On Saturday, legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger passed away after recently celebrating his 87th birthday. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown received the news during the second day of the spring practice period and offered his condolences to the family before reflecting on the impact the fellow Kentucky native had on his life.
“I grew up listening to my grandad talk about stories about coach Shchnellenberger as a player -he was fortunate enough to coach him in an All-Star game in the state of Kentucky there,” said Brown. And then obviously, the whole time I was growing, was coaching and was Louisville and had an opportunity to play against him when we were at Troy, and he was head coach at Florida Atlantic. I always thought a lot of him and a pioneer in coaching, especially on the offensive side of the ball.”
Schnellenberger took the college football world by storm in his first head coaching job at the collegiate level accepting the job at Miami University in 1979. It was a football program that was on the brink of non-existence, and he turned it around to a national champion in just his fifth season by famously building the metaphorical "fence around South Florida.”
The next year, Schnellenberger chose to go to the AFL, but after one year went home and took over a struggling Louisville program with only three postseason appearances in its 72-year history. He went 54-56-2 in 12 years at the helm, producing the program's first 10-win season, including a win over Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. He
Schnellenberger stepped away from the coaching ranks until 1998 he was hired by Florida Atlantic as Director of Football Operations and built a football program from the ground up. He appointed himself head coach and played their first game on September 1, 2001. In just the third year in existence, he took the team to the 1-AA semifinals.
Florida Atlantic made the move to Division I in 2005, landing in the Sun Belt Conference and grabbed its first conference title in 2007.
Schnellenberger retired following the 2011 season, announcing the decision prior to the start of the year. He finished with a career record of 158-151-3 and a perfect 6-0 in bowl games.
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