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A little clarity on the Schnell/Okla situation


A little clarity on the Schnell/Okla situation

My take: I could be wrong but I thought I remembered an AD or president change at Okla also which led to some internal battles about past sooner traditions.

Sooners were bad chapter

By Ted Hutton
Staff Writer
Posted October 13 2004

When Howard Schnellenberger was hired as coach at Oklahoma in December 1994, he was convinced he would quickly lead the Sooners back to greatness, and he was not shy about saying it.

"There will be movies made and books written about what we will do here," Schnellenberger said in his heavy-on-hyperbole style.

So began his undoing.

Schnellenberger would last just one season, resigning the following December after the Sooners went 5-5-1.

That year remains the lone stain on Schnellenberger's college coaching resume, and still is something that neither Schnellenberger nor many in Oklahoma enjoy revisiting.

While Schnellenberger is revered at Miami and Louisville, whose programs he helped build, and Florida Atlantic, where he coaches now, he is loathed by many in Oklahoma.

"That's probably hard to say and be fair to Howard at the same time because obviously he's a tremendous coach," said Merv Johnson, Oklahoma's director of football operations about what happened in 1995.

"Maybe it was bad timing," said Johnson, who was an assistant coach from 1979 to 1999 and saw it all unfold.

Oklahoma had fallen on hard times after a host of troubles, from players charged with rape, weapons possession and dealing cocaine to violation of NCAA recruiting rules, had forced Barry Switzer out in the summer of 1989 after 16 seasons.

Gary Gibbs replaced Switzer and did a respectable job, but resigned after a 6-6 season in 1994.

Enter Schnellenberger, the first coach hired from outside the Sooners' inner circle in 30 years.

Having already turned two moribund programs into winners, Schnellenberger's confidence was overflowing.

Looking back on it, Schnellenberger smiles. "I made some statements that were pretty bad. I can be obnoxious, especially if you don't like me."

"He tried to sweep clean with a new broom and people wanted him to pay more homage to predecessors and teams in the past," Johnson said. "A better plan is to embrace all that they have done and let people know how fortunate you are."

Some boosters and media members were put off by what they saw as a brash interloper to a proud program who talked big but had yet to win a game.

Oklahoma has a lively sports-radio network, and as the season turned sour after a 4-1 start, rumors joined the rantings and things got personal.

"Drinking was the big one and it was rampant on radio," said Barry Tramel, columnist and reporter for the Daily Oklahoman. "There was even stuff about Beverlee [Schnellenberger, Howard's wife] shoplifting or some nonsense."

The rumors, none of which were substantiated, and personal attacks wounded Schnellenberger. So he quit.

"It was miserable, miserable, miserable," Schnellenberger said. "That's the reason I don't drink at all now. If you drink at all and they want to make a case, you've got no place to stand."

Schnellenberger was out of coaching for over two years before FAU hired him in 1998.

Copyright ? 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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A little clarity on the Schnell/Okla situation

Almost forgot. Thanks Oklahoma for your loss.

Christmas cards are on order. ;D
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