Dave Schnell was one of the good guys, a great college quarterback, a fierce competitor, a man who didn’t flinch when asked to beat the odds.
He led the Indiana Hoosiers to a football victory at Ohio State in 1987, and to understand how significant that is, you have to realize it remains IU’s only win there since 1951.
He helped IU beat Michigan that same season (the only time it’s ever beaten the traditional powers in the same year) and to consecutive victories over Ohio State (that hasn’t been done since).
Schnell could beat just about anything except the one thing that remains a chillingly formidable foe –- cancer.
On Sunday, after a four-year battle that saw him go from 220 pounds to around 100, Schnell died at age 44 in Elkhart.
Quarterbacks are judged mainly by victories and in that, Schnell thrived. He started his last three years and IU was 21-13-1 in that stretch.
Schnell is all over the IU passing records lists. He threw for as many as 378 yards (in a 34-10 win over South Carolina in the 1978 Liberty Bowl), which ranks fifth in school history. His 5,470 career passing yards rank fifth and his 27 career TD passes are sixth. His 56.2 career percentage is fourth.
His passing numbers likely would have been better if not for superstar tailback Anthony Thompson. He rushed for 5,299 yards and 67 touchdowns in that same era.
Schnell’s success wasn’t a surprise. Sports Illustrated named him the nation’s top high school player in 1985 after leading Elkhart Central to an 18-2 record his last two years. He went with IU and coach Bill Mallory even though the Hoosiers were just 4-18 in the previous two seasons.
He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 1990. Quarterback Jim Kelly was there and soon Schnell wasn’t. He returned to Elkhart and got into the insurance business, where he lived and worked until he died.
He will be missed.
Ed DeChellis got emotional with his surprise decision to leave Penn State and take a pay cut to coach at Navy.
In truth, it was smart. Yes, he’s taking over a struggling program that was 11-20 last season. Sure, he’ll be going from the high-profile Big Ten to the low-profile Patriot League.
And recruiting will be a lot tougher given Navy’s height restrictions. David Robinson was an exception, but he was 6-6 when he arrived at Navy, then grew to 6-11. He thrived in college and in the NBA.
Still, DeChellis had taken the Nittany Lions about as far as he was going to. Last season they won 19 games and reached the NCAA tourney. In 2009, they won the NIT.
However, career scoring leader Talor Battle graduated, as did key contributors Jeff Brooks, David Jackson and Andrew Jones. Talented but troubled freshman guard Taran Buie left the program.
DeChellis was about to face a major rebuilding challenge and do it with indifferent fan support. While his contract was good until 2014, he only had a 114-138 record at Penn State and just 41-95 in the Big Ten. And with an annual salary of $642,000, he was the Big Ten’s lowest-paid coach.
A bad year might have left him in the ranks of the unemployed, regardless of what his contract said.
At Navy the pressure is less. Instead of dealing with the Ohio States, Michigan States and the rest of the Big Ten, DeChellis will get Bucknell, American, Holy Cross and Army.
DeChellis likely will have better job security, and more chance of success, with Navy.
Athletic director Tim Curley released a statement that said Penn State will “quickly begin a national search” and that it would be “comprehensive” and “focused on finding the best candidate to lead Penn State basketball into the future.”
Former Hoosier D.J. White will be back in Bloomington next fall for his annual youth basketball camp. White, who played with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Bobcats this season, will personally help direct camp activities. The camp is open to boys and girls ages 6 to 14.
The camp, which is set for Sept. 17 at the Twin Lakes Recreation Center, will emphasize fundamental skills and team concepts.
For more information, call 513-793-2267 or check out www.DJWhiteCamp.com.