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5 defining moments of Howard Schnellenberger's lasting legacy

Longtime coach will be forever remembered for these football moments
FAU Owls head coach Howard Schnellenberger looks at team before game in 2010
Posted at 3:40 PM, Mar 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-27 15:40:02-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Howard Schnellenberger, who died Saturday at the age of 87, was a South Florida football legend.

Here are five moments for which the longtime coach will best be remembered.

Hurricanes win first national championship

Miami Hurricanes head coach Howard Schnellenberger on sideline in 1984 Orange Bowl
Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger looks on from the sideline during a game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes won 31-30 to claim their first national championship in school history.

Schnellenberger saved the best for last during his five seasons at Miami, leading the Hurricanes to their first national championship in school history after a 31-30 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl.

Schnellenberger brings football to FAU

Howard Schnellenberger during news conference at Pro Player Stadium in 2000
Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger talks during a news conference Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2000, about the team's partnership with Pro Player Stadium to play regular-season games at the stadium beginning in September 2001.

Schnellenberger was hired as director of football operations at Florida Atlantic University on May 1, 1998. He would later become the first head football coach in school history.

From playoffs to back-to-back bowl wins

FAU Owls head coach Howard Schnellenberger gets Gatorade bath after 2007 New Orleans Bowl win
Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger is given the victory dunk near the end of the New Orleans Bowl football game against Memphis, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007, in New Orleans. The Owls defeated Memphis 44-27.

Schnellenberger had the Owls in the Division I-AA playoffs by his third season. By his seventh season, the Owls were playing in their first bowl game. FAU won back-to-back bowl games under Schnellenberger to conclude the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Owls get permanent burrow

FAU Owls head coach Howard Schnellenberger talks to players on field at FAU Stadium days before home opener in 2011
Florida Atlantic head football coach Howard Schnellenberger talks with players during practice days before the home opener, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in Boca Raton, Fla.

After lobbying for a football stadium for years, Schnellenberger's vision finally became a reality. FAU Stadium opened on Oct. 15, 2011. Although the Schnellenberger-led Owls lost to Western Kentucky 20-0, it was a significant milestone for a program that had spent its infancy playing at Pro Player Stadium (today known as Hard Rock Stadium) near Miami and Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. The playing field at FAU Stadium was named for Schnellenberger in 2014.

Hurricanes meet Owls on gridiron

FAU Owls head coach Howard Schnellenberger meets Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden in 2013
Miami head coach Al Golden, right, shakes hands with former Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger, after Schnellenberger was honored by both Miami and Florida Atlantic, where he also coached, before the start of the first-ever game between the schools, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Schnellenberger's former programs met for the first time on Aug. 30, 2013. Schnellenberger and dozens of members of the 1983 Miami national championship team were at the game as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Hurricanes' first title. The Hurricanes won 34-6.