Memphis must beat wise man to prevail in New Orleans Bowl
By: By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Howard Schnellenberger’s career in football has spanned generations, touching the lives of numerous successful coaches and players.
There were his days as an assistant coach at Alabama, winning championships under Paul “Bear” Bryant in the 1960s; his stint with the Miami Dolphins in the early 1970s, winning Super Bowls under Don Shula; his resurrection of college programs at Miami, where he won a national championship in 1983, and at Louisville; then his one-year stint at Oklahoma in 1995.
Apparently, the 73-year-old coach, the epitome of an old wise man with his distinctive white mustache and white head of hair, hasn’t let the game pass him by yet.
He’ll be on the sideline tonight when his Florida Atlantic Owls (7-5) play their first bowl game against Memphis (7-5) in the New Orleans Bowl.
Hired in 1998, he was given a couple years to recruit, with his first team beginning practices in 2000 and playing its first NCAA game in 2001.
By 2003, FAU was in the semifinals of the I-AA playoffs.
This will be FAU’s first meeting with Memphis, which beat North Texas in the 2003 New Orleans Bowl and this season was one of the top teams in Conference USA.
Like FAU, Memphis throws the ball frequently. Martin Hankins, who started his college career at Southeastern Louisiana before transferring to the Tigers, has passed for 2,939 yards and 22 touchdowns during the current campaign.
He spreads the ball around to a handful of receivers, his top two being Duke Calhoun (58 catches, 850 yards, five TDs) and Carlos Singleton (47 catches, 704 yards, 10 TDs).
A bowl victory would mean a lot to a Memphis team that lost four of its first six games and was reeling from the early season shooting death of junior defensive lineman Taylor Bradford.
“We had so many things go on, on top of not playing very well to start the season. Then we had the tragic loss of one of our teammates,” Memphis coach Tommy West said. “Young people can be pretty resilient and they hung in there and really the last half of the season we played really well and got better as it went along. Our challenge during this time off is to try to get back to where we were, because offensively, we were playing really well when the season ended.”