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TGS ACC RETROSPECTIVE...DAYS OF THE MATADOR AND MAD STORK AT MIAMI
by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor


The Atlantic Coast Confernece of today bears little resemblance to its original alignment in 1953, with expansion having introduced several new members to the loop over the years. Especially so in the last decade as the ACC pillaged the Big East. Among those newcomer schools are several programs with their own colorful histories before joining the modern-day ACC, including the Miami Hurricanes...

A few years ago, when discussing college football’s impact on the Sunshine State, one of our longtime scouts, who was raised in the Miami area, provided us with a peek into the origin of the support bases for Florida’s (at the time) three major football programs.

“In Miami,” our friend said, “it was pretty easy to determine which people would follow which school. The Grits (traditional Southerners) all gravitated toward the Gators. The young and hip crowd seemed to like Florida State.

“Miami? It had a base of fans, people from the Keys and the New York-type transplants who had migrated to the area, although the program was beginning to get lost in the local media once the Dolphins showed up, especially when (Don) Shula arrived, and the (Paul) Warfield trade raised it to a crescendo. Still, the Canes were always kind of fun, and had a following.”


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Indeed, “fun” has always seemed an appropriate label for Miami football. And, contrary to the beliefs of many in the ESPN generation who might believe the Canes didn’t get on the college football map until the early ’80s when rising to prominence under Howard Schnellenberger, Miami had in fact registered on college football radar screens decades earlier. As usual, those Canes were as colorful as the green and copper and subsequently orange-hued uniforms worn by their teams.

During our publishing history at TGS, we recall that pre-Schnellenberger era at "The U" when the Canes were one of the fresh faces on the college football scene, threatening to break into the elite level and reaching bowl games in the ‘60s when such invitations were rewards for real accomplishment, not like today when .500 (or, occasionally, worse) records can qualify a team for the postseason.

One unique element of the 1950s and ‘60s Miami football was the Friday night home games, which became a staple at the Orange Bowl. With local high schools mostly playing their games on Thursday nights, and transplants from elsewhere often paying attention to their former college affiliations on Saturdays (or, for the many local U of Florida fans, paying attention to the Gators), the Canes would usually have Friday to themselves, forcing the local media to pay attention. Saturday afternoons into November were also often hot and humid in south Florida, and the night-time kickoffs provided a more comfortable climate. In the days prior to wall-to-wall TV coverage, radio exposure was also important, and the Canes could get prime recognition on the AM dials; Sonny Hirsch and Dave Blount would broadcast the Canes games on Friday night, or road games on Saturday, after doing the Coral Gables HS game on WKAT radio Miami Beach on Thursday night. Saturday morning coverage in the local papers was also a bonus, as there was usually room in the sports section for the Friday games to be dissected. The Friday games also gave the Canes a bit of extra exposure to the north, which would have no reason to pay attention to Miami if it played on Saturdays.

The Canes would rise to some prominence under colorful HC Andy Gustafson, who served for 16 seasons between 1948-63, leading UM to a 93-65 coach in what, at the time, became known as "The Glory Years" of Hurricane football. He developed the "Drive Series" belly option, considered the forerunner of the veer and wishbone offenses, while his teams went to four bowl games, and nine of his players earned first team All-America status. Gustafson had earlier served as HC at Virginia Tech in the late 20's before working as an assistant at Pitt, Dartmouth, and Army, serving as a right-hand man for the legendary Earl “Red” Blaik at the latter two institutions, before assuming control at Miami after the war.

Gustafson was a character...but also an alcoholic, as recounted by longtime Miami Herald sports editor Edwin Pope.

“I just loved Gus,” said Pope. “He was a wonderful guy. When I first came down here I was covering the University of Florida, but I got to know Gus in 1956. He was in Alcoholics Anonymous and loved to tell me the story about his brother, who said, ‘When you feel your worst, look your best.’

“Once, Gus told me that had this horrible hangover and came in the office at six in the morning, as he usually did, dressed up in a suit. After a while he couldn’t stand wearing it any more, so he got into his car and went out to an old hangout by Tropical Park race track. He figured at 6:30 in the morning that nobody in there would recognize him. He put on his dark sunglasses and pulled his cap over his eyes and sat down at the bar. He said, ‘Scotch and soda, please.’ The bartender said, ‘Coming right up, coach!’ Gus didn’t bother to have the drink and went back to his office.”

Gustafson had been the backfield coach at Army when Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard were winning Heisman Trophies, and with the Canes he installed the afroementioned and innovative offense known as the Miami Drive Series. A forerunner of the wishbone, the offense lined up three backs in a T-formation and started each play with either a fake or a handoff to the fullback.

The Drive Series helped key the biggest win in the program's young history, in 1950. The Canes traveled to Purdue one week after the Boilermakers had beaten Notre Dame 28-14, ending the Irish's unbeaten streak at 39 games. When news of Miami's colossal 20-14 upset of Purdue reached Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy, he said, "I have known for several years that Andy was one of football's better coaches. But I honestly did not believe he could possibly bring Miami to such great heights in such a short space of time."

The combination of respectable teams and the unique Friday night home games allowed attendance at the Orange Bowl to quickly become respectable (an average of 42,495 by '51) as Miami fans came to cheer players lured from cold-weather states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. By the time we had begun to publish TGS, however, the Hurricanes' first true superstar actually came north to play.

That would be do-everything QB George Mira, who would finish fifth in the 1962 Heisman Trophy balloting (a year in which Oregon State QB Terry Baker would win the award). Mira was a local product from nearby Key West and nicknamed “The Matador,” with dark skin, flashing white teeth, and eyebrows that appeared to have been "laid on by an asphalt paver" according to a logal wag. His jug ears would also almost stick straight out. He was also a chronic hypochondriac who claimed that the Miami weather gave him colds. (Mira insisted that the winters were far colder than in Key West.) He was afraid to fly, taking sleeping pills before each trip, except for the time he commandeered the plane's public address system and said, in a thick Spanish accent, "Thees ees Captain Mira. We are heading for Havana."

But Mira had a rifle for a right arm. When Gustafson sent the quarterback out for his first varsity game, in 1961, he told him, "It's your club to run, George. You can throw the ball whenever you like. And don't worry about a thing, George, because you're the greatest." That seemed to be the consensus of the Hurricanes' community as Mira led Miami to a 7-3 record and a Liberty Bowl slot in Philadelphia opposite Syracuse. In '63 longtime Miami publicist George Gallet put out a 16-page booklet entitled The Amazing George Mira. The tome revealed to “Miraphiles” that he could throw sidearm (when too sore to throw overhand), left-handed (for the winning touchdown against Florida in '61 when his right arm was occupied by a defender) and even catch his own passes, as he did against TCU in '62. But Mira’s most sublime performance might have come in the '62 Gotham Bowl at frigid Yankee Stadium, when he completed 24 of 46 passes for 321 yards and two TDs in a 36-34 loss to Nebraska. That showing prompted Cornhuskers coach Bob Devaney to gush, "He's the greatest passer I ever saw in college."

(Mira’s pro career endured for more than a decade, eventually as QB for the WFL Birmingham Americans, who would win the league’s only title in 1974. Although Mira would be involved in one of the more-infamous plays in NFL history, as while a San Francisco 49ers QB in 1964 he would complete a pass to none other than Bill Kilmer, whose subsequent fumble was returned 66 yards the wrong way by Vikings DE Jim Marshall, who would fling the ball into the stands at Kezar Stadium after crossing the goal line, resulting in a safety).

Ah, yes, the Gotham Bowl. It lasted for only two years in the early ‘60s, first at the old Polo Grounds in 1961, then to Yankee Stadium in 1962. Miami, featuring Mira, had turned down an invitation to the in-state Gator Bowl in Jacksonville; instead the Canes got freezing weather, a newspaper strike, and a poorly-planned game at “The House that Ruth Built” in The Bronx.

The opponent, Nebraska, wasn’t even selected until 11 days before the December 15 kickoff, and there were more problems thereafter, with both schools refusing to show up unless $30,000 had been placed in an escrow account for each prior to kickoff. Indeed, the neither team would fly to the Big Apple until such funds were deposited, which, upon intervention from New York Mayor Bob Wagner, finally happened 15 minutes before a deadline imposed by the Canes and Huskers.

Both teams would eventually show up...along with a mere 6,166 fans, who braved 17-degree weather at ice-covered and snow-banked Yankee Stadium. There was no national TV, so the masses missed a wild game featuring six lead changes before Nebraska would prevail. To no one’s surprise, the Gotham Bowl would disappear thereafter.

After the 1963 season, Gustafson retired, and for a while the Canes planned to make attempts to lure high-profile coaches such as Nebraska’s Devaney, Northwestern’s Ara Parseghian (who would shortly thereafter take the Notre Dame job), and AFL Kansas City Chiefs HC Hank Stram, before settling upon Georgia Tech assistant Charlie Tate, who had earlier won four state titles in five years at Miami Senior High.

Belive it or not, Tate was also hired in a meeting at a Sunday school room following a funeral for school trustee Daniel H. Redfeard. Tate and all of the athletic committee board members were to be at the funeral, when it was decided to save everyone involved an extra trip and simply meet Tate after the service, when Tate was selected as coach.

Tate was a different sort of character, one with a round face with billowing cheeks, and when he smiled his eyes would almost disappear into the fleshy mass. Because of this and his hearty laugh, which some equated to the rapid pounding-together of bed slats, he was appropriately called “Jolly Cholly” Tate. Cholly was jolly, alright, especially when sitting around at the cocktail hour or rolling along in a golf cart.

But when it came to coaching football, Cholly was definitely not jolly. He was instead Dead Serious Cholly. Growly-gruff, inspirationally hard-nosed Cholly, one of those coaches who would succeed because he would put all of himself into the business of coaching football. Growly Cholly would close the door to his wood-paneled office at Miami and sit there by the hour, thinking nothing but football.

Tate arrived at Miami in 1964, after five years assisting Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech, but he had long been a devout Florida man. He played high school football in Jacksonville, was a star fullback at the University of Florida and as mentioned had been highly successful as the head coach at Miami High. At Tech, Tate was also known for his ability to attract Florida athletes.

Tate attracted Florida athletes to Miami, too. Three of his best players--DE Ted Hendricks (a local product from the Hialeah High Thoroughbreds, one of the great team names; more on him in a moment), WR Jimmy Cox, Guard Bill Chambless--were all Florida-bred, and part of the reason Tate turned down an offer to succeed Dodd at Georgia Tech in 1967.

"Tate probably got bonus money from boosters happy with wins," said our TGS operative and Miami native Daniel M. Gray. "His salary had to be not much, because UM paid Ron Fraser as baseball coach only $2,500 when he arrived in ’63, and he had to supplement his pay by working at the Coral Gables Youth Center at a second job. I figure Charlie was probably getting $7-8K, and bonuses might have doubled that with wins."

Tate's first team in '64 started slowly, blanked in its first two games and winless until midseason when it uncorked a 4-game win streak behind soph southpaw QB Bob Biletnikoff, a future NY Yankees baseball draftee and younger brother of Florida State WR and future Raiders Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff.

Tate’s second Miami team, in 1965, featured future pros LB Ed Weisacosky on the stop end and Raiders RB Pete Banaszak on attack and gave some hints of good things to come when blanking a physical Syracuse 24-0, and beating Steve Spurrier and Sugar Bowl-bound Florida 16-13. The U would be involved in another memorable shutout in the regular-season finale at the Orange Bowl against Notre Dame. Although in that game vs. the Irish, Miami would not score either, as the Domers would miss four field goals in the process.

The following season in 1966, the Canes shot to prominence as the decorated “Mad Stork” Hendricks, a 6'8 sophomore defensive end, emerged as a star. A hump game for the program came in one of those Friday night Orange Bowl specials in late October when John McKay’s powerhouse Southern Cal trekked to Miami with an unblemished 6-0 mark and number five ranking in the polls. But Tate had plotted the ambush for the Trojans’ first-ever trip to the Sunshine State.

The Miami defense, led by the Mad Stork, would hold the powerful SC infantry, led by future NFL RB Don McCall, to a mere 81 rushing yards, and would also feature in one of the more-gruesome injuries of the season when colliding in the 2nd Q with Trojan punter Rich Leon, who would suffer a gruesome compound fracture of his leg. The resultant roughing-the-punter penalty would keep alive an SC drive that would eventually die at the Miami 10, yet late in the first half, SC would strike for its lone score when back Rod Sherman lofted an 8-yard option TD pass to end Ron Drake that gave the Trojans a 7-3 lead at intermission. But the only scoring of the second half was done by the Canes in a drive featuring FB Doug McGee, who capped a 58-yard march with a 4-yard TD blast on the first snap of the fourth quarter.

That 10-7 win over brought Miami coast-to-coast recognition and triggered a move into the rankings, and the regular season concluded with a rousing 21-16 win at Orange Bowl-bound Florida and Heisman winning QB Steve Spurrier, who was harassed all afternoon by Hendricks. Spurrier would also be outplayed by Cane QB Bill Miller, who accounted for 271 yards that included his own 40-yard TD run. Miami would finish the regular season at 7-2-1 and slotted ninth in the final AP poll before concluding the year at 8-2-1 by beating Virginia Tech, 14-7, in the Liberty Bowl, which had moved to Memphis the year before.

Much was expected of Miami in the following ‘67 season, especially with 17 of 22 starters back in the fold for an almost unabridged version of the ‘66 team that could have appropriately been a major bowl entry after defeating three qualifiers for “big bowls” (Georgia-Cotton, USC-Rose, Florida-Orange) during the regular season. Much of the offseason chatter centered around the Thanksgiving weekend, Friday night visit of defending national champ Notre Dame, which had been involved in that infamous 0-0 tie the last time it traveled to the Orange Bowl in 1965. Locals dreamed of the Canes reaching that ninth game as an unbeaten team. In anticipation of “The Game” circa 1967, there was been a record season-ticket sale at Miami. Even the coaches were shaken up by the prospect; it was said that assistant coach and o.c. Ken Shipp, when on the way with a friend to play golf at Marco Island, drove two miles past the course to the yacht club, distracted when the conversation turned to Notre Dame.

Dreams of a top-of-the-polls late-season unbeaten showdown vs. the Irish were dashed early, however. After ranking fifth in preseason polls, the ‘67 Canes started slowly, upset by Northwestern in their opener at Evanston and then dropping a 17-8 verdict to Joe Paterno’s second Penn State team, as Miami disappeared quickly from national title discussion. The Canes recovered to win their next six, however, including a 17-15 triumph at Baton Rouge over Sugar Bowl-bound LSU, the Canes’ first win over the Tigers in 21 years, and were again getting votes in the weekly AP and UPI polls by the time Notre Dame did finally arrive in Miami for that ballyhooed Thanksgiving Friday night Orange Bowl slug-out.

In the beginning they were going to be giants, and their game was going to decide the national championship. But before the season was much past the national anthem both Notre Dame and Miami had lost two games. Tate found there was no escaping his critics; once he went to a quiet little Chinese restaurant where he could avoid his critics at lunchtime, and four total strangers came up to him with suggestions. So one night, with nobody to talk to but himself, he sat at his desk at home, took up pad and pencil, and by dawn he had rewritten Miami's offense. He turned Miami into a running team.

In far-off South Bend, Indiana, Ara Parseghian was telling his Irish players much the same thing. He said he was going to quit having Terry Hanratty throw hundreds of passes, because the linemen were getting soft, blocking in mark time and saying to themselves that Hanratty would save the day. After that, the Notre Dame team that was to have been 1967's biggest, strongest and most likely to succeed, began to play. It came off losses to Purdue and Southern Cal with a 2-2 record and won five straight as it hit the Orange Bowl. And Miami had won six straight.

It was not the collision heard round the world that had been predicted in September, but it at least reached the quivering ears of the most distant ticket-holder in the Orange Bowl, where 77,265 nervous cases, sitting on the grass and in the aisles, made up the largest crowd ever to see a football game in Florida.

Neither team deserved to lose. Although at times, neither team seemed destined to win, either. Miami got two touchdowns 18 seconds apart in the second quarter--nobody had scored on Notre Dame in the second quarter all year--and had to drive all of 26 yards to get them. The first was set up by a 49-yard punt return by a little cricket named Jimmy Dye, who was 20 pounds smaller than anybody on the Notre Dame team. The second came when Notre Dame's Dan Harshman fumbled the following kickoff after a vicious tackle and Miami recovered the ball on the 17, preceding a 1-yard TD run by QB David Olivo.

But the Hurricanes missed the extra point after their second touchdown, which left them ahead 13-3. The miss probably cost them a tie. Notre Dame came back to lead 24-16 in the fourth quarter, and then Miami scratched out its last touchdown, to make it 24-22 with three minutes to play. Tate now ordered a two-point conversion that was to begin with his quarterback--Bill Miller, at the time--asking for the ball to be placed on the left hashmark so that he could roll to the right. Miller, in his excitement, did not do this. His roll-out came to the wrong side and into the jaws of Notre Dame defensemen he should have steered clear of--Kevin Hardy, Bob Olson, Tom O'Leary and people like them. Olson easily batted away Miller's pass, and Notre Dame had its win.

The decision went to Notre Dame 24-22. No knockout. It might just as well have been a draw, or gone the other way. Miami did things to Notre Dame that no other team could do. It held the offense to 250 yards and, except for Southern Cal, was the only team that outgained the Irish.

Miami was still bowl-worthy, however, and would qualify for Houston’s Bluebonnet Bowl against Eddie Crowder’s Colorado Buffaloes, but Miami could not replicate its bowl success of the previous season vs. VPI. Victimized by Colorado QB (and future RB) Bob Anderson, the Canes fell 31-21, but had still qualified for back-to-back bowls, an impressive accomplishment for the era.

The Tate Hurricanes were still newsworthy entering 1968 and gained mention in the preseason polls (ranked 20th) mostly because of the “Mad Stork” Hendricks, who had become something of a celebrity in his own right, along with O.J. Simpson and Leroy Keyes as the three most heralded college players of the season. Hendricks had earned All-American recognition as a junior in ‘67, as well as gracing the covers of several 1968 gridiron preview magazines.

Hendricks was also an excellent student, a physics major who rebuilt sports cars in the little spare time he had. "He could be a Rhodes scholar, “ said Tate. “He could be anything. Listen, he could be governor."

The Miami defense, which players call the Green Machine, was fiercely parsimonious. Beyond Hendricks it would also include DE Tony Cline, who would eventually feature with the Oakland Raiders. But its prince was, the 6'8, 229-pound Mad Stork, who was All-Everything. He was large--too tall for the Army to draft but fine for the pro draft, thank you--fast and loose. The “Mad Stork” label seemed appropriate, as when bearing down on quarterbacks, arms and legs flailing, he looked like a ponderous, menacing bird...hence the “Mad Stork” nickname.

In his sophomore and junior years, the Mad Stork dropped 247 enemy runners ("Hendricksphiles" counted such things) and recovered eight fumbles. In 1967, against Pitt, he blocked a quick kick and ran it back to Pitt's 16, setting up a touchdown; against Virginia Tech, he enabled Miami to get its winning score by slamming the ball out of the quarterback's hand and then recovering it 20 yards farther down-field, and against Tulane he twice stole the ball from Quarterback Bobby Duhon. His hands and arms were so strong that he could reach up and make tackles after he has been knocked down.

"If you don't believe he's good," says Tate, "then just ask any quarterback we've faced the last two years."

Coach Ray Graves of Florida agreed. "Hendricks is the only player I know who could make All-America at four positions," said the Gator coach.

"Four positions?" someone said to Tate. "I wonder if one of them just might be quarterback?"

"I dunno," said Tate, thoughtfully, "I dunno."

But wide receiver? Maybe.

End Coach Walt Kichefski has exaggerated that a leaping Hendricks presented a 14-foot obstacle for a quarterback to throw over. He could have also presented a 14-foot target to throw to, and that almost happened, as he came to Miami as an offensive end (and played there for one snap as a soph, dropping a pass vs. Pitt), giving Tate a new idea heading into ‘68.

Anxious to get Hendricks involved in the Heisman Trophy debate, Tate toyed with the idea of using the Mad Stork on the attack end in a specially named “Jump Ball” offense. “We‘re trying to help Hendricks get the Heisman by using him at offensive end in certain situations,” said Tate during spring practice.

So Tate created the “Jump Ball Offense” on the goal line with Hendricks, 6'4 Ray Bellamy (who broke the color line at Miami as the Canes’ first black football player) and 6'3 Dave Kalina in the lineup. Quarterback David Olivo would fire the ball high in the end zone, and the receivers would try to win a jump ball for the pigskin.

The Mad Stork, however, suffered a chest injury and missed the spring game, when Tate planned to experiment with the play. In the fall, the “Jump Ball Offense” would be used only once, late in the 28-7 win over Northwestern in the opener at the Orange Bowl. “If we had to beat teams by 28 points to get in our Jump Ball offense, I saw no future in that,” said the Mad Stork.

Tate, however, had grown exasperated with his QBs. “Having a pro offense like ours with great receivers but no first-rate QB is like having a new limousine with a chimpanzee at the wheel,” said the coach.

At least Tate was honest about his team’s shortcomings, although he wondered aloud why he had so much trouble finding a proper on-field pilot at one of the most modern campuses in the country, spread across 260 lush subtropical acres that lured 17,000 students to a locale ornamented by colorful, stylish classroom buildings and residency halls, a magnificent student center, a nine-story library and a five-story Computing Center. Its Institute of Marine Sciences was one of the best-known oceanographic stations in the world, and its research vessels scoured the seas on marine missions.

"We have a responsibility to maintain an atmosphere in which ideas may flourish," said Dr. Henry King Stanford from the president's chair. "Where students may become acquainted with the accumulated knowledge of the ages, where they will be intellectually challenged and inspired to make a contribution toward preserving and extending the finest that is bequeathed to us."

And plenty of sunshine-loving co-eds, too,

"Damn," said Tate, who had a responsibility to win football games. "With all of that, you'd think I could find just one quarterback."

Ah, the plight of Tate and his Hurricanes. They almost had it all--lots of powerful running backs, a defense that never would have allowed Santa Anna inside the Alamo, a cornucopia of gifted, if young, receivers. And the Mad Stork. Almost everything...except a quarterback.

The hope for ‘68 was that Olivo, a 6'2, 215-pound senior who began the ‘67 season as a fullback and ended it as the No. 1 quarterback, could flourish. Olivo's drawback was that he played like a fullback. At best, he was a mediocre passer, completing only 44% of this throws as a junior in ‘67, often guilty of indecisiveness. For the Canes to make a serious move in ‘68, Olivo had to deliver.

Unhappily, the ‘68 offense would be operating behind a largely inexperienced line. Miami lost six of its first seven linemen, and the lone returnee, James Schneider, was a center who had been moved to tackle. "Our offensive line is not as big as we'd like," said Tate, "but it has good speed. It needs maturity."

Maturity needed to happen in a hurry, with tough dates before midseason against Georgia Tech, USC and LSU. But the Hurricanes had a history of starting dismally, as they had done in '66 and '67. "The only way they can ever go unbeaten," grumbled an experienced Miami observer, "is to start with five open dates."

The Canes surprised that doubter when they opened ‘68 by avenging the previous year’s loss to Northwestern in the aforementioned 28-7 romp, when QB Olivo gave hope of better things to come when passing for 240 yards and 3 TDs. A 10-7 win at Bud Carson’s Georgia Tech in the second game set up a much-discussed early-season showdown in Los Angeles against O.J. Simpson and second-ranked, defending national champion USC. Hollywood took notice of the matchup, too; popular actor Charlton Heston, not long after completing Planet of the Apes and at the time filming a football-themed movie entitled Number One in which he played Cat Catlan, a QB for the New Orleans Saints, would grace the sideline at the venerable Coliseum as the attention of the college football world centered upon Los Angeles for the visit of the Mad Stork and the 13th-anked Hurricanes.

Trojan HC John McKay said that the simple thing, and the most predictable thing, would be for USC to run "away" from The Mad Stork. Most teams aimed their plays away from him..but not McKay. "We want to run at him," McKay said, smiling slightly. "We don't think they pursue as well to his side as they do to the other side when he is doing the pursuing. He gets up steam going across the field and catches people. And he never lets up. We want to break past him or around him. We don't think he can turn around and catch O. J. from behind."

As always, Hendricks would be ready. Lining up outside the end, on the left side as the Miami defense faced a foe, he looked for things that would tell him where the play is going, things which have helped him cause 12 fumbles in his career. "On a running play the man on offense who is opposite you has to dig in with his back foot and rest his weight on his arms and hands," The Mad Stork said before the game. "And because I'm right on his head, I can't see his feet. I look at his arm. If the muscles bulge out, I know it's a running play and he's coming straight at me. This is what I'll look for with Bob Klein, who'll be blocking on me most of the night. By his first move, I'll know where the play's going. If he blocks me head-on, I'll know that O. J. is running inside. If he comes at an angle, I'll figure it's a sweep. If he goes downfield, it's a sweep to the opposite side. If the muscles don't bulge, he's set to pass protect."

Like a lot of things in life, most of the fun regarding the showdown game was in the anticipation. Only twice during the night was Hendricks even in a position to grab O.J. and stop him for no gain. The Stork got himself fooled a few times, too, as McKay had planned, and Hendricks was run straight at frequently. Once, on McKay's famous Student Body Right sweep, O.J. flashed around Hendricks' end for 30 yards--his longest gain of the night.

Simpson's two touchdowns came from close range. He dived over guard for one, and he slanted over left tackle--away from Hendricks--for the other from three yards away. The Mad Stork's biggest moment came when his long claw reached out and caused Fullback Dan Scott to fumble, an error that Miami's futile offense could not take advantage of. Hendricks really was not close enough to O.J. the entire evening to speak to him. The final score was 28-3 in SC’s favor.

"Miami has a pro-style offense," McKay deadpanned after the game, "which is great as long as you can throw and catch." The USC defense kept Miami from doing much of either.

The hyped-up matchup in L.A. proved the beginning of the end for the ‘68 Canes and indeed the start of an extended downturn for the program. Tate's Miami was never really the same afterward. Although shutout wins over a decent LSU (a 30-0 victim) and a bad Pitt (a 48-0 loser) would still be to come in ‘68, the campaign ended on a downer with three straight losses to Penn State, Alabama, and Florida. Instead of another bowl and a possible Heisman for the Mad Stork (who finished fifth in the final balloting, won in a landslide by O.J.), Miami finished at 5-5.

Hendricks would move on to the NFL as a second-round draft pick of the Colts and eventually enjoyed a decorated pro career that included a high-profile stint with the Raiders. But things were not the same for Charlie Tate, whose ‘69 team would disappoint at 4-6. Then, things became very strange early in the 1970 season. Miami opened with a 36-14 win over William & Mary in the Orange Bowl, but only 27,286 showed up to watch. The same week, the hometown Dolphins of the newly-merged NFL, in their first season under Don Shula, drew 57,140 to the same Orange Bowl. Miami was forgetting about the Canes and embracing the Dolphins.

The next week at Georgia Tech, Miami was upset 31-21, and Tate had seen enough. On the following Tuesday, Tate resigned as head coach and AD, effective immediately. Moreover, Tate spoke to no reporters and had only left a statement that his resignation “was in the best interest of the university and its athletic program.” Tate would vanish from public view for five days until granting an interview from Jacksonville, at his brother’s home.

“I haven’t been hiding from anyone,” Tate said. “I’m just trying to collect my thoughts. I just got tired of the job and thought I would be better off somewhere else.”

A few weeks alter, Tate would reveal that his wife and three sons would be harassed by obscene phone calls, defilement of his yard with manure, and vandalism of his car. He also cited a lack of communication between the school administrators and the athletic department, and his frustration with pro football and the growing popularity of the local Dolphins. Tate would go on to coach small town high schools in Florida, as well as a brief stint as an assistant coach with the New Orleans Saints and head coach in the short-lived WFL runs of the Jacksonville Sharks (1974) and successsor Jacksonville Express (1975).

The story of Tate’s disappearance was one of the stranger tales of 1970, as remembered by the Miami Herald’s longtime sports editor Edwin Pope. “He just vanished,” Pope would recall in the days after Tate’s resignation. “Two days later, Eddie Storin, the Herald’s executive sports editor, came into the office and said, ‘OK Edwin, we’re going to find Charlie Tate.’ So we got in a car and started driving through the state. We both knew he had a lot of connections throughout the state.

“George Trogdon, the famous Miami High coach who’d worked for Charlie, had some orange groves up by Leesburg. We found his little house out in the orange groves started talking to George, and he was saying how horrible it was about Charlie. We kept badgering him, and he said, ‘I haven’t heard from Charlie, but he’s good friends with a guy who owns a sporting goods store in Leesburg.' At nine or ten at night we found him there. He looked very crestfallen and said, ‘I guess you found me.’ We went to a Holiday Inn and he poured his soul out.

“He said people had knocked in the trunk of his car with a tire iron and dumped manure on his lawn. As pigheaded as he was, he couldn’t stand any criticism. We asked him if he had any money. ‘No, I don’t have any money.’ He said he had a little Farm Store that made him a little money. He was in the depths.

“That’s the only time in my life that I’ve known of a college football coach leaving during the season. I’ve done the research and I’ve never heard of a guy doing that. So you knew he was desperate.

“One thing that got him down was the Miami Dolphins. It quickly became apparent when the Dolphins started their franchise in the late ‘60s that people were going to go crazy over them. Charlie said, ‘They’re in the paper 365 days a year and nobody mentions us until the middle of August, and they never talk about us after the season.' That’s what did him in.”


Tate’s sudden departure began a turbulent decade for the Canes. Miami should have installed a revolving door at its football office for the parade of head coaches in the 70s, as seven would hold the job in the decade. As Jonathan Rand of the Miami News would write as new HC Howard Schnelneberger moved into the football offices in January of 1979, “He probablly found curtains put up by Fran Curci, rugs laid by Pete Elliott, pictures hung by Carl Selmer, and furniture put in by Lou Saban. It seemed there was always a moving can in front of Hecht Athletic Center.”

Of course, the arrival of Schnellenberger would begin a whole new chapter of Miami football, one that would be far more glorious than anything the Canes could have dreamed about previously.

But Schnellenberger continued one trait of the Hurricanes...they remained, as always, a pretty colorful bunch!


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