FAU coach Carl Pelini walks the sidelines of the Owls' 31-17 loss at Middle Tennessee on Saturday. (Photo Courtesy of Ralph Notaro/ Owl Pix)
FAU coach Carl Pelini says the worst part about playing No. 7 Georgia is that it doesn't give the Owls a chance to go against an offense like it sees in the Sun Belt Conference.
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BOCA RATON - Playing two top 10 teams in back-to-back weeks would be a tough task for a team even if it was ranked in the top 10 itself.
But for Florida Atlantic, to face No. 7 Georgia and (gulp) No. 1 Alabama in the span of seven days borders on downright insanity.
For FAU fans facing top programs is nothing new. The Owls have funded the football program and its entire athletic department by playing so-called “guarantee” games throughout the years.
In the next two weeks FAU will bring in around $2 million for facing the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide and while that may help the bottom line, it's brutal for a program trying to get on the right track under a first-year coach,
FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger used to call games against teams from BCS conferences “Advanced Training” games because they prepared the Owls for their Sun Belt play.
However, Pelini doesn't really see how facing Georgia and Alabama (both teams who emphasize power offenses) will help the Owls when they face Sun Belt teams who rely on the spread offense.
“What I think is irresponsible of this scheduling is not Georgia or playing the No. 6 team it's that Georgia is not in any way, shape or form similar to any of our opponents in the Sun Belt,” said Owls coach Carl Pelini. “What you end up doing is preparing for that game and there is no carryover into conference play. Responsible scheduling for those paycheck games would be to schedule them, but make sure there is some carryover to what you are going to face later in the season. You have to not just think about the money, but the opponent, and how that's going to benefit you later in the season.”
Teams like Auburn, who FAU played last season and may play again in 2013, and Texas have offenses that look like what the Owls face week in and week out in conference play.
But the real goal is to limit the number of so-called “body bag” games – maybe eliminate them altogether one day. That's something that new AD Pat Chun seems to be in favor of.
That could create some financial challenges, but in the long run, could pay off.