Former football coach Howard Schnellenberger died March 27, 2021 in Boca Raton, Florida less than two weeks after his 87th birthday.  While an official cause of death was not given, Florida Atlantic University stated that Schnellenberger had been in a car facility.

During his college football career, he coached the teams at Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma, and Florida Atlantic Universities.

When it came to building football programs, he had no rivals.  Louisville and Florida Atlantic have Schnellenberger to thank for their on campus football stadiums. 

Under Schnellenberger, Miami won a national championship in 1983 after a 31-30 win over Nebraska, Louisville beat Alabama in the 1990 Fiesta Bowl, and founded the football program at Florida Atlanta.  His bowl record is 6-0.

In the NFL, he was a part of the only undefeated team in professional football when he served as the Offensive Coordinator for Don Schula’s Miami Dolphins in 1972; which included winning the Super Bowl.  His career record is 158 wins, 151 losses, and three ties in college; and four and 13 as the head coach with the Baltimore Colts during the 1973-74 season.

He was born Howard Leslie Schnellenberger on March 16, 1934 in Saint Meinrad, Indiana.  Attending Blanton Collier at Kentucky, he played football for Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Schnellenberger’s coaching career began in 1959 as an assistant coach.  After playing for Bryant, he served as an assistant coach at Alabama where he recruited a young Willy Joe Namath.

When Schnellenberger took over the head coaching duties for the Miami Hurricanes in 1979, the University was discussing eliminating the football program.  Two years later, he led the team to a win in the Peach Bowl.

In 1985, he took over the head coaching duties for the Louisville Cardinals; five years later, the university had a football stadium, was ranked in the AP Top 25 polls, had a renewal of the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry, and went 10-1-1 with a Fiesta Bowl victory.

In 1995, he took the head coaching job at Oklahoma but only lasted one season after rumours drinking and treatment of players.

Making a return to South Florida, Schnellenberger was hired by Florida Atlantic to create a new football program.  Speaking on the posting, Schnellenberger said, “this is the most important thing I’ve ever undertaken.  the most important thing I’ve ever undertaken.  We’re on a collision course with a national championship, and time is the only variable”.  While the Owls have yet to win the championship, they do have two bowl victories and a football stadium.

Predeceased by his son Stephen, Schnellenberger is survived by his wife of over 60 years Beverly, sons Stuart and Timothy, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

feature photo credit: By MerlinsMagic – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,