Coaching Legends: We lost two former coaches last week who shared the name Leslie; Robert Leslie Waters and Howard Leslie Schnellenberger. I think they both were legends.
Coach Waters was an icon around Tallassee. That is evident with the outpouring of sympathies. Waters arrived in Tallassee during the Woody Weaver era and worked through the arrival of Mike Battles.
There were seven different coaches during that span of a quarter of a century. Waters worked with them all in football and basketball too.
Schnellenberger's coaching career spanned approximately half a century. He was a member of the illustrious Paul Bryant coaching tree. Like fellow Bryant disciples Gene Stallings and Danny Ford, Schnellenberger also won a national title.
Think about how many players these men affected with so many years on their resumes.
Waters was buddies with so many of them.
One of Schnellenberger's players was Joe Namath. An assistant on Bryant's staff in the 1960's, Schnellenberger's assignment was to get the hotshot quarterback from Beaver Falls, Penn.
Namath said that his mother took a liking to Schnellenberger and went so far as to pack his bags and tell the coach to "take him."
Schnellenberger had the rare distinction of coaching with Bryant and the NFL's Don Shula. He was the offensive mastermind on Shula's staff during the Dolphins' perfect season in 1972.
He was a resurrector of programs. He was with Bryant for the three national championships in the early '60s that followed the brief but bad Whitworth era in the late 1950s.
It's hard to call what Schnellenberger did at the University of Miami a 'resurrection.' The Hurricanes were a doormat program that had never won. They won big in 1983 under Schnellenberger with a national title.
The success with Jimmy Johnson would probably not have been possible if not for the work of Howard Schnellenberger who preceded him. Miami became a dynasty in the 1980s.
Schnellenberger took a job with the USFL after the '83 title, but he never coached a game in the short-lived league.
He ended up at Louisville and is probably revered most by people in this state for the Cardinals' beatdown of Gene Stallings' first Alabama team in the New Year's Day Fiesta Bowl of 1991.
It's a Hall of Fame career that ended after launching an upstart program in South Florida. Unlike his first head coaching gig that put Miami on the map, Florida Atlantic was starting from scratch.
Schnellenberger put a cap on his career after ten years in Boca Raton with the Owls. The team did win a couple of bowl games during his stay. His overall bowl record was 6-0 at Miami, Louisville and FAU.
Schnellenberger died at age 87. Waters was just 56.
Coach Waters was a great storyteller. We'll miss his on-the-field accounts. And we'll certainly miss those fishing stories too.