March 28 (UPI) — Howard Schnellenberger, who led the University of Miami to its first national football championship and later vitalized programs at Louisville in his home town and Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, died Saturday, his family announced. He was 87.
Schnellenberger compiled a 158-151-1 record over 27 years in college, including 6-0 in bowl games, and 4-13 in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts from 1973-74.
In 1979, he took over as head coach at Miami, a floundering program.
“I knew we were on a collision course for the national championship, so I said, ‘Get in there, put your hats on, get your football shoes on and let’s go practice. Let’s roll. Let’s go work and work and work and if we do that, we’ll become winners very quickly,” Schnellenberger recalled in 2019. “And so, it came to be.”
He coached Miami to the 1983 national champion, defeating Nebraska 31-30 in a game in the Orange Bowl, which was the Hurricanes’ home stadium. He departed after that season, compiling a 41-16 record and they won three more national titles over the next six seasons.
“The loss of Coach Schnellenberger is immeasurable in so many ways for the University of Miami family,” Miami Athletic Director Blake James said in a statement. “He helped our University grow during a critical period of time and established a foundation for future success, on the football field and off. Our thoughts are with his family, friend, former colleagues and players, He will forever be a Hurricane.”
In 1985, he coached Louisville, which had a losing record in the previous six seasons. His achievements included coaching the Cardinals to two bowl games victories, including beating Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl, 34-7, in their first New Year’s Day bowl. He left the program after the 1994 season. He resigned after one season.
Late in the 1994 season, he was hired to replace head coach Gary Gibbs, who had resigned.
He became bond salesman but in 1998 at age 64, he was named director of football operations for FAU, building the program from scratch. FAU secured its first bowl invitation, defeating Memphis 44-27 in the New Orleans Bowl.
Schnellenberger announced his retirement in 2011.
He had pushed for an on-campus stadium and on Oct. 15, 2011, the Owls played their first game in the facility. In 2014, FAU announced the stadium would be named after him.
Schnellenberger was born in 1934 in Louisville. He played tight end at Kentucky from 1952-55, earning All-America honors his senior year.
Schnellenberger is survived by his wife of 61 years, Beverlee, sons Timothy and Stuart, his grandchildren Joey, Marcus and Teather and his great grandchildren Tyler, Lacie and Harper Ann. He was predeceased by his son Stephen and great-grandson Angel.
Notable deaths of 2021