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A MAN WITH A RECIPE
Last Friday Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger was sitting in his office, in his football complex, in his hometown, talking about his team, his style and his quarterbacks. The only thing Schnellenberger didn't mention was his immediate future. He's a wise man.
He pulled on his pipe and said, "We plan to do here what Devaney did at Nebraska, what Wilkinson did at Oklahoma. Like Coach Bryant used to say—'I have the recipe." "
The people of Louisville want to know, the recipe for what? On Saturday night. Southern Mississippi pureed the Cardinals 65-6 before 20,647 of their hometown fans, most of whom were long gone by the fourth quarter.
The loss stunned even Schnellenberger. "I obviously did a terrible job of preparing this football team," he said after Louisville dropped to 2-2-1. "In 28 years of coaching I don't think I have ever witnessed anything as bad as what I saw out there tonight."
Four years ago Schnellenberger coached Miami to the national championship and then quit to work for the USFL Miami franchise, which never materialized. So he signed a five-year, $1 million contract with Louisville and led a 32-person wagon train of assistant coaches, trainers, wives and children north to turn the Cardinals' football program around.
Seven wins, 18 losses and one tie later, the natives have grown restless. To begin with, in Kentucky, if the ball isn't round, the game doesn't seem right—or, as Louisville athletic director Bill Olsen said last week, "You want to talk about basketball?" No. Olsen looked disappointed. Then he picked up a deflated football in a corner of his office with both hands and tossed it to his visitor. The ball had been doctored. It weighed five pounds. Olsen tossed over a basketball. Light as a feather. Olsen laughed and said, "You have to be strong to follow Louisville football."
At Miami, Schnellenberger accomplished what Bob Devaney had at Nebraska and Bud Wilkinson had at Oklahoma—he created an enduring power. In fact, current 'Canes coach Jimmy Johnson still relies on many of Schnellenberger's recruits; he may win a national title with them this year. Schnellenberger was expected to work the same magic at Louisville, and more than $2 million was spent to bring the Cardinals' football facilities into the latter half of the 20th century.
Louisville has but five seniors on its roster, and 42 freshmen. Five quarterbacks are redshirted. There are 25 Floridians, most of them underclassmen. In two years, the Cardinals might well be a winner, because Schnellenberger does have the recipe. The problem is that some people believe that he may not stay around to enjoy the meal. There were reports that he pursued the Atlanta Falcons coaching job after Dan Henning was fired last year. When you've been to the pinnacle, as he has, and when you have an ego the size of his, it's hard to believe that your talents can be contained in a 35,500-seat stadium.
Schnellenberger is said to be irked by complaints that he doesn't recruit enough in Kentucky. He played for Bear Bryant at the University of Kentucky, and he says that the Bear heard the same gripes when he coached the Wildcats. As Schnellenberger points out, Bryant moved on to Texas A & M.