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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

Mike Bianchi

Howard should have followed ol' Bobby's lead
Published August 16, 2006


You'll have to excuse Howard Schnellenberger for not remembering this anniversary.

In fact, he's been trying for two decades to forget all about it.

"I'm sure glad you reminded me," Schnellenberger said sarcastically when a reporter pointed out recently that this summer marks the 20-year anniversary of the United States Football League going belly-up. "Thanks a lot!"

Too bad Bobby Bowden wasn't consulted all those years ago when Schnellenberger left the University of Miami for the USFL. If he had, Bowden might have told his colleague that sometimes the grass is grimmer on the other side of the fence.

Twenty years later, Bowden is a legend of the game; Schnellenberger is a footnote in history. Bowden is the winningest coach in the annals of major-college football; Schnellenberger is coming off a 2-9 season at fledgling Florida Atlantic.

Poor Howard. He's spent his entire career searching for something better. And ol' Bobby? He was smart enough to realize it could be a whole lot worse.

Howard and Bobby were both wooed by the big money of the USFL. Howard lunged at the bait. Bobby gave it the smell test and thought better of it.

Bobby, whose Florida State program was just beginning to take off, had a chance to become the coach of the Jacksonville Bulls in 1983. He could have tripled his salary and made about a million bucks a year – obscene money in those days.

Meanwhile, Howard had just won UM's first national title when the USFL came calling. They guaranteed him a lifetime salary and promised him seven figures to become the coach when the USFL's Washington Federals moved to South Florida.

Schnellenberger resigned at UM and signed a contract with hotelier Sherwood Weiser, the businessman who was going to buy the Federals and relocate them to Miami. But when the USFL decided to shift its schedule to the fall and compete with the NFL, Weiser backed off. The Feds instead became the Orlando Renegades, who couldn't come to terms with Schnellenberger and hired Lee Corso. The league folded a year later.

"A terrible mistake," Schnellenberger says now.

"I'm glad Howard said that because I always thought it," Bowden says.

It wasn't just a terrible mistake, it may have been the worst career move in football history. If Schnellenberger had stayed at UM, he'd be a modern-day Bear Bryant. The 'Canes have won five championships under four different coaches. Think of how many more they might have won without all the coaching turnover.

"If Howard had stayed, he would have been past me," Bowden says. "He would have been better than me. That thing was a gold mine at Miami. Look at the guys who won national titles there after he left."

The what-ifs are mind-boggling. What if Bobby had gone and Howard had stayed? Or what if Howard had taken a job with the Renegades, who ended up hiring Corso from The University of Nowhere – a k a Northern Illinois.

When the USFL folded, Corso was out of coaching and became a broadcaster. Now he is loving his job as a wildly popular ESPN analyst.

"When the Renegades job opened up, it was 17-below and I was freezing my butt off coaching at Northern Illinois," Corso says. "I can't tell you how much I owe Howard Schnellenberger."

Our lives are defined by the decisions we make. Bobby made the right call two decades ago. Howard didn't.

Hindsight haunts. History harasses.

Sometimes, the best career move ends up being the one you never made.
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

Hmmm, sounds like the same old spin …

You guys have to remember, the Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel are run by the same people.

President of the No Homers Club. Keepin' it real since 2001.
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

If I would have kept my 69 Ford Fairlane in '75, I wouldn't have a car payment today.

Obviously Bobby still have some goals at FSU. That's his choice in life. Coach Howard did all he felt he could at UM and tried something new. Simple as that.

Bianchi will probably be at the Orlando Sentinel and holding the same position forever, with that kind of thinking. Some people wait for things to happen.

Some people makes things happen.

Some people wonder what in the hell happened.
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

This story is OK. It doesn't diminish Howard as a great coach, just an expample of how life can bite you in the butt. As a matter of fact the overall theme of the article is look what a great coach Howard is and look where he could be if circumstances were different.

Hey, its publicity.

If I had a dollar for every bad decision I made, I would have alot of dollars. ;)

FAU - THE REAL SLEEPING GIANT
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.


The article should have mentioned the amazing job that Coach did during a decade at Louisville. On a positive note, had the USFL job not fallen through, Louisville would not have been taken by Coach from number 106 out of 106 in the country in 1984 and a 2-9 record to an 8-3 record in 1988. Also, Louisville would not have risen to number 14 in the country in 1990 with the 34-7 victory over Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl.
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.


gofaufootball said

The article should have mentioned the amazing job that Coach did during a decade at Louisville. On a positive note, had the USFL job not fallen through, Louisville would not have been taken by Coach from number 106 out of 106 in the country in 1984 and a 2-9 record to an 8-3 record in 1988. Also, Louisville would not have risen to number 14 in the country in 1990 with the 34-7 victory over Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl.

Thats true and he definitley landed on his feet when he got the job at Louisville. He could have stayed there. Louisville's football reputation was no better than Miami's was in 1978. As a matter of fact, before Bowden, none of the Florida schools had much of a reputation with football. FSU went 0-11 in 1974. UF was pretty much a perpetual 7-4 or 6-5 season finish at best. If Howard had stayed at Louisville he would have had 22 years there, this news story would not have been written and FAU wouldn't have him as a head coach.

FAU - THE REAL SLEEPING GIANT
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

I think it's an issue of 20-20 hindsight. It's easy for Bobby to say what Howard should have done after the fact. To me it seems more like Howard had the ballz to try something new and outside his comfort zone.
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

owlcoholic you are right - it's easy to criticize Howard after the fact. That is probably why he is such a good Builder (re-builder of dormant programs), he is not affraid to go against the flow and not take the easy road to success. Taking that road not heavily travel take guts and dedication and some disappointements along the way.

Why can't they focus on todays actions and accomplishments, instead of replaying yesterdays news - the press seems to like to live in the past ::)
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Orlando Sentinel article on Howard S.

I try not to pay much attention to the press other than trying to just decifer the facts…not opinions. The older I get the more I realize everythhing in the press is just someone's opinion and usually not a very intellectual one at that.

GO OWLS!
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