Third in a series on institutions joining the AAC
The American Athletic Conference will have a net gain of three members with the 2023-24 scholastic year.
The departure of Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston to the Big 12 preceeded a harvest of a half-dozen programs from Conference USA.
The additions include Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and Texas-San Antonio.
In a continuing series, View from the East is looking at various aspects of what the new members bring to the AAC.
Know the foe: Florida Atlantic
The motto of the institution is, “Where tomorrow begins.”
Tomorrow began for the public institution in Boca Raton, FL, with its establishment on July 15, 1961.
FAU has several satellite campuses.
The latest figure for total enrollment of undergraduates, postgraduates and doctoral students is 30,808.
The campus was built on an abandoned Army airfield. President Lyndon B. Johnson was on hand for dedication ceremonies on Oct. 25, 1964.
The university’s colors are FAU Blue, FAU Red, and FAU Silver.
The FAU campus was designated a burrowing owl sanctuary in 1971 by the Audubon Society. The owl was attracted to the area because there are few predators near an airport.
The AAC will have three sets of Owls going forward with FAU, Rice and Temple.
FAU has a rich history of football coaches that includes Howard Schnellenberger, Lane Kiffin and Willie Taggart.
Tom Herman became the Owls coach on Dec. 3, 2022.
Herman is no stranger to the AAC having coached at Houston in 2015, when he led the Cougars to a 13-1 record, and 2016 (9-3).
Herman was at Texas from 2017 to 2020, compiling a record of 32-18. Herman was offensive coordinator for Ohio State’s national champions in 2014.
Everett Withers, interim head coach at North Carolina in 2011, is assistant head coach and defensive pass game coordinator for FAU.
The Owls have a pair of former players who are still in the NFL playoffs, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair of San Francisco and defensive end Trey Hendrickson of Cincinnati.
FAU was 5-7 overall in 2022 and went 4-4 in C-USA.
The Owls travel to Clemson on Sept. 16, 2023, and visit Illinois the following week.
One meeting with ECU
East Carolina has played FAU one time in football, a matchup within the C-USA framework on Sept. 5, 2013, in Greenville.
The Pirates won, 31-13, as Shane Carden had touchdown passes to Davon Grayson and Justin Hardy.
FAU Stadium has a capacity of 29,571.
The Owls planned to open the stadium in 2010 with a game against Michigan State but delays due to fundraising issues caused a change in plans.
FAU lost to Western Kentucky, 20-0, in the first game at the stadium on Oct. 15, 2011.
The upper levels of the structure have a view of the Atlantic Ocean.
The field is named in honor of Schnellenberger, who coached the Owls for 11 seasons before retiring after the 2011 campaign.
FAU Stadium is home to the Boca Raton Bowl, which usually features teams from the Mid-American Conference against teams from C-USA and the AAC in alternating years.
Toledo topped Liberty, 21-19, in the most recent Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 20.
The Owls are having a special season with a 19-1 record and No. 21 national ranking going into a home game with Middle Tennessee State (13-7, 6-3 C-USA) on Thursday night.
FAU is 9-0 in league play.
The only loss was by an 80-67 margin at Ole Miss on Nov. 11. The Owls bounced back three nights later with a 76-74 triumph at Florida as senior guard Michael Forest had 20 points and sophomore guard Johnell Davis added 18 points with 10 rebounds.
Davis leads a balanced scoring attack for Coach Dusty May, a former manager at Indiana, with 12.7 points per game. Sophomore guard Alijah Martin averages 12.2.
The Owls’ home is Abessinio Court at FAU Arena, with a capaciy of 2,800.
FAU was 14-5 at home last season and 4-8 on the road.
The Owls have been in postseason play four times, including the NCAA Tournament in 2002, the NIT in 2011, the CIT in 2019 and the CBI in 2022.
Former Duke player Kevin Billerman and Matt Doherty, who played and coached at UNC, have both guided the basketball program at FAU.
The home team has won each of four games between ECU and FAU.
The first meeting in Greenville on Jan. 21, 1993, resulted in a 74-60 victory for the Pirates.
The Owls took a pair of wins at home on Jan. 16, 2014 (78-67) and Dec. 3, 2014 (72-63).
ECU won, 74-48, on Dec. 1, 2015, in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum as B.J. Tyson had 15 points and nine rebounds.
FAU has made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, the last in 2019.
The Owls reached a Super Regional in 2002.
The series with ECU is 2-2 with all of the games having been played in Boca Raton.
The Owls won a single game, 9-8, on March 14, 2001.
ECU took two of three in a series, April 25-27, in 2014. The Pirates won, 6-4 and 2-1, after dropping the opener, 4-3.
John McCormack is going into his 15th season as head coach and 32nd on the FAU staff.
Boca Raton is 808 miles from Greenville, a driving time of 11 hours, 32 minutes.
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