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Posts Tagged ‘Graham Wilbert’

No. 116: Florida Atlantic

Recent Sun Belt coaching moves have gone in the opposite direction. Over the last two years, Arkansas State has hired Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn. In 2010, Western Kentucky hired former Stanford running backs coach Willie Taggart. Louisiana-Lafayette tabbed Mark Hudspeth last winter; Louisiana-Monroe hired Todd Berry prior to the 2010 season. The conference as a whole has shifted towards an offense-first mentality, to often exciting, he-who-has-the-ball-last-wins results. When Howard Schnellenberger announced his intent to retire at the end of last season, the belief was that Florida Atlantic would follow the rest of the Sun Belt’s lead, perhaps nabbing a Freeze-like up-and-coming assistant. The Owls did nothing of the sort. In Carl Pelini, the university hired the sort of nail-chewing, fire-spewing defensive coach who thinks of offense the same way defensive linemen think of their offensive counterparts: with disdain. And in Pelini, the Owls might have hired the orneriest son-of-a-gun in college football. Don’t think for a second that being ornery is a bad thing.

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    No. 106: Florida Atlantic

    Joe Paterno is Penn State, seeing that he’s been serving in some capacity at the university since 1950 — meaning he’s been at Penn State about as long as Charlie Brown has been on the comics page. Howard Schnellenberger — or The Voice, as some have called him — hasn’t been at Florida Atlantic quite so long, nowhere near as long, in fact, but his impact on the program is in many ways comparable to the impact Paterno has had in Happy Valley. The university’s first director of football operations, Schnellenberger led the inaugural search for a head coach, and before Dick Cheney made it cool, searched under every rock and stone before eventually choosing himself as the best coach F.A.U. could find. Since 2001, he’s been the one and only coach in program history, leading the Owls to a conference title in 2007 and back-to-back bowl berths from 2007-8. Why the trip down memory lane? Because with a new stadium on the horizon, here’s guessing F.A.U. doesn’t go much further with a 77-year-old coach, opting instead to go younger — much, much younger. So this might be the last year for The Voice; open up one Saturday to turn on the Owls and pay your respects.

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      F.A.U. Draws it Up in the Dirt

      We’ve all played this game before. Head to the Buick, you tell your friend, then take a quick left. Ten yards and in, you tell another. Then you grab a stick, draw up a deep post in the dirt and tell your buddy to go deep, a little deeper, just a little more, then you throw it underneath. Some players at Florida Atlantic took it a step further, drawing up plays among the construction debris strewn across the soon-to-be-completed F.A.U. Football Stadium, which wasn’t quite ready for 2010 but will be ready for the program’s home opener in October.

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        The Countdown

        A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.