'Canes 20-year run nearly a dynasty

Miami tailback Willis McGahee, right, hides behind the microphone, as quarterback Ken Dorsey answers questions during a news conference, Wednesday in Phoenix. Miami will meet Ohio State Friday, Jan. 3, 2003 in the Fiesta Bowl, in Tempe, Ariz.

(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)
Published: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 2:42 a.m.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Art Kehoe has been at Miami since the start, as a feisty offensive guard in the late 1970s, then as a graduate assistant, a line coach and now an assistant head coach.
In the past 20 seasons, he's seen this private school rise up and become the premier college football program in the country.
No matter who's coaching, no matter how badly the school's image suffers because of rowdy behavior on and off the field, and no matter how severe the NCAA sanctions, the Hurricanes keep winning national championships.
‘‘It's been just an incredible run,'' Kehoe said as No. 1 Miami prepared for Friday night's national title game against No. 2 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. ‘‘But it's no fluke. Believe me. There's been a lot of hard work by a lot of people for a long time.''
If the 'Canes extend their winning streak to 35 games and capture a sixth national title, it would cap an unprecedented 20-year dynasty.
‘‘We're not really worried about streaks and stuff,'' said head coach Larry Coker, whose team is trying to become the second since 1979 to take consecutive national crowns.
Since 1983, when Howard Schnellenberger led Miami to its first national crown with a 31-30 upset of Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, the Hurricanes won titles in 1987 under Jimmy Johnson, in '89 and '91 under Dennis Erickson, and last season under Coker.
Miami could have won titles in 1986, 1992 and 1994, but lost bowl games each time.
Miami is 201-39 since the start of the '83 season, with three perfect seasons (this would be No. 4).
Along the way, there were two other huge winning streaks — an NCAA-record 58-game home streak from 1985-94, and a 29-game run from 1990-93.
How did all this happen at a school that nearly dropped football in the mid-1970s, and still was drawing crowds of 11,000 to the 75,000-seat Orange Bowl in 1980?
The first piece of the puzzle probably was snapped into place by Lou Saban, briefly Miami's coach, who left a legacy by recruiting quarterback Jim Kelly.

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