On Saturday, Howard Schnellenberger will lead the Florida Atlantic team he started from scratch into the $63 million stadium he helped build to challenge the Louisville program he turned into a winner in nine years as coach.
emotions are going to be controlled by the game," said the 71-year-old Schnellenberger, a
pipe-smoking coach with the silver mustache launched Florida Atlantic's program
in 1998. When Schnellenberger came to
see similarities with us now and
Schnellenberger arrived in
knew it could be done in the state of
The Cardinals were then playing in ugly, cavernous Cardinal Stadium, a converted baseball venue with beat-up artificial turf. Schnellenberger still convinced recruits that the highest goals were reachable.
makes believers out of those guys who don't believe," said
Schnellenberger unveiled plans for a new stadium and mapped out a strategy
to get the Cardinals into the Big East - the conference
should feel very good about what he put into place," said Bill Olsen, who
The Cardinals weren't tied to any league when Schnellenberger arrived and he wanted to keep that independent status so he could beef up the schedule.
team went 3-8 his second year, 3-7-1 in his third and 8-3 in 1988, the
program's first winning record in 10 seasons.
By then, Schnellenberger was spearheading fund-raising efforts to improve the stadium.
"He was a leader on the football field, but he was also a leader in the community, getting the leadership and the fans to believe in his vision," Olsen said. "He deserves a lot of the credit for getting us to where we are today."
"It was disappointing because I had made that statement about winning the national championship. Some guys had come here just because I had made that statement," he said. "If we could've stayed independent long enough, I thought, by playing some of the top teams in the country, we could've qualified for the Big East. That was the only league I felt we had something to gain from."
Schnellenberger spent only one season at
a distance, Schnellenberger continued to follow
weekend won't be all business for him. The night before the game, Schnellenberger will be inducted into the
Schnellenberger concedes the Cardinals will probably
beat his 0-4 Owls easily on Saturday. Still, he's been pushing for the game for
years and got a call back from
much as I know we might not be ready to play a team of