F-A-Who?

Florida Atlantic's multimillion-dollar investment in a legendary coach has so far been a bust

In the locker room, Schnellenberger sounds furious. "I want to see you," he yells. Players covered in Kentucky bluegrass stains and streaked with sweat crowd around him. The coach, with hands on hips and looking at the floor, paces once to the left, once to the right, once to the left. "Guys, let's all kneel down," he bellows, and the locker room fills with the sounds of knee pads smacking the tile floor. The hot air, humid from the running showers, smells of Ben Gay, sweat, and grass, the earthy aroma of a football team.

"Everyone listen to what I have to say. If you have something to say, wait until I'm done, because I have some things I have to say," says the coach, his puffy cheeks a livid ruby. "The coaching staff you've got around you is all we got when we get back to Florida because everyone else is going to think we're shit. I don't know what the hell happened in the second half, but I know we're better than this."

Wisps of gray hair on his forehead, the coach doesn't belittle the players after the embarrassing game. He doesn't insult them, although it would be easy to do so after their lackluster performance. He sounds disappointed, maybe let down by the men he relies upon, but not disillusioned or cynical. He looks them in the eye, as he always does, his voice reverberating off the tile walls. "I'm not going to give up, and I hope everyone in this room will not give up. You haven't played very well, but I have confidence in you, and I hope you have confidence in yourself."

Colby Katz
Florida Atlantic paid nearly $80,000 to rent Pro Player Stadium for its opening-day loss, but only 8,000 fans showed. Far right, cornerback Lee Pasick finds himself on the bench after starting last year.
Colby Katz
Florida Atlantic paid nearly $80,000 to rent Pro Player Stadium for its opening-day loss, but only 8,000 fans showed. Far right, cornerback Lee Pasick finds himself on the bench after starting last year.

Schnellenberger ends his speech with the Lord's Prayer. His booming baritone rumbles above the voices of the six dozen assistant coaches and players like that of a soloist in a church choir. Outside in the stadium, a sprinkling of rain falls on the empty field.

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