BOWLING GREEN - For all intents and purposes, Ricky Schneider's playing days are over. But he still has that fire for game day and gets antsy over the prospects of a good 100-yard rumble.
So with Marshall coming to town on Saturday, the fifth-year senior quarterback at Bowling Green State University can smell a good fight.
“You really can't beat being out on the sidelines at a college football game, and this should be one of those great games,” said Schneider, who can no longer play quarterback after suffering a concussion about six weeks ago.
“Even after five years, I still get the same rush I got five years ago for the Alabama game, my first college game ever. It is still a tremendous feeling. I still look forward to coming to the stadium, and this week should be extra special.”
Schneider has stayed on the team and is officially the backup punter, but he knows he has likely played his final down for the Falcons. The Bowling Green team doctors said he should not risk contact since he had suffered several concussions in the past.
“It was very difficult to hear the doctors tell me that, and to realize that was it,” Schneider said. “I never thought it would end up like that. But they don't really know what the long-term effects might be, so we're just playing it safe.”
Schneider, who has already graduated, could have just walked away and moved on with his life. But he chose to remain on the team and hopes to help the Falcons (2-6) any way he can.
“I think that just speaks to the kind of quality kid Ricky Schneider is,” BG coach Gary Blackney said.
Schneider said he stayed around because he was not ready to walk away from football, or from his teammates.
“I've been around football for so long, it's hard to imagine being away from it just like that,” said Schneider, who signals the plays in from the sideline to starter Andy Sahm. “We've got a great group of guys here, and although we haven't accomplished what we wanted to do this season, we can still have a say in who wins this league. We're looking forward to playing Marshall.”
The Thundering Herd are the three-time defending champs in the Mid-American Conference, and although Marshall is just 4-4 overall this season, it has a 3-0 record in the MAC East and is in the driver's seat for the divisional title and a berth in the conference championship game.
“They're still on top as far as the league goes,” Schneider said, “just like they were the last time they came to our place.”
Over the 1998-99 seasons, Marshall went 25-1. That one loss came at Perry Stadium on October 31, 1998 - Marshall's last trip to BG. And it was a lightly-regarded 2-5 Bowling Green team that dominated the Herd by a 34-13 score that day.
Schneider remembers it well.
“That was great to be a part of that,” Schneider said. “They came in here riding a long winning streak, and we pretty much dominated them in all aspects of the game. That was probably one of the most memorable wins that we have had in my five years here.”
The Falcons led just 10-7 at the half, but opened the score to 24-7 in the third quarter by controlling the football.
“Our defense played great, but our offense was something else that day,” Schneider said. “We were running the ball extremely well that day. We were running the football at will. We were throwing the football at will.
“And what that meant was - we kept their offense off the field.”
That was critical, since Chad Pennington, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, was running the Marshall offense then. He couldn't hurt BG, however, if he could not get his hands on the ball.
“Pennington was having a great year, but our defense made a couple of big stops on him, and then we scored and we got up pretty good,” Schneider said. “We took a lot of time off the clock moving the chains, and he couldn't get the ball back. That was probably the best way to beat Marshall, because their offense was not on the field.”
Although this is a different Marshall team, one that has been beaten soundly by both Toledo and Western Michigan, it is still Marshall in Schneider's eyes.
“Marshall still does have a certain mystique about them,” he said. “It is still a big deal if you can beat them. That would give us a lot of confidence to finish out the season. They have lost a few games, but it's still Marshall and they are still the league champion until somebody knocks them off. If you can't get up for Marshall, I don't know who you can get up for.”
Ricky Schneider most likely won't play against the Herd this Saturday. But he expects a good show, one he would not let himself miss.