Howard Schnellenberger (Photo courtesy: Florida Atlantic Owls Official Web Site)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- College football is moving from the two-team Bowl Championship Series title game format to a four-team playoff. Howard Schnellenberger is not impressed or amused.
"Do you remember what my Miami team was ranked when we beat Nebraska in 1983?" Schnellenberger asked. "Fifth. We won the national championship beating a team people were calling the greatest team of all-time. We would have been excluded in a four-team playoff. Does that sound like a good system to you?"
Better than what we have? Yes. Good? That's a stretch. The solution? Absolutely not.
Schnellenberger, as always, has a vision. A grand plan. A plan for a 64-team, six-week college football playoff.
This is the first guy who preached that it was entirely reasonable for the University of Louisville to talk about winning a college football national title. Howard Hyperbole is a primary reason the Cardinals' current football palace sits on Floyd Street.
He coached the Cards for 10 unforgettable seasons, beating Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl and Michigan State in the Liberty Bowl, two wins in his 6-0 bowl record.
"Don't forget we were an underdog in all six games," he said. "I don't think there's another coach with a 6-0 bowl record. That's the record I have to keep my eye on."
As he eases into his first year of retirement after more than 50 years of coaching, Schnellenberger wants to detonate the bowl system. "There are at least 16 completely ridiculous games," he said. "Nobody cares who wins or loses."
His replacement plan is predictably ambitious. It also has absolutely no chance of being embraced by the powerful league determined to retain control of the post-season. Schnellenberger understands that. But he wants the chance to explain.
You start with 64 teams, playing 32 games on campus sites. Round two remains on campus with 16 games, 32 teams. The final 15 games are played at bowl sites that make the cut. The games are spaced over four weeks.
Schnellenberger is willing to make an adjustment to the regular-season. At least one week would have to be sliced. The conference title games would be eliminated.
That still wouldn't be enough because many coaches and university presidents would balk at asking players to compete for 15, 16 or even 17 games for the teams that reach the final game.
"That wouldn't be many teams," Schnellenberger said. "Thirty-two teams would be finished by the first weekend in December and sixteen more a week later."
"Instead of all the dead time and irrelevant bowl games you have in early December you'd have games people would care about. In the system they're talking about, teams that are not in the right conferences are going to wither on the vine and die. This is a plan for the common man."
What I like about his plan is it would add fiber to the regular-season. The 64 teams would be picked by computer formula.
Teams would be scrambling for the last spots over the final weeks of the regular season. They'd also be fighting for home-field advantage because the higher ranked teams would play at home the first two weekends.
But the best thing about the plan is more teams would be included. Growing from two to four will be a healthy start, but it won't resolve the incessant complaining about college football's post-season.
Howard Schnellenberger would have never had that 1983 national championship ring to flash at recruits because his Miami team was ranked sixth nationally before the Hurricanes defeated Florida State in their final regular-season game and fifth before they toppled Nebraska, 31-30, in the Orange Bowl.
Schnellenberger plans to keep pushing his plan when his website CoachHowardSchnellenberger.com launches this summer.
Schnellenberger is 78. This is what he calls retirement: He works as a full-time fundraiser for Florida Atlantic University. His goal is to raise $15 million over the next five seasons. Schnellenberger started the football program at FAU and coached it for 11 seasons. He wants to position the Owls to move into the Big East Conference by 2017.
Perhaps by then the folks at the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame will waive their arbitrary 60 percent winning percentage requirement and recognize that, although Schnellenberger won only 51 percent of his games, his superb work at Miami, Louisville and FAU is worthy of the Hall.
"I've got bigger fish to fry," Schnellenberger said. "I'm finished with the little pan frys."