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Posts from August 2009

FAU coach Schnellenberger, Osborne haven't talked in years
Both the Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World-Herald have nice stories on Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger today and there will likely be a few more stories this week that touch on the relationship between Schnellenberger and legendary former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne.

I was talking to Schnellenberger last week about Osborne and I was surprised when he told me that he hadn't spoken to Osborne in quite some time.

I asked him if Osborne, currently the Nebraska athletic director, had anything to do with setting up the game. Schnellenberger reminded me that Osborne was still serving in congress in the House of Representatives when the game was scheduled.

"No, he was still in politics then," Schnellenberger said last week. "I saw him around five years ago when he was at the Orange Bowl Prayer Breakfast at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was speaking there, so I went down to see him."

If they haven't talked in years it just makes for perhaps a interesting pre-game scene in Lincoln.

Here's a few other links to articles for your morning briefing now that Game Week is finally here:

  • There's a financial method to FAU's madness of playing high-caliber teams, The Palm Beach Post says
  • Defense has led the way in training camp, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
  • The LJW also has a look at senior Nebraska OL Jacob Hickman
  • The OWH has an early scouting report on the Owls
  • The LJW published its season preview on the Huskers on Sunday. Lots of good stuff here.

    For updates on FAU throughout the day check back to FAUOwlAccess.com and check out our Interactive Schedule Page for all the news from Lincoln.
  • Everybody headed to Hot Springs
    The Sun Belt Conference announced it will officially change the format of its basketball tournaments to bring all members to the tournament site in Hot Springs, Ark. this March.

    Previously the first round games were held at campus sites and those winners would advance to the site of the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

    Readers of this site already knew the conference was heading in this direction after we wrote about this issue in May after the SBC meetings.

    I talked to FAU coach Mike Jarvis about the change earlier this summer and he said he thought the new format is the right move.

    "Every player deserves to experience a post-season atmosphere," Jarvis said.

    Admit it, those first-round games felt more like an extension of the regular season instead of a post-season game. At least now a first round game will seem like a tournament game.

    I agree with Jarvis, the Sun Belt got this one right.
    Nebraska's schemes not much different from FAU's

    BOCA RATON - When Florida Atlantic started running some Nebraska formations this week it was often hard to tell the difference between what the Owls usually run in practice.

    Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger said that's because Nebraska and FAU run similar schemes.

    "They run a lot of the same stuff we do," Schnellenberger said. "There is one defense we haven't worked against....They are a little tighter on defense."

    Of course there is likely a difference in personnel between the Huskers and Owls, but running like formations means the Owls' scout teamers can pick up the nuances - better than the starters were able to do this week.

    "They do, but there is a natural tendency not to run as hard and not as precise," Schnellenberger said.
    FAU football roster grows via open try-outs
    With classes starting last Monday, Florida Atlantic was able to hold its open try-outs for walk-ons.

    The following players have made the first cut, and if all keeps going well and pending certification, can join the team where they will be running on the scout team hoping to attract the eye of the coaches.

    Here's the list of who made the cut:

    Caesar Alvarez, TE
    Andre Cabrera, OL
    David Baptiste, DL
    Jeffrey Boone, WR
    Chase Dickinson, OL
    Gregory Fashaw, RB
    Stefano Francillon, LB
    Jesus Gangi, OL
    Gary Moise, QB
    O’Shay Nelson, RB
    Justin Raymond, DL
    John Solek, QB
    Sean Watson, OL
    Markenel Zele, DL

    None of these names ring a bell, but some out there may know something about these guys, right?
    Time to look at Nebraska
    FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger was a little cryptic when talking about the format for Wednesday's practice so we'll see what he means when the team takes the field today at 3:30 p.m.

    Tuesday he put in a few formations used by Nebraska and we could see more of that today.

    Since the team is turning its attention to the Cornhuskers, we will too. So here's a few sites that follow Nebraska on our Interactive Schedule page.
    FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger was a little cryptic when talking about the format for Wednedsay's practice so we'll see what he means when the team takes the field today at 3:30 p.m.

    Tuesday he put in a few formations used by Nebraska and we could see more of that today.

    Since the team is turning it's attention to the Cornhuskers so will we.

    Here's a few sites that follow Nebraska to help scout Nebraska from out Interactive schedule page.
    Former FAU DT to sign with Jacksonville
    The phone rang right about 10 a.m. It was the call Jervonte Jackson had been waiting for.

    "My agent told me, 'I hope you've got your bags packed,'" Jackson said.

    The NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars are about to sign the former Florida Atlantic defensive tackle, pending Tuesday's physical. A few hours after receiving the call, Jackson was on his way to the Fort Lauderdale airport.

    If he passes the physical, which Jackson said won't be a problem, he could be in uniform when the Jags travel to Philadelphia for Thursday's pre-season game. The Eagles released Jackson earlier this year.

    Jackson believes he will play in that game.

    "I'm a fast learner," Jackson said.

    It's not surprising that Jackson landed in Jacksonville. Jackson impressed the Jags with his pre-draft work.

    "Before the draft these guys were talking to me," he said. "That's where I thought I was going to be in the beginning before going to Philly."

    Jackson has been working out in Miami since being released by the Eagles. He and former teammate Frantz Joseph recently attended a United Football League tryout in Orlando.

    The pair has been motivating each other while searching for NFL gigs. Now that Jackson appears to have found a home, he's trying to get someone to take a chance on Joseph.

    "Whoever gives this guy a shot, somewhere down the line he is going to be the happiest person or GM in the world," Jackson said.
    FAU assistants in hairy situation
    Saturday's FAU FanFest scrimmage marked a milestone for the Owls - and not just because it showed the offense still packed some punch.

    The end of the scrimmage also signified the end of a pact between some of FAU's lesser-known assistants. Prior to the start of camp the Owls' grad assistants and interns decided they wouldn't shave until after FanFest. They are not completely sure, but most believe the idea came from Grant DeBenedictis. He reasoned that they were going to be so busy for the first couple of weeks that no one would see them anyway, so why not have some fun?

    The top photo is shot of the group taken before the scrimmage. Some of those growths are fantastic - award-winning even. As such, it seemed prudent to present them with their due awards. The envelope, please.


    The "I Could Use A Couple More Weeks" Award: Grant "Big Blue"DeBenedictis. It was his idea, so he should get the first award. Not quite sure what DeBenedictis was going for, but it seems a little sparse in places. Still, he gets an "A" for creativity. Love to see him keep the look throughout the season.







    The "Why Don't You Sleep on the Couch" Award: Jared "G.A.-J.A." Allen. The former FAU quarterback said his wife didn't mind the Abe Lincoln look. That may be so, but let's see if he's still sporting the beard on his wedding anniversary.













    The "Moving to Seattle and Starting a Band" Award: Matt "Mini Van" Desiderio. He spends much of the day working with coach Van Valkenburgh, but he may have a future in rock. He's definitely holding the coolest prop of the group.









    The "Beard Most Likely/Least Likely to Attract the Ladies" Award: Joey "Fitz" Fitzgerald. Fitz sweeps these awards because it really depends what side the ladies are on when they first see him. If they see one side, they're headed to the hot tub. From the other side? Well...






    The "Hey, This is Kinda Football Themed" Award: Tim "Papa Tim" Atkins. It's almost a goal post. Just take the mustache part and move it down across the chin like some sort of bizarre silent movie chin strap. Then start making your extra points.






    The "Meet Me in a Dark Alley" Award: Christopher "The Turk" Hawley. This one works well - kind of gives Hawley a tough look. Sure, he might actually make an appearance on America's Most Wanted, but what's a misdemeanor among friends? And you definitely don't want to run into Hawley on cut down day.










    And finally,

    The "Best In Show" Award: Mike Williams. Mike is the only assistant who doesn't really seem to have a nickname (the other nicknames were given by members of the team or coaching staff). That's a shame, because those are some fine mutton chops Williams is sporting, and they've led some of us in the media area to refer to him as "Mutton Chop Mike." He should keep the look because it suits him, and because it will let the nickname live. Of course it could be even more fun if the nickname sticks but the facial hair doesn't, leaving all to wonder who everyone is talking about.


    In closing, just wanted to commend and congratulate these guys for all the hard work they showed by not shaving. As someone who sports facial hair that is far worse than any of these guys could ever dream of growing, I salute you. Top Notch! Top Notch!

    And is there any truth to the rumor you will be auctioning off your shavings to only the truest of FAU fans?

    chuck
    Schnellenberger pleased with turnout at FanFest
    BOCA RATON - The jury may still be out on this year's football team after a less than impressive 18-16 victory by the offense in Saturday's scrimmage.

    However, FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger took note of the day in total after a crowd FAU officials said numbered 1,144 attended the annual FanFest under threatening skies and was happy as he discussed the day with reporters in the conference room next to his office as night was falling over the Tom Oxley Practice Fields.

    "To have as many - particularly students - out there and other older people that had been with our program for a while...was encouraging," Schnellenberger said.

    And the Shula Bowl may be months away, but Schnellenberger didn't waste an opportunity to take a shot at Florida International while noting that the Owls' cheerleaders, dance team and band are growing.

    "While other schools are dropping bands and cheerleaders, FAU is getting more," Schnellenberger said.

    Nothing like getting the spirit group trash talk going while the calendar still says August.
    FAU in numbers game before FanFest

    BOCA RATON - For the sake of the fans at FanFest, I hope Florida Atlantic players don the correct numbers for Saturday's scrimmage.

    This week, quarterback Rusty Smith retired what must have been the same red practice jersey he's had since he arrived on campus in 2005. He has a brand-new red jersey, but it didn't have an "11" on it, but perhaps he'll have a number today.

    Also fullback Willie Rose practiced in a jersey that I don't think we'll see on the roster, but if he has a great year perhaps he will have his "1004646" jersey retired.

    And there is one new player I will remember because of his number. True freshman linebacker David Hinds is naturally wearing No. 57. It would be better if his name was spelled "Heinz" but it does prove the equipment staff has a sense of humor when it issues numbers.


    I just hope No. 57 doesn't prove to be too much of a hot dog.

    The weather looks great for FanFest and FAUOwlAccess.com will be there all day for the festivities and the scrimmage, so if you are a reader of the site, I hope you'll say hello when you see us out there today and stop by our table where we will have some giveaways to say "Thank You" for reading FAUOwlAccess.com.
    South Florida Touchdown Club stakes out FAU

    I doubt if the steaks served at the South Florida Touchdown Club's FAU Freshman Dinner on Thursday were the corn-fed Nebraska variety, but they still looked pretty tasty.

    The hunks of beef certainly smelled good cooking on the grill next to the Oxley Center as plumes of smoke wafted their way to the practice field.

    But that wasn't the real reason FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger was happy to play host to the club in the Founder's Lounge of the Oxley Center. He was most excited the South Florida Touchdown Club, which used to be the Miami Touchdown Club, has expanded its borders to include Palm Beach County and the home of Football in Paradise.

    "They are here tonight to help us welcome our new signees in," Schnellenberger said. "I am hoping this will continue and turn into something really special."

    Schnellenberger said the club was the only group to give its unwavering support of the football program when he arrived at Miami.



    In many places - especially in the South - any town with more than one stoplight has a Touchdown or a Quarterback club that supports football at the high school and college levels. The South Florida Touchdown Club has done a good job promoting the Shula Bowl in recent years and it was great to see them venture this far north for what will be an annual visit. Perhaps there will be a few FAU boosters on its membership roster the next time around.

    For more information on the South Florida Touchdown club, including membership information, visit their web site at www.southfloridatouchdownclub.com
    FAU receivers' response to Van Camp change surprising.
    I'm not sure what surprised me more, knowing that Florida Atlantic quarterback Jeff Van Camp didn't hold the ball by the laces, or that now that he's changed to the traditional grip his receivers can't tell the difference.

    Basically, Van Camp didn't use the laces when he gripped the football. Here's the video that we recently posted on FAUOwlAccess.com. When Jeff Brohm took over as FAU quarterbacks coach, he changed Van Camp's grip to the more traditional style.

    The move hasn't changed Van Camp's accuracy or velocity - Brohm said Van Camp has the strongest arm on the squad - but it allowed Van Camp to throw tighter spirals, which are easier to catch.

    Oddly enough, FAU receivers Cortez Gent and Chris Bonner haven't noticed much of a difference (see video below).


    Now, this is probably one of those cases where the change is so subtle that you have to be looking for it to see it. Bonner and Gent are trained to catch the ball, no matter where it is or how it's thrown.

    Brohm says the coaching staff is always charting drops, and receivers are dropping fewer of Van Camps passes. That's a good thing. Whether they notice it or not, anything Van Camp can do to help the receivers make more plays is appreciated by all.
    Sunday a banner day for FAU football

    At the start of Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger's interview after practice Sunday, he stopped and squinted as he looked to the second story walkway of the Oxley Center.

    It was the first time he had seen the new banner hanging over the doors to the football lockerroom.

    The new banner has the same slogan as the old one, which had been hanging there since 2001 - "Champion Owls Pass Through These Doors."

    The big difference is the new banner has the new FAU logo and the logos from the New Orleans Bowl and the Motor City Bowl.

    "Is that a new banner?" Schnellenberger asked. "It's a good thing we bought that one. The old one was kind of all inclusive. We didn't have any certificates to go with it. The old one had been out here since the first champions walked through the doors."

    I suppose a new one will be hanging soon from the railing after the Owls win their next bowl game.
    FAU defense looked like veteran unit
    BOCA RATON - When Florida Atlantic's defense dominated the last practice of the day on Friday, I was thinking this group could surprise some people when they take the field for the first scrimmage of the pre-season on Saturday.

    I just didn't know the Owls defense would be this good.

    The defense is the unit trying to replace eight starters, but it looked like players on the offensive side of the ball were the ones who had never played together as the defense forced five turnovers.

    The defense could be better than some think, but what should be troublesome for Owl fans is the return of dropped passes and quarterbacks constantly under pressure - a recurring theme during the Owls' 1-5 start in 2008. If a group of defensive players learning the FAU defensive schemes can make Rusty Smith and company look this bad, I shudder to think what Nebraska's Blackshirt Defense will be able to accomplish.

    Oh, there's still plenty of time for FAU's offense to right its ship - and to be fair, having to use a full-contact scrimmage as an open try-out for fullback probably didn't help the offense very much.

    But, it's obvious the Owls have some issues on offense that need to be addressed. Perhaps next Saturday's scrimmage would be a good place to start.

    Now, here's a few FAUOwlAccess.com game-balls to give out.

  • DE Kevin Cyrille: If FAU could play its regular season games on The Oxley Practice Fields, Cyrille would win the Hendricks Award in a landslide. Cyrille was dominant in the spring and looked just as good on Saturday as he was able to get to quarterbacks with ease.

  • RB Alfred Morris: Another player who has dominated scrimmages of late. I am quite anxious to see if Morris can perform in front of 90,000 screaming Husker fans at Memorial Stadium the same way he plays in front of a few hundred behind The Ox.

  • FB David Muniz: Muniz won't play this fall due to academics, but that doesn't mean he can't help the team in practice. Filling in for Willie Rose (hip) Xavier Stinson (ribs) and Chris Jackson (shoulder), Muniz probably played more snaps than anyone Saturday. I hope he can put the experience he gained during the scrimmage to work next season when he can re-join the team.
  • More FAU video, an Owls-Eye-View and a little Funkability
    This has been a week of fun and firsts for FAUOwlAccess.com as a whole and myself in particular.

    As many of you have been kind enough to notice, our video production capability has really taken off. We've spent the past few months gearing up for the start of football, and now that the Owls are back on the fields we are putting those plans into action.

    When Marcus and I first started talking about doing our site, we decided to try to post as much quality video as possible - which suited me just fine. I studied video production at the University of Hartford (yes, videotape had been invented by then) but haven’t really incorporated it into my professional career these last few years.

    Well, now it's back and I'm having more fun than ever. Take, for example, yesterday's video about FAU’s Oklahoma Drills. Coach Howard Schnellenberger was gracious enough to invite me to shoot part of practice from the lift (that's the green thing in the middle of the photo).

    Marcus and I figured it would offer a great view of the Okies, so for the first time ever, a member of the media climbed aboard the Owls' lift. It was also the first time I've ever shot from a lift. Let me tell you, it's a pretty cool place to shoot football, and it's kind of wild to be out there in the open fields looking down at planes landing at the adjacent airport. Video coordinator Steve Cutcher and his crew made sure I was comfortable and got every shot I needed, so thanks guys. We dubbed the angle "Owls-Eye View" and hope to frequently incorporate it into future videos.

    Another first came today. I wasn't a football player in high school, and UofH didn't have a football team. When serving as the backup FAU writer for the Palm Beach Post, they never offered the room to provide the kind of coverage I always though FAU football deserved.

    FAUOwlAccess.com has the room and the desire to cover the Owls like the Division I program they are. As a result, I'm actually enjoying my first three-a-day practice (Don’t let coach Schnellenberger know, he’ll make me run laps). Marcus and I were here at 8 a.m. for the first and second sessions. The third one starts in about an hour. We’re the only media outlet that will cover all three practices, and I'm well on the way to producing another video that I think you'll find interesting.

    This past week has been the busiest in the history of FAUOwlAccess.com in terms of site traffic. The videos have been a large part of the reason. I only hope you are getting as much enjoyment watching the videos as I am having creating them.

    Bringing the funk: The fact that we've been so busy this week is only going to make tonight even more fun. The Funkabilly Playboys are playing tonight at Boston's on the Beach in Delray. If you like music - and it doesn't matter what kind because they play it all - you really should stop by. Anything can happen.

    I can't promise that a guy who played saxophone for more than a decade on tour with James Brown will sit in with the guys (that actually happened a few months back when Jeff Watkins was in town), but something crazy usually happens. Great musicians and great guys. And they sell beer there. Hope to see you.

    chuck
    FAU fans - including Dirty Birds - flocking to FAUOwlAccess.com
    When we talk to Florida Atlantic football players about their goals for pre-season training camp, we often hear them say "Just trying to get better every day."
    That's a good way to look at it and that's what we are doing here at FAUOwlAccess.com.

    Since our launch in January, we have been gearing up for the 2009 football season and there is no doubt it is here - and fans are responding.

    These last few days have been our busiest in terms of people coming to the site.
    With our comprehensive coverage (FAUOwlAccess.com is the only media outlet that has been to every practice), including videos, live practice Twitter updates, daily practice analysis, blogs and photo galleries, we expect that trend to continue.
    And with the increased traffic, we expect our site will become even more attractive to advertisers.

    Readers will notice more ads in the future and we are looking for sales-minded people to join our team to target local businesses for advertising on FAUOwlAccess.com. Experienced sales-people should contact us at info@FAUOwlAccess.com.

    Another way our site is growing is through some partnerships we are developing. Stay tuned for some announcements coming soon, but one we are already proud of was formed with with The Dirty Birds - the most enthusiastic FAU fans I've seen. We'll be doing things like Watch Parties (the first is scheduled for Sept. 5 at Miller's Ale House on Yamato Road) and other fun things with the Dirty Birds this fall. You'll see their familiar logo on our site soon.

    Many of you already know the Dirty Birds, but if you need more information, visit their web site and follow them on Twitter. Also check out their store, which has some great stuff. My favorite is the "Howard is my Homeboy" T-Shirt.
    As we begin the second phase of our development - kind of like FAU moving from I-AA to I-A - we hope you'll keep visiting FAUOwlAccess.com and we'll keep trying to inform and entertain. As such, we've changed our slogan to "Owl News All the Time" and we hope to deliver just that.

    OK, that's enough self-promotion and we now return you to regular scheduled program - another day of FAU Owls football training camp.
    ESPN.com giving FAU a little too much credit
    It was nice to see a couple of pieces written by Graham Watson, who covers the non-BCS schools for ESPN.com. on the internet on Tuesday.

    Watson had pretty nice things to say about quarterback Rusty Smith and quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm.

    However, the best thing that was said about FAU on ESPN.com wasn't written by Watson - it was by Bruce Feldman. In fact, it might have been the most positive thing written on FAU ever.

    In ESPN.com's bowl projections under Feldman's name it had the following projection for the BCS Title Game - Texas vs. Florida Atlantic. Apparently it was a mistake and was fixed quickly to show that Feldman meant Florida. I think Feldman should have stuck with is guns and stayed with the pick. After all, how many in Vegas put money down FAU to win the national title at a gazzilion-to-1 odds.

    Oh well, the idea of Texas vs. FAU sounded exciting even though I think Texas is kind of soft.

    More fun from the Internets: This story came across the daily Google Alert I have set for "FAU" + "Savannah State" + "Hair" + "Transfer" this morning. A player who left Savannah State because he didn't cut his hair has transferred to FAU. Welcome, Antwan Edwards, even though he isn't on the fall roster.
    FAU still hopeful Henry will make it to camp

    I posted an article last night on the handful of true freshman who could possibly make the team this season and not red-shirt as most of the class surely will do.

    Most of the guys I mentioned - fullback Chris Jackson, linebackers David Hinds and Toney Moore and defensive end Jarred Williams - probably wouldn't be called on unless someone is injured. Still it's always interesting to know who the coaching staff is high on.

    I didn't include defensive tackle Cory Henry (shown signing with FAU in February) on the list even though he also could see playing time this season, because he hasn't reported yet while some paperwork issues are finalized.

    However, I asked again today about Henry, and was told he is expected to make it, as is defensive lineman Karl James. The news is not as good for linebacker Rockenson Angrand, who is not expected to join the team this season.

    Henry is possibly the top player of the class, so it is somewhat important for his paperwork to be cleared - and cleared soon - if he is to remain a possible candidate to play this season.
    Now on Twitter - FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger

    Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger is joining the legions who Twitter - a service where people send quick, short text messages called Tweets to their followers.

    You can follow his Tweets by clicking here.

    I was in Schnellenberger's office this summer when the subject of Twitter came up and he scoffed at it. "Who could do that in 140 words?" Uh, coach that's 140 characters.

    Well, after two posts it looks as if Schnellenberger has it down pat, even though I bet the loquacious coach wishes he had 140 words to describe how practice went.

    I guess it was inevitable when I saw FAU football coach Howard Schnellenberger pull out his Blackberry at the FAU golf tournament in May (see photo).

    Happy Tweeting coach, and FAUOwlAccess.com is following - we were the second one to do so.
    FAU recruit Vera watches Owls' first practice
    The first fall practice is always full of tidbits. As intriguing as it can be to see who is on the field, there are usually some interesting onlookers, too.

    There were a couple sets of parents who brought their freshmen sons to campus earlier in the week then stuck around to see their first college workout. There were a few scouts on the sideline, a number that will likely grow as the season progresses.

    Then there was Daniel Vera (photo), who came out to watch high school teammate Jamal Davis' first practice and to see what FAU is all about. Owls' fans might want to remember his name.

    He's a 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman who has actually lost 20 pounds in preparation for his senior season at Coral Springs Charter.

    How good can he be?

    Well, Coral Springs Charter ran the spread offense last season. When new head coach Mike Higgins took over the program for this season, he took one look at his line - and Vera in particular - and switched to the veer offense. He figures handing the ball to any running back and letting him run behind Vera is a no-brainer.

    "He can be such a dominating kid," Higgins said.

    Miami Herald recruiting expert Larry Blustein mentioned Vera as a South Florida lineman to watch in this article. FAU is paying attention. So is Florida International, South Florida and Wisconsin, among others. None of these schools have made an offer yet - they want to see how he adapts to the new offense - but one could be coming in the first couple weeks of high school ball.

    FAUOwlAccess.com will keep readers updated on all FAU recruting news, so be sure to check back frequently. Now it's time to get ready for today's trip to the Ox.

    chuck
    Williams' return could help next year
    BOCA RATON - Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger said there were no academic casualties among the returning players. That's good news as it was said earlier this summer that redshirt sophomore tight end Darian Williams still had some work to do in the classroom. Well, apparently Williams did just that and will be counted on for some depth at tight end.

    With Williams making the grade, the Owls will have the option to possibly red-shirt senior Rob Housler.

    "There's one sleeping beauty there that may not have to play this year," Schnellenberger said, speaking of Housler. "But we are going into the game and the season expecting him to play and preparing him to play in the first game if necessary."

    The Owls want to carry three tight ends (at least) so Williams doing what he needed to do may have a ripple effect for 2010.
    Nebraska only FAU opponent in coaches' poll

    The preseason USA Today coaches' poll was released this morning and Nebraska, ranked No. 22, is the only team on Florida Atlantic's schedule to crack the Top 25.

    South Carolina received the 12th most votes of any team not ranked and faces No. 13 Georgia the week before it faces FAU. If USC is 2-0 then, I wonder if that would be enough for the Gamecocks to crack the Top 25?

    Troy received one vote, but it didn't come from Howard Schnellenberger - for the first time in a few years, Schnellenberger isn't one of the 59 coaches voting this season.

    Mario Cristobal from FIU, Charlie Weatherbie from Louisiana-Monroe and Rick Stockstill from MTSU from the Sun Belt Conference are voting this year. Knowing this I wonder why Troy didn't have at least three votes? Hmm...
    FAU games on ESPN 760 is a great move
    There are probably some fans who will see the news that Florida Atlantic is moving its football and basketball games to West Palm Beach's ESPN 760-AM as a note to change a preset on their trusty transistor and then never give it another thought.

    However, this move is a huge step forward for the athletic department and will impact the Owls in a positive way.

    Longtime FAU fans will remember when games were on a religious station or some other station with limited local programming that no one listened to.

    The relationship between FAU and ESPN 760 won't be like the ones the Owls had back in the day.

    The biggest boost FAU will receive won't be between 4-8 on Saturday afternoons in the fall, it will be every day as FAU is talked about by ESPN 760's on-air talent.

    In the past there basically was no reason for an FAU fan to listen to sports shows on the radio. Oh, you occasionally may hear Howard do a quick interview on one of the Miami stations. More likely the only time you would hear Howard's voice was when a station would have a Schnellenberger-sound-alike making a mockery of the Owls' coach.

    Well, starting today there possibly could be some discussion of FAU's football team as a real legitimate Division I-A program instead of fodder for comedy routines.

    I hope FAU fans will listen to ESPN 760-AM and call in frequently when hosts such as Evan Cohen start discussing Owls football - which they will do.

    The people I talked to at ESPN 760-AM are excited to have FAU and will treat it as their program. That includes constant promotion and more news reporting on the team.

    And the staff at ESPN 760 is quite knowledgeable of FAU. From Cohen, who will be broadcasting FAU basketball for his fifth season to Jason Pugh, who played football there during the first few years of the program and does an admirable job as an analyst on high school football games.

    I think FAU will get a boost being associated by a station that aims to be top sports station in this market - and that means having the only Division I-A team in the market on its air.

    I know FAU will benefit from this move - Now it's up to Owl fans to step up and be heard so ESPN 760 sees the benefit to their station as well.
    FAU QB Rusty Smith ready for wedding bells

    Before Florida Atlantic quarterback Rusty Smith begins his chase for another Sun Belt Conference championship ring, he gave away a ring away earlier this week - an engagement ring.

    Smith, a senior, proposed to his girlfriend, Nicole Bronson on Monday and the two will be married in April, Smith said.

    "She was thrilled - both of us are very excited," Smith said.

    Smith and Bronson are both from Jacksonville, but didn't know each other until they met at FAU when they were freshmen. At first they were just close friends, but began dating in January.

    They had talked about getting married in the future so Smith told Bronson, who graduated FAU last year with a degree in physical science, he wanted to organize some "engagement photos." The photo shoot turned out to the real thing when Smith dropped to one knee and produced an engagemnt ring.


    "It was sneaky," Smith said. "Even though we had been talking about getting married, she was very surprised."

    What a way to start the season.

    Congratulations Rusty and Nicole from FAUOwlAccess.com.
    Former FAU DT Jackson could look to Florida teams
    Florida Atlantic's chances of finally placing an alumnus on an NFL roster suffered a major blow when Philadelphia released rookie free agent defensive tackle Jervonte Jackson (photo).

    At least part of Jackson's problem appears to center around the injury to Eagles' starting linebacker Stewart Bradley. Philadelphia already signed one additional linebacker to replace Stewart and may be in the process of bringing in more.

    Latish Kinsler, Jackson's agent, said his client got caught in the numbers game.

    "Does that mean that they can't call him back? No," Kinsler said about Jackson's chances of returning to the Eagles once they settle their linebacking situation.

    So what's next for Jackson? Five other NFL teams showed significant interest in signing him following the NFL draft, including all three Florida teams. If Jackson gets a tryout anytime soon, it will likely be with a Florida squad, Chicago or Cleveland.

    Kinsler also said the timing of Jackson's release puts him in a bind when looking for a new club. Had Jackson held on long enough to see some time in a preseason game or two, at least he would have had some highlight tape material.

    "Now you are in the barrel with everyone else trying to find some interest," Kinsler said.

    Jackson joins former teammate Frantz Joseph in the unemployment line. Joseph, also represented by Kinsler, was released by Oakland before the start of training camp.

    Joseph had tryouts with New Orleans and Baltimore in recent weeks, but didn't sign with either club. Their hopes took an additional hit when several published stories said the Arena Football League is close to ceasing operations. The AFL already suspended operations for the 2009 season.

    At this point, the most likely scenario for either player getting invited to a camp would involve being a replacement for an injured player in an different NFL camp. FAUOwlAccess.com will stay on top of that possibility.

    Bad day for Delray: The news wasn't any better for football fans in the city north of Boca Raton. Along with Jackson, the Eagles released former Atlantic High School standout Courtney Robinson, who played his college ball at Connecticut before transferring to Massachusetts.

    chuck
    Single game tickets now available
    Florida Atlantic announced today that single game tickets for the Owls five 2009 home games are now on sale.

    Single game tickets in the sideline bleachers go for $18, while end zone seats are $12. Tickets can be purchased at the Oxley Center, by calling 1-866-FAU-Owls or at www.fausports.com.

    Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets at the group rate. The tickets are the same price, but they include a hot dog, chips and a soda for each ticket holder.

    The Owls open the season on Sept. 5 at Nebraska and at South Carolina on Sept. 15. FAU's first home game will also be its Sun Belt Conference opener against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept 26.

    Wyoming (Oct. 3), Middle Tennessee (Oct. 31), Arkansas St. (Nov. 14) and Western Kentucky (Nov. 28) round out the home schedule. The Halloween contest against the Blue Raiders will also serve as the Owls' homecoming game.

    Check back with FAUOwlAccess.com for more ticket info.

    chuck

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    Go watch college football in Boca. It's that simple. Support your local team and go have a good time!

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