University of Louisville
A native of Louisville, Howard Schnellenberger returned in 1985 to build a college football contender for the first time ever. His top team finished 10-1-1 and defeated Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl, the highlight of the most successful decade in U of L football history. His teams earned 90 percent of the school’s all-time TV appearances, its top bowl bid ever, helped increase attendance by nearly 40 percent, an average over the past six years of more than 1,000 above stadium capacity.
The Schnellenberger Era generated support for the University’s recently announced 42,000-seat, on-campus stadium. His teams played a coast-to-coast schedule against the top conferences in the nation and produced victories over such teams as Texas (1), Alabama (1), Michigan State (1), North Carolina (1), Virginia (1), NC State (1), West Virginia (1), Boston College (1), Arizona State (2), and Pittsburgh (4).
At the press conference announcing his hiring, Schnellenberger drew laughs when he said the Cardinals were “on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time.”
Schnellenberger turned around the Cardinals and in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl soundly defeated Alabama 34-7. Schnellenberger also took Louisville to the Liberty Bowl in 1993, where it defeated Michigan State.
Schnellenberger’s lasting legacy at U of L however, is Papa John’s Stadium, which he proposed from the minute he arrived. Schnellenberger planned and rasied the money for the construction of Papa John’s Stadium, but left for Oklahoma in 1996 before the stadium opened.
In 2006, Louisville named the Cardinals’ football complex the “Howard L. Schnellenberger Football Complex” with Schnellenberger in attendance before U of L’s game against Florida Atlantic University.
1990: 10-1-1 (No. 14, Defeated Alabama in Fiesta Bowl)
1993: 9-3 (No. 24, Defeated Michigan State in Librty Bowl)