Frank Costa Endures The High Expectations of Quarterback U

In the 1980s and early 90s, the starting quarterback at the University of Miami was the glamour position of college football. The U produced an amazing conga line of talented signal callers including Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh, Craig Erickson and Gino Torretta. Miami was Quarterback U and young talented high school passers from coast to coast wanted to be the next heir to the throne. One of those kids was Frank Costa from Philadelphia. He seemed to fit the mold. He had the size (6’4, 220 pounds), a strong arm and was a pocket passer who put up big numbers in high school. The bar had been set incredibly high by his predecessors who went on to win national championships, Heisman Trophies and go on to NFL glory. Expectations were huge and anything less than excellence was unacceptable. Costa would learn the hard way. Photo by JC Ridley.

From the time Costa arrived at UM in the fall of 1990, he was immediately compared to Vinny Testaverde. Like many of his predecessors, he patiently waited his turn. After redshirting in 1990, he backed up Gino Torretta for 2 seasons. Finally in 1993, it was his turn to be the next great UM quarterback. But things didn’t go exactly as planned. When Costa took over as Miami’s new starter, the Canes had graduated a number of talented receivers. Gone were Lamar Thomas, Horace Copeland, Kevin Williams, Darryl Spencer and tight end Coleman Bell. There was a noticeable drop off in talent at the receiver and offensive line positions. Costa struggled with his consistency and the offense became stagnant. He started hearing the boos from the Orange Bowl stands. Local sports talk radio was flooded with angry callers wanting him benched. Eventually, he was replaced by Ryan Collins.

For the first time in many years, the quarterback of the University of Miami was now seen as a weakness on the team. Costa had lost his confidence. He couldn’t turn on the radio or TV. Everywhere he went, Costa heard the criticism. It got so bad, one night he got into his car and just started driving. He drove all night and ended up just north of Orlando. He just wanted to get away from everyone. After a disappointing 1993 season, Costa was determined to get his job back. He regained the starting job as a senior in 1994 and led the Canes to a 10-2 record. The highlight of the season was a 34-20 win over Florida State. But there was still criticism and some low points. A loss to Washington ended Miami’s 58 game home win streak. His career would end with a loss to Nebraska in the Fed Ex Orange Bowl.

Frank Costa never made an NFL roster like his predecessors. His only professional experience was a short stint with the London Monarchs of World League of American Football (WLAF) in 1996. But since his departure from UM, only 3 Cane starting quarterbacks (Ken Dorsey, Brock Berlin and Malik Rosier) have led UM to at least 10 victories in a season. To read more stories about the Orange Bowl, visit us on Facebook at

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