While Howard Schnellenberger may be the coach at Florida Atlantic University, news of his impeding retirement will surely resonate down in Coral Gables. Before Schnellenberger arrived at the University of Miami in 1979, the school was better known for its palm trees and good weather than its small-time football program. The pipe smoking coach promised to win a national championship in five years, and did just that, changing college football history forever in the process.
Though, before all that, Schnellenberger made his mark in Miami by serving as offensive coordinator of the legendary undefeated 1972 Dolphins. After a stint as head coach of the Baltimore Colts he returned to the 'Fins before getting the call to take the job at UM.
The football program was then something of a joke. The school had even considered dropping it just a few years prior. His promise of winning a national championship seemed almost impossible, yet Schnellenberger knew that South Florida was a hotbed of talent and instituted the "State of South Florida" recruiting program. He encouraged local high school talent to stay close to home, while trying to poach blue chip recruits from elsewhere in the state and nation.
The Hurricanes soon turned into a force to be reckoned with, and beat Nebraska in the 1983 Orange Bowl to claim their first of five national championship.
Schnellenberger shockingly announced his departure shortly after the win, and left to coach a USFL team that never actually formed. Post-Canes Schnellenberger had stints as head coach at Louisville, Oklahoma, and in 1998, as the first head coach at FAU.
Schnellenberger will coach one more season with the FAU Owls, but afterwards will retire according to reports.
Despite being one of the most legendary coaches in the game, he remains ineligible for the college football hall of fame on a technicality. His all-time record isn't above .600, though the 77-year-old could still be inducted if the Hall issues an exception.
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