When Howard Schnellenberger went to bed Saturday night, his wife, Beverlee, was reading an online story about Florida Atlantic's scrimmage earlier that day.
"Four turnovers? That's terrible," she said.
"I know," Schnellenberger replied. "I was there."
Beverlee Schnellenberger laughs as she recalls the scene.
"I'm very, very tough on him," she said. "But we are happy.
It's been 50 years of marriage and 50 years of football."
Schnellenberger is celebrating those two anniversaries this
year. He married Beverlee in 1959, the same year he landed
his first coaching job as an assistant at Kentucky.
Since then Schnellenberger, who turned 75 in March, has been
part of coaching staffs that have won four collegiate
national titles and two Super Bowls.
Three of those titles came in South Florida, as
Schnellenberger was on
Don Shula's coaching staff when the
Dolphins won the
Super Bowl in 1973 and 1974, and he revived the
Hurricanes' program and led them to the national title in
After a decade at Louisville, where he took the program from
doormat to respectability, Schnellenberger returned to South
Florida and accepted the biggest challenge of his career.
He is entering his ninth season at FAU, heading up a program
that he started from scratch and is determined to turn into
a Top 25 team.
"I think he is getting stronger with age, I really do," said
FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos, who has been with
Schnellenberger for seven years.
"I think he is a lot healthier and more motivated than he
was 25 years ago," Beverlee Schnellenberger said. "He's
wiser and really excited about what he is doing."
"Football is his total passion," said associate coach Kurt
Van Valkenburgh, who has been an assistant for
Schnellenberger for 14 years. "This job is special, creating
a team and moving it forward. This is his crowning
Jeff Brohm, FAU's quarterback coach, played for
Schnellenberger at Louisville from 1990-93, and remembers
the white-haired coach with the gravelly voice who was
considered old by his players back then.
"It's amazing he has been able to do it this long," Brohm
said. "He just loves the game, loves working with young
kids, loves coming to work every day."
"It's an honor to play for him," quarterback Rusty Smith
Schnellenberger's initial vision for FAU had the Owls
playing in a 40,000-seat on-campus domed stadium by their
third season, and competing for a national title shortly
While those dates have passed, a downsized version of that
vision is slowly turning into reality.
Unless there is a glitch, the stadium, which is now 30,000
seats and open air, will be ready for the 2011 season.
And FAU became the youngest start-up program to get to a
bowl in 2007, and this season will be trying to go to its
third straight bowl game.
"I know he wants to take his last breath out here on the
field. I know he has no intention of slowing down or
retiring," Angelos said.
"I will stay on as long as I am physically able and as long
as I am still enjoying it," Schnellenberger said. "Coaching
at age 75 has great rewards. The beauty of it is the kids
would rather have me here than not have me here, so that is