Kenny Calhoun - Part II

The University of Miami football team didn't have much time to enjoy it's first national championship as coach Howard Schnellenberger would leave for an ill-fated job in the USFL, shortly after spring practice in late May of 1984. Into the breach stepped a relatively unknown coach by the name of Jimmy Johnson who came in from Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he had coached at Oklahoma St.

"It's always tough being a senior to have a new staff coming in, it's kinda hard to take," said Calhoun, of that tumultuous off-season. "We really felt we could've repeated with a championship with everything intact. But Johnson is a great coach, it's just any time you have transition in the program, you change stuff, do some stuff differently, you're not going to have the cohesiveness you had the prior year. So it was just a transition process. It was a good process for the school, but you hate to see someone like Coach Schnellenberger leave."

Calhoun was not stunned by his departure.

"It's a business, people do business, I wasn't stunned," says Calhoun of Schnellenberger who's career mark at Miami was 41 wins and 16 losses. "When you learn everything that went on and the reasons why he did leave. Coach Schnellenberger's a proud man, you've got to understand the business and once you get over the initial shock, it's business as usual."

Schnellenberger had reportedly clashed with school president Tad Foote, who came aboard in 1981 and athletic director Sam Jankovich, who was hired in the spring of 1983. He was also frustrated by the lack of plans for an on-campus stadium and the way he was compensated in his contract.

But while the head coach was new, Johnson was forced to keep the old staff that was left behind by Schnellenberger, which meant three holdovers: Tom Olivadotti, Gary Stevens and Bill Trout, who had wanted the head coaching job, would have to be retained by Johnson. Olivadotti, would resign quickly and be replaced by one of Johnson's assistants at Oklahoma St., Butch Davis. Stevens and Trout would remain as the offensive and defensive coordinators.

And things would start off pretty well for the Johnson led Canes, they would open the season in the Meadowlands of New Jersey by upsetting number one Auburn, 20-18, as Calhoun and Co. would keep Bo Jackson in check. Five days later, a late Bernie Kosar fade to Eddie Brown in the back of the end zone would catapult UM to a thrilling 32-20 win over the hated Gators in Tampa Bay. The win would lift Miami to the top of the ratings but the run would end quickly as they would lose to Michigan in 'the Big House' the next week, 22-14.

The Hurricanes would be 8-2 before the wheels started coming off defensively, as Miami would lose a string of thrilling, yet heart-breaking losses. They would blow a 31-0 lead at home to Maryland, losing by a score of 42-40, then on Thanksgiving weekend they would fall to Boston College on a 'Hail Flutie', 47-45 and then the defense would blow another late lead to UCLA in the '85 Fiesta Bowl, losing 39-37 on a late field goal by John Lee.

Part of the problem was that Miami had lost nine defensive starters from the previous campaign.

"You try to fill a lot of voids, you got younger players," explained Calhoun, of the late season collapse. "I don't know, you don't want to point fingers because I was part of it."

And there was also an acute clash of philosophies. Trout, like Olivadotti ran a three-man front that relied on tying up blockers for the linebackers. Johnson, was accustomed to a 4-3 defense that shot gaps and read on the run as they went upfield. Regardless, this Miami defense couldn't stop a leaky faucet.

"Yeah, there were different philosophies," Calhoun admitted. "Bill Trout was a good guy, he was from the Schnellenberger era. Although we changed a bunch of things and coaches didn't see things the same way. But everything fell into it that led us to giving up all those plays. You just gotta make plays."

Calhoun would finish his Hurricane career with 211 total tackles, five interceptions and Miami would go 35-12 during his career in the orange-and-green, with a national championship and births in the Orange and Fiesta Bowls.

Multitudes of Hurricanes have gone onto the NFL once they have exhausted their eligibility. But the reality is, many more never play a down of football ever again. Calhoun would have to make the adjustment to life without football.

"It's a major adjustment, you just got to get in the mindset that it was a great career, you hope it lasts forever," says Calhoun, who came to Miami from Astronaut High in Titusville, Florida. "But the reality is, 95-percent of the time for most football players, that it doesn't last that long at all. You're happy to make it to the college level, let alone the pro's."

In 1985 he would serve as a graduate assistant for Miami before venturing into the real world.

"I went to work for First American Bank and Trust in Cocoa Beach and hit the job market," says Calhoun. Now Calhoun, who resides in Lakeland, Florida with his wife Dorothy and his two sons, works for the sheriffs office in Polk County and is a certified notary-signing agent. "I'm just working and being a family man, laying low and coaching basketball and football with my sons."

But he looks back fondly on his collegiate days and it's clear what his greatest achievement was- and it's not the '83 national title.

"My college education, of course," he says, proudly. "I majored in business management and organization and it's something my mom wanted for me to do. I didn't realize the importance back them but I dedicated myself to make that happen for her. And as I look back now, it's just a diamond in the rough. You can't replace a college education. Minus going to the pro's, there's nothing better than that."

Calhoun still follows the program closely, like many others who played at Miami.

"Oh, yeah," he states. "I go to all the home games. I'm a die-hard Cane fan, I love it." And he says it's the closeness of the alumni and how they stay tied to the program that separates Miami. "Absolutely, if you look at any college program, we've had so many head coaches through the years, that 20 year period, and we really haven't missed a beat as far as being at the top of college football.

"You still have the players that come back and they welcome them back, it's just a lot of love."

Even during the down years, Calhoun was there supporting the team.

"It was by design," Calhoun says of the probation years. "They take 25-30 scholarships from you, you're only playing with like 56 games on scholarship, it's hard to compete. You're not going to get the blue-chip players that you were getting before.

"Once you're a Cane fan, you're still a Cane fan no matter what goes on. Butch did a great job with what he had and he brought us back."

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