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OSU Game Day Articles

The plan is still the same

Oklahoma State football
Former Sooner coach Howard Schnellenberger has big dreams, even at struggling Florida Atlantic

By Andrew Gilman
Staff Writer

The game plan is the same as it's always been for Howard Schnellenberger.

The former Oklahoma coach is still talking about big dreams, grand plans, tickertapes and a national championship in the maybe not-too-distant future ? this time at Florida Atlantic University where he is head coach and director of football operations.

"It's moving in that direction dramatically," he says of his team's positive fortunes. "We're not concerned about winning the national championship now, so the losses don't hurt you now. We'll have success at the Division I level."

Right now, FAU, which plays at Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. Saturday, isn't even good enough to talk about national championships. The Owls could be considered the worst team in Division I football. They have been outscored 99-6 in two games, have yet to score a touchdown and the 49.5 points allowed per game are last among the nation's 119 Division I teams.

Yet, Schnellenberger says moving his team from Division I-AA, where the Owls went 20-6 in 2003 and 2004, to I-A where they are 2-11 in one-plus season, was the right thing to do.

"You go into Division I and you know this is coming," he said. "The head coach has to talk to you (the players) about all that and let you know you're coming into a situation where things are built on your shoulders."

But those players' shoulders are being tested.

After OSU, the Owls play on the road against South Carolina before starting Sunbelt Conference play, and things won't get easier the next few years as Schnellenberger says there are games scheduled against OSU, Minnesota, Nebraska and Michigan State.

Meanwhile, another test for the players came earlier this week when Schnellenberger told the Miami Herald he wasn't really expecting to win any of the team's first four games this year.

"If we don't win any of these four games, it won't be a surprise to me," he said to The Herald.

"We are committed to playing these games for the greater good of our program, for this team for the balance of the year and for other teams that come in the following years."

But this year, some of the same players who were part of a successful Division I-AA run, aren't taking the losses like their coach is.

Tuesday, FAU had a players-only meeting to discuss the season.

"Winning will take time," said former FAU quarterback Jared Allen, who played high school football at Edmond Santa Fe.

"It stinks for the players and it's hard to watch them get beat like that, but you just have to be patient."

Schnellenberger is.

Even in the midst of a dreadful start to the season, he says his philosophy of scheduling will lead to bigger, better and more successful days.

"The only championship we can win now is the Sunbelt Conference championship," he said.

"So in order for us to improve as a team and prepare to win the conference, we have to play these kinds of teams. And in four years when we play these teams, we'll have a realistic chance to win."

There won't be a retreat to Division I-AA. Schnellenberger says it's out of the question for a number of reasons, including the fact that he says no one will come to watch a I-AA team in South Florida. But will they come watch a miserable, losing Division I team?

"Things are terrible now," Allen said. "But the program is where it needs to be."

Says Schnellenberger: "We're discouraged that we've made some errors and done silly things this season. "If we hadn't done them, a lot of people wouldn't be concerned about the health of this team."

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OSU Game Day Articles

Owls coach mum about year at OU

By MATT DOYLE World Sports Writer

Schnellenberger looks forward, not dwelling on his past.

Ask Howard Schnellenberger about building Florida Atlantic University's football program, and the 72-year-old loquacious coach will provide endless details.

Ask Schnellenberger about reflections of 1995 as the University of Oklahoma head coach, and he turns quiet and gives a simple answer.

"None," he said.

The same type of response is given when asked if he will get sentimental this weekend upon returning to the Sooner State for the first time since his Dec. 18, 1995, firing at OU. Schnellenberger's Owls travel to Stillwater for a 6 p.m. game against Oklahoma State.

"No, not really," Schnellenberger said firmly.

While he was at OU, he said books would be written and movies made about his tenure. He turned programs at Miami and Louisville that were in shambles upon his arrival into winners. He is trying to do the same at Florida Atlantic, a commuter school in Boca Raton, Fla., that did not start playing football until five years ago.

If any books or movies about Schnellenberger are released in the future, his 367 days as OU coach will be a short and sour chapter. It's a blemish that he flat-out refuses to discuss.

The Sooners' 5-5-1 season in 1995, coupled with allegations of alcohol use and player abuse against the veteran coach, led to his sudden ouster.

OU gave Schnellenberger what he didn't have at his disposal in Miami and Louisville. OU's decades of tradition, rabid fan base, facilities and financial resources made Schnellenberger's popular "collision course with the national championship" phrase plausible.

To Gary Nord, it was a "darn shame" Schnellenberger did not get more than one year to implement his program at OU.

Nord worked for Schnellenbger for 10 years at Louisville and the one season in Norman before rejoining his mentor two years ago at Florida Atlantic. Nord said the OU experience never comes up.

"It's just part of this crazy profession. When you see some crazy things happen in this profession, you kind of expect them, move on and forget about them," said Nord, Florida Atlantic's offensive coordinator. He held that job title at OU 11 years ago.

"It's part of the business, unfortunately. You've got administrators a lot of the times that don't really understand what needs to take place to make it a very solid program. It's a darn shame."

Instead of reflecting on the past, Schnellenberger puts his energy into his latest building project. After getting appointed as director of football operations in the spring of 1998, Schnellenberger spent the next two years convincing the Florida Legislature that the state needed another college football program and securing the financial backing to make it happen.

At the urging of then-school president Anthony Catanese, Schnellenberger also appointed himself the program's first coach in the summer of 1999. Catanese felt that Schnellenberger's name in South Florida and across the country would give the infant program immediate credibility.

The journey has been difficult. The Owls played their first four seasons, 2001-2004, as a NCAA Division I-AA member and posted a 26-21 record. Wins over Hawaii and North Texas gave Schnellenberger the feeling his program was ready for the climb into NCAA Division I-A.

But the leap into Division I-A has been a reality check. Florida Atlantic went 2-9 last year and started this season with crushing losses at Clemson (54-6) and Kansas State (45-0). Following this week's game at OSU, the Owls play next week at South Carolina.

The brutal four-game opening stretch will net Florida Atlantic $1.8 million. It also represents the steps a program must take to reach its goals.

"We're light years away from where Miami and Louisville were when we got there. There's a difference in creating a team than fixing a team," Schnellenberger said. "We recognize that this year at this time (in the program's development), that we are going through, maybe premature in thinking that we could have a chance to win, but we do feel that way. It may be unlikely (winning). The big thing is that we go out and play as well as we can play, learn as fast as we can learn over the long haul – it will be helpful in developing."

The development is far from over. But seeing contemporaries like Florida State's Bobby Bowden and Penn State's Joe Paterno still coaching at age 76 and 79, respectively, gives Schnellenberger perspective that he is in it for the long haul. Nord doesn't doubt that one bit.

"He has a real love for the game and I'm afraid when he ever quits this, he will have nothing to live for," Nord said. "That's why I hope he keeps coaching as long as he can. Then they can bury him on the field when that time ever comes. Hopefully, it will be a long time from now."

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OSU Game Day Articles

There goes the "commuter" school label again!

I'll bet this writer has never been to FAU, nor has even seen pictures of it. He just picks up this crap from other articles. The lazy writers feed off the bad descriptions.

Maybe he doesn't know about the new dorms under construction next to IRT, or the thousands of students living on campus, or plans for the new dorm-retail-arena project?

It's bad and lazy journalism.

Does anyone have his e-mail address?
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OSU Game Day Articles


FAU isnt a commuter school? According to Petersons.com only 9% of the student body lives on campus. In comparison, 21% of the student body at UF and 20% of the student body at UCF live on campus.

I'm not saying we're not making strong gains, but lets be realistic. It's going to take some time and much more construction before we shed that label.

I guess I dont see it as such a derogatory comment as you do…
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OSU Game Day Articles

geoowl said


FAU isnt a commuter school? According to Petersons.com only 9% of the student body lives on campus. In comparison, 21% of the student body at UF and 20% of the student body at UCF live on campus.

I'm not saying we're not making strong gains, but lets be realistic. It's going to take some time and much more construction before we shed that label.

I guess I dont see it as such a derogatory comment as you do…

Actually, FAU's % will be a little higher than that. Two of the campuses have student housing. Boca Raton and Jupiter. The satelite campuses' enrollment shouldn't be used in the caculation in my opinion. How many UF students attend a satelite campus? I'm not sure how big this new dorm will be but it should bring the Boca campus close to 15%. If this innovation village gets approved, who knows. The university is paying for these dorms on bond issues. It is risky to build more than the demand. According to financial info I recently read, they are just now paying some off the 1960's dorms. Although, the rumors we heard when I was living on campus was there was a positive cash flow on the dorms.

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OSU Game Day Articles

The dorm's are full and kids are living off campus because of or lack of rooms. The percent has got to be off a little. Like Illi said with the new dorm it should increase it a couple more notches.
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OSU Game Day Articles

If this whole innovation village is completed, the request for student housing on the Boca campus will soar.

I just hope I'm still alive to see it happen.

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OSU Game Day Articles

By John Rohde
The Oklahoman

STILLWATER ? Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger is a man with foresight.

On Sept. 8 of last year, Schnelly got it right.

Following Oklahoma State's 23-3 victory at FAU that night, Schnellenberger was gracious enough to give Cowboys coach Mike Gundy an early game plan for this year's non-anticipated rematch.

"Keep running the ball," Schnellenberger growled in that voice of his, giving Gundy a postgame handshake.

Couldn't agree more.

When the Cowboys and Owls meet tonight at 6 at Boone Pickens Stadium, here's hoping OSU keeps running the ball.

What the heck, the Cowboys temporarily should switch to the wishbone.

They're 28-point favorites. They ought to be able to pull it off for one game.

Hey, we've got enough problems running the plays we've got," Gundy said. "The good thing is at least now we'd have that luxury. At least this year we're holding the cards."

OSU's wishbone possibilities indeed are intriguing.

Mike Hamilton at one halfback, Keith Toston at the other, 235-pound Julius Crosslin at fullback. And Bobby Reid seems more effective as an option quarterback anyway.

There are three potential 100-yard rushers back there, maybe four.

If the 'Boys ran the bone, they would shorten tonight's game even more than this year's rule changes. Plus, they wouldn't show future opponents anything of significance offensively.

Or would they? Imagine the prospect of prepping for a team capable of using two completely different offenses.

Wishing for the wishbone is a ludicrous idea, of course, but OSU offensive coordinator Larry Fedora at least cracked a smile at the suggestion.

"All right, we can do that," Fedora lied.

OSU coaches and players are taking tonight's contest far more seriously than I.

"We are going to prepare for this game like we have every other game," Gundy said. "As you guys know, there were times last year when we were on the short end of being the favorite. We understand that. There were also games where we played pretty good and people did not expect that."

Sorry, but it's hard to give a hoot about these Owls, who've been outscored 99-6 so far this season.

Rare is the time the Cowboys can actually have fun and experiment on the field.

Tonight offers that chance, if the visitors from Boca Raton cooperate as expected.

OSU has far more imposing hills to climb this season, with Houston next week and Big 12 play beyond that.

Supposedly, the Cowboys have shown little of their offensive repertoire, saving their best stuff for more dangerous foes.

I've never understood why teams allegedly hold back offensive plays for future opponents. I say show as many plays as possible. Give future defenses something to think about. Flash them your playbook. Add pages to the opposing scouting report.

Gundy said he has never been on a team ? as a player or coach ? that deliberately held back plays in order to not tip off a future opponent.

Same goes for Fedora.

"I'm sure there are teams out there that do hold back plays," Fedora said. "Me? If I come up with a good play, I want to use it. We're not saving anything."

So if there's a wishbone game plan floating around OSU's football offices, don't save it. Use it.

Believe in Schnelly.

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Published: September 15, 2006 11:44 am

Tough way to learn for FAU quarterbacks

Roger Moore
Stillwater NewsPress

If Florida Atlantic is competing for Sun Belt Conference championships 10 years from now, Rusty Smith and Sean Clayton can say they were part of the building process.

The two quarterbacks haven taken their lumps through two games in 2006, neither leading the Owls to a touchdown. The duo has been sacked a combined seven times and FAU is averaging just 53 yards on the ground per game.

Clemson hammered FAU, 54-6, in Week 1 with Big 12 member Kansas State shutting out the Owls, 45-0, a week ago. Three sophomores start along the O-line for FAU and that group is set to face a veteran Oklahoma State defensive front that has a combined five sacks and 11 tackles for loss through two games.

?It really is difficult to compile meaningful statistics in the direction we have been going in, but that is part of the process,? said FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Smith, a 6-5, 212-pounder from Jacksonville, Fla., was the Owls? opening day starter. The redshirt-freshman completed 9-of-21 for 104 against Clemson and came off the bench in Manhattan to connect on 4-of-11 for 46 yards.

Clayton, a junior from Poland, Ohio, came off the bench in Week 1, completing 11-of-22 for 112 yards. He earned the start last week and was 8-of-14 for 95 yards.

Smith and Clayton, who will both play in Saturday night?s game against O-State, have had to work with a young receiving corps. Sophomore Frantz Simeon, who caught 18 passes for 274 yards in 2005, leads a group that saw nine catch their first collegiate pass against Clemson.

Schnellenberger knows a thing or two about building winning football programs. In his 22nd year of coaching, he?s had stints at Miami, Louisville and Oklahoma before arriving in Boca Raton.

At Miami from 1979-83, Schnellenberger took the Hurricanes from 5-6 in ?79 to 11-1 and the national championship in?83.

Louisville was 8-24 in his first three years, but went 10-1-1 in his fifth year. Schnellenberger would add a 9-win season in 1993 before the disaster in Norman in ?95.

At FAU since 2001, his teams are 28-32.

?It is very important for our program to go through this gauntlet of great football teams,? Schnellenberger said. ?Even though we have to be really tough-minded to handle this, we think that this will help us over the long haul.

?It has been my experience at both Miami and Louisville that we can do both.?

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Published: September 15, 2006 11:45 am

Early struggles for Schnellenberger, FAU

? Owls outscored 99-6 by Clemson and Kansas State to start ?06 campaign

Jacob Longan
Stillwater NewsPress

Howard Schnellenberger is perhaps the least loved former University of Oklahoma coach in Norman.

Schnellenberger was OU?s head coach in 1995, predicting his team would win a national title. But his Sooners went just 5-5-1, including a 12-0 home loss to Oklahoma State.

Now he is the head coach at Florida Atlantic and could win back some goodwill in Norman by upsetting OSU on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium.

But, as even Schnellenberger will admit, that seems unlikely.

?If we don?t win any of these (non-conference) games it won?t be a surprise to me,? Schnellenberg told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel after his team?s 45-0 loss at Kansas State last Saturday. ?It is for the balance of this season and for the teams that follow.?

FAU (0-2) has been blown out twice ? 54-6 at Clemson on Sept. 2 and the blanking at K-State.

OSU (2-0) head coach Mike Gundy said his team is going to prepare for the Owls like it did for its first two foes.

?There were times last year when we were on the short end of being the favorite,? said Gundy, whose club improved to 2-0 with a 35-7 win at Arkansas State last Saturday. ?We understand that. There were also games where we played pretty good and people did not expect that. I am sure their coaching staff is going to regroup, work hard and prepare to come here and play lights out.?

The lights at FAU?s Lockhart Stadium will be out for the first month of the season, as the Owls don?t have their first home game until they face Southern Utah on Oct. 12. After visiting Stillwater, they head to South Carolina on Sept. 23 and Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 30.

Of course, Schnellenberger can?t complain too much about the schedule. He is also the director of football operations and has headed the program since its inception prior to the 2001 season.

The Owls moved up from Division I-AA last season and struggled to a 2-9 record, including a 23-3 loss to Oklahoma State in Miami.

The team is again struggling this season, especially on the ground. FAU?s leading rusher is redshirt sophomore Charles Pierre, who has 60 yards on 22 carries for an average of 2.7 per tote. The best per-carry average on the team belongs to senior Aaron Sanchez, who has only 24 yards on seven attempts (3.4).

The Owls are also inconsistent through the air, with two quarterbacks seeing significant time. Junior Sean Clayton is 19-of-36 for 207 yards and an interception. Redshirt freshman Rusty Smith is 13-of-32 for 150 yards and an interception.

The leading receiver is redshirt freshman Brian Dunn, who has three catches for 68 yards.

FAU?s only points belong to sophomore kicker Warley Leroy, who has field goals of 24 and 32 yards.

The numbers show the defense has also struggled, giving up 6.1 yards per run and forcing only two punts.

More former Sooners

Schnellenberger?s staff features three coaches who assisted him during his lone year in Norman.

Gary Nord is FAU?s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and was OU?s offensive coordinator in 1995.

Christ Vagotis, the Owls? defensive ends coach, oversaw the offensive line in Norman.

Kurt VanValkenburgh is FAU?s assistant head coach and oversees linebackers and special teams. He was OU?s defensive coordinator in 1995.

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