Commentary: After last season’s failures, Pelini and the Owls can’t be any worse

Rolando Rosa

Carl Pelini should send a bouquet of flowers to the corner office on the second floor of FAU’s administration building. After all, now ambassador-at-large Howard Schnellenberger made his job a lot easier for 2012.

FAU football was terrible last season. One win. Eleven losses.

That’s how the 77-year old Schnellenberger’s five decade coaching career ended.  The only coach the Owls ever had — since the inception, since players wore only socks in a gym for practice in 1998 —  is gone.

Bye-bye, Grandpa Schnelly. Hello, crazy Uncle Carl.

In comes a Pelini brother from Nebraska and Carl Pelini is bringing new schemes, new players, and a new culture with him to FAU. And the passionate former defensive coordinator will have an on-campus stadium to do it in.

There’s also his new recruits and transfers (Melvin German in week five, anyone?), and even new uniforms, but, shhh! You didn’t hear that from us. Coach Pelini wants it to be a secret heading into the home opener versus Wagner.

With all this newness and positive vibes, I’m going out on a limb.

FAU football will win five games this year. I know what you’re thinking — five wins coming off a one-win season? Is this guy crazy?

No, I’m sane.

And after watching a little under a month of training camp, it’s Pelini that’s lost his mind with his attention to every single detail of the team.

FAU fans should be ecstatic for it.

The dinosaur pro-style offense is being scrapped for the more modern spread formation. The defense, anchored by middle linebacker David Hinds, is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and practices are now more fast paced and stricter than last year with players gasping for air over and over throughout camp.

For a team which allowed Schnellenberger’s swan song to end off-tune, some extra discipline is definitely not a bad thing.

Pelini’s first college head coaching job won’t be an easy one. He’s inheriting a team which ranked 119th out of 120 last year in points scored and 103th in points allowed.

To sum it up: they were awful on the field and even worse to watch. The Owls won’t instantly turn into contenders in 2012 but the foundation for future success is being planted.

A fresh face at head coach, a change to a new defensive scheme, and an uptempo offense will prevent fans from turning into paper-bag heads this season. Five wins won’t qualify FAU for a bowl game and won’t even result in a .500 record, but after last year, I’ll take it.

Wouldn’t you?