Congrats to the Colonel
Somewhere in the third quarter of the New Orleans Bowl on Friday night, someone on the Florida Atlantic sideline walked over to Howard Schnellenberger and appeared to say something. Then Schnellenberger zipped up his pants. His Florida Atlantic Owls led Memphis something like 37-27 at the time.
Vintage Colonel. He’s still the crazy old uncle that comes down from the attic, but he’s still coaching winning football, 55 years after Bear Bryant signed him to play at Kentucky.
I know Schnellenberger was a disaster as the OU coach. I know Donnie Duncan hired the Colonel only because Pop Warner wouldn’t return his phone calls. But dang it, I like Schnellenberger. I liked him then, I like him now.
He would talk football, old and new. And he was fun. Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy are many things. But rarely are they fun. Yes, Schnellenberger would say goofy things, but what the heck is so wrong with goofy?
Schnellenberger’s Owls went on to beat Memphis 44-27, raising the Colonel’s bowl record to 5-0. Beating this Memphis team is not quite the same as beating the 1983 Cornhuskers, which Howard’s Miami team did, but still. For a program in its third year in major college and its seventh season overall, it was a big night.
And it’s time to admit that Schnellenberger is a good football coach. He started the Miami dynasty. He ushered Louisville onto the national stage, although admittedly not like Bobby Petrino later did. Oklahoma was Schnellenberger’s only failure.
The job he’s done at Florida Atlantic is underrated. The Owls won the Sun Belt Conference this year, which is no big deal except Troy is in the league. We saw what Troy did to Oklahoma State. The Troy-FAU game also was played at Troy, and the Owls won. Yes, it’s a recruiting advantage to be in Boca Raton, Fla., when you’re playing in a league that includes Monroe, La.; Murfreesboro, Tenn.; and Troy, Ala. But Florida International is in the league, too, and the Golden Panthers went 1-11.
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