Prank nets benching for FAU seniors

Updated: November 27, 2004, 1:12 AM ET
Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Twenty-eight Florida Atlantic players, including 14 starters, won't start against Edward Waters on Saturday after skipping a day of practice in what was described as an "ill-conceived practical joke."

Coach Howard Schnellenberger handed down the punishment Thanksgiving morning during a meeting with the offending players, all seniors, who skipped practice Wednesday. The mass boycott was meant as a prank, the players said, and was not meant to express a grievance with the coaches.

"Obviously they are players and I am a coach and they have a long way to go before they know how coaches think and feel," Schnellenberger said.

Schnellenberger accepted the players' explanation.

"We didn't want to upset anybody; we probably didn't think it all the way through," said Jared Allen, the Owls' starting quarterback and one of the players who will sit at the beginning of Saturday's game.

The Owls (7-3) will likely not suffer much Saturday as they host Edward Waters (8-2), an NAIA school. A Division I-AA semifinalist last season, FAU is in its first year as a I-A provisional team and is heavily favored.

"Any further silliness or immaturity will be dealt with doubly tough," Schnellenberger said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press