FAU kicks off new era, debuts new uniforms with Conference USA celebration

Mohamed Abdihakim

FAU Athletics held a "Conference USA Celebration" party in FAU Stadium on Monday, July 1st that included football players, cheerleaders, and numerous coaches. Photos by Michelle Friswell.
FAU Athletics held a “Conference USA Celebration” party in FAU Stadium on Monday, July 1st that included football players, cheerleaders, and numerous coaches. Photos by Michelle Friswell.

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

That was the message FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun delivered inside the football stadium on Monday afternoon, as the Owls celebrated their official entrance into Conference USA.

It was originally announced in January that FAU would be jumping from the Sun Belt Conference to C-USA in 2013. Nevertheless, Chun reminded his audience that the benefits from this move started with the students and student athletes, a sentiment echoed by FAU’s Interim President Dennis Crudele.

“It’s all about the students,” Crudele said. “Overall, the move to Conference USA doesn’t just help the university, it helps the athletes and students that helped improve the program.”

Continuing with the theme of progress, Chun made sure to acknowledge FAU’s former home.

“We’re very grateful to the Sun Belt Conference,” Chun said. “They helped our progress by helping us establish ourselves as an athletic program.”

The event was highlighted by the unveiling of the FAU football team’s new uniforms.

Defensive Back Keith Reaser models the new FAU football helmet, chosen by students and the community. Photo by Mohamed Abdihakim
Defensive Back Keith Reaser models the new FAU football helmet, chosen by students and the community. Photo by Mohamed Abdihakim

The updated uniforms, which were modeled by senior defensive back Keith Reaser, had one immediately noticeable change: the colors. The entire uniform is going to be a dark blue, an alteration of the previous dark blue top and white bottom pattern.

FAU also decided to do something different with its helmets –– instead of sporting “FAU,” the helmets will now feature a picture of the owl, the university’s mascot, on the side.

The top portion of the new uniforms also boasts a familiar addition –– wings, one on each shoulder pad. Most football fans might recognize this scheme from that of the 2012 Oregon uniforms.

For this unveiling, it certainly didn’t hurt to have former head coach Howard Schnellenberger (2007 Sun Belt Coach of the Year) and former Owls running back Alfred Morris (now starting for the NFL’s Washington Redskins) in attendance. Neither took the podium, but the mere mention of either was enough to instantly provoke a chorus of applause.

Some current student athletes lent their thoughts. Two seniors, football offensive lineman Mustafa Johnson and women’s soccer midfielder Lindsey Rice, spoke of what the new conference meant to them.

“Because of all the traveling, it’s hard for our parents and families to keep up with us,” Rice said. “The increased TV coverage means it’s going to be easier for our families to watch our games.”

“When I was being recruited, [FAU coaches] promised me a chance to leave a legacy. Being a part of this huge transition gives me that opportunity,” added Johnson.

Several FAU coaches made appearances, including baseball head coach John McCormack. McCormack received uproarious applause for overseeing the baseball program’s most productive year, which included winning the Sun Belt Tournament.

The event seemed almost intentionally set up to be a timeline of FAU’s progress in athletics.

In one corner of the room stood Schnellenberger, a coaching great and the Owls’ somewhat distant past. Morris stood just opposite, the Owls’ most talented football product, now a record-breaking tailback in the NFL.

Drafted by the Redskins in 2012, Morris represented a slightly more recent rendition of just how much progress FAU athletics has made.