It’s been speculated that the current American pastime is football, overtaking baseball, which has seen dwindling TV ratings ever since the player’s strike all those years ago.
If that’s true that surely hall of fame coach Howard Schnellenberger is a sports legend of the Ville. Originally born in Indiana, Schnellenberger was raised in the Derby City where he played high school football, baseball and basketball at Flaget High School, a strong tight end the young man was offered a football scholarship at the University of Kentucky.
While a standout in that oft difficult position Schnellenberger quickly found his true passion was coaching. And, after only three years away from the Wildcats after his graduation the man cut from the same cloth as others like Vince Lombardi and Mike Ditka, came back to Lexington this time as an offensive coordinator.
Proving his strength in a leadership role Schnellenberger’s next stop was at powerhouse Alabama to work under the legendary Bear Bryant, a four year tenure that concluded with three national championships.
And, it was in 1966 that Schnellenberger went pro, going to the then Los Angeles Rams to work as a receivers coach.
While at the Rams instant offensive improvement followed the coach’s hiring, as the team increased their scoring and yardage substantially. After four years in California Schnellenberger helped the team proclaim a division championship in 1969.
It was that year that Schnellenberger went to another coastal town this time, Miami to work for Don Shula and the new NFL franchise of the Dolphins, a franchise which with the combined forces of the Louisville native and Shula instantly made a splash, most notably in 1972 when the Dolphins not only won the Superbowl against the Washington Redskins, but went undefeated for the season, a feat which has not been matched since.
Ironically, Schnellenberger was then offered his first head coaching gig, with the team that beat the Dolphins the first time they made it to the Superbowl, the Baltimore Colts. After a struggling season and a falling out with the team’s owner Schnellenberger stayed in Maryland only a season before packing up and going back to Florida, this time for the University of Miami.
Focusing on local athletes, Schnellenberger got the south Florida team back on its feet again, after the Hurricane struggled substantially the previous seasons, his tenure concluding with a 1983 championship against Nebraska.
It was at this time that Schnellenberger finally came home taking the reins at the University of Louisville, a program which was to put it bluntly in a sorry state in 1985. Pulling the Cards up from their slump the hometown boy’s Cards run was highlighted by a Fiesta bowl championship against Alabama.
After a less than successful stop at the University of Oklahoma, Schnellenberger is currently coaching with Florida Atlantic where he’s achieved a 6-0 bowl game record.
Image courtesy of Florida Atlantic
Schnellenberger's Cards from 88 singing a Beach Boys song, I am speechless after watching this