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Posts from October 2011

If C-USA loses schools, SBC commissioner Waters doesn't think Sun Belt schools will jump

With conference realignment still roaring forward at a somewhat alarming rate, many expect the moves by larger schools will soon prompt smaller Sun Belt programs like FAU to find better options in a new conference.

Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters is not one of those people.

“Every time one of our schools has gotten out and put a hard pencil on competing in another league they've come back and said, 'You know what, we've got a pretty good deal,' ” said Waters, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

The latest move happened late last week when the Big 12 formally accepted former Big East member West Virginia.

The Big East is now expected to invite as many as six schools to fill vacancies created by the Mountaineers, as well as Syracuse and Pittsburgh, which left the conference for the ACC earlier this year, and TCU which left the conference for the Big 12 before ever playing a Big East game.

Many believe the replacement schools will come from Conference USA – including, potentially, Central Florida, Memphis and East Carolina.

Should those schools make the jump, that would leave Marshall, UAB, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa, SMU, Rice Houston and Texas-El Paso in C-USA.

In theory a move by a Conference USA school or two would prompt C-USA to look to add some new members.

Waters isn't sure Sun Belt members like FAU would necessarily leap at the chance to join the depleted C-USA. Would Florida Atlantic be better off jumping to six team conference with more travel?

“This is not Louisville, Cincinnati,  Marquette, and that group anymore,” Waters said. “If they lose a couple more schools, you have to look at what conferences are going to be, not what they are or have been.”

To support his case, Waters points to when North Texas mulled over a move to the WAC before ultimately deciding against the move.

“Our group is a pretty homogenous group,” Waters said. “I think those things are starting to pay off.”

While there is logic in Waters' argument, it still seems that at least a few teams would jump at the money associated with the TV contracts that come with being in what is still perceived as a more prestigious league. What Waters might have to hope for is that some other leagues – WAC, MAC or Mountain West – try to immediately peel off a couple more members of C-USA.

At that point, there may be so few teams left in C-USA that a merger between that conference and the Sun Belt might seem enticing.

It's a long shot, but the way schools are changing their affiliations right now, should it be ruled out?

Monday's Required Reading: Best team in the SBC coming in for FAU Homecoming

After a weekend without a football, it’s time to get back playing games. I’ll take any game. Heck, I’ll even take a game between the best team in the Sun Belt Conference vs. the worst team.

And that’s exactly what we’ll get on Saturday when FAU plays host to Arkansas State.
 
The Red Wolves are undefeated in conference play while the Owls are looking for their first victory of the season.
 
Sounds like a game you’d like to pick for homecoming, which is what FAU did.
 
Before Saturday, there are many events and you can click here for a complete list of all the festivities.
 
Today’s linkage...
 
 
Sunday Morning Quarterback: Owls keeping company among winless teams

Florida Atlantic still has company among winless teams in the FBS.

New Mexico was nipped by Air Force 42-0 on Saturday and, like FAU, hasn’t won a game this season.
 

Lobos 0-8 After 42-0 Loss To Air Force: krqe.com

The Lobos are 0-8 and the Owls are 0-7. And while New Mexico’s losing streak has reached 11 games, the longest in the nation, FAU’s still sits at 10.
 
Another interesting tidbit is that New Mexico has lost 19 consecutive games on the road, wjile FAU has lost just seven in a row on the road.
 
Would someone just tell these two programs they can’t “Suck for Luck.”
 
In the Sun Belt it’s worth noting ULL defeated MTSU 45-20 to improve to 7-2 and 5-1 in the Sun Belt.
 
And FAU’s opponent next week, Arkansas State had an easy time in a 37-14 victory vs. North Texas to improve to 6-2 and 4-0 in the SBC. It’s the Red Wolves best start since 1986.
 
Should be an interesting game next Saturday.
 
Today’s Linkage…
 
With Owls off, here's a few games for FAU fans to keep tabs on today

First off, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and World Series MVP David Freese, who played at South Alabama and was the 2006 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.

But today is all about football, even with FAU on its final open date of the season
 
FAU’s opponent next week, Arkansas State plays host to North Texas at 7 p.m. The Red Wolves are in first place and are the only team un the SBC which hasn’t lost a conference game (3-0).
 
Unfortunately for those wanting to do some scouting, ULL at Middle Tennessee is the Sun Belt Network’s Game of the Week.
 
A few other games, FAU fans may want to keep an eye on.
 
New Mexico, the only other team in the nation besides FAU which hasn’t won a game this season, puts its 0-7 streak on the line against Air Force (3-4). I don’t think the Lobos will get that first victory today.
 
Another game to keep an eye on, for obvious reasons, is the Georgia-Florida game. If the Bulldogs win, cross Boca Raton’s Mark Richt off the list of potential candidates to be on the FAU sidelines in 2012. If Georgia loses (again) to their rival, Richt’s seat will be a little warmer in Athens.
 
One of FAU’s first homes meets the wrecking ball

While the thrill of the opening of FAU’s on-campus stadium is still fresh in everyone’s minds, it was time to bid farewell to one of the first homes of the football program this week.

 In the early days, what has been known as the ticket trailer, was an office for FAU football and also was the original recruiting room complete with a replica locker of what many recruits were told would look like their locker in FAU’s new stadium. It was coupled with a swath of artificial turf in the parking lot of what would later be the Oxley Center to give a sample of what Football in Paradise could be.
 
This week, however, the ticket trailer was torn down and reduced to rubble leaving an empty space near the Oxley Center.
 
In the last few years, the ticket trailer has fallen in disrepair and the building itself was all but condemned.
 
In fact, it is rumored than an animal had gotten in there and died – a rumor which I didn’t dare attempt to verify.
 
The building had turned into an eyesore and a safety hazard, but it was still sad to see that one of FAU football’s first headquarters had to go.
Friday's Required Reading: Sun Belt likes idea of giving players extra $2,000

The NCAA took some long-overdue steps on Thursday to reform, among other things, what a scholarship does and does not cover.

 
At first glance I didn’t think there would be anyway the Sun Belt would approve such a measure due to the cost to its cash-strapped institutions.
 
However, our Chuck King reached Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters, who told us the Sun Belt is very interested in allowing the stipend.
 
Maybe you just have to chalk it up to the cost of doing business if you want to be competitive among schools in the FBS.
 
There are plenty of details to be worked out, but it sounds the Sun Belt is looking for a way to do the right thing - and keep up with other conferences who are sure to allow the stipend.
 
Today's Linkage...
 
FAU loses popular tenant as MagicJack terminated

Until its on-campus stadium opened some of the recent large crowds at FAU for sporting events didn’t involved the Owls.

Instead fans flocked to FAU to see women's professional soccer and the magicJack, the Women’s Professional Soccer franchise which featured Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and other players from the U.S. Women’s World Cup team.
 
Crowds of 3-4,000 were not uncommon in August as the team made a run to the WPS playoffs. In a bit of foreshadowing, long ticket lines were the norm at FAU’s Soccer Stadium before magicJack games.
 
The crowds were so large there was some consideration that perhaps some of the matches could be played in the new football stadium next season.
 
Well, the magicJack won’t be playing at FAU’s  football stadium, the soccer stadium or anywhere for that matter as the WPS pulled the plug on perhaps its most interesting team.
 
The franchise brought many fans to campus and, more importantly, brought in around $100,000 to the athletic department’s bottom line, an FAU official said.
 
That’s too bad as the games were fun, the team was good and it was cool to see crowds to flock to FAU on summer nights.
 
But it won't happen again as the WPS has simply made the magicJack disappear.
 
Thursday's Required Reading: Leach linked to other top jobs

I am hearing that plenty of people saw the article we lnked to in this Wednesday's Required Reading from the Arizona Republic as a columnist in the desert makes the case for Mike Leach to be the next coach of the Arizona Wildcats.

FAU fans had better get used to seeing things like this as Leach is a hot commodity.

This blog from Sports by Brooks, which has been following the developments from Leach’s unceremonious departure from Texas Tech for years, says Leach will be in high demand in the next few weeks.

I don’t have to tell you – or maybe I need to tell some of you – that does not bode well for Leach to be driving up US 1 to house hunt in Boca Raton.

Of course, Leach appeared to be headed to big-time jobs in the past, before ADs seemingly got cold feet.

We can expect the coaching search to start heating up soon, but if Owl Nation wants to know the latest developments with Leach, it should monitor what goes on at Arizona, New Mexico, UCLA, Ole Miss, Kansas and many other places closely as well. 

 Today's Links...
 
 

 
 
Wednesday’s Required Reading: Owls picked to repeat as Sun Belt East champions

The Sun Belt Conference Basketball Media Teleconference continues today and there is already news this morning which should have Owl Nation looking forward to hoops season.

The Owls were picked to win the Sun Belt’s Eastern Division and junior guards Ray Taylor and Greg Gantt were each named to the pre-season All-Sun Belt team.
 
Click here for coverage of the Sun Belt’s Media Days.
 
Other linkage... 
 
 
No FAU players on mid-season Sun Belt first team

When you have not won a game, you aren't going to be racking up the individual awards and that's certainly the case with Florida Atlantic. In perhaps a preview of the post-season All-Sun Belt team, Phil Steele recently released his mid-season All-Sun Belt team.   

It's not much of a surprise that no Owls were selected to the first team.  
 
Running back Alfred Morris (photo from Owl Pix)  was named to the second-team, as was linebackers Randell Johnson and David Hinds.
 
Tight end Nexon Dorvilus, left tackle Sam McCroy, nose tackle Jarvis Givens, and punter Mickey Groody were named to the third-team.
 
The entire teams can be viewed here.
 
 
Tuesday's Required Reading: Good week to start talking FAU hoops

Are you ready for some basketball? I think I know the answer to this one this week for Owl Nation.

With the football program struggling and facing an open date on Saturday, it’s time to start talking hoops.
 
So that’s exactly what we did on Monday, with our look at how training camp is going for the Owls.
 
There will be plenty more on basketball later this week with the Sun Belt Conference Media Teleconferences beginning today with women’s coaches before the men’s coaches go on Wednesday.
 
Basketball season will (mercifully) be here soon.
 
Other linkage...
 

 

 

 
 
Monday’s Required Reading: Owls not worst in nation, yet

After winless UAB defeated Central Florida on Thursday night, it left Florida Atlantic and New Mexico as the last two winless teams in the nation.

 We know how the Owls fared on Saturday, losing 38-14 to Middle Tennessee, but it’s time we really start keeping tabs on New Mexico. Well, the Lobos narrowly lost to TCU 69-0 to fall to 0-7.
 
While it would have been intriguing if the UAB-FAU game on Nov. 26 would have been between the last two winless teams in the FBS, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t have been to decide the worst team in the land.
 
New Mexico will likely have that honor.
 
In this week’s BCS rankings revealed Sunday, FAU is No. 118 and New Mexico is No. 119.
 
And unlike the Owls, the Lobos have no hope of winning a game except possibly a Nov. 12 game vs. UNLV, currently just 1-5, which Owl Nation will be watching closely.
 
Today’s Links... 
 
Sunday Morning Quarterback: FAU facing possibility of going 0-12 this season

After starting off with a tough three-game stretch of Florida, Michigan State and Auburn with a predictable 0-3 record,  Florida Atlantic didn’t have enough to bounce back the next week when the Owls lost to Louisiana 37-34 on the final play of the game.

The next week, it couldn’t muster up enough to be competitive with North Texas to avoid an 0-2 mark in the Sun Belt.

And last week, FAU couldn’t rebound to even score a touchdown in the first game played in its brand-new on-campus stadium.

Well, after Saturday’s 38-14 loss to Middle Tennessee the Owls fell to 0-7 and FAU is officially removed from bowl eligibility, not that it really had a chance with this team.

Running back Alfred Morris (shown here in a photo from OwlPix against North Texas) fumbled twice - two of six FAU turnovers on the night.

Now FAU, which fell to 0-7 this season and has now lost a school-record 10 consecutive games, will be playing for pride, but also to avoid what seems to be a very real shot of going 0-12 this season.

That’s not very much of a motivating factor and raises the possibility that FAU won’t win a game this season.

Not exactly the kind of start you want in the first year of your stadium.

But that’s the hole the Owls have dug themselves and it’s going to take an awful lot of soul searching for the players to dig themselves out of this mess.

Game coverage...

 

 

Former Owl Corey Small's open letter to FAU Nation

Last week's stadium opening brought a great number of former FAU players back to Boca Raton. To a man, they marveled at the Owls' new on-campus facility and what it meant to the program they helped launch and develop.

One such player was former defensive back Corey Small. Second on the FAU's list for career interceptions with 13, Small recorded 238 tackles in a college career that came to a close in 2008. Following his FAU experience, Small played one year of professional football in the United Football League before retiring.

After spending last weekend in Boca Raton, Small felt moved enough to write down his thoughts. We are pleased that he asked us to share his open letter with former FAU players, alumni and current fans.


An Open Letter to Alumni


The White House is one of the most notable structures in the world. It was the dream and proposal of our country’s first president, George Washington. Beginning in 1792, George Washington would oversee this project for 7 years and played an essential role in the building of the White House. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to live in this iconic structure.
In 1998 Florida Atlantic University announced that it would be pursuing football and that the legendary Howard Schnellenberger would be the pioneer.

On August 29, 2000, Florida Atlantic University’s first recruiting class would begin building the program and laying the foundation for the post classes. Between years 2000-2011 FAU has flourished as one of Florida’s best kept secrets. The intervening years were filled with program builders that were recruited off of a dream; a dream of one day playing in an on campus stadium. Unfortunately, for most of us this dream will never come true. However, in order for a dream or an idea to become a reality there needs to be people who sacrifice and believe in the unseen. Each of us believed in our University and leader, and that we were a part of something special and historical.

On Saturday October 15, 2011, we all had the opportunity to see that all of our hard work, and dedication, blood, sweat, and tears were not in vain. Although we will never get a chance to play on the field it is safe to say “the juice was worth the squeeze.” I am a builder and a part of history. Although my contribution may forever be represented by a dash that marks the program’s first years and opening of the stadium, I know that I played a significant role in building something iconic. Presidents and players are cyclical, they are subject to change as time goes on, however, and similar to George Washington, Howard Schnellenberger and the hundreds of players that laid the foundation will forever be remembered.


Corey Small
Class of 2008

Saturday's Prediction: MTSU, not FAU, will rally in face of adversity

There have been some games earlier this season which have been mistakenly referred to as “must-wins” for the Florida Atlantic football program.

 It’s today’s game against Middle Tennessee that is a “must-win.” The reason? If the Owls lose the game they are officially eliminated from bowl elgibility. If FAU wins, then the next game because a “must-win” and so on and so on. It’s simple for FAU, when it loses another game its season is over.
 
It would be foolish to think that FAU will reel off six straight victories and make it to a bowl game. Most FAU fans would settle for six touchdowns the way things are going, but there is a chance – albeit a lim one- for the Owls to make this season interesting.
 
Not sure if that will be the case by Sunday.
 
Which brings us to my prediction.
 
Middle Tennessee may have more distractions than FAU dealt with last season with the mid-season resignation of its offensive coordinator. But often teams will rally in the face of adversity, unlike this season’s FAU squad. The Blue Raiders have a chip on the shoulder while the Owls barely have a pulse. Middle Tennessee 28, FAU 13
 
Pre-game coverage...
FAU fires cannon during punt in last week’s game vs. Western Kentucky

FAU didn’t put up any points in Saturday’s 20-0 loss to Western Kentucky, but the Owls’ were explosive.

Check out the above video of FAU’s cannon going off during play when FAU’s Mickey Groody punted the ball in the first quarter of the game.
 
Everyone wants the Owls to score, but firing off the cannon was a tad bit premature. I guess the cannon crew needed the practice and wasn’t going to let anything like FAU not scoring or play going on stand in their way.
 
I’m sure fans hope to hear more of the cannon on Saturday, since it is usually fired off after FAU touchdowns (or punts as the case may be).
Friday's Required Reading: Midnight Madness fires up students for hoops season

You know basketball season isn’t far way when its Midnight Madness time and on Thursday (stretching into early Friday) the SGA held its annual event at The Burrow.

We have a video and here’s a photo gallery from Midnight Madness.
 
There was free food, the SGA gave away mini-basketballs, and of course, there was the prerequisite shooting and dunking contests.
 
But the biggest thing was hearing basketball coach Mike Jarvis already trying to get the students involved in coming to the games so the building will be packed each night.
 
That may be tough to accomplish, but judging by Thursday’s crowd – more than half the arena was full – plenty of students remember how full The Burrow was in some of those late-season games last season.
 
Basketball season can't get here soon enough.
 
Today's linkage...
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hoops Madness tonight, FAU players already have their rings

OK, let's get the joke out of the way: I can't wait for 8 p.m. madness tonight, where FAU basketball celebrates it's sixth practice of the year...

FAU's students are putting on their Midnight Madness celebration tonight to help kick off the start of the basketball season.

Traditionally, the Midnight Madness marks the first day that the basketball team can start practicing for their season. Teams would take the floor at midnight on that particular day in front of a rollicking crowd in an attempt to get as quick a start on the season as possible.

There are two major reasons FAU isn't following the traditional script – both are reasonable and display forethought.

The first is that coach Mike Jarvis doesn't want to practice at midnight. Hard to throw a party for the basketball team if the coach won't bring his players.

The other is that the Owls were actually able to start practicing on Saturday – and I seem to remember something else happening on campus that day.

Jarvis did hold practice Saturday, then pulled the players together for a brief special ceremony for close supporters of the program. You may recall about six months ago the program was looking for donors to help the Owls purchase rings to reward the players for winning the  2010-11 Sun Belt regular season championship.

People who donated would be purchasing a ring for a player and would also receive a ring (or pendant if the donor was female) for themselves. President Mary Jane Saunders was present as Jarvis dispersed those rings in a ceremony following that first practice.

In a nice touch, Jarvis asked the player to present the ring to the donor who made purchasing the ring possible, creating kind of a buddy system that paired the player who will be wearing the ring with the donor who paid for it. In the photo, Alex Tucker is presenting Crash Taylor with his ring.

The players will likely be sporting their rings tonight. The bottom photo is a close-up of one of them. Those attending Midnight Madness will be treated to free hot dogs, a (non-basketball team) slam dunk contest and three point shooting contest, among other events.

Last year this was one of the best attended and produced events on campus (our video from the event is below), and I see no reason to believe that tonight's won't be a similar success.

Look forward to seeing hoops fans there.
 

Thursday's Required Reading: FAU listening to concerns about tailgating

Earlier this week  I mentioned that FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos had not heard many complaints about tailgating being limited to four hours before and no hours after football games.

I assume fans contacted him since then because I heard from Angelos yesterday about the tailgating policy.
 
FAU examined what other schools do around the state with regards to tailgating and came up with these findings:
 
  • FIU, USF and Miami: 4 hours to kick-off
  • FSU: 5 hours to kick-off
  • UCF, UF: 8 a.m. regardless of kick-off
 Angleos wrote in an e-mail to Owl Access in regard to the hours that “This was vetted out with the groups on campus especially campus police. We will continue to evaluate it as we go forward.”
 
It’s probably not what many fans want to hear, but at least FAU is keeping an open mind and looking into how the hours are set. And by continuing to evaluate, it would seem they are keeping an open mind to perhaps tweaking the policy if that is what the fans want.
 
I assume this could be even more of an issue on Saturday, when an 8 p.m. kickoff time will keep fans out of the parking lots and tailgating until 4 p.m. if the rules are strictly enforced like they were before last week.
 
Today's Links

 

 

 


 
Chick-fil-A booted from FAU stadium; Mississippi Sweets gets the call

When writing about the stadium concessions in September as part of our 18-part series examining the new stadium, we told FAU fans that Chartwells, the company in charge of the concessions, may make changes to the concession line-up quickly if they deemed it necessary.

Well, change has been deemed necessary, and Chick-fil-A is bearing the brunt of it.

Unhappy with what they considered to be a late arriving and understaffed Chick-fil-A crew, Chartwells has decided to terminate their agreement with the chicken sandwich fast food restaurant. On Wednesday, the Chick-fil-A banner no longer hung over what was their concession stand.(photo).

“There were a lot of people who needed food service and they didn't come through for them,” said Chartwells Resident District Manager Greg Moran.

Moran said local barbecue restaurant Mississippi Sweets BBQ Co. will take over the Chick-fil-A booth in the southeast corner of the stadium.

Located on Federal Highway in Boca Raton, Mississippi Sweets will be offering pulled pork and shredded chicken sandwiches along with chips, peanuts and drinks.

“We're excited about being able to do that,” Mississippi Sweets owner Randy Smith said. “Hopefully, we'll be able to pull this off and build a long term relationship with the university.”

While I'm surprised to see Chick-fil-A get the boot (I thought being able to eat their chicken sandwich in the stands was a coup for FAU), I like that Chartwells is bringing another local restaurant into the stadium. Tomasso's Pizza, whose Owl Balls were perhaps the biggest food hit inside the stadium, has a stand underneath the north bleachers.

Smith said they are expecting to serve 1,000 fans during this weekend's game against Middle Tennessee State, but are planning to bring enough food for 2,000 people.

Having eaten at Mississippi Sweets many times myself, I expect FAU fans to quickly embrace this choice.
 

Wednesday's Required Reading: More sights and sounds from Saturday

We’ve been doing a lot of re-living the first game at FAU’s stadium the last few days and our friends at ESPN 760 and OwlPix.com have some great ways to take you back to the big event.

ESPN760, which broadcasts FAU football and basketball games and does a great job of promoting FAU athletics, went into overdrive this weekend with their coverage of the stadium opening.
 
I bring this up today because you can re-live many parts of their coverage through their archives.
 
And while listening to these great interviews (including some with yours truly) why not browse some of the excellent pictures taken over the weekend by J.C. Ridley and Ralph Notaro that are posted on OwlPix.com.
 
 
 
The staff at OwlPix really did a great job of capturing the feel of the weekend, especially with these fan photos. Did they shoot you and your friends? Only one way to find out.
 
Just a few things to get through these rainy, windy days – which apparently did some damage at the stadium by tearing down some of the large photos hanging from the stadium.
 
 

 

Wind blows down banners adorning FAU stadium

The wind associated with Tuesday's stormy weather actually caused some minor damage to the visuals around FAU's new on-campus stadium, but workers are already on site making repairs.

Three of the mural banners adorning the south side of the stadium came free from the clasps that attached them to the steel girders. On Tuesday evening, two of them were sagging down (top photo), while a third, which lost its side connector, was flapping in the breeze.

One that was down featured former defensive lineman Josh Pinnick in his three-point stance. Pinnick was among the football alumni who attended the game on Saturday, which was when the bottom picture was taken.

The other mural banner that could no-longer be seen features FAU's mascot Owlsley, who also attended the game – one day after hijacking the ceremonial ribbon-cutting honors away from FAU President Mary Jane Saunders and other dignitaries.

By Tuesday evening workers from the sign company that installed the banners were already at the stadium. They will be adding some cables behind the banners to give them a little more support, which should have them flying again in short order.

And in case you were wondering, Ralph Notaro and J. C. Ridley are the photographers who took the photos that appear on those banners. I'm told more of them are going up this week. To seem more FAU football photos from that duo, be sure to check out OwlPix.com. They do excellent work.

Schnellenberger to be honored by Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins announced today they will honor FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, who will receive a Dolphins "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the Dec. 11 game between the Dolphins and the Eagles.

Schnellenberger was part of the Dolphins coaching staff from 1970-72, which included his stint as offensive coordinator under Don Shula for the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team.
 
The entire 1972 team is honored at Sun Life Stadium in the team's ring of honor.
 
 
Tuesday's Required Reading: Fans should let FAU know they want more tailgating

On Monday, FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos and the staff of the athletic department held plenty of meetings to review and analyze their game-day operations.

Angelos gave us an overview of how the meetings went for this story.
 
I didn’t put it in the story, but I did ask Angelos about the numerous complaints I saw on Owl Access and other sites about the rule limiting tailgating to four hors before and no tailgating after.
 
I was a bit surprised when Angelos said he had not heard or seen any of those complaints, but it is understandable since he spent virtually the whole day in a series of stadium-related meetings.
 
My point is this: Don't think that Angelos or any other athletic department staffer is sitting around reading comments on web sites or reporters’ blogs.
 
If fans aren't happy with the rules they should let Angelos know. His email, which is found on FAU’s website, is athleticdirector@fau.edu. I'm sure he’d like to know what Owl fans thought of the day Saturday and how the department can improve.
 
BTW, here was our take on the first day of stadium operations and we also paid attention to on-field activity with our 1st and 10 look at MTSU.
 
Linkage…
 
What went right and what went wrong from the first game at FAU Stadium

We've heard from the athletic director about what went right and what went wrong at the first game in the new on-campus football stadium after department meetings today.

No one asked us, but we have our own lists of what worked and what didn’t, so here's what our staff thought.
 
Agree or disagree with us or did we miss something? Let us know on Facebook page or our message board. There have already been some pretty good observations so please, join the discussion.
 

Chuck King: Owl Access reporter on 18-part Football in Paradise series

What went right
 
Students party down: The tailgating atmosphere was fantastic throughout campus, but I think the students in particular did a good job of turning a grassy quad in the center of campus into a tent city. Lots of spirit (and spirits). Plenty of smiles. Owl Rangers everywhere. Could really be something as it grows.
 
Owl Prowl: This tradition deserves to survive to the next head coach. Nice to see the players parade through campus. Fans came away from their tailgates to watch their team enter the stadium, allowing them to put a face on the numbers they'll be cheering for. The touching of the Owlsley statute infront of the Rec Center was a bit hokey, but if the players like it, go for it.
 
Former player reaction: Nothing surprised me more than to see the former players jumping around, high fiving, chest bumping and hugging on the field – soaking in the atmosphere while waiting for the game to start. Many had their phones taking pictures and videos. Jeff Van Camp, Cerge Sincere, Rusty Smith, Rob Housler David Matlock and all the former Owls might have been the most excited people in the stadium and FAU did a good job of incorporating them into game day and making them feel special.
 
What went wrong
 
You get ready: I think everyone expected the ticket office to have issues (why would they start getting things right now) and the lack of time between stadium handoff and the opening game set up the concessions to fail. Combine the two and you have a large group of people who couldn't get into the game until after kickoff and went home thirsty.
 
Third-rate pregame:  From a flyover that no-one even noticed (there was a United States Coast Guard helicopter that crossed the field width-wise), to dragging the U.S.  flag across the field before and after the anthem to having a contest losing “celebrity” who probably isn't even popular in his own high school sing the national anthem, planners really managed to aim low.
 
Zero points! Really?  Anyone who saw the game was immediately trying to forget it. No imagination. No execution. What happened to all the formations we were promised in the fall? Why no hurry up offense, since that appears to be the only way FAU can score? Why can't the offensive line block a hotdog wrapper? Why bother taking the field the rest of the season? 
 

Marcus Nelson: Owl Access Editor and Publisher

What went right
 
Boca Raton, next college town? It wasn’t just the atmosphere at the stadium that was amazing. It was all around town. From FAU fans in bars on Friday night to businesses with the schedule poster in the window or the cashier at 7-11 asking people if they were going to “the” game. You never got that when the team played in Forth Lauderdale, but now the locals seem to be learning about the local team.
 
A real homecoming: It was great to see so many alums were back on campus, many for likely the first time since they walked across the stage to receive their diploma. The campus is growing so fast, even the ones who graduated recently have to feel a sense of pride when they see the progress ol’ “Find Another University” is making. By the way, those alums are ones that are ripe for giving money, but I’m sure FAU’s fine fund-raisers already are working on that.
 
Sweet life in the suites: Speaking or raising money, the suites and private boxes are perfect for bringing in Boca Raton movers and shakers to try and get them to open up their wallets. You would have been hard-pressed to successfully wine and dine the big-money people under a tent at Lockhart. But the amenities at FAU stadium are first-class and could conceivably become the place where the Grey Poupon crowd in Boca goes to see and be seen.
 
What went wrong
 
Fans want more than four:  There is no doubt that the No. 1 complaint among FAU’s loyal fans is not being allowed to arrive on campus early to get ready for the game and tailgate until four hours before the game – a policy that was strictly enforced. The University Press reported this week that other schools, such as UCF, allow tailgating and parking to commence at 8 a.m. the day of the game. With next week’s game kicking off at 8 p.m. fans and student ts can’t begin to get ready for the game until 4 p.m.? FAU needs to re-think this policy and quick.
 
Some empty seats: So FAU spends a year to push the Oct. 15 opening game and fell just short of packing the house. While there is no shame in drawing 29,103 to the game in a stadium that seats 30,000 the empty seats shows that FAU’s base is far below 30,000 so the days of sell-out crowds are likely a few years away. Also, FAU officials now have six days to get people to the game Saturday against Middle Tennessee.
 
 Long lines at ticket window, concessions: There were plenty of people of waiting in slow-moving lines to pick up or buy tickets before the game, ensuring plenty of fans already were angry before they even got inside the stadium. Not a good way to build a fan base. Once inside, lines to concessions and the bar in the Priority Club were quite long. One can say it was bad because it was the opener, but the popularity of the Priority Club means it may be packed for each game. If people have to pay extra to buy a beer, they are going to demand to be able to buy it without missing a good portion of the game waiting in line. 
 

Alyssa Barbieri: Owl Access correspondent

What went right
Packing the stadium: Despite earlier reports that only 7,000 tickets had been sold with less than a month before the stadium opening, FAU fans turned out in impressive numbers to witness a historic moment in FAU history. There were 29,103 people in what was a near sell-out. The student section was rocking before and early into the game before the team took themselves and their fans out of the game.
 
Traffic was flowing: For the most part the traffic heading to the stadium was quite satisfactory. There were some slowdowns once you reached the stadium, which is to be expected when you have thousands of fans  making their way to the game, but there were no major incidents that slowed traffic to a standstill for a long period of time. The three entrances worked out perfectly.
 
Live Owl: What will hopefully become a tradition before FAU home games, an owl was brought to the stadium as part of pregame festivities. It was escorted to midfield by its trainer for part of the coin toss and will one day hopefully take flight over the field. The owl almost appeared to get stage fright. Funny, because that’s exactly what happened to the Owls.
 
What went wrong
 
Scoreboard fail: I was expecting more from FAU in the way that they would utilize the massive scoreboard installed over the student section. During key third and fourth-down plays for Western Kentucky I expected more effort in regards to graphics and audio to get the fans loud and have an impact on the game. Hopefully it remains a work in progress.
 
Let there be tailgating: Even before Saturday’s inaugural game there were complaints about FAU’s tailgating policy. Fans aren’t allowed to tailgate more than four hours before or after the game, when fans weren’t very happy because of what they just saw from their team. When the game got underway there were still fans making their way inside. Hopefully the tailgating policy will be altered in the future.
 
Major letdown: Perhaps safety Marcus Bartels said it best when he said that the best part of the day was the atmosphere of the stadium. It was all sunshine and optimism before the game but storm clouds seemed to loom overhead the Owls from the second quarter on. Not only did Western Kentucky score the first points in FAU Stadium, but they also delivered the Owls their first loss and shutout on a day that seemed so bright earlier.
Monday's Required Reading: May not be easy to sell FAU vs. MTSU

After a year of attempting to market and advertise the historic first game at its new on-campus stadium, FAU now has a few days to attempt to drum up interest for Saturday’s game vs. Middle Tennessee.

Here’s a few angles FAU could take.

It’s the Battle for the Belt Basement as Middle Tennessee is 0-2 in the Sun Belt and FAU is 0-3. That’s eighth and ninth place – out of nine teams – in the conference.

But it could be even more than that. This game has huge BCS Basement implications as well.

According to the first edition of the BCS standings released Sunday, FAU is No. 117 and Middle Tennessee is No. 114.

But seriously. I would hope most FAU fans won’t be satisfied by going to one game in the stadium they’ve waited 13 years for. The team is pretty bad – OK, very bad - but the stadium is still a curiosity, right?

Any guess on what the attendance will be for this one?

Today's linkage...

 

 

Sunday Morning Quarterback: It was a bad game by a bad team, but a great day for FAU

For the first game in FAU Stadium, no one in authority knew when or where people were supposed to park, there were long lines at the ticket window and even longer ones at the concession stands.

And then there’s the Owls football team, which couldn’t score a point in a 20-0 loss to lowly Western Kentucky.
 
Add it all the negatives up and what you still have was the best day on campus since the school itself opened.
 
There will be plenty of time to analyze what is wrong with this team – although I can’t guarantee any conclusion other than the Owls are pretty bad.
 
But if you are an FAU fan or alum how can you have not been anything but ecstatic after your program just stepped up its football program by moving it from an off-campus high school stadium in the seedy warehouse district of Fort Lauderdale to a state of the art palace on the beautiful campus in Boca Raton.
 
This season could be going down the drain, but, after Saturday it’s clear this program will soon be soaring.
 
Check out our complete coverage of the historic day by clicking here.
 
Other coverage of game and stadium opening... 
 
Despite loss, FAU takes big leap with opening of new stadium

A week of festivities and parties came to end early Saturday night. After all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the opening of Florida Atlantic’s gleaming new $70 million on-campus stadium, there was a small matter of playing a football game.

Western Kentucky proved to be a rude guest as they handed the Owls a crushing 20-0 defeat. The program slipped further with an embarrassing loss to the Hilltoppers.

 "To play so poorly in front of our dedicated fans we had out there, it's hard to deal with," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said.

A victory would have led to better prospects to another large crowd next week vs. Middle Tennessee.

But when you reach the abyss, there is no way to go but up. And, thanks to fan support never seen before in the history of FAU, it isn’t going to far out on a limb to say brighter days are ahead for the football program, the athletic department and the university as whole.

Yes, it’s tough to swallow that this team is in danger of going 0-12, but it was still a great day for FAU – and when you think about how bad the game actually was, that speaks volumes about what this day meant.

It would have been nice to cap the day with a victory instead of a dreadful offensive performance, but the many people who came to FAU’s campus for the first time likely had a pretty good time. At least until the game started.

Saturday’s Predictions: Owls will come out on top of WKU on historic day
Each Saturday, I make a prediction on the outcome of that day’s game in that space. Today, I’ll make a few other predictions for the first game in FAU’s new on-campus football stadium.
  • I predict many alums will be back on the campus of their alma mater for the first time since they day they graduated.
  • I predict jaws will drop when FAU fans see the inside of their beautiful stadium.
  • I predict a few traffic snarls throughout the day, but tempers remain calm as everyone understands FAU is doing this for the first of many times.
  • I predict the “tailgating rules” will be broken thousands of times.
  • I predict a lump in my throat as the FAU football team runs out of the tunnel.
  • I predict many eyes will be moist as Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger, the stadium’s driving force, walks slowly onto the field that someday soon will be named after him.
  • And, after today, I predict the university, Boca Raton and the FAU football program will never be the same again.
As for the game itself?
 
We know there will be plenty of emotion involved for members of the FAU football team, but all week the Owls have appeared to have done a good job on recognizing their role on this day – to beat Western Kentucky. That’s not hard to do, since FAU is 0-5 and the players are hungry for a victory. Look for the Owls to use the 12th man in their favor and come out with a historic victory. FAU 28, WKU 17
 
Game Previews:
 
Statue of Schnellenberger to honor the father of Football in Paradise

Florida Atlantic football coach Howard Schnellenberger isn't going any where and will be at FAU for a long, long time.

Or at least an incredible likeness of him will, as a statue of Schnellenberger will grace the entrance of the stadium (and the field that almost certainly will be named for him) for many years.

That's right. Schnellenberger has entered the bronze age.

The statue was made possible by a generous  gift from Founder Pete LoBello and ensures Schnellenberger will be a permanent fixture at the stadium that was his dream and passion for generations to come.

What an honor, and a richly  deserved one.

Schnellenberger show in stadium one of week's top FAU moments

I think we are all in agreement that we are in the midst of a pretty special week at FAU.

One of the most memorable moments for me actually happened on Monday, and while there were only a handful of people present at the time, anyone who desires can now see what I'm talking about.

For the past three years we have been producing The Howard Schnellenberger Show, a weekly video broadcast where coach and a host (for the past two years it's been voice of the Owls Ken LaVicka) discuss the previous week's game, the upcoming opponent and various features.

Every show had been recorded in the Founders Lounge in the Oxley Center. On Monday, however, we took it on the road – well down the road. actually. We shot the nearly half hour show from the Priority Club level inside the stadium.

What I will remember from that shoot is how long it took, and how much I didn't mind. The recording probably lasted twice the time as a normal show. The reason? All of us kept stopping to look at various features of the stadium, discuss how the stadium would play on game day, and how it would look on game day.

I have been in the stadium literally dozens of times over the past month, and had similar conversations with various people. Schnellenberger made this trip different.

No one was more excited to be shooting in the stadium than the coach, and it really shows in the video. Even after we finished taping, Schnellenberger remained in his chair shaking hands with various workers and fans who wandered into the stadium, and talking with other media members.

In what has been a trying year both on and off the field, he seemed comfortable. He felt at home.

As for the show, it's certainly one of the best we've ever produced. Right now it can be seen on OwlAccess.com.

We're still playing around with the idea of shooting more shows at the stadium. It's definitely an appealing idea.

I hope you enjoy watching the show as much as we enjoyed creating it.

Friday’s Required Reading: Talk of Leach to FAU can wait until after Saturday

The talk about who is going to succeed Howard Schnellenberger in 2012 ramped up this week when FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos told the Miami Herald he plans to pursue former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to be the next Owls coach.

 
It ‘s unfortunate that the week FAU’s Stadium is scheduled to open and there are many honors are being bestowed upon Schnellenberger for what he has done for FAU, that the subject of the next coach has almost overshadowed what this week is about - recognizing what the current coach has brought to FAU's campus.
 
There will be plenty of time to discuss Leach, Randy Shannon and the prospects of 2012. But I'm hoping nothing will detract from the next few days as Owl fans enjoy their new stadium and honor the man who got them there.
 
Apparently, even Leach agrees discussing FAU's 2012 coach can wait.
 
Leach is a new contributor to the website BeyondUSports and had this to say about FAU.
 
“If it comes on the horizon, I’ll look at it and evaluate it and decide from there. A lot of it has to do with if it’s a good fit and what they’re looking for and what their objectives might be. I don’t think it’s ideal to do during the season. In the middle of the season they’re trying to win games. They have one of the most respected coaches in the country. I think let them be until the end of the season. The other thing is there’s really not a lot you can do. They have a full staff.”
I couldn't have said it better myself.
 
Speaking of honoring Schnellenberger, we’ll be at the big ribbon-cutting ceremony today and will have some good stuff from the event.
 
On Thursday, we wrote about what this weekend means for recruiting, but the number of players coming in for official vists may surprise you.
 
We also had the latest edition of Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz, our weekly podcast.
 
Other linkage... 
 
WKU's Big Red guest of honor at FAU's bonfire

One can assume that there will be some Western Kentucky fans heading to Boca Raton to cheer on their Hilltoppers.

I just hope the WKU fans don’t get here until Friday, because they probably won’t like what they see tonight.
 
FAU’s annual bonfire is tonight and that means something is getting burned. Even though Western Kentucky has one of the best mascots in college sports, Big Red (often mistakenly called “Big Red Blob” or “The Blob” etc.) that does not mean he, she or it (does anyone know?) is exempt from from being burned in effigy.
 
WKU fans may want to turn away, because FAU students have built an approximate replica of Big Red, the guest of honor for the festivities. It may not be the spitting image of Big Red, but I think WKU fans will get the picture - he is being reduced to ashes in front of hubdreds of cheeing FAU fans.
 
Oh, it won't be that bad. I had to endure the mascot of my alma mater (UAB) being burned last season, I just hope my wife - a pround Western Kentucky grad - doesn't know what's going to happen to her beloved Big Red. Who knows? Someone may have to throw one of those towels on the fire as well.
 
Here's some videos of past bonfires to see what poor Big Red is in for Thursday.

 

 
Thursday's Required Reading: First 1,000 students at Saturday's game to get Owlsley bobblehead doll

FAU student government president Ayden Maher spent much of the last couple months trying to secure as many tickets as possible for students to the first game.

His efforts have paid off. Even though the student section seats about 6,000, it appears as though 7,500 students will be allowed into the first game. The overflow from the student section will be seated in the south portion of the east stands.
 
While it could be argued those are better seats than the south end zone bleachers that are dedicated for the student section, FAU's student government is giving the students a reason to show up early and fill their main section first.
 
The first 1,000 students to enter the stadium on Saturday will receive an Owlsley bobblehead doll (photo). There are going to be a lot of commemorative pieces that come from Saturday's stadium opener, but if you like the Owls' mascot it's going to be hard to beat the bobblehead giveaway – and in theory only FAU students will have them.
 
The nice thing about this promotion is that it should ensure that there's a good group of fans inside the stadium an hour before kickoff when FAU players hit the field for the pre-game warm-ups.
 
It's a win-win for the students and the players.
 
Other linkage... 
 
 
No doubt about it, Kooi named starter vs. WKU

To any one who has watched practice the past two days this should come as no shock, but OwlAccess.com has learned junior quarterback David Kooi has been named the starter in for FAU in its historic inaugural game at its new stadium vs. Western Kentucky on Saturday.

Kooi, who has taken nearly every snap with the starting unit in practice the past two days, will start in place of Graham Wilbert, who hyperextended his elbow in Saturday’s loss at North Texas and was listed as 'doubtful' on Tuesday
 
It will be Kooi’s first career start.
 
Kooi starting would appear to be obvious, but on a day where Craig Angelos planning to call Mike Leach and Randy Shannon, which has been a no-brainer since before Howard Schnellenberger even announced he is retiring, was deemed national news, it’s probably worth a mention.
FAU hoops commitment Moody likes what Jarvis can do for him

After years of writing about how Howard Schnellenbeger was one of the biggest reasons football recruits committed to play at FAU, I'm now starting to write similar stories about basketball.

The coach in The Burrow, of course, is Mike Jarvis, and he was one of the main reasons Chris Bryant cited for committing to FAU when I talked with him a couple weeks ago.

The Owls' latest commitment, Kissimmee-Poinciana point guard point guard Stefan Moody echoed many of Bryant's sentiments.

“I know he's a real good coach,” Moody said. “He has a lot of experience. He's coached a lot of great players. He's going to get me where I need to go.”

Moody committed to FAU this past weekend. Here's the blog we wrote on Saturday, breaking the news that Moody had reached a decision.

At 5-foot-10 but possessing a 40-inch vertical leap, Moody has been lightly recruited to thus far – a fact that he attributes to his choice of AAU team. Until this past summer, Moody had been playing on a team near his home town so that he could be with his friends.

“We didn't get to play in the really big tournaments,” he said. “Everything was local.”

Over the summer he switched to the Breakdown team based in Fort Lauderdale. That's the team that played in the Las Vegas tournament in July, where Moody began attracting the attention of college coaches on a large scale.

“I've never played in front of so many college coaches at one time,” Moody said.

Before committing to FAU, Moody held offers from LaSalle and Jacksonville and had already visited Jacksonville.

Moody will visit family in Philadelphia over the winter break and says he may still visit LaSalle at that point.

“It probably wouldn't hurt to take a look,” Moody said.

Alabama had been looking at Moody and other schools may still come calling, but the prestige of playing at a larger school isn't high on Moody's wish list.

“I would rather not be on a big team,” he said. “I would rather be on a small team that beats the bigger teams. You have to beat the best to be the best.”

Should Moody sign with FAU in November, he will bring an athleticism to the team that its never had. Though he's not a six footer, he plays bigger.

He also stands to bring an excitement level to The Burrow that's yet to be seen.

“I prefer the fast break,” Moody said. “I can definitely finish in on the break.”

The video below provides some proof that Moody knows what he's talking about.

Wednesday's Required Reading: Players like look of FAU Stadium

The looks on the faces of FAU football players after they saw the inside of their new stadium on Tuesday were priceless.

The Owls held their first practice inside their new home and for all but a few it was the first time they had been inside the facility, which will play host to its first game on Saturday when FAU faces Western Kentucky.
 
Here’s our coverage of the historic day, complete with a recap, video highlights and a photo gallery.
 
While the players were amazed, so were the fans, who were there for Select-A-Seat Day. Amazement would be the best way to describe both when they arrived and when they were forced off the field and herded toward the exits around 7:15 p.m. even though the event was advertised as lasting until 8 p.m.
 
I’m sure the fans who were forced to leave early and the ones who showed up late from work or driving a great distance, but couldn’t get in to Select-A-Seat Day were happy that FAU decided to shut down the event nearly an hour early with zero notice.
 
Plus, I am told that during Select-A-Seat, FAU Parking Enforcement was out in full force at one of the lots outside. But at least some fans will be back – to pay their parking tickets.
 
What a way to open FAU Stadium. Can’t wait to see what Saturday brings.
 
Other linkage...
 
 
Wilbert downgraded to 'doubtful' and Kooi getting ready

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said Tuesday quarterback Graham Wilbert is “doubtful” for Saturday’s game vs. Western Kentucky when the Owls play the first game in their new on-campus stadium.

“We’re going to take it day-by-day,” Schnellenberger said. “We’re going to see how it goes.”

Tests showed Wilbert has a hyperextended elbow, Schnellenberger said. Wilbert will attempt to practice this week.

“We got a good report after they gave him MRI,” Schnellenberger said. “There was nothing broken, strained or torn. We’re thankful for that.”

However, Wilbert’s downgrade increases the chances that backup quarterback David Kooi (pictured) will take over the starting duties this week.  

“He’s been second-team and has a little bit of game time, but not a great deal” Schnellenberger said.”A lot of it came in this last game, and he handled the last part of it reasonably good. I don’t think we’ll have to limit the offense. He’s been running it all along.”

Tuesday's Required Reading: Kooi may benefit from Wilbert's injury

We had to do a little multi-tasking on Monday with some pretty big news coming from the Oxley Center and of course some items to take care of over at FAU’s new football stadium where we spent most of the day.

Those who don’t visit Owl Access.com may have been surprised when Howard Schnellenberger announced Monday that Graham Wilbert has an arm injury (Owl Access reported the injury on Sunday after Wilbert missed practice) and he was questionable for Saturday’s game vs. Western Kentucky. That opens the door for David Kooi to start under center in the first game in the new stadium.
 
Speaking of the new stadium, we had the 18th - and final - installment of our “Football In Paradise” series. You will be seeing plenty of coverage of FAU’s Stadium in the next few days from many media outlets. I hope you will remember who has been reporting on this great event with a weekly update since June. Of course, we’ll have much more on the stadium this week before the big day on Saturday.
 
Other linkage...
 
 

 

Wilbert’s arm injury may keep him out of Saturday’s game vs. Western Kentucky

FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said quarterback Graham Wilbert’s arm injury could keep him from playing in Saturday’s game vs. Western Kentucky when the Owls play host to the Hilltoppers in the first game in FAU’s new stadium. 

“It looks like Graham is going to be questionable for the game,” Schnellenberger said Monday. “Of course, he hasn’t had a productive game yet. We have a lot of uncertainty at this juncture.”
 
Schnellenberger said Wilbert (pictured) hurt his arm during Saturday’s 31-17 loss at North Texas and the extent of the injury could be known as soon as later today. David Kooi will get the start if Wilbert is sidelined.
 
“If he weren’t injured we would in all probability keep him as our starting quarterback,” Schnellenberger said. “In the event he can’t  go, then obviously Kooi is the guy.”
 
However, even If Wilbert is able to go, there is a chance it could be in a back-up role, Schnellenberger said.
 
“We would probably keep Graham as the starting quarterback, but we are still working like the injury will keep him from being the starter or he might not play,” Schnellenberger said.
 
Owl Access was the only media outlet at Sunday’s practice and had the exclusive report that Wilbert missed practice with his right arm in a sling.
Monday’s Required Reading: Wilbert’s hurt arm may make decision to start Kooi easier

Before the opening of FAU’s new stadium takes center stage this week, there is the little matter of FAU’s quarterback situation, which took a twist on Sunday.

As reported exclusively by Owl Access, starting QB Graham Wilbert’s arm was in a sling on Sunday and he could only watch as FAU held its usual light practice.
 
I'm sure no FAU fans want to see anyone injured, but I’m guessing there are plenty of Owl fans who have already found a silver lining in Wilbert’s injury. Many want to see David Kooi under center this week after Wilbert’s three-interception performance.
 
Despite Wilbert’s struggles, FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said after the game that Wilbert is still the starter.
 
The severity of the injury was not disclosed as Schnellenberger was not available on Sunday, but Wilbert’s injury could make the decision to start Kooi a tad easier.
 
Other linkage...
 
 
 

 

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Owls' offense stuck in slow motion

If FAU came out, played horrible from start to finish and showed no signs of life, it would not make many people happy, but you could chalk it simply that the Owls are just a bad football team.

The Owls may indeed be bad, but it is absolute maddening to see FAU stink up the stadium for nearly the entire game and then have its offense start moving the ball with effenciency the way this offense used to do it in years past.

That’s what the Owls did again in their 31-17 loss at North Texas on Saturday.

It’s almost like the Owls just turn on a switch late in the game and everything seems to work.

But that really just makes it more frustrating because it is hard to explain why FAU just doesn’t throw the switch earlier.

Of course, it is not as simple as that, but FAU does control what type of offense it uses and at could ar least use the no-huddle offense – the only way the Owls seem to be able to move the ball downfield – more often.

Linebacker Randell Johnson said a players-only meeting will be held because, “We need to fix this fast.”

There probably won’t be easy fixes, but looking at the pace of the offense seems like a good place to start. 

Game coverage... 

Point guard Stefan Moody commits to FAU Basketball

Florida Atlantic basketball picked up its second commitment in as many weeks this weekend when Kissimmee-Poinciana High School point guard Stefan Moody decided to become an Owl, OwlAccess.com has learned.

The 5-foot-10 Moody, who possesses a near 40-inch vertical leap, averaged 16.1 points and 2 steals per game last season as a junior.

Somewhat lightly recruited heading into the summer, Moody jumped onto the radar of many programs with standout performances at the Las Vegas Fab 48 club tournament in July.

Alabama and North Florida were among the schools showing interest.

Moody joins former Tallahassee-Rickards standout Chris Bryant as early recruiting commitments for the Owls. The early signing period for basketball begins Nov. 9.

Take a look at video of UNT's new on-campus stadium

Before FAU plays in the first game at its new stadium next week, the Owls get a chance to play the first game in the other new stadium in the Sun Belt Conference.

We are at Apogee Stadium on the campus of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas for today’s game between the Owls and the Mean Green
We thought FAU fans would like an up-close look at UNT’s new home so here’s some video shot earlier of Apogee Stadium.
Enjoy.
 

Saturday's Prediction: Look for FAU to get 1st victory of season vs. Mean Green

If it's Saturday, it's time for a prediction. 

FAU came close to  a victory last week before its defense couldn’t get a stop with the game on the line.

This week, it looks like it could be another high scoring affair, but this time the Owls won’t wilt under the pressure when the game is decided.

Look for the Owls to get a stop on defense when it needs it this time.

Prediction: FAU 27 UNT 24

More on the game from us focusing on FAU QB coach Jared Allen sticking up for Graham Wilbert.

And we'll have more from Denton, Texas later today.

Other previews...

Rusty Smith to host dinner for former players in new stadium

The night before current FAU football players take the field for the first game in the new on-campus stadium, the players who formed the foundation of the program will have their opportunity to enjoy the facility.

Rusty Smith (handing off to Willie Rose in photo) and FAU football are hosting a dinner for former players that will be held in the stadium's Priority Club on Friday, Oct. 14.

Smith, the first FAU player to make an NFL roster and whose Tennessee Titan team happens to be on a bye that week, will be in attendance and serve as host. Current Arizona Cardinal Rob Housler, a third round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft whose team will also be in the midst of its bye week, and about 50 other former Owls have already RSVPed.

Players will be served “hearty appetizers,” will receive a tour and can walk on the field under the lights. Each former player can bring a guest. They are being asked to pay $40 per person to cover the food and other expenses.

Former players interested in attending should contact Director of Football Operations Sean Todd at stodd@fau.edu.

The Friday dinner isn't the only way former players will be incorporated into the weekend. Former linebacker Chris Laskowski, a member of the first FAU football team, is putting together a tailgate party at the Oxley Center prior to Saturday's game.

The former Owls are also being asked to wear their old jerseys to the game and to participate in the Owl Prowl, where the team walks the length of the breezeway through the center of campus to make their way to the stadium prior to the game.

Football alumni may also be asked to join the on-field pregame festivities.

It's good to see that the program isn't forgetting about the players who came to FAU to build a program. They may not have been able to fulfill their wish of playing a game on campus, but they played a large  role in making that dream possible for those who will play on Oct. 15.

Friday's Required Reading: State title team to take tour of stadium today

The opening of FAU Stadium is sure to help the Owls’ recruiting efforts and that could get a big boost starting today.

Ocala-Trinity Catholic’s team will be the first team to tour the stadium after its “substantial completion” today when players coaches stop by campus this afternoon on the way to play Miami-Pace tonight.
 
Trinity Catholic is the defending Class 2B State Champions and has a number of prospects on its roster.
 
I think the players and coaches will like what they see.
 
Speaking of liking what you see, subscribers can check out our Owl Insider with the latest from the practice field. And you can also listen to Owl Talk.
 
Linkage:
 
FAU announces events surrounding opening of stadium next week

FAU just announced some cool stadium-centric events for next week, which promises to be one of the most exciting times on campus in a long, long time.

After the 'Select-A-Seat' day on Tuesday, and the bonfire on Thursday at 8 p.m., here are some “official” school events that Owl fans may want to check out.
 
Football Stadium Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Friday, October 14
5:30 p.m.
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton Campus

Florida Atlantic University will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new FAU Stadium on Friday, October 14 at 5:30 p.m. Following the ceremony, guests are invited to the FAU Parent & Family Block Party on the Housing Lawn. Food and entertainment will be provided.
Media parking will be available on the north end of the Stadium, west of Lot 5. For a map, click here.
For more information, click here.
Party fOWL
Saturdays, October 15 and 22; November 5 and 26; and December 3
Three hours before kickoff
Marleen & Harold Forkas Alumni Center, Boca Raton campus

The Florida Atlantic University National Alumni Association (FAUNAA) will host Party fOWL, an indoor and outdoor tailgate party, before every home football game. Party fOWL will be held at the Marleen & Harold Forkas Alumni Center, located directly across from the FAU Stadium.
Party fOWL will feature tailgate fare and cold drinks available for purchase; music and entertainment; NCAA football games broadcast on big screen TVs; cool, clean and comfortable facilities; and a family-friendly environment.
Alumni association members are admitted free of charge and guests may purchase a FAUNAA membership at the door. Admission is $20 for non-members, $10 for children 12 and under, and free for children under age 2.
 
Owlsley Statue Unveiling
Saturday, October 15
1:30 p.m.
FAU Stadium, Boca Raton Campus

Something special is set to emerge from its burrow before FAU’s inaugural home game at FAU Stadium. Please join FAU President Mary Jane Saunders on Saturday, October 15, at approximately 1:30 p.m. as she unveils the bronze Owlsley Statue on the Alumni Plaza, across from the FAU Stadium.
 

 

Thursday's Required Reading: FAU's stadium finished, ready for first game next week

I posed the question yesterday, but it’s worth asking again. How many of you out there were just a little bity skeptical at the ground-breaking ceremony for FAU’s on-campus stadium Oct. 15  last year that it would be ready in exactly one year?

Full disclosure: I am raising my hand right now. Come on, how could there be a college football game played on a what was a pile of dirt exactly one year earlier?
 
Let’s face it, FAU isn’t exactly known for its lightning quick action on …well, anything.
 
However, a tip of the hat to FAU, Balfour Beatty, Cummings and all the contractors and sub-contractors who worked to have the stadium ready for next week's inaugural game.
 
In case you missed it, FAU Stadium passed its inspections yesterday, which means they did it. The stadium is ready to be open for business and turned over to FAU possibly by Friday. Though there are still a few small items to be completed, all state and local authorities are in agreement that the stadium can be used for the Western Kentucky game.
 
Here’s the story from our Chuck King, who broke the big news Wednesday afternoon.
 
Congratulations to all involved.
 
We also had a story on linebacker Randell Johnson, who has been playing the last few games in honor of his grandmother, who passed away last month. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Randell and his family.
 
Other linkage…. 
 
 
FAU stadium passes final inspections

The construction of FAU's new on-campus stadium achieved what is essentially its final major milestone on Wednesday, passing its last remaining inspections.

The approval paves the way for the Cummings Balfour Beatty construction crew to hand over ownership of the stadium to FAU.

“Awesome,” said Balfour Beatty Director of Operations Chris Long. “It's been a tight schedule from Day 1. It's been a tight budget. We've had issues – all construction related stuff – as we go through the process and it's all worked out pretty well. Big day.”

Inspection crews, fire marshals and members of the health department (which Long said granted the liquor license) all walked through the stadium today. After receiving their blessing, paperwork is now being drawn up to facilitate the Certificate of Occupancy and provide for the achievement of Substantial Completion.

On Friday morning representatives from stadium architect HKS/SchenkelShultz, Cummings Balfour Beatty and FAU will sign those papers, officially giving FAU ownership of its new stadium.

“Basically, it's your building now, it's not our building,” is how Long describes what will happen in that meeting.

The construction crews still have small, mostly cosmetic items to complete. Some directional signage and various moldings need to be installed, and some painting needs to be completed.

“That was kind of an anticlimactic finish from your sense, but from ours it was a big day,” Long said.

If need be, Long said, a football game could be played in the on-campus stadium today. The first game, of course, isn't until Oct. 15 against Western Kentucky.

Dinner to benefit FAU basketball on Nov. 2

Our good friends at ItsOwlTime.com are hosting a benefit dinner at Matteo’s Ristorante of Boca Raton to help raise money for new computers for the FAU basketball program.

 
This sounds like it should be a great event and it’s for good cause. 
 
Here are the full details from ItsOwlTime.com
 
Hello Owl Fans,
 
You are cordially invited to an evening with Head Coach, Mike Jarvis and staff.
 
ItsOwlTime.com has partnered with Matteo's Ristorante Italiano of Boca Raton to create a night to benefit the FAU Men's Basketball Program.
 
Please join us on the evening of Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 7PM at Matteo's in Boca Raton with the goal to raise funds to purchase computers for one of the most exciting sports programs in South Florida.
 
Matteo's will prepare a wonderful meal for you.
 
ItsOwlTime.com will host a live auction and provide exciting door prizes. 
 
Head Coach Mike Jarvis and staff will be discussing the upcoming College Basketball season and give the inside scoop as the Owls are set to defend their regular season Conference Championship.
 
$100 per person (includes dinner, taxes, gratuities, and one glass of wine).
 
Advance Reservations and payment required and limited to the first 100 guests only.
 
For reservation and payment information, go to the ItsOwlTime.com Fundraising section:http://www.itsowltime.com/Fundraising.html
 
 
Go Owls!!
 
It's Owl Time
 
 
 
 
Wednesday’s Required Reading: Select-A-Seat scheduled for Tuesday

Just got an announcement from FAU Athletics concerning something I’m sure fans are interested to read.

Fans can take a look at the stadium and select seats for upcoming games at a “Select-A-Seat” ticket day which I have confirmed after some confusion is on Tuesday.
 
Here’s the full-release…
 
FAU Athletics Hosts Stadium Select-A-Seat on October 11
 
BOCA RATON, FL (October 5, 2011) – Florida Atlantic University football fans can get a sneak peek inside the new on-campus football stadium while selecting their seats in-person during FAU Athletic’s “Select-A-Seat” ticket day on Tuesday, October 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. at FAU Stadium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.
The event will give fans an opportunity to check out remaining seats from the best vantage points in the stadium for the inaugural home game against Western Kentucky University, which takes place on Saturday, October 15 at 4 p.m.
Members of the FAU ticket office staff will be available to assist fans in choosing seats for single games, special ticket plans or season tickets for the 2011 football season. 
Season tickets cost $150 for the five home games (averaging $30 dollars per game).
The special ticket plans featured include:
·         The Family Pack provides four tickets for all five home games, beginning with the stadium’s grand-opening game on Saturday, October 15 against WKU. Family Pack prices range depending on seating level in the stadium: $250 ($12.50 per person) for Lower Owl Nest seats and $199 ($9.95 per person) for Upper Owl Nest seats.
·         The Mini Owl Plan is a special ticket package for fans to purchase any three home games of their choice.  The top option is $90 ($30 per game) for seats in the Premier Sideline section of the stadium.  The other option at $75 ($25 per game) allows fans the choice of watching games in others sections of the stadium.
·         The Owl Business Merchants Program allows local businesses, for $1,500, to support FAU and receive four reserved football season tickets, two reserved men’s basketball season tickets and two All Sports Passes.  These supportive businesses will also be recognized on the FAU athletics website (www.fausports.com), in football and basketball game day programs, public address announcements at all athletic events, and football and basketball autograph schedule posters.  Businesses will also be featured in a one-time visit by the Owls Street Team during the 2011-12 season.
The home opener against WKU opens a three-game home stand for the Owls. Middle Tennessee State University comes to FAU Stadium on Saturday, October 22 at 8 p.m. and Arkansas State University will be the homecoming opponent on Saturday, November 5 at 4 p.m.  The team also plays host to non-conference opponent University of Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday, November 26 at 4 p.m. before the season finale against the University of Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, December 3 at 4 p.m..
The open-air stadium, a $70 million project, has 30,000 seats and features 6,000 premium seats, including 24 suites, 26 loge boxes, 1,000 premier club seats and 4,000 priority club seats, and the latest, state-of-the-art amenities.
To purchase tickets, call 1-866-FAU-Owls.  For more information about FAU football, visit http://www.fausports.com.  For more information on the stadium, visithttp://www.faustadium.com.  To observe the progress on the construction of the stadium online, visit http://www.fau.edu/stadium/multimedia.html.
 
Linkage…
 
FAU wants T-shirts with other college's logos

FAU student leaders are tired of seeing Miami, Florida and Florida State shirts on their campus and today they are doing something about it.

The SGA will let you trade in a T-Shirt with Hurricanes, Gators, Seminoles or any other team's logo on it for a “We are FAU” T-Shirt.

Here are the details on the “Fowl Owl” program, which should promote some ownership of the program by the students, who fund a good portion of the athletic department.

“We’re trying to make it frowned upon to wear other shirts on our campus,” said FAU Student Body President Ayden Maher.

 

Required Reading for Tuesday: FAU hoops lands talented, unselfish player

Tallahassee-Rickards found itself on the right side of a lot of lopsided scores while en route to back-to-back Class 3A state titles over the past couple years.

When I talked to Rickards coach Eli Bryant last week he joked that by not allowing his team to run up the score, he was the only person who kept Chris Bryant (no relation) from averaging 30 points.
 
When the coach needed Chris, though, he responded.
 
Before the state semifinal game against Pinecrest last year, the coach says he told his player, “You wanted to score 30 points ever since you got here. Tomorrow is your chance.”
 
That night coach Bryant moved the 6-foot-7 (now 6-foot-9) Chris to the post for the first time. Chris responded with 28 points in an overtime victory.
 
The next night Chris Bryant's dunk – his 15th and 16th points, to go with 10 rebounds on the night – sealed Rickards state title.
 
Chris Bryant, the reigning Class 3A Player of the Year, will play for Fishburne Military Academy this season. Next year he will be an Owl. Bryant committed to FAU on Monday after taking an official visit last week.
 
In Chris Bryant, his coach Eli says, the Owls are getting a winner who is willing to sacrifice personal stats if it translates to victories. Many also believe FAU is getting one of the Top 100 high school players from last season.
 
That's a heck of a way for FAU coach Mike Jarvis to start a recruiting class.
 
Here's our blog from Monday on Bryant's commitment.
 
We also examined the ameninities in the suites at the new on-campus stadium in our weekly Football in Paradise series and had our 1st and 10 look at North Texas.
 
Other linkage…
 
 
 
Forward Chris Bryant commits to FAU hoops

Reigning Class 3A player of the year Chris Bryant knows where he will play basketball next season.

“I'm an Owl,” Bryant said.

The 6-foot-9 Bryant, who can play guard or forward, reached the decision to play for FAU on Monday, three days after taking his official visit to Boca Raton.

“I liked everything really,” Bryant said. “I had never been there, so when I got there I was shocked at how nice it is.”

Bryant can sign his Letter of Intent on Nov. 9 and said he doesn't plan on visiting any other schools before then. He is the first member of the Owls' 2012 recruiting class.

Bryant averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds as a senior, leading Tallahassee-Rickards to its second consecutive state title.

Following his senior season, Bryant was one of 100 graduating seniors invited to the NBPA camp in Charlottesville Virginia.

He had been was recruited by the likes of Florida State, Virginia Tech and Houston, but is currently attending Fishburne Military Academy - a prep school in Virginia. Bryant is hoping to improve his test scores while at Fishburne.

He retook one of those tests on Saturday, and believes he improved significantly.

Gainesville native, and current FAU guard, Dennis Mavin served as Bryant's host during the visit. A couple of years ago Bryant and Mavin were AAU teammates on Nike Team Florida.

“That made another plus,” Bryant said.

Bryant noted the ability to play for Mike Jarvis as another big reason he chose FAU, and he also wanted to return to the Sunshine State.

“It's in Florida, so it's not really that far from Tallahassee, and “I'd like to stay in Florida, anyway,” Bryant said. “So everything just mixed together.”
 

FAU may use its 2-minute offense for more than 2 minutes this week

After Florida Atlantic scored two late touchdowns using a no-huddle offense in its 37-34 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, there is a possibility it will be used even more this week at North Texas.

The Owls have used no-huddles schemes in the past, especially with Rusty Smith and even with Jeff Van Camp last season with some success.

Now, it could be Graham Wilbert’s turn. You wouldn’t think Wilbert would be effective in a no-huddle look, but he’s looked the best running that scheme this season.

“He, the receivers and the entire team handled that extremely well,” Schnellenberger said.

Perhaps it’s just that Wilbert (photo from OwlPix) is playing with a sense of urgency and with a quicker pace. Playing in that scheme, he could play that way all game, instead of just when the game is on the line.

FAU might as well try something different – especially something that has been successful in small doses this season.

“We’re definitely comfortable with it,” Wilbert said.

That’s good, because it;s quite possible the dosage is about to be increased this week.

Monday's Required Reading: FAU hasn't lost many on last play of game

When Brett Baer’s field goal sailed through the uprights as the clock hit zero to give ULL a 37-34 on Saturday night, many FAU players dropped to the ground motionless.

Give them a break. FAU doesn’t lose many games in such heart-breaking fashion.
 
In fact I can come up with only three other times FAU has been on a game-winning play on the last play of a game – and only one other time it happened at the end of regulation.
 
That was the 2009 game at Middle Tennessee when the Blue Raiders converted a “Hail, Mary” pass to tie the game at 13. But even then, MTSU needed the PAT to win the game 14-13
 
The two other times were in overtime. In 2007 FAU lost to ULM 34-31 when Warhawks RB Calvin Dawson scored a game-ending touchdown on a 31-yard run in triple overtime.
 
And in 2005, FAU lost to Arkansas State 3-0 in overtime on a 21-yard field goal by Eric Neihouse to end the game.
 
So, Saturday’s loss was historic (as far as my research goes) as FAU lost for the first time on a play when the clock ran down to zero.
 
Here’s more on the game-deciding drive in our Sunday Review.
 
Other linkage...
 
 
 

 

Sunday Morning Quarterback: Schnellenberger almost benched Wilbert in late stages of game

Trailing ULL 34-20 in the 4th quarter, FAU mounted a late rally to tie Saturday’s game at 34 all before eventually losing 37-34.

Tying the game made the loss difficult to swallow, but also showed quarterback Graham Wilbert can direct the offense down the field when he needs to.
But in a strange twist, Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger said after the game he had decided to replace Wilbert with David Kooi, but was talked out of it by his assistant coaches.
 
It’s a good thing he listened as Wilbert had perhaps his best stretch of the season in the final few minutes of the game when he led the Owls on two impressive drives.
 
Here’s what Schnellenberger said…
 
“The decision I made late in the game was to substitute Kooi for Wilbert…And Thank God I didn’t!”
 
“After I told him he was going in I was asked by my coaching staff if I would relent. And I used the better part of judgment and left him in there.”
 
“To have Graham respond and the offensive team respond like they did, even with the knowledge that I hade made that decision and reversed it, will teach all of us a great lesson. Not just to myself, but to every member of our football team.”
 
The unusual (part) of this was that it turned out wonderfully and stimulated the right people and helped the quarterback situation to continue to improve.”
 
I’d say it was the right decision, as the offense can point to 34 points on the scoreboard as an indicator, it can be effective.
 
For more on the game, check out our coverage.
 
Other linkage…
 
Game coverage from the Sun-Sentinel and the Lafayette Daily Advertiser
Close loss to Cajuns tougher to swallow than blowouts earlier this season

Florida Atlantic wasn't happy with losses to Florida, Michigan state and Auburn, but those defeats were to be expected.

FAU layers emerging from the lockerroom were downright despondent after a tough 37-34 loss on Saturday at Louisiana Lafayette.

It wasn't just that FAU lost to perhaps the hottest team in the Sun Belt. It was the way they lost. FAU led by 10 early, squandered that lead but rallied in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 34 with less than 2 minutes remaining.

All FAU needed was its defense to stop the Ragin’ Cajuns from converting a field goal. Instead ULL marched right down the field with relative ease and booted a 26-yard field goal as time expired.

After the game defensive tackle Jarvis Givens didn't mince words.

“The offense scored and put it in our hands,” Givens said. “For the lack of a  better word we choked. That’s the only way I can put it.”

FAU has arrived in Lafayette for Saturday's game vs. ULL

 Florida Atlantic has arrived at Cajun Field in Lafayette, La. for tonight’s game with Louisiana-Lafayette.

The game will be shown on ESPN3.com, which is only available on-line, however the athletic department has announced the game will be shown at Duffy’s in Deerfield Beach. Please post on our message board how the Watch Party goes.

If you go there, or even if you can’t make it, you can follow our Twitter updates @FAUOwlAccess.

Also the game will be broadcast on  ESPN760 and 1040-AM and streamed live on ESPN760.com and FAUSports.com.

Give us your comments on the game on our Game Discussion on The Pipeline or comment on our Facebook page.

Each Sunday we select a few of the best comments and post them with our Sunday Review.

Enjoy the game.

Saturday's Required Reading: Owls should win close game at ULL

 In the preseason it was easy to look at FAU's game at ULL and chalk up a W for the Owls.

However, FAU isn't as good as thought and ULL could be better than advertised. So what does it all mean? It won't be easy to play at Cajun Field, but if FAU can hang with Auburn, it should be able to be man enough to beat ULL.

The guess here is that FAU  isn’t taking anything for granted while ULL may have a bit of a hangover from its win at FIU. In a close one I go with the Owls. Prediction: FAU 18 ULL 17

For more, here's our preview

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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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Nicely done Jake. Great addition to Owl Access.

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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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