Howard Schnellenberger weighs in on the difference between starting FAU's Football Team and developing the Miami Hurricanes into a National Champion
Q: What's the most gratifying moment of your tenure at FAU?
A: There are really two of them. To take a brand new team and in three years have them in the playoff of I-AA. There is 130 teams in this division and to be one of 16 selected to go to the playoffs, plus we were not in a conference so there was no automatic bid, we were an at large team, we won two games in the playoffs and reached the semifinals enabling us to get ranked fourth in the nation, that obviously was a very big thing. It may have even been bigger then us winning the (Sun Belt Conference Championship versus Troy) in our third year and winning the New Orleans Bowl allowing us to come out with that ring. These two were the most satisfying.
Q: Lets talk about the Motor City Bowl. Wouldn't you say that was more gratifying than the New Orleans Bowl since Central Michigan was a better team than Memphis and it technically was a home game for them?
A: You would think this one is better because you're from there. You're probably right but both teams have been playing football for over 100 years. Both had high powered offenses. I would rank the Motor City Bowl three but with both of these bowl games, we were the only game on that night so the exposure was priceless.
Q: You must be elated knowing that your on campus stadium will be a reality in September of 2011?
A: Thank goodness the date has arrived. We're glad that the Board of Trustees has allowed us to go to the bond house and get the money. This is going to be the platform that our football program is going to rise to great heights. A 40,000 seat stadium is the right size and it's going to allow us to recruit much better players, plus allow us to attract much better football teams to come down and play. I think it's going to put us in a position to get into a BCS Conference.
Q: You've been at Miami, Louisville and FAU. It seems like you've had good luck getting stadiums built?
A: This is the rubber match. We were unable to get a stadium in Miami, did in Louisville so it's one and one right now. When we get one done here, I'm on the plus side. This is a record because no other team has ever been able to build a stadium of that magnitude in 10 years. We're designing our stadium for 40,000 but starting with 30,000 so we can make sure we can sell it out. The following year we're hoping to add the 10,000 in 2012 or within a year or so.
Q: How much has Howard Schnellenberger changed since we met in 1983?
A: The hair has gotten grayer, I've gotten smarter and my wife (Beverlee) has gotten prettier.
Q: Could you ever see yourself coaching into your 80's like Penn State's Joe Paterno or Florida State's Bobby Bowden?
A: They're both my heroes and I think when Bobby leaves the scene I would have five more years to go and when Joe leaves the scene, I'll have eight years ago. Joe's 81 and Bobby is 79 that would give me four more years. Joe's either 81 or 82, that would give me six more years.
Q: Even though you won't come close to their win totals, do you feel that building three programs is a bigger accomplishment for you legacy wise?
A: It's all in the mind of the beholder. Some people think being a caretaker of a program and winning all of those games is the definition of greatness. Some people think how much you've elevated programs and how much you've elevated football in an area makes a difference. I just try to do what my high school coach did and the four coaches I worked for, they were all builders. I had no caretakers in this group.
Q: John Wooden had his Pyramid of Success, what is Howard Schnellenberger's?
A: Pass the torch. Take what everybody taught you, what was important to you, and pass that information to your coaches and players. I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
These are all lessons that everyone in life can learn from. Hearing it from an individual who has had such mentors as Paul "Bear" Bryant, George Allen, Don Shula as well as others just validates why Schnellenberger has been successful in many of his challenges.