Miami Hurricanes Football: 10-Year Anniversary of 2001 National Championship Win

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Miami Hurricanes Football: 10-Year Anniversary of 2001 National Championship Win
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It has been 10 years since arguably the greatest team in college football history has taken the field.

On January 3, 2002, the Miami Hurricanes defeated Heisman winner Eric Crouch and the Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 in the Rose Bowl.

Co-MVP's Ken Dorsey and Andre Johnson helped the Hurricanes to a 34-0 halftime lead.

It was the Hurricanes fifth national title and their first in a decade after years of disappointment and shortcomings. 

Miami was controversially left out of the championship game the previous year, despite having an 11-1 record and a win over then number one Florida State—who eventually lost in the title game.

The Hurricanes finished the 2000 season ranked No. 2 in the country and began the 2001 season in the same spot.

There was a new head coach in Coral Gables that season, due to Butch Davis leaving to coach the Cleveland Browns after leading the Canes for six seasons. His offensive coordinator, Larry Coker, replaced him as head coach.

Nine of Miami's eleven regular-season wins came by atleast 22 points, but there were two close games on the road—Boston College (18-7) and Virginia Tech (26-24).

Miami averaged 42.6 points per game that season, and they gave up the fewest points in the nation, at 9.75 per game. Their average margin of victory of 32.9 points set a school record—an impressive achievement for a program that has been so dominant over the years. 

The 2001 Miami Hurricanes were the epitome of a well-rounded team. 

They abeat No. 14 Syracuse and No. 12 Washington in consecutive weeks by a combined score of 124-7. That set an NCAA record for highest margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents.

In 2005, when the USC Trojans were being proclaimed as the best team ever, an ESPN fan poll showed that the 2001 Miami Hurricanes were favored over the Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush-led juggernaut.

While the 2001 Hurricanes were dominant on the playing field, a big part of their legacy has been defined by the numerous NFL players that were on this roster, including 17 first round picks.

Six of those players were selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, setting a record for most first rounders from the same school in a draft class. 

In all, 38 players were drafted by NFL teams. That total also doesn't include undrafted players who appeared on NFL rosters as well.

No other team in college football history had a depth chart with three future Pro Bowl running backs—Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, and Frank Gore—or had a future Pro Bowl tight end—Kellen Winslow Jr.—backing up someone who would eventually be selected to play in four Pro Bowls—Jeremy Shockey.

This is in addition to Andre Johnson, who is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. 

Their stout defense featured the likes of future NFL stars such as Ed Reed, Vince Wilfork, Antrel Rolle, Jonathan Vilma, and the late Sean Taylor.

That's not too shabby for a team that lost four first-round picks from the previous year in Dan Morgan, Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, and Damione Lewis.

With countless NFL prospects on the roster, Ken Dorsey never seemed to get the respect he deserved, despite being a Heisman finalist twice, the Maxwell Award winner in 2001 and Archie Griffin Award winner in back-to-back seasons.

Dorsey set numerous school passing records at Miami and had a 38-2 record as the Hurricanes starter. One of those losses came on the road against No. 15 Washington in 2000 and the other against Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

After beating the Cornhuskers in dominant fashion in the Rose Bowl, the Hurricanes entered the 2002 season as heavy favorites to become the first repeat national champions in the program's history.

Miami dominated the regular season once again, going 12-0. All but one win came by double digits—a one-point win over Florida State. The Hurricanes were ranked No. 1 throughout the year, and they were an 11.5-point favorite in the Fiesta Bowl over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

A sixth national championship seemed to be on the way for a team that many said could have challenged the 2-14 Cincinnati Bengals that year. Instead, the Hurricanes controversially lost to a different Ohio team, 31-24 in double overtime in the national title game.

Although the Hurricanes were unable to clinch a second consecutive BCS National Championship, Miami still returned a strong team the following season. It didn't look like the program was going to be declining any time soon.

The 2003 Hurricanes went 11-2 and finished ranked No. 5 after winning the the Orange Bowl.

However Miami went 9-3 the next season and fell to 7-6 during a 2005 season that ended with Larry Coker being fired.

Some attribute the Hurricanes decline to their decision to move to the ACC in 2004, but a bigger reason for their swift fall from glory was Coker's inability to maintain the elite level of recruiting that Butch Davis brought to Coral Gables.

While Miami declined under Coker and were unable to return to national prominence during Randy Shannon's four years as head coach, Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators became the dominant team in the Sunshine State.

Meyer lead the Gators to two national titles and one No. 3 finish during his short tenure at UF.

Things got even worse this past season, as the Hurricanes failed to post a winning record for only the third time since 1979 in wake of the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

It's hard to believe where the program is now, compared to where it was a decade ago. However, the dominant teams in college football are often cyclical.

Miami Football may be down now, but so were Alabama and USC ten years ago. A decade later, the Crimson Tide are playing for their second national title in two seasons and the Trojans are once again a dominant West Coast force, despite a two-year bowl ban.

The Miami Hurricanes may be a national title contender in the near future, but it will certainly be at least another decade before another team in Coral Gables—or any college campus—ever comes close to matching the legacy of the 2001 Miami Hurricanes.

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