Thursday, May 14, 2009

FAU Football's Business Plan

     By Scott Morganroth
     We all know how much college football is big business because the NCAA doesn't have a playoff system due to the revenues of the bowl season.
     In my two year association with FAU, I've spoken to Owls President Frank T. Brogan and Athletic Director Craig Angelos about the need to schedule guarantee revenue games to build the athletic department.
     Over the past few years, FAU has endured lopsided losses to Texas, Oklahoma State, Florida, South Carolina, Clemson, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota and the University of South Florida to gain the extra revenue. This season, Nebraska and South Carolina will be on the schedule.
     Coach Howard Schnellenbger has watched his hair and mustache turn white and silver with these routs but has felt that these "Advance Training" contests have built character in his players to perform against the best competition in order to become better football players.
     That philosophy has worked because now FAU is sending players to NFL and CFL teams.
     Despite being the whipping boys to these national powers, FAU was won back-to-back bowl games.
     The Owls defeated Memphis in the 2007 Now Orleans Bowl 44-27 on Dec 21 and nipped Central Michigan 24-21 on Dec 26 in the 2008 Motor City Bowl. The carry over effect as to what transpired in Detroit occurred on Saturday April 18, as a record crowd of 2,011 fans watched a Spring Practice Game at the Oxley Center to get a glimpse of the 2009 squad.
     Because of FAU's success of building a program, former University of Miami Hurricanes Coach Larry Coker, 60, has contacted Schnellenberger to gain advice for his latest challenge at the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, who begin play at the Alamo Dome in 2011.
     There is one avenue Schnellenberger didn't use to build a program and that's the one which the Delaware State University Hornets are utilizing. The Hornets, a Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) team out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, has forfeited its Oct 17 contest against North Carolina A & T, to accept a $500,000 payout to face the University of Michigan (U-M) Wolverines at the "Big House" for the opportunity to play in front of 100,000 plus.
     Whether Delaware State can duplicate the success of what transpired on Sept 1, 2007 when Appalachian State University (ASU) pulled off the biggest upset in college football 34-32, remains to be seen. But the Hornets don't mind going into the season 0-1 facing a U-M program coming off it's worst season in it's 100 years plus history with a 3-9 record.
     But if the Hornets do pull off the win, one thing is guaranteed and that Coach Rich Rodriguez job status would place him on the hot seat. You can rest assure that the Wolverines and their fans will not take Delaware State lightly. There will be plenty of cardiologists at Michigan Stadium if the Hornets sting the Maize & Blue due to the rash amount of heart attacks that another monumental upset could create.
     As the NCAA has added that 12th game which leads to another non-conference game, it will be interesting to see if FAU and Michigan do meet. The Wolverines do know about the Owls since FAU lost a 17-0 decision to rival Michigan State in East Lansing on Sept 13, 2008.
     The Owls can thank Michigan's poor season which prevented the Wolverines from reaching their 34th straight bowl game. FAU's spot in the Motor City Bowl would have been taken by Michigan and there is no doubt that 65,000 would have packed Ford Field.
     I do know that the payouts for a guarantee game start at $500,000 and go even higher depending on the opponent. But the price of exposure especially if a team faces let alone wins against the all-time winningest program on college football history is priceless.
     Just ask ASU.
     Nevertheless, FAU's business plan with an old school architect coach is still sound even if some teams still take somewhat different paths where a loss before the season is a financial win at the end of the fiscal year.
     Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com

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