Owls excited about national TV game

FAU says it will win, even if it loses game, thanks to exposure

By Ted Hutton
Staff Writer
Posted September 8 2005


In the long run, the score of tonight's game between Florida Atlantic and Oklahoma State will not mean as much as the fact that the Owls played a Big 12 opponent on national television.

"Anytime you can get on television it validates you to a degree," said FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger. "Our thinking is it is better to be on television and not win than it is not to be on television at all."

ESPN2, which reaches 88 million households, will broadcast the game at 7 p.m. at Dolphins Stadium.

"The exposure is more than you can hope for," said Kurt Van Valkenburgh, FAU's assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator. "It's justifying what we have been saying all along -- this is where we are going.

"Here we are, on national TV, playing Oklahoma State. It's not a dream. It's real."

It is the only college game on the schedule, and football fans will have just one choice until 9 p.m., when the NFL season opener between the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders begins.

"This will certainly go a long way into introducing our program to the nation," Schnellenberger said.

Despite being underdogs, FAU already has won, Athletic Director Craig Angelos said.

Getting a nationally known, Big 12 opponent to come to South Florida, and then having the game on national TV is something Angelos never anticipated, because FAU is starting its fifth season and first at the Division I-A level.

"For us to get that, for them to come to us first, that is unheard of," Angelos said. "It is nothing we did other than be really lucky."

FAU and Oklahoma State agreed to the deal in which FAU would play at Oklahoma State twice, with the Cowboys playing in South Florida once.

"Typically they'll want you to come up twice and on the third one they'll buy you out so they don't have to come to your place," Angelos said.

Instead, Oklahoma State agreed to play in South Florida first because that fit better with its future schedules, and the Owls will play at Stillwater, Okla., in 2006 and 2007.

Originally scheduled for Saturday, the game was moved to so it could be on ESPN2.

No matter what happens on the field, Van Valkenburgh said, recruiting will be easier.

"By November, kids will have forgotten the score, but they know you will have played on ESPN2 against Oklahoma State," Van Valkenburgh said.

"It was my dream, but when I got here I figured it wouldn't happen," offensive lineman Nello Faulk said about facing a Big 12 team on national TV. "We are a top team now. People can just turn on the TV and they'll see me playing. They can watch us newcomers and see what we can do."

While Schnellenberger and Van Valkenburgh know how the game will help build the football program, Angelos said the impact on the university is tougher to gauge.

"You can't exactly pinpoint what it does tangibly. People say these games are like a three-hour infomercial," Angelos said. "What we want to do is get more national attention to legitimize who we are."

Ted Hutton can be reached at thutton@sun-sentinel.com.