Hot Seat: That Other Old Coach
He has won a National Championship. He is unblemished in bowl games. He has revived three separate programs. He even dabbled in the professional game.
He started coaching in 1959, only nine years after Joe Paterno.
Howard Schnellenberger has done many things in the college football world.
But his current stint with the Florida Atlantic Owls might be coming to an end soon.
His 48-48 mark with the program is nothing to write home about...unless you consider the following: Schnellenberger has been coaching the Sun Belt Conference team since 2001, the programs first year of extinction.
FAU joined the SBC after being a Division 1-AA team its first four years, followed by a single year as a Division 1-A independent. Competing against programs that possess great fluidity and tradition is tough, especially when you are starting from scratch.
Starting in 1979, his twentieth year as a coach, Schnellenberger brought the University of Miami back into college football's limelight. His highlight was winning the 1983 National Championship. Coincidentally, that was his final year with the Hurricanes.
He jumped ship to coach a USFL team in Southern Florida. When those plans fell through, Schnellenberger took over at the University of Louisville.
His career coaching record of the Cardinals is below .500, due mainly to a rough first three years. During the next three seasons however, Schnellenberger brought UL to two bowl games, winning them both, as well as their highest ever ranking.
The guy has a complex named after him there...
Following the 1994 season, and in a rather arrogant manner, Schnellenberger took over the reigns to the Oklahoma Sooners.
Oklahoma suffered their second losing season since World War II.
In the midst of much speculation of whom to blame, cavalier coach or haughty "Sooner" players, Schnellenberger resigned.
From 1996-1998, Schnellenberger tried his luck in finance. Dismayed, he decided to recommit himself to the sport he loves.
FAU was putting together a football team, and who better to have at the helm than a coach who revived two programs? He lived in Florida, to boot.
Though old, he was experienced. Schnellenberger could recruit, and he recruited well.
As an Independent Division 1-AA team, in only its first four years of existence, Schnellenberger lead the Owls to a record of 26-21.
FAU jumped to Division 1-A as an Independent, and they faired rather poorly: 2-9.
The next three seasons were much more constructive. From 2006-2008, Schnellenberger placed the Owls at records of 5-7, 8-5 and 7-6, respectively. The latter two years featured FAU defeating Memphis 44-27 and Central Michigan 24-21 in bowl games.
With the 2007 New Orleans bowl invitation, FAU became the youngest program ever to be invited to a bowl get, let alone win one.
The Owls victory over CMU in the 2008 Motor City Bowl preserved Schnellenberger's perfect bowl record at 6-0. But his team, despite their marginal bowl win over the Chippewas, had an upsetting season.
Though Schnellenberger has done a rather stupendous job at Florida Atlantic, he may not have done enough. This could be his last year with the program, seeing as the Owl's best player (Rusty Smith, QB) is also leaving after this year.
The coach has an immediate knock against him in the fact that he is 75 years old.
If Schnellenberger cannot manage to lead the Owls to a more-than-impressive season, I have a hard time picturing a 76 year old man engineering a very young team with a new starting quarterback.
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