Florida Atlantic Owls football

Football team of Florida Atlantic University
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The Florida Atlantic Owls football program represents Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the sport of American football. The Owls compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the East Division of Conference USA (CUSA). The Owls' head coach from 2019 to 2022 was Willie Taggart. Florida Atlantic has produced a Sun Belt Conference co-championship team in 2007, two Conference USA championships in 2017 and 2019, along with 4 postseason bowl appearances and one appearance in the 2003 I-AA Playoffs. The Owls play their home games at FAU Stadium which has a seating capacity of 29,419.

History

Howard Schnellenberger era (2001–2011)

Florida Atlantic University football began play in 2001 with legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger serving as head coach until 2011. Schnellenberger was a former offensive coordinator with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins who, as a head coach, turned around a moribund Miami football program and won a national championship in his fifth season in 1983 after back to back nine win seasons in 1980 and 1981. Schnellenberger also turned around a downtrodden Louisville football program, winning the Fiesta Bowl in 1990.

Coach Schnellenberger (blue jacket)

After competing their first four years as an NCAA Division I-AA independent, the Owls moved to Division I-A and the Sun Belt Conference. Starting with the 2013–14 school year, FAU athletics have competed in Conference USA.

In 1998, Florida Atlantic University announced it was pursuing the creation of an NCAA football program and that Howard Schnellenberger was going to lead the charge, as director of football operations and head coach. After his success in rebuilding programs at Miami and Louisville, Coach Schnellenberger now undertook the role of building a program from scratch. Much like his time at Miami and Louisville, Coach Schnellenberger did not shy from placing lofty expectations and high goals on his newly created program. Even before FAU would play an intercollegiate game, Coach Schnellenberger explained the goal of FAU football would be to play the best teams it can schedule, in order for the program to aim for a national championship in Division I-A football. These extreme goals were not unusual from a man like Coach Schnellenberger. At Louisville, facing threats from the administration that the football team would be terminated, Schnellenberger made the bold (and now famous) prediction, "[We are] on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time.”[2]

On August 29, 2000, the first practice was held at the Boca Raton campus of FAU, and 164 students showed up to try out for the team. During the August 29, 2000, first practice, dubbed the inaugural scrimmage game, FAU continued the tradition of Homecoming King, this time including the crowning ceremony of the King as part of the halftime festivities. The Homecoming King crown was bestowed upon Wayne Burns, having been voted in by the majority of student population from across all the campuses at the time, which totaled five, then running a Q&A gauntlet alongside the top three candidates, conducted by a committee of students and faculty, who then voted to determine if Mr. Burns would move to the winners circle or if the next candidate would get the crown. Mr. Burns was driven around the scrimmage game field in a convertible Rolls Royce to wave to the 164 students in the stands, many of whom voted for him. Wayne Burns was and is the oldest Homecoming King to ever receive the honor at FAU. Florida Atlantic joined NCAA Division I-AA, now known as Division I FCS, as an independent team for the 2001 season. Its first-ever intercollegiate competition was against Slippery Rock University, which the Owls lost 40–7 in front of 25,632 fans at Joe Robbie Stadium, now known as Hard Rock Stadium.[3]

The team finished its inaugural season at 4–6 and followed the next season at 2–9. Major accomplishments in its first two seasons include the program's first win, which came in its second game, against Bethune–Cookman, 31–28, and won in the first meeting with newly created South Florida rival, Florida International University, 31–21.

On September 15, 2007, FAU defeated its first Big Ten opponent with a 42–39 victory over Minnesota.[4] Led by Rusty Smith, FAU beat Troy in the final game of the 2007 season to become Sun Belt Conference champions and received an invitation to the 2007 New Orleans Bowl, its first ever bowl bid. As a result, in just the seventh year of the football program's history, and the third year playing in Division I, Florida Atlantic set an NCAA mark by becoming the second-youngest program ever to receive an invitation to a bowl game. They were surpassed only by the undefeated 1958 Air Force Falcons, who had played just one year of Division 1 football before being invited to the Cotton Bowl, where they played to a scoreless tie against the TCU Horned Frogs on January 1, 1959.

On August 11, 2011, Howard Schnellenberger announced he would retire at the end of the season.[5] The Owls ended the 2011 season 1–11, with the only victory coming from a 38–35 home win over UAB.[6]

Carl Pelini era (2012–2013)

On December 1, 2011, FAU hired Carl Pelini, the Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive coordinator to become their new head coach, to succeed Schnellenberger.

On October 30, 2013, Pelini resigned from his position after another coach alleged to school officials that he was using illegal drugs, charges that Pelini denied.[7][8] He, along with defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis, officially stepped down from their positions only three days before the school's homecoming game, which they won 34–17 under interim head coach Brian Wright. Under Pelini, the Owls compiled a 5–14 record.

Wright finished the 2012–13 season as the interim head coach, winning the team's last four games and led the Owls to its first bowl-eligible season since 2008–09. The Owls finished 6–6 for the season but were not invited to a bowl game.[9]

Charlie Partridge era (2014–2016)

On December 16, 2013, FAU announced it had hired Charlie Partridge as head coach.[10] Prior to accepting the job at FAU, Partridge was the defensive line coach at Arkansas.[11] On November 27, 2016, FAU fired Partridge after 3 consecutive 3–9 seasons.[12]

Lane Kiffin era (2017–2019)

On December 12, 2016, it was announced that former USC and Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin would become the Owls' next head coach.[13] Kiffin resigned from FAU on December 7, 2019, after a 49–6 blowout win against the university of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and before FAU's Boca Raton Bowl appearance against SMU Mustangs to become the head coach at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).[14] Kiffin left FAU with a record of 26–13 with two first-place finishes in Conference USA. In December 2019, FAU tight end Harrison Bryant won the John Mackey Award, becoming the first FAU player to win a major collegiate postseaon award, as well as becoming FAU's first consensus, and later unanimous, All-American.[15][16] FAU's first year defensive coordinator, Glenn Spencer, was named the interim head coach to lead the Owls at the Boca Raton Bowl.[17]

Willie Taggart era (2020–2022)

A game between Florida Atlantic and Air Force in 2021

On December 11, 2019, FAU announced the hiring of Willie Taggart as the next head coach.[18] During a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic with no prior spring practice, Taggart led the FAU Owls to a 5–4 record, which includes a loss to the Memphis Tigers in the first and only Montgomery Bowl. He was fired on November 26, 2022, finishing with a 15–18 record.[19] Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will serve as interim head coach during the transition period to find a new head coach.

Conference affiliations

Championships

Conference championships

Florida Atlantic has won three conference championships, two outright and one shared.

Season Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
2007 Sun Belt Conference Howard Schnellenberger 8–5 6–1
2017 Conference USA Lane Kiffin 11–3 8–0
2019 Conference USA Lane Kiffin / Glenn Spencer‡ 11–3 7–1

† Co-champions
‡ 2019 Boca Raton Bowl win coached by Glenn Spencer

Division championships

As a member of Conference USA since 2013, Florida Atlantic competes in the East Division. The Owls have won two division titles.

Season Division Coach Opponent CG result
2017 CUSA East Lane Kiffin North Texas W 41–17
2019 UAB W 49–6

Bowl games

Florida Atlantic has played in 5 bowl games, compiling a record of 4–1.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
2007 Howard Schnellenberger New Orleans Bowl Memphis W 44–27
2008 Howard Schnellenberger Motor City Bowl Central Michigan W 24–21
2017 Lane Kiffin Boca Raton Bowl Akron W 50–3
2019 Glenn Spencer (interim) Boca Raton Bowl SMU W 52–28
2020 Willie Taggart Montgomery Bowl Memphis L 10–25

Head coaches

Coach Tenure Seasons Record Winning %
Howard Schnellenberger 2001–2011 11 58–74 .439
Carl Pelini 2012–2013 2 5–15 .250
Brian Wright (interim) 2013 1 4–0 1.000
Charlie Partridge 2014–2016 3 9–27 .250
Lane Kiffin 2017–2019 3 26–13 .667
Glenn Spencer (interim) 2019 1 1–0 1.000
Willie Taggart 2020–2022 2 15-18 .652

Rivalries

Florida International

The Shula Bowl is the rivalry game with Florida International. It was first played in 2002 and has been played every year since then. The winner receives the Don Shula Award. The game and trophy are named after former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula. The game is typically either in Boca Raton or Miami, though there have been meetings in other locations in the Miami metropolitan area.

In total the two squads have met 17 times with Florida Atlantic holding a 13–4 lead as of the 2019 season conclusion. The 2005 game does not count with FIU having to vacate their victory due to NCAA violations and penalties.

Notable alumni and personnel

Current NFL players

[20]

Player Position Team First year Draft round
Azeez Al-Shaair OLB San Francisco 49ers 2019 Undrafted
Brandin Bryant DE Buffalo Bills 2016 Undrafted
Harrison Bryant TE Cleveland Browns 2020 4
Trevon Coley DE Tennessee Titans 2016 Undrafted
B.J. Emmons RB Las Vegas Raiders 2021 Undrafted
John Franklin III WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 Undrafted
Trey Hendrickson DE Cincinnati Bengals 2017 3
Gregory "Buddy" Howell, Jr. RB Houston Texans 2018 Undrafted
Greg Joseph K Minnesota Vikings 2018 Undrafted
Cre'Von LeBlanc DB Miami Dolphins 2016 Undrafted
Herb Miller CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 Undrafted
Alfred Morris RB New York Giants 2012 6
Sharrod Neasman S New York Jets 2016 Undrafted
James Pierre Jr CB Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Undrafted
Devin "Motor" Singletary RB Buffalo Bills 2019 3
Rashard Smith LB Philadelphia Eagles 2020 Undrafted
Andrew Soroh LB 2019 Undrafted
Adarius (Glanton) Taylor LB Carolina Panthers 2014 Undrafted
Trevardo Williams LB 2013 4
Brandon Walton OT Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Undrafted
Kerrith Whyte RB 2019 7

Former NFL Players

[21]

Player Position Teams Years played First year Draft round
Rob Housler TE Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns 2011-2015 2011 3
Lestar Jean WR Houston Texans 2012-2013 2012 Undrafted
Randell Johnson OLB Buffalo Bills, New York Jets 2014-2016 2014 7
Michael Lockley LB Jacksonville Jaguars 2011 2011 Undrafted
Keith Reaser CB San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs 2014-2017 2014 5
D'Joun Smith CB Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans 2015-2016 2015 3
Rusty Smith QB Tennessee Titans 2010-2012 2010 6
Lucky Whitehead WR Dallas Cowboys 2015-2016 2015 Undrafted

Future Non-Conference Opponents

Announced schedules as of September 26, 2022.[22]

2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031
vs Monmouth at Michigan State at Iowa vs FIU[23] at FIU[23] at Missouri vs Missouri
vs Ohio vs FIU[23] at FIU[23] vs UConn at Missouri
at Clemson at UConn at UCF
at Illinois

Individual national award winners

John Mackey Award
Best Tight End
2019Harrison Bryant

Consensus/Unanimous All-Americans

10 Florida Atlantic players have been awarded as All-Americans, with one Florida Atlantic player being awarded as a consensus All-American, later becoming a unanimous All-American.

Consensus All-Americans
Year(s) Name Number Position
2019 Harrison Bryant 40 TE

References

  1. ^ "Florida Atlantic University Visual Standards". May 4, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2022.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 12, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "FAU vs Slippery Rock".
  4. ^ "FAU vs. Minnesota". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011.
  5. ^ "Schnellenberger to Retire as Football Coach". Florida Atlantic University Athletics. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  6. ^ "2011 Football Schedule". Florida Atlantic University Athletics. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  7. ^ "FAU now says Carl Pelini has been fired with cause". CBSSports.com. November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  8. ^ Evans, Thayer. "Ex-FAU coach Carl Pelini files suit over drug allegations". Sports Illustrated.
  9. ^ "Football's 2013 Season Has Officially Ended". Florida Atlantic University Athletics. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  10. ^ "Florida Atlantic hires Partridge of Arkansas". December 15, 2013.
  11. ^ "Florida Atlantic University to Introduce New Head Football Coach".
  12. ^ "FAU fires coach Charlie Partridge as Owls continue seeking relevancy". CBSSports.com.
  13. ^ Low, Chris; McMurphy, Brett (December 12, 2016). "Alabama OC Lane Kiffin to be next head coach of Florida Atlantic". ESPN. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  14. ^ "Lane Kiffin Hired by Ole Miss as Next Coach". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 7, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  15. ^ Taylor, John (December 12, 2019). "FAU's Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation's best TE". NBC Sports. NBC Universal. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  16. ^ "Bryant Now Officially a Unanimous All-American". FAU Sports. Florida Atlantic University. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  17. ^ Elman, Jake. "FAU football: Owls players endorse interim coach Glenn Spencer for full-time head coaching job". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  18. ^ "FAU turns to Taggart to replace Kiffin as coach". ESPN.com. December 11, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  19. ^ "Florida Atlantic fires Taggart after three seasons". ESPN.com. November 27, 2022.
  20. ^ "Owls in the Pros". Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  21. ^ "Florida Atlantic Players/ Alumni". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  22. ^ "Florida Atlantic Owls Football Future Schedules". FBSchedules.com. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  23. ^ a b c d "FAU and FIU Ink Four-Game Series". FAUSports.com. Retrieved September 26, 2022.

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