Just when you think you have it made
December 9, 2003
By Steve Yingling
Tribune sports editor
Thank goodness for NCAA Division 1-AA football, where corporate sponsors don’t determine the parameters of the postseason and computers don’t sort out the pretenders from the finalists.
Why in the name of Chris Ault did Nevada leave the 1-AA? That’s a title Nevada could compete for each year and there wouldn’t be pressure to fire a coach every time the Pack lost to instate rival UNLV or a winning record wasn’t realized.
Forget the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences and petition for reinstatement to the Big Sky. Isn’t a chance to compete in a 16-team postseason football tournament worth discarding Division I status?
Howard Schnellenberger has seen the light.
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After winning the “national title” with the Miami Hurricanes in 1983, Schnellenberger wandered through postseason purgatory, refusing to believe that titles were lost on Apple monitors instead of in bowl games sponsored by Tostitos and AT&T.
Finally, after misguided attempts at NCAA reconciliation in Louisville and Oklahoma, Schnellenberger found a retirement job at Florida Atlantic, a budding university serving 25,000 students in five cities in southeast Florida.
Following a 48-25 thumping of Northern Arizona last Saturday, only a victory against Colgate on Saturday separates the 69-year-old Schnellenberger from returning to the first true championship he’s been a part of since he was an assistant for Don Shula’s unblemished 1972 Miami Dolphins.
But success and growth have again caught up to Schnellenberger. His well-constructed monster has transformed into the “Iron Giant” and there’s not enough wreckage to feed it in southern Florida. Last week, the university announced it will join the Sun Belt Conference and make what it hopes is a full transition to Division I sports in the next several years.
He won’t be allowed to go anywhere outside of Davie, Fla., without checking with the BCS first. Of course, the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN may flatter Schnellenberger from time to time, telling him that he’s better than so and so. But AP and USA Today/ESPN are no more than sympathetic acronyms. They have no more clout than a presidential vote outside of Florida.
Schnellenberger should have taken that Army job before former San Diego Chargers’ coach Bobby Ross snapped it up on Tuesday morning.
By the time Ross rebuilds the 0-13 Cadets, maybe the BCS will be buried next to disco.
Better yet, Schnellenberger could resign and accept a job at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he could coach out the rest of his career without fear of BCS repercussions.
– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or email@example.com