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
"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."
reaches 88 million households, will broadcast the game at 7 p.m. at Dolphins
"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
twice, with the Cowboys playing in South Florida
"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
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 email@example.com.