Howard Schnellenberger, the 77-year-old Florida Atlantic coach who led Miami to its first national
championship, has decided to retire from coaching after this season.
Schnellenberger made the announcement Thursday afternoon. He'll become an ambassador for FAU once his coaching days end. Schnellenberger is in the final year of his contract with FAU and said often in recent months that he was not planning to evaluate his coaching future after 2011.
Schnellenberger is 157-140-3 as a collegiate head coach. He will be with the Owls for the entire 2011 season, including any possible bowl game.
"As Beverlee and I look at our tenure here, I can't tell you how wonderful it's been," Schnellenberger said, referring to his wife, who was sitting to his right with about two dozen of his players.
Best known perhaps for taking Miami to the 1983 national title, which started a run of five championships in 19 seasons for the Hurricanes, Schnellenberger is revered around much of South Florida.
He founded FAU's program in 1998, taking the Owls to the Division I-AA national semifinals in 2003 and leading them into the ranks of major college football a year later.
"He was one of the greatest people to work with," FAU athletic director Craig Angelos said. "And still is. ... I know I'm going to miss working with him."
From the outset of his time at FAU, Schnellenberger stressed the need for the Owls to have an on-campus stadium. A deal was finally struck for that to happen, and the building will open Oct. 15 when Florida Atlantic hosts Western Kentucky.
Schnellenberger beamed last week when the school officially turned on the lights in the new 30,000-seat stadium for the first time, letting the coach throw the switch as a tribute.