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The Miami Hurricanes football team represents the University of Miami in the sport of American football. The Hurricanes compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The program began in 1926 and has won five AP national championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001). Miami is ranked fourth on the list of All-time Associated Press National Poll Championships, tied with Southern California and behind Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Alabama.
Two Hurricanes have won the Heisman Trophy and six have been inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame. Miami also holds a number of NFL Draft records, including most first round selections in a single draft and most consecutive drafts with at least one first round selection. As of the 2011 National Football League season, UM had the most players active in the NFL of any university in the nation, with 42. The team is coached by Al Golden and plays its home games at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
UM began with just a freshman football team in 1926. Its first game was played on October 23, 1926, a 7–0 win over Rollins College before 304 fans. Under the guidance of head coach Howard P. Buck, the freshman team posted a perfect 8–0 record in its inaugural season. Two of the wins were against the University of Havana, one on Thanksgiving Day in Miami and one at Havana on Christmas Day. Miami's last home game at of the season featured a first: the first Hurricane football game played on New Year's Day against Howard at Miami's University Stadium. Around this time, the team adopted the official nickname "Hurricanes," though the exact timing and origin of the name is unclear; some reports suggest it was in reference to the devastating power of the 1926 hurricane that postponed the program's first game by a month, and others that it was suggested by a player in response to rumors that university officials wanted to name the team after local flora or fauna.
Varsity competition began in 1927, with Miami beating Rollins 39–3 in its first game and going on to a 3–6–1 record. The team improved to 4–4–1 in 1928, but it was not enough for Buck to keep his job, and he was replaced prior to the 1929 season with J. Burton Rix, previously head coach at Southern Methodist. Rix's arrival was funded by a group of local businessmen. That off-season, the program, which competed as an independent during its first two years of existence, joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). 1929 saw Miami play its first varsity road game (a 14–0 loss at Southwest Louisiana), and Rix led the team to its first winning season, going 3–2. His tenure, however, was short-lived; off-campus financing for the program dried up in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, and he resigned after one season.
Ernest Brett replaced Rix, and in 1930, Miami played Temple in its first game outside the South, losing 34–0 to the Owls in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On October 31, 1930, the Hurricanes played in one of the nation's first night games vs. Bowden College in Miami. Brett only lasted one year, and Tom McCann became the program's fourth head coach in 1931.
Under McCann, the football program experienced its most successful seasons to that point. After a difficult first year, Miami put together a winning record in 1932 and served as host to the inaugural Palm Festival (later to be known as the Orange Bowl), defeating Manhattan College 7–0 at Moore Park in Miami. A 5–1–2 campaign and another Palm Festival berth followed in 1933, and in 1934, the program played in its first official bowl game, losing to Bucknell in the first Orange Bowl, 26–0.
In 1935, a group of Miami football supporters sought to hire Red Grange as coach. However, the move was vetoed by President Bowman Foster Ashe, in part because of the $7,500 salary that Grange had requested. Instead Irl Tubbs took over as head coach in 1935, and though Miami compiled an 11–5–2 record in his two seasons, it did not play in a bowl in either year.