BOCA RATON, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – It could be called the House that Howard Built, but this Saturday, Florida Atlantic University will finally open its brand new 30,000 seat on-campus stadium.
Famed former University of Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger helped build the stadium and the team at FAU. The school’s program started under Schnellenberger in 1998 and hasn’t had a true home stadium since.
Schnellenberger originally pitched a 42,000-seat on-campus stadium with a roof. But the retiring head coach has no complaints about the open-air designed stadium.
“My dream fell on deaf ears,” Schnellenberger said. “Hallelujah, amen, glory be, the university dispelled my first thoughts and came up with their own.”
For FAU, the addition of the on-campus stadium will finally give a football program that is so young, but already won two bowl games.
“I think the stadium’s going to do what stadiums all over the country have done — add a great dimension to the vibrancy and potential of the university,” Schnellenberger said.
Giving the Owls a home stadium will also give the university more credibility to hire a coach to replace the retiring Schnellenberger. The list of names rumored to be targets of FAU include: former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach; former Canes head coach Randy Shannon; and former USF head coach Jim Leavitt.
“I think we’ll be able to attract great coach,” athletic director Craig Angelos said. “This is a job I think a lot of people would love to have — one, because of a brand-new stadium, and two, because we’re in the hotbed of some of the most talented players in the country.”
Attracting the players has been an issue in the past as players would see the rough stadium conditions FAU would play in and immediately turn elsewhere. But, with the sparkling new stadium opening Saturday, players say things have changed.
“With recruiting, kids now know we have our own stadium, and that affects them,” junior linebacker David Hinds said. “Schnelly told us the vision he had, and that’s the reason a lot of us in my class came here. He came through; we have our stadium.”
The always desired home-field advantage will finally be in FAU’s corner on Saturday. The Owls are early favorites to knock off the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Still, while the stadium is built, it’s only the first step in building a program that all of the more than 28,000 FAU students can finally say can compete in the Sun Belt Conference year in and year out.
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