, we’re going to take a look at the 1987 staff hired by National Championship and Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson. Johnson’s ‘87 staff is absolutely loaded with college and NFL coaching talents.

Cristobal’s staff has Broyles Award winning assistants and former Power 5 head coaches on board. They’re recruiters, teachers (literally, multiple guys on staff are former high school teachers and coaches) and more importantly professionals that command a room.

Now let’s take a look at the ‘87 staff from Jimmy Johnson’s lone National Championship season.

The 1987 Staff

By 1987, Jimmy Johnson had his ‘Canes staff rolling. Gary Stevens was still on the sideline as the OC and was now working with the QB’s, such as future NFL starter Steve Walsh and Heisman Trophy winner and NFL mainstay QB Vinny Testaverde. Stevens eventually went on to coach Dan Marino with the Miami Dolphins while serving as passing game coordinator and eventually OC under Don Shula.

Pittsburgh v South Florida Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

Dave Wannstedt was in his second season as DC for The U. Wanny had come to Miami from USC, and eventually would follow JJ to the Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Wannstedt would serve as the head coach of the Chicago Bears and Dolphins of the NFL, and the Pittsburgh Panthers at the college ranks. Coach Wannstedt had three successful seasons as the HC of the Dolphins, but resigned after a 1-8 start in 2004. Wanny picked up nine and 10 win seasons while HC of Pitt including three bowl appearances.

Of course, the defensive line coach of the ‘Canes was none other than Butch Davis. Davis, the future Hurricanes ‘comeback’ architect also followed Johnson to Dallas where he won two Super Bowls before returning to Greentree to take over the NCAA sanction riddled ‘Canes. Davis was eventually the head coach at UNC and FIU before recently retiring.

Pitt Panthers Tony Wise Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Alexander and Kehoe were still on the Johnson staff in ‘87. Johnson had also brought in highly respected O-Line coach Tony Wise. Wise, who had worked with Johnson at Oklahoma State, eventually followed JJ to the Cowboys where he won a Super Bowl ring, too. Wise, considered one of the founding fathers of elite O-Line play, eventually reunited with Johnson as coaches for the Miami Dolphins. Wise roamed the sidelines from 1973 through 2010 spanning multiple levels and decades.

Miami high school coaching legend Don Soldinger was entering his 4th season at UM coaching the tight ends. Soldinger, and his neck towel, would eventually return to the high school ranks to coach Miami Southridge and their star running backs in Troy and Darren Davis before returning to The U when Davis took over for Dennis Erickson. Soldinger coached a slew of elite ‘Canes running backs including Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, and Frank Gore.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The DB coach in ‘87 was none other than future Cowboys head coach Dave Campo. Campo, already a well traveled assistant in college, went to Dallas with Johnson to win three Super Bowl titles before being named head coach. Campo continued to coach in football through the 2019 season. His coaching career spanned 48 years and the transition from film to video to DVD and then digital cloud software.

The GA’s

The graduate assistants were future head coach Tommy Tuberville, and future Super Bowl winning and long tenured NFL assistants in Ron Meeks and Steve Hoffman.

BYU v Cincinnati Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Tommy Tuberville was simply a GA on the ‘87 staff. Tuberville would go on to serve as LB coach at Miami for the 89 and ‘91 seasons, and DC in 1993 under Coach Erickson. Tubberville then served as DC of Texas A&M before head coaching runs at Ole Miss, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. Tuberville finished the 2004 Auburn season with a 13-0 perfect record. Tuberville is now a politician serving as a US Senator from Alabama.

Meeks, a former CFL player, took his time from the Hurricanes and went to coach at Fresno State before joining the Cowboys for a Super Bowl winning season in 1991. Meeks coached in the NFL from 91 through 2012, including a stint as a DC with the Colts and Panthers.

Steve Hoffman was an NFL punter who came to the ‘Canes staff to mentor Jeff Feagles from 1985-1987. Hoffman spent the ‘88 season as the head coach at Miami Sunset High School before heading to the Cowboys for their three Super Bowl run working as a special teams assistant. Hoffman was in Dallas from ‘89 through 2004, and then went on to coach for the Atlanta Falcons, Dolphins, Chiefs, Raiders, and Titans before returning to Atlanta as a special assistant.

The wrap

I think the 1987 staff has the ‘83 staff beat. In ‘87, Miami won their second National Championship under their second head coach. The coaches office had a slew of NFL mainstay coaches and future NFL and college head coaches. They fellas in that office had worked with Heisman Trophy winners and NFL Hall of Famers.

What say you?


Which staff do you like better?

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