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Posts from August 2011

FAU baseball players shave heads to show support for brother of teammate

FAU's baseball team decided to eschew style for solidarity on Wednesday, when every member of the squad sat down to have their heads shaved.

The Owls made the decision as a team after learning that Cody Meiers, younger brother of FAU pitcher Jake Meiers, had been diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a kind of bone cancer. Cody is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

“I feel like a lot of people are here for me now,” said Cody (top photo, standing behind his father, John), who would have been a junior at Palm Beach Central High School this year, but has to take at least a semester off because of the treatment.

“When I was in the hospital, it was good to know people were thinking about me.”

Cody has undergone as many as five chemotherapy treatments a week.

Wednesday was one of the rare times since treatment began that he's been able to spend any great length of time in public. That's him in the second photo taking the razor to Bo Logan.

Stylists from Geared for Men helped with the design.

“It's awesome,” Jake (bottom right photo) said. “We're one big family. One kid does, it everybody does it.”

FAU coach John McCormack was one of the first to get buzzed (bottom left photo).

He seemed pretty pleased that the Owls decided to help a member of baseball's extended family.

“Anything we can do to help any of our players' families – or anybody for that matter - is good,” McCormack said. Then chuckled, “I think we will all be better looking, too.”

Note: To make a donation toward Cody's medical bills go to 

Wednesday's Daily Briefing: FAU P Mickey Groody recalls the volume at The Swamp

The Swamp left one lasting memory with FAU punter Mickey Groody.

“It's probably the loudest place that I've ever played,” Groody said on Tuesday.

There weren't many highlights for Groody from that trip to Gainesville in 2007. A blocked punt returned by the Gators for a touchdown contributed to a 59-20 FAU loss that mid-November day.

Groody and long snapper Morgan Barnett are the only current Owls who played in that game.

“That was an experience,” recalls Barnett. “We had to go hand motion (to signal the snap) in that game because you couldn't hear the cadence.”

Both players enter Saturday's game under different circumstances than five years ago. As a freshman Groody expected to be the full-time punter but really didn't have a stranglehold on the job until a few games before the Florida game.

Now Groody is one of the top punters in the nation. The above video is a feature about Groody that aired during  The Howard Schnellenberger Show last year.For those who didn't catch it when it first aired, we put a wireless mic on Groody and had him talk us through the rugby punts that have become his specialty. Pretty cool.

Barnett heads into his senior year trying to remain healthy. Back injuries have kept him out of most of the past two years. Now Barnett is in a battle with Tim Raber to be the long snapper on punts. Last season, Raber showed a propensity for getting downfield and making tackles on punts, something that is surely factoring into the decision.

Special teams coach Joe Corozza did say that Barnett will be the long snapper on place kicks.

When they go through warm-ups on Saturday, the two special teamers will know more than most any other Owl how to deal with the roar when the Gators take the field for the first time in 2011.

“It's definitely intimidating,” Groody said. “You have to get focused back on what you've got to do.”

Owl Links
On Tuesday we launched the first of our two-part question and answer session with FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. She has some interesting – and encouraging – ideas for what makes the athletic program vital to the university and where the program is heading. ...We also kicked off the first week of the football season by checking out Alfred Morris' new leadership philosophy.

Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel says it's not good that FAU is facing the Gators in Will Mushchamp's debut. ...The Orlando Sentinel says former QB Jordan Reed is adjusting to playing tight end for Florida. ...Gainesville Sun looks at Florida TE Jordan Reed

Tuesday’s Daily Briefing: FAU's kicker position up in the air

The goal posts at FAU Stadium are firmly planted in the ground.

Who exactly will be kicking footballs toward them is still up in the air.
This weekend FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said the battle was still on between redshirt junior Vinny Zaccario and true freshman Marcelo Bonani.
However, the very next day, Bonani twisted his non-kicking leg and Sunday was sporting a splint on his ankle.
If the battle was close before Bonani, the first kicker signed to a scholarship out of high school, was hurt, it appears as if it could be Zaccario kicking for the Owls.
And the competition was so close not only could the Owls decide to have one kicker for kickoffs and another for field goals, but they could go with a field goal kicker for short or long field goals.
As far as some other personnel decisions on special teams, with running back Travis Jones injured, FAU will go with running back Willie Floyd and receiver DeAndre Richardson returning punts and Floyd, running back Damian Fortner and possibly running back Avionne Rolle in the mix for returning kickoffs.
Owl Links
Owl Access
It must be game week when we have a day like Monday. We started the day with the 10 things you need to know about Florida, told you the correct location of the official watch parties and gave you another in-depth look at FAU Stadium in our Football in Paradise series. This week’s installment looked at the big beach cabana bar, which is certain to be the gathering place of the stadium.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel wonders what FAU gets out of a game vs. the Gators. …More from the Sun-Sentinel as Schnellenberger is honest about FAU’s chances at UF…Florida QB John Brantley expected to play despite sore back, according to the Gainesville Sun. …More from the Sun as UF released its depth chart from the opener.
Deerfield Beach Duffy's to hold official FAU watch parties this season

FAU just announced it will hold its official watch parties at the Deerfield Beach Duffy's this season and with a slew of TV games on the schedule, Owl fans should get familar to this location, which is just south of the Boca Raton-Deerfield Beach line on Federal Highway.

FAU encourages you to call the Deerfield Beach Duffy's at (954) 429-8820 for information about each game, but this week's game at UF is on ESPNU so the first party could be this week for Owl fans who aren't going to Gainesville.

FAU also announced the "Football Coach's Show,"Howard Schnellenberger's radio call-in show on ESPN760, will originate from the Duffy's in Boca Raton from 6-7 each Thursday.

Here's the official release from FAU...




FAU Partners with Duffy’s for Coach’s Show
Deerfield Beach Duffy’s will be the Location of the Watch Parties
BOCA RATON, FL (August 29, 2011) – This year FAU football has partnered up with Duffy’s on Saint Andrews for the Football Coach’s Show.  The Duffy’s located at21212 Saint Andrews Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33433 will be the headquarters for this year’s show featuring Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger.  The show will be Thursdays throughout the FAU football season from 6-7 p.m. during Happy Hour and will be broadcast by ESPN 760.  The only exception is the week of Thanksgiving which the show will be held on Tuesday, November 22.
There will also be FAU football watch parties which will be held at the Deerfield Beach Duffy’s location on North Federal Highway.  The watch parties will be on the day of each football game for more information please call the Deerfield Duffy’s at 954-429-8820.
For more information about FAU football, visit For more information on the stadium, visit, or to purchase tickets for the 2011 football season, call 1-866-FAU-Owls. To observe the progress on the construction of the stadium online, visit
Monday’s Daily Briefing: Sun Belt wants NCAA approval for extra game

A team from the Sun Belt Conference could play an extra game each season as part of an “invitational” game against a team from another conference near the end of the regular season if a proposal in front of the NCAA is approved.

The Sun Belt Conference is sponsoring an NCAA proposal that would allow teams from conferences that don’t have a championship game to play a game at the end of the season in lieu of a championship game.

“What it’s about is leveling the playing field when it comes to the number of games played,” Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters told

The proposed game would provide conferences with fewer than 12 members – currently the minimum to play host to a championship game – to have an extra game to generate revenue, interest and add visibility.

The game would pit a team from one conference against a team from another conference, but Waters stopped short of saying it would have the champions of leagues going against each other.

“We’re not ready to go down that road yet,” Waters said.

Currently the conferences which don’t have a championship game are the Big East, Big 12, the Mountain West and the WAC.

Sounds like a pretty interesting concept and you have to give credit to Waters and the Sun Belt for thinking outside the box. The case could be made that a team from the Sun Belt meeting a WAC team wouldn’t garner much attention, but it would probably be at least as compelling as the MAC or C-USA Championship game. The proposal also opens up the door for perhaps a team from the Big East facing a team from the Big 12 on the final Saturday of the season when the SEC and other leagues hold their championship games.

It at least gives teams in leagues like the Sun Belt a shot at having an extra game, where none existed before.

“There are a lot of moving parts, but the best thing to do is just put it out there and see what the membership thinks,” Waters said.

Owl Links

Owl Access

We took a look at the tight end position, which has two key players battling injuries. 

Other linkage

The Gainesville Sun has a nice story on Schnellenberger heading back to Florida Field. ...The Sun-Sentinel saysTE Nexon Dorvilus is making progress. ...

Sunday’s Daily Briefing: Here’s what FAU’s field may look like

With the grass laid down at FAU Stadium, it won’t be long before paint is applied and the actual field is ready.

FAU sent out a drawing of what the field could look like last week and I confirmed this is what markings are being planned for the field itself. I think fans will like it.
Having one of the end zones say “Florida Atlantic” and the other say “Owls” was briefly considered, but common sense apparently will prevail and “Owls” will be in each end zone.
Also, the Owl head logo will be at each 25-yard line, which will also look good in my opinion at least until “Howard Schnellenberger Field” can be added there.
Also, officials have thought ahead and will have the FAU logo at midfield facing the pressbox and the TV cameras. I don't want to name which school didn't think it through when it started football in 2002 and had its logo facing the wrong way for years. On TV it was upside down and looked like an upside down 'UIF.'
Owl Links
Owl Access
Owl Access Pass Holders can check out our report on Saturday’s scrimmage, the final one of the pre-season. Not a member? take a 14-day FREE TRIAL by clicking here.
Other linkage
The Palm Beach Post has these 5 questions about the Owls and looks at their schedule. ...FAU is deep in the secondary, the Sun-Sentinel says.
Saturday's Daily Briefing: Florida game "real personal" for Wright

A week from today FAU fans will be looking toward Gainesville for the Owls' season opener against Florida.

When the Owls take the field, no one will have anticipated that moment more than FAU linebacker Martin Wright.

For those unfamiliar with Wright's story, he committed to the University of Florida, planning to join the Gators' 2007 recruiting class. He never made it to Gainesville, though. We documented his troubles with the law and subsequent redemption in this story we wrote a year ago.

Wright still remembers how the Gators turned their backs on him.

“I just want to show them that I'm back,” Wright said on Friday. “I'm here. I didn't go anywhere. It was just a little stumbling block. I'm back on the road.”

Wright believes he has plenty to show the Gators. A defensive end throughout high school, Florida coaches projected him as a linebacker in college. Wright wasn't too sure that was a move he wanted to make.

When Wright (at right in photo) joined FAU, the Owls slotted him at defensive end, where he played in 10 games last year as a sophomore, recording 17 tackles.

As part of FAU's switch from to the 3-4 defense, this will be Wright's first year at linebacker.

“(Florida) wanted me to play linebacker when I talked to them,” Wright said. “That's why this game is personal. Real personal.”

As personal as it may be, Wright is still planning to share the experience with his family. He's expecting about 50 of them to make the trip to Gainesville.

Wright is vowing their trip won't be a waste of time.

“There's going to be some hard hitting and repercussions,” he said. “There's going to be some trouble – real trouble. If I play every game like I'm going to play the Florida game, we'll be a good team.”

Owl Links

Owl Access
On the football front, we looked at the positive reaction the players provided upon learning that Graham Wilbert had been selected starting quarterback. On the baseball side, we caught up with the newly promoted Paul Davis for our Former Owl Friday segment.

Other linkage
The Palm Beach Post offered their analysis of FAU's schedule and answered five questions about the Owls....The Sun-Sentinel says FAU defensive players have been scouting the Gators for weeks.

FAU releases depth chart for Florida game

With Florida Atlantic switching from training camp to preparation for Florida, the post training-camp depth chart has been released.

There is still time for some changes before the season-opener at Florida on Sept. 3 and one of the players listed hasn’t  practiced in some time, but it does give a decent idea of who is projected to be on the two-deep for the game.
Of note is cornerback Keith Reaser who has been out for over a week with a sore hamstring is listed as a starter. Perhaps wishful thinking there.
Also interesting is true freshman linebacker Conard Johnson is the only true freshman listed on the depth chart.
Here is the official depth chart released by FAU.
  • LT: Sam McRoy / DeAndre Williams
  • LG: Andy Czurpynski / Troy Niblack
  • C: Jimmie Colley / Jordan Sessa
  • RG: Erik Hansen / Chris Newbold
  • RT: Max Karrick / Joe Bailey
  • TE: Darian Williams / Nexon Dorvilus
  • WR: DeAndre Richardson / Paul Moore
  • WR: Marcus Cunningham / Jerrard Hunter
  • QB: Graham Wilbert / David Kooi
  • RB: Alfred Morris / Willie Floyd
  • FB: Xavier Stinson / Chris Jackson
  • DE: Kevin Cyrille / David Baptiste
  • NT: Jarvis Givens / Jimmy Jean
  • DE: Jamere Johnson/ David Baptiste
  • OLB: Cory Henry / Martin Wright
  • ILB: Toney Moore / Conard Johnson
  • MLB: David Hinds / Michael Copeland
  • OLB: Randell Johnson / Martin Wright
  • CB: Keith Reaser / Curtis Cross
  • FS: Marcus Bartels / Brian Sirmans
  • SS: Demetrius Williamson / Brentley Harstad
  • CB: Treon Howard / Christian Milstead
Friday’s Daily Briefing: Another FAU game headed for TV?

The college football landscape was turned on its ear when Texas announced plans to launch The Longhorn Network.

Somehow the reaction to Louisiana-Lafayette launching the Ragin’ Cajuns TV Network didn’t seem to garner as much attention. Just be glad it wasn’t the FIU Network, where we could be subjected to 24 hours of Rick Sanchez.
I doubt there will be much demand for cable systems to carry the Ragin’ Cajuns TV Network in South Florida – or even in Lafayette, La. for that matter. However the creation of this network could possibly be good news for FAU fans.
One of the games that will be shown on RC-TV is FAU’s game at Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 1.
That doesn’t not necessarily mean the Owls-Ragin’ Cajuns game will be on any ESPN GamePlan or package, but it certainly increases the chances it will be available here in South Florida.
That means there is a possibility for each of FAU’s first five games – all on the road – will be televised. That could be a nice way to build interest before the stadium opener on Oct. 15 vs. WKU.
When we hear anything concrete, we will let you know.
Because big networks need to be able to clear out their other programming and let their affiliates know, the kickoff time for the game has been set for 7 p.m. EDT.
By the way the kickoff time for FAU’s game at Troy on Nov. 19 has also been set. The Owls and Trojans will kickoff at 3:30 p.m.
Owl Links
Owl Access
Practice was cancelled on Thursday, but that didn’t mean we took the day off. We posted our most recent edition of Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel reports the Owls have many players from Miami. …The Sun-Sentinel also had a story on FAU discussing its parking and traffic plan with neighbors.
Thursday's Daily Briefing: With FAU training camp over, here's who stood out

There was a definite shift on the Oxley Practice Fields on Wednesday as the Owls switched from training camp mode to preparation for Florida, the Owls’ opponent in the season-opener on Sept. 3.

The depth chart is starting to take shape, the practices emphasize more strategy and the gameplan is starting to materialize.
Perhaps now is the time to give out our game balls for pre-season training camp.
OLB Cory Henry
Henry (pictured) has found a home in the Owls’ new 3-4 scheme and has been impressive in practices and scrimmages. Most of the interceptions the defense has forced during scrimmages have been forced because of the pressure Henry puts on the QB.
RB Willie Floyd
With Alfred Morris being held back a bit in training camp, Floyd has flourished as his backup and gives a nice change from Morris’ straight-ahead style that could cause some defenses trouble.
NT Jarvis Givens
Givens has stayed healthy and has been impressive clogging up the middle up front as the Owls’ first nose tackle.
Owl Links
Owl Access
We had a look at linebacker Toney Moore and a report on Wednesday’s practice.
Other linkage
Very nice piece by Dave George in The Palm Beach Post on Howard Schnellenberger's return after hip surgery. ...Made a mention of this yesterday, but check out the nice work by the University Press, FAU’s student newspaper, on its football preview issue. …The Sun-Sentinel takes a look at the kicker battle.


Wednesday's Daily Briefing: Schnellenberger vs. Bowden coming to FAU?

Howard Schnellenberger vs. Bobby Bowden? A match-up in FAU's new on-campus stadium might be only a few months away.

In Monday's Football in Paradise series highlighting different aspects of FAU's new stadium, I wrote that one potential event that could be held in the new stadium is a college all-star game.

Here's some more info.

The planned Battle of Florida will pit college all-stars from the northern part of Florida against their brethren from the south. A source with knowledge of the game said that Bowden, a former Florida State coach, has agreed to coach the north all-stars. It is expected that Schnellenberger, who led Miami to its first national championship and recently announced this would be his final year as coach at FAU, will coach the south. Bowden and Schnellenberger had some good matchups when Miami played Florida State in the late 70s and early 80s before Schnellenberger left Miami.

Players who attended high school or college in Florida are eligible for the game, and I'm told there will be a few interesting quirks to the rosters that are still being discussed.

The group putting together the game has reserved FAU's stadium for Jan. 21, 2012 and a source said they already have a national television contract.

Event organizers are hoping to have an official announcement about the game shortly before the Owls open the season in Gainesville at the University of Florida.

Owl Links
Owl Access

Owl Access readers were the first to learn when we broke the news that Howard Schnellenberger had selected Graham Wilbert to be the starting quarterback against Florida. Several hours later Schnellenberger confirmed the choice for the rest of the media.

Other Linkage:

Here's the Sun-Sentinel story about the QB selection.

Having Wilbert start vs. Florida is an easy call

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger’s decision to have quarterback Graham Wilbert really shouldn't have been that difficult.

Not only did Wilbert outperform David Kooi in the spring and in the first weeks of pre-season training camp, but seems to have the demeanor to stay calm when things go bad.

Kooi, on the other hand, is more prone to try and force a big play when one is not there.

Behind this offensive line? Advantage: Wilbert.

Kooi has skills and throws a nice ball, but Wilbert is less prone to make a mistake.

Like all decisions like this, it will be evaluated and re-evaluated after each game, but starting off the season with Wilbert under center and letting him run the offense until further notice seems right.

BREAKING NEWS: Sources say Wilbert to be Owls starting quarterback

Redshirt junior Graham Wilbert has earned the starting job and will be Florida Atlantic’s starting quarterback for the Owls in their season-opener at Florida, team sources said Tuesday.

FAU coach Howard Schnelleberger could make an announcement on the starter after Tuesday's practice.

Wilbert started the practice by taking snaps with the first team.

He won the job over David Kooi, also a red-shirt junior.

In spring drills Wilbert moved ahead in a battle to replace Jeff Van Camp, who graduated. Wilbert broke a finger in the Spring Game, but entered camp still ahead of Kooi, Schellenberger said.

In pre-season training camp, Wilbert and Kooi both struggled but both were given opportunities to run the first team offense.

Wilbert, who will be making his first career start, has completed just one of five passes for 41 yards in his career

Tuesday's Daily Briefing: Hurricanes shouldn't delay stadium construction much

With Monday's news of a hurricane potentially approaching the area, I figured there might be a sense of panic descending on the FAU stadium construction site.

That was not the case. In fact, the atmosphere couldn't have been more business-as-usual.

“The building, we are not worried about,” Balfour Beatty Operations Manager Chris Long said. “If a storm blows through now it's not going to hurt anything. Any loose materials we have outside are the main concern, now.”

Recent projections for Hurricane Irene have it missing South Florida, which is nice. But for those who are wondering about the next potential hazard, Balfour Beatty's plan is to monitor each storm but wait to act until the area is placed under a hurricane warning.

At that point, the crews go into storm mode.

“Trees that we don't have braced, we need to get them braced,” Long said. “Materials that are on the ground, we need to get them bundled up so that they can't blow away.”

Crews began installing the panels for the video board on Monday and were still making progress Tuesday morning (photo) which would seem like really bad timing for a wind storm, but Long says that once a panel is attached to the mount, it will be able to withstand the kinds of winds a storm like Irene would bring.

At this point, Long would be more concerned about losing man hours than any potential damage to the stadium.

“Are workers able to return to work is the main thing,” he said. “People aren't going to come to work if they are going to take care of their family.”

Owl Links
Owl Access

Football had the day off from practice, but that's OK. It simply gave FAU fans more time to digest our weekly Football in Paradise stadium series, which examined some of the other events that could potentially find a home on the Boca Raton campus. Monster trucks, anyone?

Other linkage

The University Press reports that Thursday's bonfire will be postponed. ...The Sun Sentinel says the defensive switch to a 3-4 defense looks good.

Monday’s Daily Briefing: Recruiting expert has good things to say about Schnellenberger

If Owl fans were too busy reading about strippers, hookers and yacht parties last week they may have missed a very nice piece on by recruiting analyst Corey Long, who has been covering Florida high schools for a number of years.

The story was highly complimentary of FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger and is a must-read for Owl fans. Not only can you read the article here, but our friends at ESPN760 talked with Long on their High School Hysteria show. The good folks at ESPN760, the flagship station for FAU sports, had a lengthy interview with Long and posted the portion that he talked about FAU on their FAU On Demand page.
On that page you can find other interviews with insightful comments from people such as FAU President Mary Jane Saunders, baseball coach John McCormack and even yours truly.
The station went all out with its coverage of Howard Schnellenberger’s retirement and is truly dedicated to providing coverage of the Owls like a Division I team should be covered – a rarity in the local media.
I encourage all Owl fans to call their shows. Evan Cohen (4-6 p.m. weekdays) is well-versed in the Owls and I’ll bet Jeremy Marks-Peltz (6-8 p.m.) will even talk a little bit of FAU football, especially if former Owl Jason Pugh is in the studio.
The number is 1-888-760-3776.
I’ll hang up and listen.
Owl Links
Owl Access
After Saturday’s scrimmage, FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger knows QB Graham Wilbert must cut down on interceptions.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel reports FAU’s first three opponents are ranked in the pre-season Top 25.
Sunday's Daily Briefing: Schnellenberger happy to be back on practice field

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger wasn’t exactly pleased with his team’s performance in Saturday’s FanFest.

Schnellenberger probably didn’t want to know what others thought of his team’s performance, but he did want to know how he himself graded out after standing on the practice field for the entire scrimmage barley a week after having hip surgery.
Schnellenberger said getting back on the practice field actually made him feel better.
“I felt better today than I did in 2001,” Schnellenberger said. “It’s amazing. It’s rejuvenation.”
Schnellenberger was back at work on Monday after Friday’s procedure and has watched several of the workouts from either the balcony of the Oxley Center or from the field from his golf cart.
But on Saturday, Schnellenberger appeared to back at full strength and back to his old self.
That’s a good thing, because the Owls are going to need some coaching up the next two weeks.
Owl Links
Owl Access
It was a scrimmage, so you know what we did. Complete coverage including a recap, video highlights, stats and a photo gallery of the action on and off the field. Get it all by clicking here.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel had this story on the scrimmage.
Saturday's Daily Briefing: FAU talking to Ed Morse, others about stadium naming rights

With FAU holding its FanFest scrimmage today at 2 p.m., many Owl fans will get their first opportunity to see the new on-campus stadium.

I've been saying for months now that this stadium is truly impressive and FAU fans will be thrilled on Oct. 15 when they enter it for that first home game.

We've spent a lot of time highlighting the stadium features, but one of the questions we're asked frequently involves stadium naming rights.

With less than two months remaining until the opening FAU opens its new on campus stadium, Florida Atlantic officials remain hopeful they will be able to get a naming rights deal for the stadium in place for the opener.

Multiple sources have confirmed that FAU has engaged in extensive discussions with Ed Morse Automotive Group about the possibility of being the stadium's title sponsor. Among those also being pursued are Office Depot, Aflac and Dex Imaging.

The Owls would like to have a deal in place prior to that Oct. 15 opening date, but that is not a hard deadline. If the Owls have to wait a few extra weeks to secure a long term deal, it will.

The stadium naming rights will provide a large chunk of money that the Owls can put toward the roughly $2.5 million it owes the bank each year as part of the stadium financing debt. The naming rights are currently listed by FAU at $10 million.

Ed Morse would make sense. The regional auto group has several dealerships strewn across South Florida. Office Depot is headquartered in Boca Raton and Dex Imaging is already a prominent FAU sponsor.

Based in the southeast United States, Aflac is a sponsoring partner of the Heisman trophy. I'm told there is no truth to the rumor (which I started) that part of that deal would include FAU changing its nickname from the Owls to the Ducks.

Owl Talk
We looked ahead to today's FanFest scrimmage by highlighting corner back Christian Milstead, who will likely see significant time in the secondary on Saturday. We also continued our Former Owl Friday series by checking in with recent grad Raymond Church.

Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel says the Owls will try to avoid turnovers.

Candidates calling Angelos about FAU coaching job

FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos received “about 10” phone calls concerning the Owls upcoming football coaching vacancy in the week that followed Howard Schnellenberger's announcement that the 2011 season would be his last as head coach at Florida Atlantic.

Angelos (left) said the calls were either from people expressing interest in the job, or recommending someone for the position. He declined to name any of the potential candidates.

The relatively low number of inquiries so far didn't surprise Angelos.

“Because people know it's not going to happen until the end of the season, they are taking it slow,” he said.

Angelos also added that “most” of those who made contact already had coaching positions for this season.

The Owls have yet to determine who will be on the search committee that will select the new coach. Angelos expects to talk with FAU President Mary Jane Saunders in the coming days to start the process of creating that committee.

FAU kicks off its 11th season of football on Sept. 3 at Florida. Howard Schnellenberger is the only coach in program history. On Aug. 11 Schnellenberger announced this season would be his last as head coach. Following the season, Schnellenberger will become an “ambassador” for FAU, aiding in fundraising.

Friday’s Daily Briefing: Can FAU benefit from mess at University of Miami?

FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos was at a luncheon in Broward County the day after Yahoo! Sports published its story linking an out of control booster to payments of UM basketball and football players.

With UM reeling Angelos said he took the opportunity to pitch season tickets to FAU football games to any Hurricane fans who might jump ship.
“FAU is the new ‘U’” Angelos is fond of saying, but with UM under the NCAA microscope, it could be closer to reality.
Angelos, who used to work at Miami, but left just before former booster Nevin Shapirio became entrenched in the program, isn’t reveling in UM’s plight. However, Angelos believes fans in north Broward or Palm Beach counties who might have gone to watch the Canes, just might consider taking in a FAU game if Miami’s program struggles due to NCAA probation.
FAU is far enough away from UM that it isn’t constantly in the Hurricanes’ shadow, but if FAU’s program could make progress while the Hurricanes are struggling, who knows what could happen?
Owl Links
Owl Access
We were the only media outlet at all three of Thursday’s workouts and the hard work paid off as FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger gave an interview after practice for the first time since announcing his retirement and undergoing hip surgery. Here’s what he had to say about his procedure and the mess at Miami.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel takes a look at the progress of third-string QB Nick Bracewell
Schnellenberger talks about scandal at Miami

Howard Schnellenberger is among those who are stunned and saddened by the extent of the potential violations reportedly committed over the past decade at the University of Miami – a school he led to its first national title in 1983.

“It's just beyond my wildest dreams that anything like that could happen,” Schnellenberger said.

Speaking after Thursday's practice for the first time since announcing his retirement a week ago, Schnellenbeger appeared disappointed that one person could do so much damage to a program.

On Tuesday Yahoo! Sports published a lengthy article detailing the actions of former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro, who says he provided current and former Miami players with money, lavish parties, prostitutes and, in one instance, an abortion.

Shapiro is currently serving a 20-year prison term for his role in a Ponzi scheme.

The extent of the violations, which reportedly involved coaches on the football and basketball staffs as well, have many speculating that the NCAA could hand the Hurricanes the so-called death penalty, forcing them to close the program for a year or longer.

That's not something Schnellenberger would like to see.

“Of course not,” he said. “I want them to pay their punishment and get back about their business.”

Schnellenberger hasn't been forced to deal with individuals like Shapiro in the Owls' 12-year history. Despite the potential pitfalls, Schnellenberger said he still believes that boosters are necessary not only for an athletic program, but also the institutions as a whole.

He recalled that the national championship at Miami helped the school surpass a newly launched capital campaign significantly faster than had been hoped.

Scnellenberger also pointed to the generosity T. Boone Pickens has shown Oklahoma State.

“That much money made such a major difference not only in sports but in the university itself,” said Schnellenberger, referring to Pickens' support of the Cowboys. “The good that it has done far surpasses what the down sides are. You have to believe that or it's hard to make sense out of anything. I'm absolutely certain of that.”

Thursday’s Daily Briefing: Owls take the field for last time in the morning

At around 6:01 p.m. today you may hear a loud cheer near the runway of the Boca Raton Airport.

That’s right around when the last of three Florida Atlantic football practices is scheduled to end.
And a quick of the schedule shows that it’s the last day for “3-A-Days” and it’s just another sign that the beginning of the season is getting closer.
There are actually two off days scheduled coming up as well, so today really seems like the peak of training camp.
We were out this morning taking in the action and here are some observations.
  • Nosetackle Jarvis Givens was carted off the field near the end of practice on Wednesday, but was back this morning. That's a very good thing for the Owls' defensive line. Defensive end Jamere Johnson has also been banged up and with Johnson’s backup, Andrew Stryffler also limited, redshirt sophomore David Baptiste has been running with the starting unit the last two days.
  • FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger was not on the field for this morning’s practice, but theoretically, he could watch from his office, which overlooks the practice field. I know I’d rather watch in air-conditioned comfort.
  • Tight end Darian Williams missed the end of the practice to have his ankle worked on, giving Nexon Dorvilus and Alex DeLeon some increased snaps with the first team.
  • It was raining at the beginning of practice, throwing water on the argument for moving practices to the morning to avoid rain.
Owl Links
The basketball team released its 2011-12 schedule and we had this story on Marcus Bartels’ progress in training camp.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel reports linebacker Yourhighness Morgan has not been cleared to practice yet.
Wednesday's Daily Briefing: Recruits committed to FAU haven't changed minds

Though the class is still small and the timing is still early, it appears Howard Schnellenberger's retirement announcement last week isn't harming the recruiting work the Owls have accomplished so far.

On Saturday we told FAU fans that Delray Beach-Atlantic wide receiver Chad Ward committed to the Owls, becoming the second member of Florida Atlantic's 2012 recruiting class.

The first member of the class, Sugar Land, Texas-Kempner defensive lineman Shalom Ogbonda, says Schnellenberger's announcement doesn't affect his commitment to the Owls.

“It hasn't changed anything,” said Ogbonda, who is already making plans to watch the Sept. 3 FAU at Florida game on television.

“At first I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to be under his leadership. He's had an excellent career. ..I believe he will leave the program in good hands and it's going to be in a good position once I get there.”

Schnellenberger's announcement likely wasn't even the worst moment for Ogbonda last week. The Texas heat wave got the better of Ogbonda, forcing him to spend several nights in the hospital.

“I dehydrated in practice,” Ogbonda said. “The trainer told me to drink water and I didn't think I should drink that much water in that amount of time, and I ended up passing out.”

Another player who isn't planning on changing his mind is Navarre quarterback Colton Kane (photo). A grayshirt from the 2011 recruiting class, Kane still intends to enroll at FAU in January.

“It didn't necessarily surprise me,” Kane said. “He's definitely built a legacy. I can't blame him for wanting to retire. I'm just excited to see who FAU gets to take over his position.”

Kane made the most of his summer, spending three weeks in Costa Rica.

Upon returning to Florida, Kane began working out with a local training outfit and even threw some passes with former FAU quarterback Jeff Van Camp, also a Navarre High School alum. Lately Kane's been trying to help out at the football team at his former school.

“I'm kind of itching to playing some football,” Kane said.

Like Ogbonda, Kane is keeping track of the Owls' progress and is already planning to attend as many home games as possible – starting with the Oct. 15 stadium opener against Western Kentucky.

“It  wasn't just because of coach Schnellenberger that made me choose FAU,” Kane said. “It was the direction of the whole program. I don't regret my decision to go to FAU at all.”

Owl Links

The Owls conducted their third of four scheduled three-a-day practices on Tuesday. Even though rain shortened the final session, we were still there to tell FAU fans about the progress of true freshman wide receiver William Dukes.

Other linkage

  • The Sun-Sentinel pointed out there are four FAU players in NFL training camps.
Tuesday's Daily Briefing: Owls not surprised to see Schnellenberger return quickly from surgery

Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger wasn't about to let a little thing like hip surgery keep him away from his football team.

After talking to his team on Monday, Schnellenberger watched much of Monday's practice from the Oxley Center balcony (photo, right). For those doing the math, that's less than 72 hours after undergoing hip replacement surgery.

“I wasn't surprised,” quarterback Graham Wilbert said. “He's generally a tough guy. If he gets knocked over at practice he won't let anyone else help him up. He's gotta show that he's tough. He came in and had his walker and he threw it to the side and was standing there talking to us - and he had surgery like two days ago.”

Am I the only one wondering whether he even let the doctors give him anesthesia?
Schnellenberger wasn't at his perch for the first of Tuesday's three-a-days, but is expected in the Oxley Center for at least one, if not both of the remaining sessions.

“It's good to have him out here again,” said assistant head coach Kurt Van Valkenburgh who is running the team on the field until Schnellenberger returns.

“We had him back a little quicker than we expected - a little quicker than doctors expected, I'm sure. But I guess we should have expected it by now.”

Incidentally, Van Valkenburgh seemed a little more pleased with the Owls' concentration and effort following the first practice on Tuesday then he did after Monday's practice, which he called an “off day.”

A couple observations from Tuesday's first practice (photo, below):

  • Several groups of players and coaches took to the field while talking about former FAU wide receiver Lestar Jean's performance last night on national television. For those who missed it, Jean caught both passes thrown his way, tallying 53 yards for the Houston Texans. Neither catch was easy, and the second one – originally ruled a touchdown before moved back six inches by replay - set up the winning score. It will take more than two good catches to make the team, but last night certainly helped Jean's cause tremendously. The ESPN announcers were full of complements for Jean. Even if the Texans don't keep him, certainly some other NFL team saw last night that Jean can play at the highest level.
  • We've reached the part of camp where the nagging injures are starting to pile up, and nowhere is the soreness becoming more apparent than on the defensive line. With Jamere Johnson, Jimmy Jean and Andrew Stryffler all missing at least part of Monday's first session, true freshmen Robinson Eugene, Joe Henry and Matt Chaney saw time with the second team.
  • Linebacker Randall Johnson and cornerback Keith Reaser both left Monday's practice early with injuries and weren't present for Tuesday's first workout. Martin Wright and Curtis Cross benefited with extra playing time.
  • Plenty of activity over at the soccer field, where Fox Soccer Channel is setting up to broadcast Wednesday's magicJack playoff game.
  • And looking ahead a bit, FAU has set the time for Saturday's Fan Fest scrimmage at 2 p.m.

Owl linksArticles of interest to FAU fans

Other linkage:
The Sun Sentinel says Joe Henry is moving up the depth chart.

Monday's Daily Briefing: Leach already helping Owls recruiting

When Atlantic wide receiver Chad Ward told our Chuck King on Saturday that he would be committing to Florida Atlantic later in the day, it was a bit perplexing.

If there was ever a time when you wouldn’t expect big recruiting news, it would be the days after Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger stepped down.
With no replacement named, why would Ward commit to FAU?
In addition to the stadium and the FAU campus being close to home, he also said he liked hearing about the possibility of the offensive-minded Mike Leach being the Owls’ coach in 2012.
Sounds fair enough. Leach has been mentioned as a possible candidate to coach FAU, but to this point there is no evidence Leach is any closer to coming to Boca Raton. And it should be noted that Leach wasn’t the sole reason Ward committed to FAU.
Fast forward a few days and Ward himself is being used as the source that Leach is coming to FAU by many.
I understand the power of wishful thinking, but Ward likely will not be the one announcing Leach is coming.
If it weren’t so sad, it actually might be funny to watch people use Ward’s commitment as proof that Leach is bound for Boca Raton. Maybe more high school players will commit to FAU and then start calling Leach trying to get him to commit to the Owls as well.
Owl Links
We were the only media outlet to be at all three practices on Sunday and filed this report.
Sunday’s Daily Briefing: FAU hits practice field bright and early for first of three practices today

After Friday’s scrimmage and Saturday’s walk-through it’s back to the grind for Florida Atlantic, which took the field shortly after 8 a.m. for the first of three practices today.

Something is definitely missing from the workouts – things just aren’t the same without the presence of Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger, but there was plenty of enthusiasm from the assistant coaches and the players and this morning was one of the better workouts of this odd training camp.
Here’s a few observations from the morning practice
  • The assistant coaches haven’t missed a beat, but it can’t be easy for them knowing the likelihood of wholesale changes on the staff coming when FAU brings in a new coach to replace Schnellenberger. One assistant coach told us “it’s part of the job.” However, it must be difficult for the families of most of the coaches, but so far, it doesn’t seem to bleed over to the practice field.
  • A couple of players were struggling with the heat and were sent inside, but that should be expected. When practice was over I checked the temperature at the adjacent Boca Raton airport. It was 81 degrees, but the humidity was a brutal 89 percent.
  • The only starter who wasn’t a “full go” was defensive end Kevin Cyrille. Fullback Xavier Stinson was back at practice after missing Friday’s scrimmage with an undisclosed “slight” injury.
  • The third practice of the day should be interesting with the magicJack facing Philadelphia Independence at 4 p.m. at the adjacent FAU Soccer Stadium. The last few matches have had large crowds of around 3,500 fans and should make for a loud setting while the Owls go through practice at the time the match kicks off.
Owl Links
Atlantic wide receiver Chad Ward committed to FAU on Saturday and our subscribers can get the details of why he chose the Owls. …We also were at Saturday’s walk-through and found out FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger is getting reports on the team’s progress.
Other linkage
FAU quarterbacks are struggling, the Sun-Sentinel says.
Saturday’s Daily Briefing: Angelos can take his time with coaching search

Those who thought FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos would be high-tailing it down the Overseas Highway down to Key West on Friday will be very disappointed.

Angelos was in Boca Raton all day and that possible reunion of Angelos and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, old classmates from BYU, will have to wait.
The day after Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger announced he will step down after the 2011 season may have been somewhat uneventful.
Sure, Angelos heard from a few friends – and some new friends – telling him who he should hire to coach FAU in 2012, but Angelos said he didn’t hear heard from any actual candidates throwing their hat in the ring.
It’s way too early for that, said Angelos, who said he is aiming for a new coach by December.
“To be honest with you, those who may be candidates know that time really isn’t of the essence,” Angelos said. “There’s no reason to rush things and have to do something right away.”
Angelos can afford to take his time – and should. The next coach could be gainfully employed as of right now and it makes sense to wait to see who might be available as the season comes to an end.
But, at least out of the gate, it appears this search will move along slowly.
If you think Angelos may need a little help, be sure to vote in our Facebook Poll on "Who should coach the Owls in 2012?"
Owl Links
The defense dominated the first scrimmage of the pre-season, with Schnellenberger missing it due to hip surgery. Here’s our coverage.
Other linkage 
Here’s the scrimmage report from the Sun-Sentinel.
Schnellenberger’s hip surgery today will keep him off practice field next few days

Anyone wanting to stop by the Oxley Practice Field to wish FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger well may have to wait a few days.

FAU announced Schnellenberger will undergo a medical “procedure” today and won’t be back at practice for a few days.
As first reported Thursday, Schnellenberger is expected to have hip surgery that will keep him sidelined for a while. He is officially “day-to-day” but Schnellenberger told some he wants to be back by Monday.
FAU associate head coach and defensive coordinator Kurt Van Valkenburgh will run the team in Schnellenberger’s absence as he has done the last few days.
The team is scheduled to hold its first scrimmage of training camp today at 3:30 p.m.
Friday’s Daily Briefing: Post-Schnellenberger planning begins today for FAU

FAU is expected to hold a staff meeting today with the football coaches to deal with the logistics of FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger’s announcement on Thursday that he is stepping down as Owls coach.

Among the topics to be discussed is recruiting.
FAU assistants are in a strange place as they don’t know what their future holds, but to be a successful recruiter, high school players want to know who the head coach is going to be.
Assistant coaches hope to keep recruiting because that could be something that would make them valuable when the new coach comes in and perhaps they could be retained on the staff.
But let’s be realistic – it’s going to be a tough sell for a prospect to commit until a new coach is named.
It looks like FAU, even with its brand-new stadium, will be going through another fall heading into recruiting fights with one hand tied behind its back.
Stop me if you have heard this before, but next year (2012) FAU’s recruiting should really take off.
Owl Links
As one could guess, it was a tad bit busy at including streaming video of the announcement live on our site. Check out our coverage of the announcement, along with videos and photos by clicking here.
Also please check out our blog with an early list of possible replacements and don’t forget to vote in our Facebook poll on who the next FAU coach should be.
Other links
Check out coverage of the announcement from...
An early look at some possible candidates to be FAU's next coach

The last time Florida Atlantic looked for a coach, Howard Schnellenberger – then FAU’s Director of Football Operations - made the call and picked himself as the Owls’ first coach.

Unlike in 1999, Schnellenberger likely won’t get to unilaterally name the next coach, but he will have some input, according to FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos.
“Certainly we’ll converse with him,” Angelos said. “Generally, I don’t think the outgoing person selects their successor, but certainly he’ll be heavily involved…He’s been the architect and the builder of it all  and he knows more about it than anybody else. I think his input will be important and we’ll work together to see what the best combination will be.”
Schnellenberger will likely serve on any search committee – if one is formed – to find his replacement.
“They’ve asked me obviously to be a part of that,” Schnellenberger said. “It will be a team thing. The AD and the vice presidents and others will be on committees and I’ll be part of those committees.”
Here’s a look at some potential candidates to become FAU’s new coach. Be sure to cast your vote in our Facebook poll.
  • Mike Leach, Former Texas Tech coach: Went to BYU with Angelos. Currently living in Key West.
  • Randy Shannon, Former Miami coach: Was an assistant when Angelos was an assistant AD at Miami.
  • Butch Davis, Former Miami, UNC coach: Was head coach of the Hurricanes while Angelos was an assistant AD at UM.
  • Gary Nord, Purdue offensive coordinator: Was an Owls offensive coordinator from 2005-08.
  • Jeff Brohm, Illinois quarterback coach: Was FAU quarterback coach in 2009 and played quarterback for Schnellenberger at Louisville.
  • Marc Trestman, Monteal (CFL) coach: Quarterbacks coach for UM under Schnellenberger.
  • Jim Leavitt, former USF coach, current linebackers coach for 49ers: Built USF program from scratch.
  • Terry Bowden, former Auburn coach, current North Alabama coach: Son of Bobby Bowden, has strong ties to state.
  • Mark Richt, current Georgia coach: The former UM quarterback and Boca Raton High School graduate, could be a candidate if he’s let go in Athens
  • Kurt Van Valkenburgh, current FAU defensive coordinator: On original staff, knows the ins and outs of the program but has also been a coordinator in the Big 8 and Big Ten.
  • Jay Gruden, offensive coordinator for Bengals: Played for Schnellenberger at Louisville
Schnellenberger goes out on his own terms

With FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger nearing the end of his contract, there has been plenty of speculation about his future.

It turns out the contract may not  have as much to do with Schnellenberger’s future as possibly his health.

Sources close to him told us that Schnellenberger may have to undergo hip surgery soon and he generally hasn’t been as active during practice in the last few days. He wasn’t at Monday’s practice, was in a golf cart for most of Tuesday’s workout and watched Wednesday’s practice from the balcony of the Oxley Center.

Today, he was only briefly seen at this morning’s first practice and not at all for the second practice of the day.

If you know Schnellenberger, he doesn’t miss practice except for something major and it would take something like this to keep him away from perhaps his favorite place on earth – the practice field.

It’s not the perfect end to a nearly 50-year coaching career, but at least Schnellenberger got to decide when it was time to go and not those who were trying to push a legend out the door.

BREAKING NEWS: FAU plans press conference today concerning future of football program.

FAU just sent out a release announcing a press conference for 4 p.m. when Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger will address the media for an “important announcement about the future of the FAU football program.”

It is expected that this press conference will deal with Schnellenberger’s future as Owls coach. Schnellenberger, the only coach in FAU’s history, is in the final year of his contract.
Almost immediately speculation has begun around the Oxley Center that Schnellenberger may announce a timetable for his retirement.
If that’s true, I would think it would be at the end of the season, however I would not be shocked if it would be sooner.
The last few days, Schnellenberger has appeared to be a bit tired and not quite as upbeat as usual. He didn’t attend this morning’s practices, watched Tuesday’s practice from the balcony of the Oxley Center and wasn’t’ at Monday’s practice either.
For those who don’t know, Schnellenberger is usually very involved in practices and always on the field. For him not being on the field during practice is far from business as usual.
And with today’s announcement, I think it won’t be” business as usual” around the Oxley Center for quite some time.     
Thursday’s Daily Briefing: First Three-A-Day is underway at FAU

Some say training camp doesn’t start until the first day in pads. Some say training camp doesn’t get started until the first “Three-A-Day” practice sessions begin.

And those began this morning when the Owls took the field at 8 a.m. for the first of three Thursday practices. Actually the players were already on the field at 7:45 a.m. when the team arrived to cover the practice.
For the players, I heard rumors of a 5 a.m. wake-up call to allow time to get dressed, taped up and to have some breakfast . I can vouch that at least one player had quite a sizable breakfast, because it is now on the grass of the Oxley Practice Fields.
Here is a link to a photo gallery from the morning workout.
To celebrate “Three-A-Days” here are three observations from the morning workout. And don’t forget you can keep track of the practices by following us on Twitter @FAUOwlAccess.
  • It hasn’t been as bad as last season when FAU was down to its fourth string center about this time, but Jimmie Colley, who is battling Jordan Sessa for the starting job, and third-string center Chris Chappell were dressed out in shorts and are limited. RG Chris Newbold is snapping the ball with the second team and Sessa seems to be settling in with the starters.
  • Speaking of Newbold, in the morning he was working as the starting right guard over Erik Hansen. That will be something to watch for the rest of the day.
  • With defensive end Andrew Stryffler limited, true freshman Joe Henry is running with the second team defense and appears to be the only first-year player on the two-deep right now, although linebacker  Andrae Kirk has been getting in some work with the second team as well.
Owl Links
A tradition here at is “Owl’s Eye View” video of the Oklahoma Drills, the first full-contact drill of training camp in addition to our daily recap and a photo gallery of the action. Get it all in one place by clicking here.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel has a look at DEs Kevin Cyrille and Jamere Johnson.
Wednesday’s Daily Briefing: FAU looks into possible NCAA violation during stadium lighting

Florida Atlantic is looking into the possibility it may have inadvertently committed an NCAA violation at Thursday’s ceremonial lighting of its new football stadium.

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger and several players, wearing their game jerseys, were in attendance at the ceremony for media members and a few boosters.
However, when FAU players began tossing around a football on the field in athletic gear with their coach in attendance it  may have violated an NCAA rule  which dictates coaches can’t be present during off-season workouts.
The football wasn’t brought by anyone from the athletic department – it was brought by a well-meaning guest who thought it would look good for photos - and players didn’t began throwing it around until late in the ceremony while Schnellenberger was doing interviews and posing for pictures.
If FAU does decide it broke an NCAA rule, it would turn itself in on a secondary violation, which are not considered serious by the NCAA and rarely result in any penalties.
Owl Links
We took a look at some of the experienced players in the Owls’ secondary who will be replacing three starters.
Tuesday’s Daily Briefing: Heat has been holding off so far at training camp

Instead of dealing with unbearable heat and humidity, the first three days of Florida Atlantic’s training camp have been held under cloudy skies.

It’s not a surprise that the players haven’t been complaining.
But I thought Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger would be disappointed that the temperatures have been a bit cooler than the usual scorchers August training camp is known for.
Instead, he is thankful the players are getting a break.
“It’s all right,” Schnellenberger said. “They were out here on a lot of hot days during the summer.”
It probably won’t be long before the bright sunshine and the heat return - probably just in time for the first “Three-A-Day” practice on Thursday.
Owl Links
Another day at the Oxley Center for Here is our story on tight end Darian Williams and our practice report.
Other linkage has a nice story about the on-campus stadium. …FAU's leading tackler Marcus Bartels ready for senior season, the Sun-Sentinel writes. ...Also, the Sun-Sentinel draws parallels between FAU and Akron for this story.
Monday's Daily Briefing: LaVicka will be Voice of the Owls this season

With apologies to The Who: Meet the new voice, same as the old voice.

There will be a new official Voice of the Owls this season, and it's someone who is quite familiar to FAU fans. In the coming days FAU will announce that Ken LaVicka will be calling FAU football games this season.

LaVicka replaces Dave Lamont, who has spent much of the last two seasons begging off FAU broadcasts so he could work for ESPN.

Last season LaVicka actually handled the  play-by-play duties in six of the Owls' games, (13-of-24 over the past two seasons) and worked as the color commentator for two more.

“We wanted to get continuity,” FAU athletic director Craig Angelos said. “Dave is being pulled in so many different directions, and we knew eventually that it would happen - that he has so many ESPN appointments that he can't be here every week and he doesn't know from week to week where he's going to be.”

LaVicka is already entrenched as the voice of FAU basketball, calling games with Evan Cohen on ESPN 760. He also hosted The Howard Schnellenberger Show on along with Schnellenberger's and basketball coach Mike Jarvis' weekly radio shows on ESPN 760.

Angelos said the Owls have yet to make a decision on who will be LaVicka's partner in the booth. With current color commentator Fred O'Connor dealing with a health issue, former FAU player Jason Pugh, who also works at ESPN 760, is likely to be the guy.

If O'Connor is up to it, Angelos said he wouldn't mind trying a three person booth - which would be great. O'Connor and Pugh both bring plenty to the booth.

Angelos indicated the choice of 760 personalities LaVicka and potentially Pugh allows FAU to strengthen its relationship with ESPN 760, which also produces the sports for local NBC affiliate WPTV.

“The opportunity to be marketed on Channel 5 every night and throughout Evan's broadcast, and throughout their radio all day long to be in the public consciousness – it's been a good partnership for us,” Angelos said.

Regardless of the marketing or scheduling aspects of the decision, turning the microphone over to LaVicka is the right choice. Aside from doing a fantastic job relaying the excitement of college football, he's shown a dedication to FAU's athletic program that hasn't been seen in recent years.

Want visual proof? The photo of LaVicka with Schnellenberger was taken at Thursday's stadium lighting ceremony. He also did some pre-broadcast scouting at Saturday's first practice.

Having LaVicka on the air every Saturday is a smart move by FAU.

Owl Links.
Sunday's second fall football practice wasn't a complete washout, even though for a time it looked like it could be. Rain interrupted the practice for about an hour and a half, forcing it to resume at the track. We were the only media outlet to stick around through the delay and Sunday's practice report featured a look at the Owls' wide receiver situation. ...We also completed out preview of the teams FAU will face this season by examining Louisiana-Monroe.

Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel says Toney Moore is getting a shot at LB

Sunday’s Daily Briefing: FAU loses WR Byron Hankerson

Florida Atlantic has lost some depth at one of its thinnest positions.

Wide receiver Byron Hankerson (Pictured, No. 87) will not play this season due to academics, team sources said.
Hankerson, a junior, was on the pre-camp depth chart as the second-team receiver behind DeAndre Richardson and ran with the starting unit during the spring practices when Richardson missed the final workouts due to an injury.
Other walk-on receivers who are not in camp are DeAndre Robinson and Jabyes Cross.
But it’s the loss of Hankerson, who played in 10 games last season, that hurts the most as he was expected to be a solid backup – or more if Cunningham were to progress slowly.
So who steps up? It could be a freshman, but the logical candidates are Paul Moore and Jerrard Hunter, two players who came in last fall, but were slowed by injuries. They’ve shown plenty of potential in practices and one – if not both – have the talent to get on the field.
Owl Links
We had team coverage of the first day of practice with a recap, our Hard Knocks at the Ox practice report, photo gallery and a video highlight package you won’t want to miss. …We also had another installment of our Summer Scouting series looking at UAB.
Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel had this story on the first day of camp.
Saturday’s Daily Briefing: Florida Atlantic fall practice set to start today

The off-season is over and the regular season begins in just four Saturdays the Owls will kickoff the 2011 season in Gainesville against the Florida Gators.

All that’s left is pre-season training camp, which begins today at 3:30 p.m, the Oxley Center.
Here’s what we will be watching for as training camp begins.
Is Wilbert winning the QB battle?
Graham Wilbert was surging ahead of David Kooi at the end of spring practice, but injured his finger in the spring game. While Wilbert was on the mend, Kooi had a chance to hone his skills. Was it enough to pull even? We may know by the first scrimmage.
What freshman are ready to play?
FAU has never had so many freshman in the summer so early and it appears to be paying off as they looked pretty good in the preseason workouts. It will be interesting to see which players draw the attention of the coaches (who aren’t allowed at the off-season workouts) and which ones respond to being pushed.
Who’s catching on?
DeAndre Richardson was solid last season, but the rest of the receiving corps is unproven. Redshirt freshman Marcus Cunningham had a solid spring and came on strong at the end, but the Owls will need more than just him. Paging Paul Moore, Jerrard Hunter, William Dukes, Derek Moise, et al.
There are few other things we will have our eye on and we will have every angle of training camp covered starting today.
And before we put the voluntary off-season workouts in the rear view mirror, check out this video of what was going on at the Oxley the last few weeks.

Owl Links
Just a typical Friday here as we started with Former Owl Friday, had a summer scouting report on Troy and also gave our subscribers the full breakdown of the Owls’ special teams as we successfully concluded our unit-by-unit previews to get you ready for the season.
Other linkage
Please check out this great read on FAU softball coach Joan Joyce, who once struck out Ted Williams.
Friday’s Daily Briefing: FAU Stadium shines bright

FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert’s first audible was overruled by Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Wilbert approached Schnellenberger a few minutes before the switch was to be thrown to turn on the lights at night for the first time at the new football stadium with an idea.
“I told him it would be cool if he stood out on the field and said ‘let there be light’ right as the lights came on, but he didn’t want to do it,” Wilbert said.
That was a good idea by Wilbert, but he may not have known the lights don’t all come on at once.
Instead Schnellenberger threw the switch with FAU President Mary Jane Saunders that turned on the lights at FAU Stadium for the first time and bathed the stadium in 50 percent light instantly gradually working up to 100 percent.
And when the lights came on at full strength it was a sight to behold. There have been many stadium tours and our Chuck King has basically been living at the stadium since we began our “Football in Paradise” series. But with the lights on, the grass in and a big ‘FAU’ logo in the seats, it’s hard not get excited for Oct. 15.
Owl Links
Here’s our coverage of the night tour of the stadium with story, photos and video. ...We looked at the defensive backs for our Position Primer series. ...We also posted the most recent edition of Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz.
Other linkage
Here’s more coverage on the stadium from the Sun-Sentinel, the Palm Beach Post and
Thursday's Daily Briefing: Schnellenberger still gets excited for the start of a season

Looking at Howard Schnellenberger during the past week, you couldn't really tell that fall camp was near. If you talked to him, though, you could feel the anticipation in his voice.

He's been waiting for this week. And now he has a smile.

“If my demeanor and persona doesn't look like that of an excited coach, that's because the flesh has been on this earth a little bit longer,” the 77-year-old Schnellenberger said with a grin on Wednesday. “This is the biggest preseason we've had. This will be the biggest preparation for a season we've had - since the last one.”

Make no mistake, he's ready.

What could go down as one of his most proud seasons begins today when players officially report. Of course, to fully enjoy the year he's going to have to fix some of the problems that plagued they Owls over the past two sub .500 seasons.

“I don't take as great a disappointment in the last two seasons as most other people do because I know the differential was a very small differential - and we have history on our side,” Schnellenberger said.

The history that Schnellenberger is referring to is the 2007 season, when the not-so-highly regarded
Owls came out of nowhere to take the Sun Belt title.

Though he was talking about the FAU's play on the field, he quickly segued to the actual field. FAU, of course, will open its new on-campus stadium this season.

“It's going to be a program high note for Florida Atlantic University,” Schnellenberger said. “For me being the coach at this time is going to be very satisfying.:

As for the stadium itself, it crosses another ceremonial barrier this evening. FAU is holding a media ceremony in the stadium, flicking the switch on the stadium field lights at night for the first time for all to see.

Schnellenberger says he is going to “savor” tonight's moment much in the same way he's enjoyed every threshold the stadium has crossed, but he cautions FAU fans not to grow too accustomed to seeing the lights.

“This is not to indicate that night time games are going to be a staple,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, it does give us the ability to play any time we want to play and practice any time we want to practice.”

Some FAU players will attend the event tonight. They don't actually begin practice until Saturday.

Owl Links
We continued previewing FAU's opponents by looking at the game against Arkansas St. We also want FAU fans to have an in depth knowledge of the players they'll be following this fall. With that in mind, we continued our position primer by looking at the revamped linebacker corps. Also, via a late-day blog FAU fans first learned that safety Cortez Ash's legal troubles will keep him from reporting with the rest of his teammates.

FAU football camp will start without Ash

Cortez Ash's June arrest will keep him from reporting to camp when the remainder of the Owls return to campus on Thursday, and FAU coaches are unsure of when he'll be able to take the field again.

Ash, a redshirt freshman safety, was arrested on June 11 by the Indian River County Sheriff's Department for allegedly stealing copper wire from a scrap yard and then trying to sell it back to them. Ash was charged with Burglary of a Business, Third Degree Grand Theft and Dealing with Stolen Property – the final two charges being felonies.

Ash, currently free on bond, is prohibited from practicing by a policy in the FAU Student-Athlete Handbook which reads:

In cases of arrest, the student-athlete will be suspended from practice and competition pending appropriate legal and University reviews.

Ash isn't scheduled to appear in court again until Aug. 31.

Not having Ash in camp deals a blow to a secondary that lost three starters to graduation. An athletic hard-hitter, Ash was expected to challenge for a starting safety spot.

He did not take part in the summer's voluntary team workouts.


Wednesday’s Daily Briefing: Jupiter’s Cameron chooses USF, will FAU recruit another QB?

Jupiter quarterback Tyler Cameron, who held an offer from FAU and around 20 other schools, committed to South Florida on Tuesday night.

There wasn’t any real shot that he would be coming to FAU and the Owls weren’t among his five finalists that included LSU, Purdue and Illinois.
Still, Cameron didn’t dismiss FAU completely when I talked to him at the FAU Team Camp (pictured) and his family later indicated to the coaching staff that they were just looking for the right fit and that if they decided it was FAU, Cameron would consider becoming an Owl.
With Cameron heading across the state, the question is will FAU sign a quarterback this season?
The Owls prefer to sign a quarterback each year, but this could be the exception.
Not with four quarterbacks reporting to camp on Thursday and another – Colton Kane – enrolling in January as a greyshirt.
The Owls would have been happy to get Cameron, but now that he is not an option, they may just pass on a QB this year.
Owl Links
We continued our series of in-depth unit  previews with an examination of the defensive line with scouting reports of each key player. …We also had another look at an Owl opponent as we scouted Middle Tennessee.
Other linkage
Park Vista left-handed pitcher Brandon Rhodes and American Heritage pitcher Trevor Maloney commit to play baseball at FAU, the Palm Beach Post reports …FIU signs Mario Cristobal to 4-year extension, the Miami Herald reports.
Tuesday’s Daily Briefing: No more weekends without football as FAU set to begin training camp

The folks at FAU sent out the times and dates for the pre-season training camp and that’s when the reality hit.

The football season is just about here and once it starts, it will be wall-to wall football into December.
I’m excited, but probably could have used one more week of summer to get ready.
But FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger didn’t ask me so the Owls begin prep for the Sept. 3 opener on Aug. 6 when they take the field for the first time – weather permitting.
That’s 33 practices, with four days featuring three practices in one day and two scheduled off days. Come hell or high water, will be at every practice session – just as we have been at every workout the last two football seasons.
Here are the key dates as I see them for FAU’s training camp:
  • Thursday: Players report (Stadium lighting)
  • Saturday: First practice
  • Wednesday: First day in full pads (Oklahoma Drill!)
  • Aug. 11: First Three-a-Day
  • Aug. 12: Scrimmage
  • Aug 18: Last Three-a-Day
  • Aug. 20: FanFest Scrimmage
  • Aug. 22: Players Day Off
  • Aug. 25: Bonfire
  • Aug. 27: Game Prep Scrimmage
  • Aug. 29: Players Day Off
  • Sept. 2: Travel to Gainesville
  • Sept. 3: FAU at Florida
And here is the entire practice schedule. All practices scheduled to take place at the Oxley Practice Fields are free and open to the public.
  • Aug. 4: Players report (Stadium lighting)
  • Aug. 6:: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 7: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 8: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 9: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 10: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 11: Three practices from 8-9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-Noon, 4:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 12: Scrimmage 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 13: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 14: Three practices from 8-9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-Noon, 4:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 15: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 16: Three practices from 8-9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-Noon, 4:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 17: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 18: Three practices from 8-9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-Noon, 4:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 19: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 20: FanFest 3:15-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 21: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 22: Off
  • Aug. 23: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 24: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 25: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 26: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 27: Game Prep Scrimmage: 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 28: Practice
  • Aug. 29: Off
  • Aug. 30: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Aug. 31: Practice 3:30-6 p.m.
Monday’s Daily Briefing: More losses for FAU’s offensive line

Training camp hasn’t even started and the Owls are already down a few players on the offensive line.

If you checked out our Offensive Line Position Primer you already know that redshirt sophomore Mike Nweze has left the team.
Nweze was a guard, but was pressed into action at center last season when injuries began to mount and made a start against ULM last season.
Nweze joins Blake Parrish, who would hav been a redshirt freshman, as scholarship players on the offensive line who have left the program.
To see what impact this could have on the offensive line, check out our Position Primer for a position overview and scouting reports on each player expected to contribute this season. If you don’t subscribe, you can get a free trial for 14 Days by clicking here. You won’t find a more in-depth look at the Owls anywhere.
Owl Links
As we mentioned, Owl Access Pass holders can check out the preview for the offensive line. …We also had a scouting report on North Texas.

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

Great article on Tyler Cameron. Let's put his skills to work with the QBs and make some plays. The Neighborhood fans are ready. Time to rally the...

Nicely done Jake. Great addition to Owl Access.

Then who do you think has the uper hand to be three yard directly behind the center.

Sorry, I read the above question wrong. Who will be UNDER center? No one. They will operate primarily from the shutgun.

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