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Howard Schnellenberger

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Title: Howard Schnellenberger  
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Subject: 2007 New Orleans Bowl, Florida Atlantic Owls football, 1984 Orange Bowl, Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, Mal Moore
Collection: 1934 Births, Alabama Crimson Tide Football Coaches, American Football Quarterbacks, American People of German Descent, Baltimore Colts Head Coaches, Florida Atlantic Owls Football Coaches, Kentucky Wildcats Football Coaches, Kentucky Wildcats Football Players, Living People, Louisville Cardinals Football Coaches, Miami Dolphins Coaches, Miami Hurricanes Football Coaches, National Football League Offensive Coordinators, People from Spencer County, Indiana, Players of American Football from Kentucky, Sportspeople from Louisville, Kentucky
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Howard Schnellenberger

Howard Schnellenberger
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1934-03-16) March 16, 1934
Saint Meinrad, Indiana
Playing career
1952–1956 Kentucky
Position(s) End
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1959–1960 Kentucky (WR/TE)
1961–1965 Alabama (OC)
1966–1969 Los Angeles Rams (ends)
1970–1972 Miami Dolphins (OC/WR/TE)
1973–1974 Baltimore Colts
1975–1978 Miami Dolphins (OC)
1979–1983 Miami (FL)
1985–1994 Louisville
1995 Oklahoma
2001–2011 Florida Atlantic
Head coaching record
Overall 158–151–3 (college)
4–13 (NFL)
Bowls 6–0
Tournaments 2–1 (NCAA D-I-AA playoffs)
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1983)
1 Sun Belt (2007)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1983)
Inducted into KY Pro Football HOF (2008)

Howard Leslie Schnellenberger (born March 16, 1934) is a retired American football coach with long service at both the professional and college levels. He was most recently the head coach at Florida Atlantic, retiring at the end of the 2011 season.[1] He previously held head coaching positions with Oklahoma, Louisville, Miami, where his team won a national championship, and the Baltimore Colts. He 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 Alabama for Bear Bryant in 1961.


  • Early football career 1
  • Baltimore Colts 2
  • Miami 3
  • Louisville 4
  • Oklahoma 5
  • Florida Atlantic 6
  • Personal 7
  • Head coaching record 8
    • College 8.1
      • Bowl games 8.1.1
    • NFL 8.2
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early football career

Schnellenberger was born to German-American parents in the tiny hamlet of Don Shula in 1970 to become the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, where he helped coach the Dolphins to a perfect 1972 season and a Super Bowl victory. This success led to him being hired as the new head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1973.

Baltimore Colts

Schnellenberger's Colts went 4-10 in his one full season but managed to upset the defending Super Bowl champion Dolphins towards the end of the 1973 season, though the Dolphins's second team played most of the game. After the Colts started the 1974 season 0-3, Schnellenberger was fired by the team's owner Robert Irsay and replaced on the field by the team's General Manager and Vice President Joe Thomas.[4] 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.


Schnellenberger (right) in 1981

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 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 South Florida" and recruiting only the "State of Miami." 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.[5][6][7]

He coached Miami to a national championship in 1983, defeating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Following the season, Schnellenberger departed for the United States Football League (USFL), where he was to become part-owner, general manager and head coach of The Spirit of Miami of the United States Football League--a relocated Washington Federals franchise. In August, however, the USFL announced that it would shift to a fall schedule. The owner-to-be for the Federals backed out of the deal, knowing he could not hope to compete head-to-head with the Miami Dolphins. A new backer moved the team to Orlando as the Renegades and decided not to retain Schnellenberger. Schnellenberger was replaced as head coach of the Hurricanes by Jimmy Johnson.

Schnellenberger was interviewed about his time at the University of Miami for the documentary The U, which premiered December 12, 2009 on ESPN.


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. Schnellenberger inherited a situation that was as bad, if not worse, than what he'd inherited at Miami. The Cardinals had not had a winning season since 1978, and only two winning records in the previous 12 years. They played at Cardinal Stadium, a minor-league baseball stadium, and often hosted crowds so small that the school was forced to give tickets away. They also played in the long shadow of the school's powerful men's basketball team.[8] 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."[8][9]

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 fourth and fifth bowl games in school history. They won them both, including a 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.[8]

Schnellenberger left Louisville after the 1994 season. He recalled in a 2012 interview that his move to Oklahoma was a direct result of the impending creation of Conference USA:[10]

I didn't leave because of money. I wasn't looking to go anywhere until that president (Dr. Donald Swain) pulled that baloney and put us in that conference that I didn't want to be in. I wasn't going to coach in a conference where I didn't have a chance to compete for the national championship.

Schnellenberger was replaced by Ron Cooper. 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 poor state the program was in when he arrived, giving him a reputation as a "program builder." He is also credited with laying the foundation for the program's subsequent rise to prominence. The Cardinals went to nine straight bowl games from 1998 to 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.[8]


Late in the 1994 season, [12]

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 denied the Sooners a winning record and a chance at a bowl game.

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."[13]

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). Soon after his arrival, he ordered the destruction of several old football files (which were actually preserved without his knowledge). On his statewide tour, he vowed to put together a team that would make "Sooner Nation" forget about head coaches Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer.[12][14][15]

In his only year at Oklahoma, Schnelleneberger lost by one-sided margin to both Kansas and Kansas State. Switzer was 16-0 during his career vs. the Wildcats and 14-2 vs. the Jayhawks.

After leaving Oklahoma, Schnellenberger decided to try the financial world, and became a bond salesman, passing the certification exam on his third try.[8]

Florida Atlantic

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."[8]

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.[8]

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 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.

Schnellenberger, whose contract as head coach expired at the end of the 2011 season, announced his retirement on August 11, 2011, effective at season's end. He plans to remain at FAU as a university ambassador; when asked if he would consider coaching again, he replied, "You're not going to see me anywhere but here or at the beach." During his FAU career, he regularly pushed for a new on-campus football stadium; that goal was realized with the 2010 groundbreaking for the new FAU Stadium. Shortly before he announced his retirement, he was featured in a pre-opening ceremony in which he switched on the stadium lights for the first time. He led the Owls out for their first home game in the new facility on October 15.[1]

On August 20, 2014, FAU announced that the field at its stadium would be named in honor of Howard Schnellenberger.[16]


Schnellenger (blue jacket) in 2012 at grand opening of Carrfour Supportive Housing community in Miami, Florida.

Schnellenberger has been married to Beverlee (née Donnelly) for over 40 years; they met when Howard played for the Toronto Argonauts.[17] 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.[8][18]

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.[8][9] 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 more often wore golf shirts as coach of FAU.[9]

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".[19]

After his retirement, Schnellenberger was retained by Florida Atlantic University and named the first ever "Ambassador at large" his main responsibility is to help drive fundraising efforts for the athletic department. When Miami and FAU met in 2013, the former coach was lauded as honorary captain for both teams.[20] Schellenberger currently resides in Boca Raton, Florida.

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Miami Hurricanes (NCAA Division I-A Independent) (1979–1983)
1979 Miami 5–6
1980 Miami 9–3 W Peach 18 18
1981 Miami 9–2 8
1982 Miami 7–4
1983 Miami 11–1 W Orange 1 1
Miami: 41–16
Louisville Cardinals (NCAA Division I-A Independent) (1985–1994)
1985 Louisville 2–9
1986 Louisville 3–8
1987 Louisville 3–7–1
1988 Louisville 8–3
1989 Louisville 6–5
1990 Louisville 10–1–1 W Fiesta 12 14
1991 Louisville 2–9
1992 Louisville 5–6
1993 Louisville 9–3 W Liberty 23 24
1994 Louisville 6–5
Louisville: 54–56–2
Oklahoma Sooners (Big Eight Conference) (1995)
1995 Oklahoma 5–5–1 2–5 5th
Oklahoma: 5–5–1 2–5
Florida Atlantic Owls (NCAA Division I-AA Independent) (2001–2004)
2001 Florida Atlantic 4–6
2002 Florida Atlantic 2–9
2003 Florida Atlantic 11–3 L NCAA Division I-AA Semifinal
2004 Florida Atlantic 9–3
Florida Atlantic Owls (Sun Belt Conference) (2005–present)
2005 Florida Atlantic 2–9 2–5 T–7th
2006 Florida Atlantic 5–7 4–3 T–3rd
2007 Florida Atlantic 8–5 6–1 T–1st W New Orleans
2008 Florida Atlantic 7–6 4–3 T–3rd W Motor City
2009 Florida Atlantic 5–7 5–3 T–3rd
2010 Florida Atlantic 4–8 3–5 T–6th
2011 Florida Atlantic 1–11 0–8 9th
Florida Atlantic: 58–74 22–23
Total: 158–151–3[21]
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

Bowl games

Schnellenberger is 6–0 in bowl games:


Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BAL 1973 4 10 0 .286 4th in AFC East - - - Missed Playoffs
BAL 1974 0 3 0 .000 5th in AFC East - - - Replaced by Joe Thomas
BAL Total 4 13 0 .235 0 0 .000
Total[22] 4 13 0 .235 0 0 .000

See also


  1. ^ a b Associated Press (August 11, 2011). "FAU's Howard Schnellenberger retiring". Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ D'Angelo, Tom. "From Broadway Joe, to UM's first title, to FAU's stadium: Howard Schnellenberger's drive has been unmatched". 
  3. ^ 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."
  4. ^,6441510
  5. ^ Steve Ellis, Amato reconnects to Dade, Tallahassee Democrat, October 17, 2007.
  6. ^ Matt Hayes, The birth of a salesman - College Football, The Sporting News, February 16, 2004.
  7. ^ Bruce Feldman, What makes a good job-opening? Money, tradition to start,, December 10, 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i  
  9. ^ a b c John Antonik, Schnellenberger's Return,, June 9, 2004.
  10. ^ Bozich, Rick; Crawford, Eric (November 1, 2012). "WDRB College Football Notebook: Keeping Strong, IU in the hunt".  
  11. ^ Sports People: Football; Schnellenberger Hired By Oklahoma Sooners, Associated Press, December 17, 1994.
  12. ^ a b Dorsey, Stan (1996-08-19). "Wanting your children to grow up to be … Sooners - Oklahoma football - College Football Special". Sporting News, The. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  13. ^ Schnellenberger Moves On, Associated Press, December 19, 1995.
  14. ^ Maisel, Ivan (1996-01-01). "One coach jolts, another bolts, in the Big Eight - Oklahoma, Kansas - College Football Report - Column". Sporting News, The. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  15. ^ Hayes, Matt (2000-11-06). "Norman is back to normal, thanks to Stoops' magic - University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops". Sporting News, The. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  16. ^ "FAU names stadium field after Howard Schnellenberger"; | accessed 08-20-2014
  17. ^ Ted Hutton, FAU: Howard Schnellenberger's wife, Beverlee, isn't content to sit in the stands, Sun-Sentinel, December 10, 2007.
  18. ^ Pete Pelegrin, Schnellenberger's son passes away, The Miami Herald, March 10, 2008.
  19. ^ "Rumor & Innuendo".  
  20. ^
  21. ^ David DeLassus, All-Time Coaching Records:Howard Schnellenberger, College Football Data Warehouse, July 23, 2010.
  22. ^ "Howard Schnellenberger NFL Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Bill McPeak
Preceded by
Bill McPeak & Monte Clark
Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator
1975 w/ Monte Clark
Succeeded by
Howard Schnellenberger & John Sandusky
Preceded by
Howard Schnellenberger & Monte Clark
Miami Dolphins Offensive Coordinator
1976–1978 w/ John Sandusky
Succeeded by
Gary Stevens (1992)

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