Report this image
The Florida Atlantic Owls football team represents Florida Atlantic University, a mid-major NCAA Division (FBS) college football team that completed an eight-season tenure in the Sun Belt Conference in 2012. Florida Atlantic joined Conference USA July 2013.
Florida Atlantic University football began play in 2001 with Howard Schnellenberger serving as head coach until 2011. 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 will compete 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 the University of Miami and the University of 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 Lousiville, 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.”
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 the University of Minnesota. Led by Rusty Smith, FAU beat Troy University 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 record by becoming the youngest program ever to receive an invitation to a bowl game.
On October 30, 2013, Pelini resigned from his position after admitting to school officials he was using illegal drugs, specifically marijuana and cocaine. 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 the direction of interim head coach Brian Wright. Under Pelini, the Owls compiled a 5-15 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.