It’s difficult to have a College GameDay game between the Cards and the Canes without thinking about Howard Schellenberger. Lee Corso obviously coached at Louisville and is a college football icon, but the programs of Miami & Louisville were on life support prior to “The Pipe’s” arrival and both programs can rightfully claim Howard as their respective program’s “Godfather”.
It’s been reported that Howard Schellenberger is recovering at home from a recent fall. At 86, during a pandemic we can all understand that Schellenberger is unlikely to make an appearance at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday…. but he’ll be there.
“The Pipe” will be with Miami, where he resurrected a program beginning in 1979 locking down the South Florida recruiting area. In 5 years Miami won the Orange Bowl in 1983 and the National Championship. Miami would go on to win a total of 5 National Titles (4 after Howard) & 2 Heisman Trophies. Miami also had 2 separate dynasties at ‘The’ program in college football all starting with The Pipe.
“The Pipe” will be with Louisville where he proclaimed the Cards ‘On the Collision Course With the National Championship, the Only Variable is time”. The prophecy has yet to come to fruition, but going from an Independent, to Conference USA, to the Big East, the American and finally the Atlantic Coast Conference and picking up Fiesta, Orange & Sugar Bowl wins along with a Heisman Trophy Winner the program is on the track of national prominence that Howard promised.
On Saturday the game between the Cards and the Canes will be played in a stadium that Howard Schellenberger envisioned. A stadium that he kicked off fundraising for and at a job that people told him he would be crazy to take. Now the football complex bears Howard’s name.
Schellenberger is not yet a Hall of Famer due to a short-sighted and arbitrary rule for coaches to be included in the Hall of Fame. Still, Howard has accomplished more in football than most people inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
Howard was an Associated Press All-American at Kentucky, Offensive Coordinator for Bear Bryant (3 national titles), and an Offensive Coordinator for Don Shula and the only undefeated team in NFL History the 1972 Dolphins (Super Bowl). He became the head coach of the Baltimore Colts. He was a national champion again with Miami in 1983. Then he took on the challenge at Louisville and gave direction to a program. Schellenberger also started the Florida Atlantic program in Boca Raton, FL and was its head coach for 11 years.
Saturday: Cards vs. Canes
It’s going to be surreal having College GameDay with Miami & Louisville and only 12,000 fans, no tailgating and most likely no Howard Schellenberger.
Growing up as a child of the parking lot of the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center parking lot at Old Cardinal Stadium I remember Howard’s suit and his voice talking with Paul Rogers on the radio and having my dad translate what ‘The Pipe’ was saying.
Louisville Football was just in the dream stage then. The Cards played in an artificial turf baseball stadium and Howard scheduled like a maniac searching for that ‘one fine moment’. But I do think that it was Howard’s persistence with the program and it filtered down to the fans that everything mattered. The stadium mattered, attendance mattered, passion mattered, the dream mattered.
Howard didn’t listen when people told him not to take the Miami job or to not take the Louisville job. And both programs owe their current existence to “The Pipe”. He allowed those places to dream the big dream….. and it’s paid off.
Thank you Howard Schellenberger. The son of Saint Meinrad, Indiana, legend at Flaget High School, All-American at Kentucky and the ‘Godfather’ of Louisville & Miami Football.