Howard Schnellenberger to Retire From Florida Atlantic -- Four Years Too Late

No. 1? This year, coach, it's No. 103.
Howard Schnellenberger had yet to coach his first game at Florida Atlantic University when he unveiled a new steak-house restaurant in 2001. Coach Schnellenberger's the Original Steakhouse & Sports Theatre in Plantation opened as the flagship of a future chain, and two more quickly followed.

The idea made some sense: The restaurant would capitalize on the name Schnellenberger had established as the first coach to win a national championship at the University of Miami, in 1983. He had just begun a new career at Florida Atlantic, and surely the restaurants would benefit from the fame about to come from a national title that he promised was coming to Boca.

The famously mustached coach's dream of a steak-house chain ended in 2007. He pulled his name from the restaurants, which led to their demise. At the time, he told the Sun-Sentinel: "It became obvious we weren't putting out a good enough product as we needed to be."

That year would also have been a good time for Schnellenberger to pull his name out of football. That year, Florida Atlantic's football team went 8-5, won the Sun Belt Conference for the first time, and were the victors at the New Orleans Bowl. He could've retired on top and gone out as the coach that brought Florida Atlantic's new football team to national prominence.

Instead, Schnellenberger is expected to announce today that he will retire at the end of this
season after watching his team degrade into mediocrity. He now has a losing record, 57-63 overall. This year, the Bleacher Report picks Florida Atlantic to come in dead last in the Sun Belt and ranks the team 103rd overall -- out of 120 college football programs.

That's no surprise considering the past two seasons. The team went 5-7 in 2009 and 4-8 last year -- tied for last place.

Schnellenberger was smart enough to pull his name from the steak houses when the quality degraded, but he didn't have that same premonition with football. Those who have met him know why: He's famously stubborn, to the point where his assistants joke that he would like to control the weather.

His 13-year history with Florida Atlantic is his longest tenure with any team. Accusations of drunkenness and harsh treatment of players led to his firing in 1995 from the University of Oklahoma. He tallied a pitiful 4-13 record as coach of the Baltimore Colts before he was sacked. And he quit in a huff from Louisville in 1994 after the school entered an athletic conference that Schnellenberger didn't like.

By now, however, it likely became clear to the coach and Florida Atlantic that the coach famous for his bellowing whistle and often-puffing pipe wouldn't be bringing a national championship to Boca. Instead, if projections are correct, he very well might oversee the worst year in the history of the program, in a year when Florida Atlantic moves in to its new, $70 million football stadium.

For this cover story in 2002, Schnellenberger told New Times that he'd stay in Boca for however long it took to win a national championship. "Whatever time it takes," Schnellenberger said. "This is a long-range thing. Anybody concerned about us not winning now has to understand that we're in this for the long haul."

Truth is, Schnellenberger nearly brought prominence to a school once nicknamed "F-A-Who?" Instead, he stayed long enough to watch that moniker become relevant again.

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Don G
Don G

look, even the FIU fans are siding with FAU on this one, thanks Jules. Eric, you obviously don't know everything HS has done for our school and football altogether. Fastest upstart to win a championship, fastest team to win a bowl game and back to back bowl wins at that. A state-of-the-art on-campus stadium, that will FOREVER have Schnellenberger's name on it.

Maybe before bashing other schools you have no association with... oh, or you one of those UM bandwagon jumpers... well you better jump off that one now. Or is it you were picked on by the jocks in school, so you are anti-football all together... I'll tell you what, you should of quit writing 4 years ago.

RESPECT Schnellenberger!GO OWLS!


Really guys?  This is the approach you're taking?  This reminds me of the hatchet job your reporter did on Isiah when he first signed with FIU, before he even coached his first game for us.  The New Times was, is, and always will be what is wrong with journalism.  You guys never see the good in anything.

Howard revolutionized college football at UM, and what he did at FAU is to be commended.  He built that program from scratch, got them a conference title and to a bowl game quicker than any coach had done before.  As an FIU fan I am disgusted at this excuse for an article.

Eric you are a d ck!!
Eric you are a d ck!!

Eric you are a d ck!   I could care less about football and I do not know Howard except few conversations on beach/street (I did not know who he was except Howard until I bought an Acura in Delray and saw the posters).  I saw Howard as a great father almost everyday as I walked my dogs w/ little girl in a backpack carrier.  How a somewhat complete profile, instead of this crap that makes him look like a delusional, abusive drunkard who got lucky once or twice.  Howard had an adult son who was confined to a wheel chair, with brain damage and I do not believe anyway to communicate.  I am not sure b/c I am not a d ck and asked "hey WTF up him??".  Howard would push him or walk with him everyday along the Old Ocean Blvd.  Maybe that is why he may have had some issues in 90's. Also, what does FAU have to attract talent????  I am surprised they won anything.  FAU is like Boca superficial - looks good until you look closer.  It is to a univ. what Mizner Park is to Atlantic Ave in Delray. Mizner is just a gussied-up strip-mall.    No idea why you wrote such a bitter piece.  If you want to be Bob Norman - target people like he did that really damaged the public - not football which is really meanningless in life.


Thank you for perhaps the most ignorant post yet seen on this blog.  It is the rare schol that doesnt have a down year or two (last year, for instance, both Tennessee and Georgia had a losing season). Last year was the first that FAU did not have a winning conference record. Moreover, FAU's season record would look a little different if it didn't play elite teams such as Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Michigan State and Auburn, all on the road.

The Pulp Blog
The Pulp Blog

Why thank you, Soflagator, for ranking this item so high. You're right that Florida Atlantic has done well in the Sun Belt, but so have some of the worst teams in the nation. It's indisputable that the team has declined in the last few years. And no matter who the coach -- an upstart or one who once found glory -- you have to ask whether it's time to make a change.


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