Howard Schnellenberger: Wikis

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Howard Schnellenberger
Title Head coach
College Florida Atlantic
Sport Football
Team record 48-48
Born March 16, 1934 (1934-03-16) (age 75)
Place of birth St. Meinrad, IN
Career highlights
Overall 4-13 (NFL)
133-114-3 (College)
Bowls 6-0
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
Championships
1983 National Championship (AP, Coaches')
Playing career
1952-1956 Kentucky
Position TE
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1959-1960
1961-1965
1966-1969
1970-1972
1973-1974
1975-1979
1979-1983
1985-1994
1995
2001-present
Kentucky (ends)
Alabama (OC)
LA Rams (OC)
Miami Dolphins (OC)
Baltimore Colts
Miami Dolphins (OC)
Miami
Louisville
Oklahoma
Florida Atlantic

Howard Schnellenberger (born March 16, 1934) is an American football coach at both the professional and college level. He is currently head coach of Florida Atlantic University. He previously held head coaching positions with the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisville, University of Miami, where he won a national championship, and the Baltimore Colts. He has also worked extensively as an assistant coach at the college and pro levels, including as part of the staff of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. Schnellenberger is also famous for recruiting Joe Namath to the University of Alabama for Bear Bryant in 1961.

Schnellenberger graduated from Flaget High School in Louisville, Kentucky, where he played football, basketball and baseball before earning a scholarship to the University of Kentucky.[1] Schnellenberger was an All-American tight end at Kentucky and worked as an assistant coach at Kentucky under head coach Blanton Collier in 1959 and 1960. There he joined the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Schnellenberger also served as offensive coordinator under his college coach Bear Bryant at Alabama, helped Alabama to win three national championships in 1961, 1964 and 1965 before leaving in 1966 to take a job in the NFL as offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams under George Allen, then was hired by Don Shula in 1970 to become the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and parlaying the success of Miami's 1972 perfect season into becoming the new head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1973.

Schnellenberger's Colts went 4-10 in his one full season but managed to pull an upset on the heavily favored Dolphins towards the end of the 1973 season. After the Colts started the 1974 season 0-3, Schnellenberger was fired and replaced by Joe Thomas. He returned to the Dolphins coaching staff the following year and remained there until he was offered the head coaching job at the University of Miami.

Contents

Miami Hurricanes

Schnellenberger arrived to a Miami program that was on its last legs, with the program having almost been dropped by the university just a few years prior. Drawing from the boot camp methodology learned from mentors Bryant and Shula and a pro-style pass-oriented playbook not yet the norm in Division 1 college football, Miami developed a passing game that allowed them to have advantage over teams not equipped to defend such an attack. By his third season at Miami, the team had finished the season in the AP Poll top 25 twice—something that had not happened there since 1966.

Schnellenberger revolutionized recruiting South Florida high school talent by building a metaphorical "fence around Miami" and recruiting only the "State of South Florida." His eye for talent in this area led to many programs around the nation paying greater attention to south Florida high school prospects. Under his "State of Miami" plan, Schnellenberger's teams took the best from the three-county area around the city, went after the state's best, then aimed at targets among the nation's elite recruits; it became a model of how to recruit in college football.[2][3][4]

He coached Miami to a National Championship in 1983, defeating Nebraska in the 50th Orange Bowl. Following the season, Schnellenberger departed for the USFL where he was to become the head coach of what was to be a South Florida team—a relocated Washington Federals franchise. Not long after that announcement, however, the USFL announced that it would shift to a fall schedule. The owner-to-be for the Federals backed out of the deal, not wanting to compete against the NFL. A new backer moved the team to Orlando as the Renegades and decided not to retain Schnellenberger.

Louisville Cardinals

The Howard L. Schnellenberger Football Complex at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

In 1985, Schnellenberger returned to his hometown to coach another struggling program, the University of Louisville Cardinals, that had 10 losing seasons in the last 12 (including the last six in a row) and was in the long shadow of the school's nationally prominent basketball program. At the time, the Cardinals played in front of small crowds at a minor-league baseball stadium and tickets were given away by the program.[5] The situation was so grave at Louisville that officials were considering dropping the football program down to I-AA. Nonetheless, at his opening press conference, he stunned reporters and fans by proclaiming the program "is on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time."[5][6]

After going 8–24–1 in his first three years, Schnellenberger was able to turn the program around and go 24–9–1 the next three seasons. In 10 years, he led the Cardinals to their second and third bowl games in school history. They won them both, including an unprecedented 34–7 thrashing of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl, capping a 10–1–1 season and the school's first-ever appearance in a final poll (11th). The Fiesta Bowl appearance was the school's first-ever New Year's Day bowl game.[5]

Although Schnellenberger's record at Louisville was two games under .500 (largely due to his first three years), he has remained in the good graces of Cardinal fans due to the awful state the program was in when he arrived, as his justly-deserved reputation as a "program builder" – laying the foundation for the program's subsequent rise to national prominence. The Cardinals went to nine straight bowl games from 1998 to 2006 and were in the national title hunt for much of 2005 and 2006. The Howard L. Schnellenberger Football Complex at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is named after him; Schnellenberger initially proposed building the on-campus stadium during his tenure at Louisville and is credited with keeping the project alive.[5]

Oklahoma Sooners

Late in the 1994 season, Oklahoma head coach Gary Gibbs was forced to resign, but was allowed to finish out the season. Schnellenberger was hired to replace him on December 16, 1994.[7] Repeating his bluster upon taking the Louisville job, Schnellenberger declared, "They'll write books and make movies about my time here." He also traveled across the state, with the stated goal of renewing the enthusiasm in what he called "Sooner Nation." After watching his new team for the first time in the 1994 Copper Bowl (in which Oklahoma was routed by BYU 31–6), he alienated his soon-to-be players by declaring them "out of shape, unorganized and unmotivated" and that they disgraced Oklahoma's rich football tradition.[8]

After a 3–0 start that had the Sooners ranked in the top 10, it quickly came unraveled after a 38–17 loss to Colorado on ESPN. That was the start of a stretch where the Sooners only went 2–5–1 the rest of the way, including a 2–5 record in conference play—Oklahoma's first losing record in conference play in 31 years, and only the second since World War II. They were also defeated 12–0 by Oklahoma State--the Sooners' first loss to their in-state rival in 20 years. En route, the Sooners were penalized nine times per game, which is very unusual since Schnellenberger has traditionally coached very disciplined teams. The Sooners closed out the season with their second-straight shutout, a 37-0 loss at No. 1 1995 Nebraska, which prevented Oklahoma from attaining a winning season or a bowl venue.

On December 19, 1995, Schnellenberger resigned unexpectedly after one season, stating that "in recent months a climate has developed toward the program, understandably in some cases and perhaps unfairly in others, that has changed my outlook on the situation. A change could help improve that climate."[9]

To this day, Schnellenberger is not held in high regard by Sooner fans, in part because he made no secret of his lack of interest in Oklahoma's football history (his comments after the 1994 Copper Bowl notwithstanding). He ordered the destruction of several old football files (which were actually preserved without his knowledge). He also said on his statewide tour that the team he planned to put together would make "Sooner Nation" forget about legendary coaches Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer.[8][10][11]

After leaving Oklahoma, Schnellenberger decided to try the financial world, and became a bond salesman, passing the certification exam on his third try.[5]

Florida Atlantic Owls

After a few years out of the limelight, Schnellenberger resurfaced in 1998. At age 64 he was named director of football operations for Florida Atlantic University, with the task of building a football program from scratch: coming up with a strategic plan, raising funds and selecting a coach. He was able to raise $13 million in pledges, lobbied the state legislature, and by the time then-FAU President, Anthony Catanese, asked him to find a coach in 1999, Schnellenberger selected himself. Schnellenberger described his interest in FAU by noting "This one is so different. The others, we were working with adopted kids. These were our kids."[5]

For the next two years, Schnellenberger led the fledgling team through fund-raising, recruiting and practice. For their first practice in 2000, the Owls had 160 walk-ons and 22 scholarship players. FAU football played their first game on September 1, 2001, losing to Slippery Rock 40–7 after the FAU administration failed to certify 13 Owls starters in time to play. The very next game the Owls upset the No. 22 team in I-AA, Bethune-Cookman, finishing their first season 4–6. They regressed to 2–9 the following season, but went 11–3 and made the I-AA semifinals in their third. During their fourth season, the Owls posted a 9–3 record while transitioning to Division I-A, but were ineligible for both a bowl game and the I-AA playoffs because of their transitioning status.[5]

After playing four years at the Division I-AA level, FAU moved to the Sun Belt Conference and Division I-A level in 2005. This goal had been one of Schnellenberger's primary objectives upon creation of the program. After two seasons in the Sun Belt, FAU football won the 2007 Conference title and secured its first ever bowl invitation, defeating the Memphis 44–27 in the New Orleans Bowl. In just the seventh year of the football program's history, and the third year playing in Division I-A, Florida Atlantic set an NCAA record by becoming the youngest program ever to receive an invitation to a bowl game. For his success in 2007, Coach Schnellenberger was awarded the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

In 2008, Coach Schnellenberger led his 6-6 FAU Owls to a post-season bid at the Motor City Bowl against the Central Michigan Chippewas. This marked the first time a 6-6 Sun Belt Conference team that had not won the Conference Championship was invited to a post-season bowl. Although the Owls were underdogs, Coach Schnellenberger extended his post-season bowl record to 6-0, the most of any coach without a loss, with a 24-21 win.

Bowl Games

Schnellenberger is 6–0 in bowl games: (Schnellenberger's team is in Bold)

Personal

Schnellenberger has been married to Beverlee (née Donnelly) for over 40 years; they met when Howard played for the Toronto Argonauts.[12] His son, Stephen, was diagnosed as an infant with a rare form of endocrine cancer but lived a normal childhood and became an insurance broker in Florida; however, during a 2003 surgery, his heart stopped and he suffered brain damage that left him in a semi-comatose state. Subsequently, Stephen's parents cared for him at their home in Boca Raton, Florida until his death on March 9, 2008.[5][13]

Schnellenberger is known for his gravelly baritone voice and was known for smoking a trademark pipe, but gave it up after he found out his son was diagnosed with cancer.[5][6] During his time at Miami and Louisville he was well known for wearing a distinctive suede jacket and a conservative striped tie, echoing the dress of his mentors such as Bear Bryant, though he now wears more golf shirts as coach of FAU.[6]

He is known for his colorful press conference quotes, such that a Louisville weekly newspaper, the Louisville Eccentric Observer, includes a feature called "SchnellSpeak of the Week".[14]

References

  1. ^ 1991 Dawahares-Kentucky High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame Inductees, Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Accessed June 24, 2007. "One of the great athletes who made Flaget High School legendary for its prowess, Howard Schnellenberger played football, basketball and baseball for the former school in Louisville's West End."
  2. ^ Steve Ellis, Amato reconnects to Dade, Tallahassee Democrat, October 17, 2007.
  3. ^ Matt Hayes, The birth of a salesman - College Football, The Sporting News, February 16, 2004.
  4. ^ Bruce Feldman, What makes a good job-opening? Money, tradition to start, ESPN.com, December 10, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pat Forde, FAU's bowl run adds to Schnellenberger's legacy, ESPN.com, December 21, 2007.
  6. ^ a b c John Antonik, Schnellenberger's Return, MSNsportsNET.com, June 9, 2004.
  7. ^ SPORTS PEOPLE: FOOTBALL; Schnellenberger Hired By Oklahoma Sooners, Associated Press, December 17, 1994.
  8. ^ a b Dorsey, Stan (1996-08-19). "Wanting your children to grow up to be … Sooners - Oklahoma football - College Football Special". Sporting News, The. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_n34_v220/ai_18596119. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  9. ^ Schnellenberger Moves On, Associated Press, December 19, 1995.
  10. ^ Maisel, Ivan (1996-01-01). "One coach jolts, another bolts, in the Big Eight - Oklahoma, Kansas - College Football Report - Column". Sporting News, The. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_n1_v220/ai_17977376. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  11. ^ Hayes, Matt (2000-11-06). "Norman is back to normal, thanks to Stoops' magic - University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops". Sporting News, The. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1208/is_45_224/ai_67151568. Retrieved 2007-09-14.  
  12. ^ Ted Hutton, FAU: Howard Schnellenberger's wife, Beverlee, isn't content to sit in the stands, Sun-Sentinel, December 10, 2007.
  13. ^ Pete Pelegrin, Schnellenberger's son passes away, The Miami Herald, March 10, 2008.
  14. ^ "Rumor & Innuendo". Louisville Eccentric Observer. http://leoweekly.com/?q=node/5970.  

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Joe Paterno
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award
1983
Succeeded by
LaVell Edwards
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Program started
Florida Atlantic University Head Football Coach
2001–
Succeeded by
Current
Preceded by
Gary Gibbs
Oklahoma Sooners Head Football Coach
1995
Succeeded by
John Blake
Preceded by
Bob Weber
University of Louisville Head Football Coach
1985–1994
Succeeded by
Ron Cooper
Preceded by
Lou Saban
University of Miami Head Football Coach
1979–1983
Succeeded by
Jimmy Johnson
Preceded by
John Sandusky
Baltimore Colts Head Coach
1973–1974
Succeeded by
Joe Thomas
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