Commentary: FAU loses 6th straight game



Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey gashes through the FAU defense for a first down. Rainey ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns for the Hilltoppers. Photo by Charles Pratt.

Ryan Cortes

Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey gashes through the FAU defense for a first down. Rainey ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns for the Hilltoppers. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.

New stadium — same results.

One after another, players walked into the interview room and had the same look. Slumped shoulders, cracked voice, eyes wandering to the ground. A new stadium was supposed to come with new hope and new results.

Instead, it’s just another home for the same bad football displayed all year.

“This was a big game,” quarterback David Kooi said. “Winning this game would have meant a lot.”

“We wanted it so bad, we just couldn’t get it together,” said running back Alfred Morris.

“I feel like I let everybody down,” said safety Marcus Bartels. “Doesn’t feel good.”

Agreed. It shouldn’t feel good to lose for the almost 30,000 people who came to see you win.

A dejected Howard Schnellenberger reflects on the teams poor showing after losing to Western Kentucky 20-0. Photo by Taylor Johnson.

But no one knew this was going to happen. Earlier, sunlight radiated the stadium. Fans smiled. They took turns standing next to head coach Howard Schnellenberger’s bronze statue — their friends snapping photos and Facebooking them. Players yelled and waved their hands, exciting a loud and filled (for the time) student section.

Then the game started. And then it ended: 20-0.

It probably should have been worse, given that Western Kentucky’s kickers missed three field goals and an extra point. One thing it shouldn’t have been? Surprising.

“Obviously this is not new for our offense,” said Schnellenberger. “Our offense has been shut out in virtually every game we’ve played.”

It’s the same team, the same inept offense, that cripples any chance of making “The Year of the Stadium” into “The Year Maybe We’ll Win One Game.”

And no matter where the games are played — in Gainesville with no FAU fans or in a new stadium filled with them — the result is the same.

“Our problem is we don’t have a tried and true quarterback,” said Schnellenberger. “We’re having a hard time to develop that.”

Maybe that was the most illuminating thing said by anyone after the game. It was honest and raw.

This season and this loss have little to do with makeup or caring about a game. It has little to do with how much FAU and its players wanted to win. It has to do with this: The players aren’t good enough. And if they know it, which they should, they also know something else. Their careers end here, in Boca.

There aren’t enough guys (there may not be any, actually) who have the talent and strength to play in the NFL on this team. And it’s tough to win like that, no matter where the games are played.

Yet, because there’s a new stadium, the fans will still show up and watch. They’ll still cheer no matter how tilted to the right FAU’s record gets.

And so, Bartels had something to tell you, fans.

“I want to apologize to them,” he said. “They were awesome, they were loud, great environment. I just feel so bad we let them down.”

“Please tell them that,” he pleaded.

But I don’t need to tell you.

You already know.