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Comparing Cristobal’s ‘22 staff to Dennis Erickson’s ‘91 staff

Dennis Erickson was no slouch at putting together a coaching staff, either. The Erickson tree had both long-time followers and Johnson guys. The ‘Canes won two titles under Coach E and his coaches.

University of Miami head coach Dennis Erickson Set Number: X42152

Mario Cristobal is building a legendary coaching staff in Coral Gables. In part three of this series on Hurricanes coaching staffs of the past, we’re going to take a look at the 1991 staff that Dennis Erickson put together. Erickson’s staff had a big pacific northwestern flavor to it, but he was also smart enough to keep some of Erickson’s guys in place.

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.

We’ve discussed JJ’s coaching staff from ‘87, and Schnelly’s from 1983, now let’s take a look at the ‘91 staff from Erickson’s second championship as leader of the ‘Canes.

The 1991 Staff

Dennis Erickson was no slouch at putting together a formidable coaching staff, either. Erickson cleared out Johnson’s offensive staff holdovers for his own people from the pacific northwest, but kept some of the peripheral players around for continuity. While Soldinger went back to the high school ranks, Art Kehoe stayed on board at UM at assistant OL Coach.

Florida State Seminoles v Miami Hurricanes Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

Erickson came to Miami from Washington State, and promptly won the National Championship at Miami in 1989, his first in Coral Gables. The ‘91 season, arguably as talented of a college squad as the ‘86 group, served as Erickson’s second title, and Miami’s fourth at the time.

The defensive side is what is most impressive. Erickson brought in fellow PNW’er Sonny Lubick from Stanford. Lubick was a versatile coach who had been an OC and a DC, before his successful run at Colorado State as a head coach. Lubick coached dominating defenses at Miami that produced Outland Trophy winners, first overall draft picks, and future All Pro NFL linebackers from 1989-1992.

Lubick’s defenses allowed 10.6, 15.3, 8.3, and 13.4 points per game from 1989 through ‘92. Those defenses ranked 1st in scoring twice (‘89, ‘91) and 5th and 8th in the nation on the off years. The ‘Canes lost four games in four seasons with Lubick as DC. Lubick worked with the ‘Canes defensive backs which feature future Bengal Darryl Williams, All-American Ryan McNeil, Bobby Harden, NFL record holder Robert Bailey, and hard hitters Casey Grier and Terris Harris.

The defensive line coach under Coach E was one Ed Orgeron. Coach O, who coined The Rock’s famous phrase, “Know your role and shut your mouth,” went on to do some coaching of his own. Coach O won national title rings with Miami, USC and Pete Carroll, and at LSU as the Tigers head coach. Even after his poor showing at Ole Miss, Coach O’s head coaching record is 67-47 including interim stints.

Coach O was the man behind some all-time great defensive linemen at Miami including Warren Sapp, Kevin Patrick, Russell Maryland, Cortez Kennedy, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Orgeron was eventually fired at The U for off the field issues.

Florida State University vs University of Miami Set Number: X45080

The Miami linebackers coach in ‘91 was Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville would coach Michael Barrow, Darrin Smith, Jessie Armstead, Maurice Crum, Tiger Clark and some guy named Ray Lewis while at UM. As I stated in the ‘87 piece on Johnson’s coaching staff, Tuberville had a successful head coaching tenure following his departure from Miami that led into a political career as well.

Longtime Erickson assistant Bob Bratkowski followed Coach E from Wyoming to Wazzu, and then to Miami. He also went to the Seattle Seahawks with Erickson. Bratkowski served as Miami’s offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Coach Bratkowski worked with future NFL players in Kevin Williams, Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland, Wesley Carroll, Dale Dawkins, and Randal “Thrill” Hill.

After Seattle, Bratkowski stayed in the NFL from 1995 through his retirement in 2017. He served as the OC of the Cincinnati Bengals for a decade in the early 2000’s working with Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson.

Dave Arnold, Erickson’s Special Teams and TE’s coach, had an interesting run, too. Arnold coached Montana State from 1-10 in 1983 to 12-2 and “FCS” National Champions in ‘84, only to slide back to 2-9 by 1985. Arnold then followed Erickson to Pullman, Miami, and Seattle, before spending time at Albion (Michigan) and Colorado State. Arnold, a former high school coach in Michigan, roamed the sidelines from 1968-2007.

Offensive line coach Gregg Smith was another Erickson guy, following Coach E around from town to town over his four decade career. Smith coached with Erickson at Wyoming, Idaho, Washington State and Miami, before following Erickson to the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL. Smith continued following Erickson back to college with Oregon State and the Fiesta Bowl season, to the 49ers, Arizona State Sun Devils, and Idaho Vandals over 43 seasons as a coach.

Miami Assistant Coach Art Kehoe SetNumber: X66334 TK1 R20 F26

Smith’s assistant was Art Kehoe, the former ‘Canes offensive lineman who is the only Hurricane to have all five National Championship rings. Kehoe worked his way up from the bottom in Coral Gables serving as a student assistant, a GA, and an assistant O-Line coach before becoming the full-time OL coach at Miami.

Erickson’s RB coach, Alex Wood, coached at Miami from ‘89-’92, before runs through the NFL and college football. The 66 year old is still coaching today, he’s currently an assistant with Delaware.

Erickson’s Strength and Conditioning Coordinator was Brad Roll. Roll is an S&C Hall of Fame coach who won national titles with Kansas basketball, Miami Hurricanes football, and has coached all over the college football and NFL landscapes. Roll changed the way college football looked at the weight room forever.

The GA’s

Former Hurricane and Dallas Cowboy linebacker Randy Shannon served as a graduate assistant on Erickson’s 1991 staff. Shannon served as the DB coach of the Miami Dolphins before becoming the DC of the ‘Canes in 2001. Shannon eventually became the Miami head coach, and has subsequently been a DC at Florida, UCF, and is now coaching at Florida State.

South Florida v Miami Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Another Erickson GA was Jim Michalczik. Michalczik came to UM from a quick NFL playing career after having played for Erickson at Wazzu. After his time as a GA at The U, Michalczik coached O-Line at Montana State, Oregon State under Erickson, Cal twice, for the Raiders, and Arizona, before returning to OSU under Jonathan Smith. Michalczik is currently the Beavers Associate HC, OL coach and run game coordinator.

Eddie Gran was also an Erickson GA at Miami for the ‘91 season. Gran came to Miami from coaching WR”s at Cal Lutheran, before GA stints at Southeast Missouri State, and East Carolina. After Miami, Gran went on to coach WR’s at Cincinnati, Idaho State and Ole Miss. Gran then switched to special teams and running backs and returned to Ole Miss with Tuberville before nearly a decade run with Tuberville at Auburn. Gran spent 2010-2012 at FSU, before joining up with Tuberville once again at Cincy. Gran was the OC under Mark Stoops at Kentucky before moving to an off-field role in 2021.

The Poll and Wrap

The Erickson staff won two National Championships, and went on to long NFL or college careers. Coach E had an eye for talent in coaching, that he may not have had at all times when recruiting the high school ranks. So which staff wins this week, the ‘87 crew under JJ or Coach E’s ‘91 group?


Which is the better coaching staff?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    1987 under Johnson
    (108 votes)
  • 26%
    1991 under Erickson
    (38 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now