When Howard was coaching Miami in ’83, he participated in a pre-game boxing match with Bobby Bowden to promote the Florida State game. Howard’s Canes would go on to win, 17-16. No word if Stoops and Petrino will box before this year’s Governor’s Cup.
I shouldn’t have to tell you that KSR’s secondary mission statement is, “Facts are optional.” I hope to use this time to share with you some stories that are probably true, that probably could be verified, but are probably better with an aura of uncertainty.
Today’s story goes to a man you probably know better as a Louisville Cardinal. Before he became a college football program builder – Miami, Louisville, and Florida Atlantic are forever indebted to Howard – he was an All-American tight end for Bear Bryant’s Kentucky Wildcats. This story is a legend of Louisville’s South End, chronicling the fight to get one of Flaget’s finest to Kentucky.
Howard Schnellenberger was a brute in high school. Like Flaget’s Heisman Trophy Winner, Paul Hornung, Schnellenberger did a little bit of everything on the football field, starring on both sides of the ball. Indiana University was quick to recruit Howard, who made a commitment to the Hoosiers early. Recruiting wasn’t as fluid as the present day, but the Bear refused to let one of Louisville’s finest leave the state.
One Sunday afternoon, Bryant knocked on the door of the Schnellenberger house to speak with Howard’s Mother. If there was a person to persuade, it was Ms. Schnellenberger. The Bear spent an hour in the kitchen with Howard’s Mother. When it was time to go, she was unmoved, “Coach Bryant, it was a pleasure meeting you and we thank you for coming to see us, but Howard has already made a commitment to IU. He is a good, loyal Catholic boy. When he gives his word, he sticks to it.”
The hard-headed Bear had to bring bigger guns if he was going to persuade Ms. Schnellenberger.
Next Sunday he returned at the same time for another hour-long conversation in the kitchen. This time, he was accompanied by Governor Lawrence “Chick” Wetherby from Middletown, Ky. The hour-long talk pitch produced similar results.
“It was a pleasure meeting you Mr. Governor,” Ms. Schnellenberger said. “Nice seeing you again, Coach. As I told Coach Bryant last week, Howard’s a good, loyal Catholic boy. When he gives his word, he sticks by it.”
The following Sunday, Coach Bryant took a different approach. This time, the Bear brought the Archbishop to help persuade the good, loyal Catholic boy to play football for Kentucky. After another hour-long conversation in the kitchen, Ms. Schnellenberger returned, “Howard the Archbishop says you need to go to the University of Kentucky.”
As they say, the rest is history.
Facts from Howard’s Football Career
– 1955 AP All-American Tight End at Kentucky
– UK Assistant under Blanton Collier for 2 years
– Bear Bryant’s Offensive Coordinator for 3 Alabama National Championships
– Offensive Coordinator for the NFL’s last undefeated team, Don Shula’s ’72 Miami Dolphins
– Miami’s Head Coach defeated Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl to win the National Championship in one of the greatest finishes in College Football History. The Canes survived a fumblerookski to stop a 2-point conversion in the last minute to upset one of the greatest teams of its time.
– Schnellenberger’s stint at Louisville started when they almost demoted the program to I-AA. He left with a Fiesta Bowl Championship over Alabama. Their football complex bears his name.
– Florida Atlantic didn’t have a football program until Howard came along. 7 years later they had a Bowl Win after becoming the youngest program in NCAA history to even receive an invite.
– His second bowl win at FAU improved his bowl record to 6-0, the most by any coach without a loss.
– In 2014 FAU put his name on their football field.
– His jersey at UK was retired in 1992 and his name placed on the Ring of Honor.