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Former coach Schnellenberger headed to FAU Hall of Fame

Florida Football Insiders

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Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Time for concern after XFL TV ratings declined again last week?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive week, the XFL televison ratings continued to slide in the wrong direction. And, the troubling part is that if the trend continues, the XFL will have no leverage for sponsors and revenue to keep it going long term.

First, here are the specifics on the bad viewership news: According to Showbuzzdaily.com all four XFL broadcasts last Saturday and Sunday afternoon had lower ratings in their slot than the previous week.

That includes the Tampa Bay Vipers home debut against Houston, which was the early game on ABC Saturday. And, while that window had 400,000 less viewers than week 2, the bigger concern is ABC has lost almost 40% of the audience from the 3.3 million average that watched their Week one debut game on Saturday afternoon.

The ratings downward trend is following the same pattern as last Spring’s Alliance of American Football, where the ratings dwindled to under a million fans for broadcasts by week five and eventually the league shut down after just eight weeks. This was in part because of concerns on how the AAF could make any revenue, through television in specific, if they had very little audience for the end of year one and to sell off of for year two.

Now, WWE owner Vince McMahon, who folded the XFL the first time in 2001 in large part because the television audience plummeted over the course of the first month or so of its existence and never recovered, has the same issue in 2020.

And, as we wrote previously, this audience decline while negative is far less McMahon’s original XFL and it’s first season of 2001.  That’s when, it debuted on its first Saturday night on NBC with a massive 10.1 rating, which translated 18 years ago to more than 9.5 viewers on network TV. A Smashing success.

However, the XFL’s ratings plummeted starting the following week and had fewer than 25% of that opening night audience just a month later with the games still being shown on a Saturday night coveted slot on NBC. It doomed the league from a P.R. and sponsor standpoint and McMahon pulled the plug.

Now, in 2020, McMahon reportedly has money to burn and is apparently prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in year one. So, even if the XFL TV ratings continue come down significantly, it will not spell the end of the XFL (like it did nearly 20 years ago) after just a single season.

At least, that’s what we think.

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Vipers better but drop third straight game in home opener

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Mary Holt- USA Today Sports

Although their play was improved offensively, in the end it wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Vipers after they dropped their third straight XFL game to start the season 34 – 27 to Houston Saturday afternoon in Tampa.

Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, as Houston scored early in the fourth quarter to go up by seven and held off the Viper the rest of the way.

The Vipers offense came to life after they had failed to score in the offensive touchdown in either of their first two games. Both of which were losses on the road. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius, subbing for starter Aaron Murray who missed his second straight game with an injured foot, once again had modest numbers 16-31 for 193 yards 1 TD, 1 INT.

However, he did pull the game even at 18 – 18 at the half after scoring on a one yard QB sneak and Tampa Bay got the two-point conversion.

Still, the former Oklahoma State quarterbacks day was inconsistent and the home crowd at Raymond James Stadium began to chant the name “Flowers, Flowers” for former USF Star Quarterback Quinton Flowers, who played sparingly for the third straight game in a reserve role.

Flowers got Tampa Bay’s first offensive TD on the young season with a seven yard run in the first quarter, but only played QB sparingly in the game, again. He was just 4-6 for 57 yards passing with 29 yards on six attempts on the ground.

Meanwhile, the former Temple star Walker found receiver Cam Phillips for the third of their three touchdown hookups from 17 yards out to give Houston a 34 – 27 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. Phillips devastated Jerry Glanville’s Vipers defense for 194 yards receiving on eight catches with the three TDs.

The Vipers look like they were going to have a chance to re-tie the game when Cornelius (above) completed a pass to his top target on the day, Jaylen Tolliver, at the two-yard line. However just like a week ago in Seattle when a critical fourth quarter drive stalled and Tampa Bay came away with no points in a 17 – 9 lost the Dragons, the Vipers got no points after Cornelius threw incomplete on second, third and fourth downs.

Many in the crowd and observers in the media were curious, as to why coach Marc Trestman didn’t go to Flowers as the dual threat running QB to at least try something different on one of those plays? Flowers even questioned why he did not play more after the game to the media.

The Vipers got the ball one final time, but Cornelius was picked off near midfield with just over a minute left to seal the defeat.

The Vipers played the first spring professional football game in Tampa, since the closing of the USFL 1985 season. That’s when Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits were a popular item at Old Tampa Stadium. Saturday’s home opener drew and announced crowd of 18,117.

However it’s little consolation for former Bears and CFL coach Trestman and his team, as they remain winless on the season. The L.A. Wildcats playing Sunday are the other 0-2 team in the league, currently.

And, you have to wonder whether Trestman will be forced to go to Flowers for the start when they host the D.C. Defenders next week.

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