April 28, 2001
Boca Raton News
Guest Commentary: Howard Schnellenberger
The initial cycle is almost complete, but the most important part of our course remains. At the beginning of this school year, 19 scholarship athletes embarked on their collegiate journey. They made application to, were accepted by, and started their very first collegiate football practice at Florida Atlantic University.
More than 200 fellow students came out for the team and joined our voyage. This first season was new to the inaugural team and every bit as novel to our coaching staff, athletic department, and certainly to all at FAU.
It's hard to understand just how difficult it is to practice a full season with the only test and competition being among ourselves. Without collegiate football's fanfare echoing throughout the stadium on game day, it takes a very special self starter to bring himself each Saturday to that fever pitch which is needed to play at one's very best.
Now 14 days of spring practice are locked in to every fiber of their muscular bodies. Mental images of plays have been run over and over in their minds to be forever burned into their memories. We set upon the next and final task to complete the first cycle - reviewing and cramming for the dreaded but most important final exams.
If summer school and practice are important to all football teams, you can imagine the absolute necessity for us to cram as much football as possible into the upcoming lazy days of summer. Encouraged by their position coaches as well as the head coach, nearly every member of our 70-man squad will be in Boca Raton for at least part of the summer.
The second cycle begins on August 11, 2001 when 30 new scholarship freshmen report for a three-day orientation before the 60 mostly red shirt freshmen veterans show up. Given only 29 practices to prepare for opening day against Slippery Rock on September 1, each 24-hour day must be utilized totally for us to have a chance to measure up. The most important task now is to select potentially 55 scholarship athletes and 37 preferred walk ons who will be invited for pre-class two-a-day practices.
When classes start, we'll reunite our entire team for the final two weeks of preparation leading up to FAU's initial game vs. Slippery Rock University (who incidentally will be playing in its 69th season). This most special day will be burned indelibly in the memories of all present, immortalized, and set for posterity in the Florida Atlantic University's folklore as the birthday of this manchild football team.
Ten days prior to the opening game, individual position competition will be behind us and the starting teams will be named. For the first time, we'll know whether Jared, Garrett, or Mario will take the Owl's first snap.