Hubbard Alexander: A Trailblazer at UM

University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson is pictured with assistant coaches Hubbard Alexander (left), Don Soldinger and Dan Werner in 1987. Although the Miami Hurricane teams of the 1980s were stocked with plenty of talented black players, Hubbard Alexander was the only African American full time assistant coach during the Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson regimes. Alexander coached wide receivers at the University of Miami from 1979 to 1988. During his 10 seasons at UM, Alexander developed many of the great receivers in Canes history including Eddie Brown, Stanley Shakespeare, Michael Irvin, Brian Blades and Brett Perriman. During his time at UM, the Canes won two national championships.

But Alexander’s contributions at UM go beyond coaching receivers. He was also known as a great recruiter. He was a former high school coach in both Memphis and Chicago and used his connections to help bring many talented athletes to Miami. He was particularly successful in Chicago, where he recruited a pipeline of Windy City players to Miami including offensive linemen Alvin Ward, Dave Alekna, Mike Sullivan, Rod Holder, receiver Andre Brown and defensive tackle Russell Maryland.

In 1989, Alexander joined Jimmy Johnson’s staff with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was reunited with his former UM pupil Michael Irvin. He was a part of 3 Super Bowl championship teams in Dallas to go along with this 2 national championships with the Canes.

But Alexander’s coaching career was also symbolic of the struggles of African American coaches. Despite his success recruiting, developing and coaching talent, Alexander was never promoted beyond coaching receivers. The only other African American coach on UM’s staff from 1983 to 1991 was Alex Wood, who coached running backs under Dennis Erickson. Although the percentage of black players continues to rise, the amount of blacks given coordinator and head coaching jobs remains shamefully low in major college football. Hubbard Alexander passed away in 2016. He was 77 years old. To read more stories about the history of the Orange Bowl, visit us at

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