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ZipsWire - Akron Could Learn from FAU

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Flair_Zipswire.pngThey've only been Division I since 2001 and they've already won two bowl games. The Owls of Florida Atlantic beat Central Michigan 24-21 in the Motor City Bowl. FAU, which has only had a football program since 2000, is considered one of D-I's success stories. FAU, who killed Memphis in last year's New Orleans Bowl, plays out of the Sun Belt Conference, and brought a 6-6 record into Detroit. Central Michigan was 8-4. After a slow 1-5 start in 2008, FAU won five of their six final games to go into the bowl season with some momentum. The Owls' slow start included losses against national powers Texas, Michigan State and Minnesota.Akron's RecordUnlike the Owls, who have had a quick climb to D-I respectability, the Zips have had a long, hard road since becoming the first football program to make the jump from D-IAA to D-I in 1987. In fact, in the 21 seasons since the jump to the big time, the Zips have made the following accomplishments: 15 seasons under .500; 4 seasons under 4 wins; 1 Conference Championship; 1 Bowl appearance. In the 31 years that I have been following Zips football, I would expect to experience more joy than the completion of one Hail Mary in the 2005 MAC Championship game.Could it be the Coaching?Gerry Faust, Lee Owens, and now J.D. Brookhart, have all hovered around mediocrity with few fleeting moments of success. One of those moments came in 2005 when the Zips beat N. Illinois to win the MAC Championship before going on to lose in their only D-I Bowl appearance to Memphis. FAU, on the other hand, has been guided by legendary head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who is 5 – 0 in bowl games, including the 1983 Miami Hurricane’s national championship. Whether it is Schnellenberger, Paul Brown or Don Shula, great coaches have the ability to make their players perform at a consistent high level, despite the inconsistency of talent, through the years. This is something that has escaped the Zips football program since the jump to D-I.New Stadium - New Era?We were all hoping that Akron would have a successful year in 2008 to build excitement for the opening of InfoCision next year. The stadium is going to be top-shelf. We know the same cannot be said for the team. The Zips will go into their new home limping from this year's disaster. The stands will be full. The atmosphere will be electric. However, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Is J.D. the man to bring that consistent high-level of performance year after year? With the new stadium, state-of-the art indoor practice facility and a brand-new campus, the recruiting excuses are, if they have not already, disappearing. J.D., who once showed so much promise and was on the tip of everyone's tongue whenever an opening came up at a "premier" program, is fading into the stereotypical Akron coach. The hot seat awaits him if the Zips pull off a repeat 2008 performance in 2009. Time is running out - and quickly.One thing is for certain; no matter who coaches the Zips, I'll be a fan. It is my school. I will be sitting in the new stadium with my buddies as I have for the past three decades. Fans like me will always be there. However, for Akron to reach the level we all think they wish to achieve, they have to attract people who are NOT like me. A stadium will only go so far. The only way to attract NEW fans is, to quote Oakland owner Al Davis, "Win Baby...Win."

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Wow...very well said. Hopefully the new stadium will attract more young zips like myself to attend the University and become life long zips fans like yourself. I have the utmost respect for all of the AK-Oldies.

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