Insider | Mailbag
Why not flip a coin to pick a starting quarterback?
Howard Schnellenberger had done wackier things in his career. Twenty years ago it seemed like he was throwing that career away. Miami had won the national championship in 1983 and Schnellenberger, the celebrated architect of Hurricanes football, bolted -- try not to laugh -- to the USFL.
|Florida Atlantic wants to give kids like Brittney Tellis another option in the Sunshine State. (AP)|
"In my opinion, he might have as many championships as anybody, ever (if he stayed at Miami)," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "It's crossed my mind many times."
So why not flip that coin three years ago? How is that more outrageous than creating a football program at an unknown campus in Boca Raton, Fla.? A place where the burrowing owls on campus were the inspiration for the school's nickname?
Or agreeing to go door-to-door soliciting community leaders for the mere $15 million needed to go from germ of an idea to kickoff?
Really, it wasn't weird at all for the 70-year old who, well, let's just say he still has extreme confidence in his abilities. So, yeah, it really was Schnellenberger who suggested in 2001 that freshman quarterbacks Jared Allen and Garrett Jahn flip a coin to start the first game in Florida Atlantic's history.
"They were too close for a human being to call so God called it," Schnellenberger said this week, considering his latest construction project. "Certainly I would do that. Why wouldn't I?"
Ridiculous is sublime again in Schnellenberger's world. Amid this season's talking points -- hurricanes, instant replay, kickers who can't kick -- is the job Schnellie has done at that owl-laden commuter campus of 13,000 students in Palm Beach County.
Three victories, all on the road, all against I-A competition in Florida Atlantic's final season before joining the big time, which in this case is the Sun Belt Conference in 2005. Next year, this college football IPO will be eligible for -- please stifle your laughter again -- a bowl.
All of it after playing organized college football for all of four years. All of it according to plan.
"He was basically semi-retired in Miami selling municipal bonds," said Dr. Anthony Catanese, the man who hired Schnellenberger at Florida Atlantic in 1998. "I said, 'That's not the place for Howard Schnellenberger.'