BOZICH | Put Schnellenberger in College Hall of Fame ASAP
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I have written this column once before. I might have written it two or three times. Obviously, I have not written it enough. It is time for the 2013 reminder.
Howard Schnellenberger belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame. You don't have to be Bobby Bowden or Bear Bryant to know he is absolutely worthy.
The latest College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted in Atlanta Wednesday night. It includes 24 coaches, players and contributors to the game. It does not include Schnellenberger.
That is an embarrassing mistake, tied to an arbitrary standard. Worse, it is an arbitrary standard that is sometimes ignored.
Schnellenberger is not in this class for the same reason he was not in the 2012 class. He failed to win 60 percent of his games. That is listed as a Hall requirement. Guilty.
Schnellenberger's winning percentage as an FBS level coach was .512, with a record of 130-121-3 (That's 41-16 at Miami; 54-56-2 at Louisville; 5-5-1 at Oklahoma and 30-44 at Florida Atlantic.)
Essentially Schnellenberger lacks about 23 wins, wins that eluded him his first three seasons at U of L and when he was winding down at FAU.
But here is where the asterisk makes its appearance. Check this list of coaches who are members of the college hall.
There is Hayden Fry of Iowa. Nice guy. Used to come to the Kentucky Derby every year. Also worked at North Texas and SMU. Only won 56.4 percent of his games. I didn't go to MIT. But that's not 60 percent.
John Ralston. I believe he coached Jim Plunkett at Stanford. Did a good job there and San Jose State and Utah State. Won 54.4 percent his games. Hall of Famer.
Grant Teaff, coached at Baylor and a pair of smaller schools. Terrific guy without a terrific winning percentage, 52.9 percentage.
I'm sure all three of those guys have other credentials. That's the point. So does Schnellenberger, who has credentials that matter.
He didn't build football programs. Schnellenberger birthed them. Schnellenberger also built stadiums. Not one. But two.
Miami is not Miami without the Schnellenberger swagger. He is the one who made it a job that would attract Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson or Michael Irvin. He won a national championship against a Nebraska team that some were calling the greatest college football team ever.
Louisville is not Louisville without Howard's hyperbole. He's the one who had the vision to get Louisville out of the Fairgrounds and into the new palace on Floyd Street. He is the one who made it a job that John L. Smith, Bobby Petrino or Charlie Strong would pursue. Surely the people with the Hall know that.
Florida Atlantic isn't anything without the trademark Schnellenberger persistence. FAU opens its second season without Schnellenberger Friday night against Miami. Schnellenberger will participate in the coin flip. Those two schools recognize what he meant. They know Schnellenberger finishes his career 6-0 in bowl games.
So does the University of Kentucky. Schnellenberger was an awfully good receiver for the Wildcats when the football was not passed the way it is passed today.
Others are in the Hall with asterisk credentials. Schnellenberger has asterisk credentials. Good ones.
I asked Schnellenberger if he was annoyed that he was persistently denied his rightful spot in the Hall.
"I'd rather be in than not be in," he said, calmly.
He had just returned from Washington D.C. where he visited the White House for about an hour last week with the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team. He was an assistant coach with that team, too. That's another asterisk credential.
"I'd rather be in than not be in," he said.
Those are some of the facts that administrators at Miami, Louisville, Florida Atlantic and Kentucky should include if they ever decide to write letters to the National Football Foundation. They could argue that if exceptions have been made for other coaches then Schnellenberger deserves his glorious moment, too.
Put him on the ballot. Let the voters provide the final up or down.
Numbers don't tell you that Howard Schnellenberger belongs in the College Football Hall of Fame. Common sense certainly does.
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