There is a special treat for those going to Miami's Thursday night match up against Virginia Tech. The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame will honor our very own Jimmy Johnson.
JJ needs no introduction. Here is a refresher
At Miami, he enjoyed a 52-9 mark in five seasons with five New Year's Day bowl appearances. During his final four seasons in Miami, he posted a remarkable 44-4 record, including four top 10 finishes and two national title appearances. He earned two National Coach of the Year distinctions while coaching 12 First Team All-Americans. Johnson's star pupils included future College Football Hall of Famers Bennie Blades and Russell Maryland as well as the school's first Heisman Trophy winner in Vinny Testaverde. Johnson's tenure was the genesis of an NCAA-record 58 home-game winning streak, which lasted from 1985-94.
While Schnellenberger had the vision for what Miami football could be, culminating in the unlikely 1983 championship, JJ took it to the level of perennial national contender. The Old Boys Club of Nebraska, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Texas had to make room for the new kids on the block throughout the 80s.
JJ's eye for talent and emphasis on team speed arguably changed college football forever, relegating the option heavy offenses of the era to a change of pace plays in modern day playbooks outside of Atlanta, GA. Even Nebraska has abandoned their historically vaunted option attack, last seen in the 2001 National Championship game being decimated by one John Vilma. It is really hard to outrun teams when their linebackers are faster than your running backs.
What has always struck me about Jimmy was how much he enjoyed being coach of UM.
"My time at the University of Miami really defines my career. It was probably the most fun time I ever had in my life prior to now, and we were able to do some things that I was extremely proud of."
He still lives in South Florida, where he fishes almost daily in Islamorada. If you don't already, follow @jimmyjohnson on twitter for pictures of his latest catch and his thoughts on both college and professional football. I admire his ability to retire gracefully and not go all Brett Favre on us. I'm not sure anyone else has a better life today.
Check out Jimmy in action in the 1987 championship game
1987 UM Chamionship vs Oklahoma (via accordvideo)