Former Miami, Oklahoma Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger Dies at Age 87

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2021

Former Florida Atlantic and Miami head coach, Howard Schnellenberger holds the game balls prior to the start of the Boca Raton Bowl NCAA college football game between Marshall and Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014, at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

Howard Schnellenberger, who guided Miami to a college football national championship in 1983, has died at the age of 87.

Florida Atlantic University, where Schnellenberger made his final coaching stop from 2001 through 2011, announced the news Saturday, per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

The Indiana native also served as head coach of the NFL's Baltimore Colts as well as Oklahoma and Louisville at the collegiate level during a career that spanned seven decades.

Canes Football @CanesFootball

Without him, there is no Miami Football. Howard Schnellenberger leaves behind a legacy more impactful than he’ll ever know. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. https://t.co/7lwHhUGSnx

Schnellenberger was a standout tight end at Kentucky in the mid-1950s, and he returned to the Wildcats program as an assistant in 1959 to begin his coaching career.

He worked his way up the ranks, spending time under legendary coaches like Bear Bryant at Alabama, the Los Angeles Rams' George Allen and the Miami Dolphins' Don Shula, which helped pave the way for his own success leading staffs.

"I coached under some great coaches," Schnellenberger told Bill Levy of Naples News in 2015. "I learned by osmosis."

His most successful coaching stint came across five seasons at Miami from 1979 through 1983. He complied a 41-16 record, highlighted by an 11-1 mark in his final season with the program as the Hurricanes defeated Nebraska 31-30 in the Orange Bowl to win the national title.

Schnellenberger left the Canes to pursue an opportunity in the USFL, but he laid the foundation they'd enjoy in the late 1980s and throughout the '90s.

He'd go on to spend 10 years at Louisville and one season at Oklahoma. He then became Florida Atlantic's director of football operations in 1998 before returning to the sideline in 2001 when the program began play in Division I-AA.

FAU has since grown into an FBS program that plays its home games on Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium, which is called "The House That Howard Built."

His career-long accolades were honored in January when he received the 2021 Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award, bringing his career full circle from his time on Bryant's staff in the 1960s.