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Former coach Schnellenberger headed to FAU Hall of Fame

Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports
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Legendary former Miami Hurricanes coach and the architect of Florida Atlantic’s football program, Howard Schnellenberger, will be honored later this year by being put in the FAU Hall of Fame along with two former prominent players of the football program.

The announcement came Monday that FAU will be holding the Hall of Fame induction for the first time in seven years with Schnellenberger headlining:

Schnellenberger is most famous for having lead to Hurricanes to the 1983 National Championship capped by their Orange Bowl dramatic 31 – 30 upset of the number one ranked, unbeaten and seemingly unbeatable, Nebraska Cornhuskers. Led by Bernie Kosar that season, the Canes became a national powerhouse that sustained for the next decade with three more national titles.

Schnellenberger was hired by FAU to start a football program in 1998, at a time when USF in Tampa and UCF in Orlando had already blossomed with new football programs. Their three year building process culminated with FAU fielding a football team under Schellenberger for the first time in 2001.

Here’s more from the FAU release Monday on the Hall of Fame announcement about Schnellenberger:

He secured the funding, gained the state’s approval and signed his first recruiting class in February of 2000. Under Schnellenberger’s direction, FAU took to the field for the first time in 2001. In 2003, the fledgling program advanced to, and hosted, the I-AA semifinal game. FAU captured the Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2007, earning an invitation and win in the New Orleans Bowl, and became the fastest start-up program to receive a bowl bid and record a victory.

One year later, the Owls became the only team in the state of Florida to record back-to-back bowl victories. Schnellenberger marshalled the sideline 132 times wearing a suit of FAU colors, proving victorious 58 times. His continued efforts to transform the Boca Raton campus into a more traditional university, through the efforts of football, culminated with an on-campus stadium in 2011. He would roam the sidelines that final season on a field that bared his name.

Along with the legendary coach, the owls will also welcome in two former star players who helped establish their program. QB Rusty Smith and RB Alfred Morris will both also be inducted later this year. Smith led the Owls to those two bowl victories under Schellenberger and also became the first Owls player to ever be drafted in the NFL in 2010.

Morris had two 1,000 yard rushing seasons in 2009 and 2011. He finished his FAU career as the school’s second all time leading rusher and was drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Redskins, where he rushed for a Washington record 1,612 yards (2nd in the NFL) in his rookie season. And, he followed it up with two more consecutive seasons of over 1,000 yards, as well. He is the most noteworthy Owls player in NFL history.

The school will put eight total members into its Hall of Fame on Friday night October 11th and then will honor all of them at the Saturday October 12th home game with Middle Tennessee State.


Many state fans still without ACC Network

ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference launched the 24-hour ACC television network in the middle of last month. But for all of the fanfare and build up, there are still hundreds of thousands of football fans in the state of Florida who are without the channel headed into the first weekend of September.

And now, that’s about to be problematic with a scheduled Saturday triple-header of games that will involve FSU, the Miami Hurricanes and the USF Bull’s all being televised, exclusively on the channel.

Now, the ACC and ESPN announced Thursday night a deal with Cox Communications, which serves a good portion of the state and will obviously make their customers happy:

The ACC, led by Commissioner John Swofford (above),ย  also previously announced a deal with Spectrum Communications to carry the ACC Network. That is a significant amount of coverage in Florida.

And, the ACCN is also available through satellite services like DirecTV and Dish. Plus, it’s available on streaming services like Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV for individual fees.

However, while the ACC and ESPN continue to update new deals being done with providers, customers with Comcast / Xfinity, Frontier Communications and AT&T U-verse are still waiting for the channel. And, those outlets represent hundreds of thousands of college football fans in the combined markets of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Fans in those markets with those providers already missed last Thursday night’s opener with #1 Clemson and Georgia Tech, were without last Saturday’s ACCN games, and more importantly, possibly won’t to see their favorite school on the triple header Saturday.

That starts with USF at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m., followed by Florida State hosting Louisiana-Monroe and capped Saturday night by Miami’s opening conference game at North Carolina.

All to be shown exclusively, on the ACCN.

The crux of the problem is the amount of money that ESPN is looking to recoup from each individual customer of the provider. It is the same model that they have followed previously with the SEC Network and with their biggest channels like ESPN and ESPN2.

ESPN and the SEC had much more leverage five years ago at the launch of that television network with a much more rabid following. The SEC Network was picked up by every major provider in the state of Florida before games were ever played in the 2014 season.

Again, ESPN and the conference are negotiating non-stop and may very well get deals with the above major providers that are still holding out. But, it’s entirely possible that when the Noles, the Canes and the Bulls hit the field Saturday many of their fans in the state will not be able to see it, on TV, an app, nothing.

You’ve been warned.

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AAC Commissioner Aresco says they’ll do away with divisions

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There has been speculation as to whether the American Athletic Conference would try to land a 12-team and continue to play with two divisions with a Championship game? On Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Mike Aresco made clear that the 12-team conference isn’t necessary and divisions will be going away.

Appearing on Memphis sports adio station 92.9 FM ESPN, Aresco told their afternoon show that the conference that is home to USF and UCF will no longer split into two six team divisions after 2019:

This decision is necessitated by the departure of the UConn Huskies from the American back to their previous conference, the Big East starting next fall. That is leaving the American with an odd number (11) of teams after this year.

We wrote previously about what the possible scenarios would be for the American to keep its important Conference Championship game, which the UCF Knights have hosted and won the last two years over the Memphis Tigers.

The American has two very real concerns at the forefront on 12 members and keeping the title game:

First, ESPN could alter the newly announced 12 year deal that is supposed to represent at least $7 million in revenue per school annually. That deal has a clause that says, if the AAC loses a member(s), then the rights fee can be decreased by the network.

Further, the NCAA has mandated that in order for the conference to play a championship game, which the American has had for the last four years, it must have 12 schools or play an equal round robin schedule.

Obviously, the AAC cannot equally play a round-robin schedule with 11 teams with only nine conference games and that’s where Aresco is describing applying for a waiver, if they do not play in divisions.

If the conference reverses course and chooses to expand, there is a logical 12th member.

It seems a simple solution would be to invite UAB, which brought back FBS football two years ago and won the Conference USA Championship game and its bowl game in 2018. The Blazers also have a solid menโ€™s basketball program, as well.

Plus, Birmingham is a significant television market and is in the Southeast footprint with other programs like Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina, and the Bulls and the Knights. All of those American programs have also been previously in Conference USA with the Blazers.

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