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11 posts from June 2007

June 29, 2007

Panther Pawse No. 17

It's summer the sports scene is slow -- geez, I've been covering fencing and hockey the last 2 days -- so we're going to go back in time on the next blog to help one of our new readers understand how FIU could have won the Sun Belt last season in football and gone on to play in the New Orleans Bowl against Rice.

But first here is your Panther Pawse: Fiupaw

fiugrad78: I spoke with Turtle Thomas recently and he is out of town evaluating future FIU players. He's expected back in Miami in July after he moves all his stuff from Arizona back down here. He has not hired any coaches as of this post. He's down to 2 candidates at each of the 3 assistant coaching spots he's looking to fill. As for the 3 stooges you referred to, I would not go wagering anything that they will have a job with FIU next year. The former FIU baseball coaching staff needed a housecleaning and the broom and Ajax_2 bleach were brought out. As for transfers, I'm sure we'll see some impact players on the FIU roster next baseball season.

FIUDad: I'm not sure if Keke Bouie is going to get another shot with an NFL team. NFL teams would be foolish not to give the 2-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year a look. When I last spoke with Keke he said he was healthy and ready for a shot in the NFL.

FIUmom: Thanks for the kind motherly words.

Concerned Fan: There's no official word yet on who's still on the FIU baseball roster, but just like it happened when MC took over football, I'm sure there will be some players that no longer will be part of the baseball team. Not all of DP's players are considered TT's players. "Be prepared to work hard".

YouGotGold: Football players are studying the playbook and working out now. The freshmen should be here in July. Because of an NCAA rule, college football teams cannot begin practice until the second week of August. Teams only have a set amount of days they can practice. Don't worry the GPP will have continous reports out of Camp Cristobal when it begins.

Crazy Cane: Antwan Barnes's impact has been talked about by his coaches, teammates and the Baltimore media. Of course, he hasn't made any game impact yet, because the Ravens haven't played a down yet. And for the record: AB was drafted by the Ravens and NOT invited to camp.

June 26, 2007

FIU Summer Camping in the NFL

66 days away from the season opener against Penn State in Happy Valley, already booked my plane, car and hotel in PA. So it's never too early to talk a little football. The GPP recently caught up with 3 of the 4 former Golden Panthers in the NFL and here is what's going on with each of them.

Frank Looks like Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes has made a huge impact already with the Baltimore Ravens. Abarnes_2

Speaking with a Baltimore reporter who covers the team, AB was the talk of the Ravens mini-camps for his outstanding speed and knack for finding the ball....Now where have we seen that before? Depending on training camp in late July, it looks like AB could be starting on special teams and could see action on defense in his first year.

"Everything went pretty good," said AB, of the mini-camps. "Everything is fast-paced. [Ravens linebackers] Gary Stills and Mark Scott have been giving me a lot of insight on the defense and what to expect my rookie season. They've told me you can't do everything in your first year. I'm going to play special teams. I got to get into the playbook more. This Ravens defense is wow, something I have never seen before."

Csmith Another former Golden Panther making a good first impression is Philadelphia Eagles rookie safety Chris "The Bull" Smith. Like AB, Smith played defense and special teams during the Eagles mini-camps. Bull_2

Chris had a few interceptions and pass breakups. He says he didn't pick off Donovan McNabb, but liked that he got a lot of reps during the four camps.

Chris's position coach is John Harbaugh, who coincidentally was a candidate at one time for the FIU head coaching position before MC was hired.

"Coach Harbaugh told me that I could play in this league," Smith said. "I just have to learn to be in the right spots all the time. There is no room for error in the NFL. I didn't take a knee all through any of the camps. Practice speed here is like college game speed. I was surprised as a free agent that I got as many reps as I did in the camps. Nick Turnbull has been talking to me a lot about what to expect my rookie season. He's been a big help."

Chris asked how the 2007 FIU football team will be and I told them they'll be better on offense and hopefully just as good as last year's defense. He expects to be at the Penn State opener with teammate Tony Hunt, who is a PSU grad.

Chandler Williams is vying for a job as the Minnesota Vikings return specialist along with being one of their top 4 receivers. The Vikings list of receivers is not too impressive so CW may get a shot there. Cw2

"I've played all four receiver spots during the camps," CW said. "I've been doing good on 1-on-1's, but the plays are a lot harder to learn than college. But once I get them down, I feel good about my chances."

CW signed a four-year contract last month and is ready for training camp.

Nick With Turnbull, a safety on the Atlanta Falcons, that makes 4 FIUers in the NFL. Not too shabby for a five-year old program.

Here's when these players meet each other during the upcoming NFL season: In preseason play on August 13 - Eagles vs. Ravens; Aug. 31- Ravens vs. Falcons.

In the regular season: the Falcons open at the Vikings on Sept. 9; the Eagles play at the Vikings on Oct. 28 and El Monstruo's Miami NFL debut is December 16 when the Ravens visit the Dolphins.

As for the other FIUers, 2-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, Keyonvis Bouie has not heard back from the New Orleans Saints after what he thought was a good showing.

"The camp wasn't more than what I expected," Bouie said. "The speed of practice was a lot faster. I thought I did really well. I had no problems with my knee. It's 100 percent healthy. Right now, I'm just working out here in Pahokee."

Tight end Sam Smith joined Bouie in the Saints camp after he was not signed out of the Chicago Bears camp. Smith also has not heard back from the Saints. QB Josh Padrick was with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he did not receive an offer after the Jags rookie camp.

Panther Pawse No. 16

Well, since the GPP keeps growing in numbers and comments, we've decided to make the PantherGppaw Pawse a separate post that will precede a new blog every time. This will be our 16th edition and counting...

Tira Think of it as dessert before the main course.

For those of you who have not been with us since our humble beginning back in March, PANTHER PAWSE is the segment where we take a pawse from blogging to answer your questions and comment on your suggestions.

Before we get to all of you, stay tuned for the next GPP blog: updating FIU players in the NFL. Now on to your questions and concerns.

FIUmom: I'm sure the FIU football team is having a healthy meal consisting of the five food groups tonight, but I did not get any invite so I won't be dropping by.

sunblazer69: From what I've heard, neither Jim Morris nor Kevin Cooney (both huge DP fans, because they beat him like a rented mule) have offered the former FIU baseball coach a job. Now, there's a shocker.

FIUandMe: The GPP heard from sources that matter, that um does not want to play FIU in football anymore. FIU does want to play um on an annual basis.

CJ: The GPP has thought of the new recruits interviews and we'll get to them as soon as we can. When you get to the City of Lights say hello to Paris for me while you're over there. That's hot.

fiurulez: I didn't know 24-7 was still in kindergarten.Hilton_2Parhil_2 

gablespanther and A Realisst: Very interesting comparisons of Coker and Morris. Looking at their tenures, it looks like both coaches won with Butch Davis and Turtle Thomas's players. Ya, think old Jim is wishing FIU did not change baseball coaches? Bet the mortgage on that one.

As far as your concerns Crazy Cane: the GPP has always answered 24-7's questions (check out previous Panther Pawse's). Here are three more answers:

1) TT will attract top prep players to play baseball at FIU, because first there's a ton of talent down here that um and other schools cannot take them all. Plus, unlike when he was at um, TT does not have to worry if he runs out of scholarships, because FIU is around $3,000 to attend as opposed to um's $30,000 to go there.

2) The FIU/NFL update follows this post. And there's both good and bad FIU news on there, so you can't say the GPP only writes on a rose-tinted keyboard.

3) Coaching does matter at every level. If MC and his staff were in place last year, FIU wins the Sun Belt and plays in a bowl game. The FIU defense's effort was wasted last season by inept preparation (read: coaching) on offense. If TT was in charge of FIU baseball since the Super Regional loss to USC, the Golden Panthers probably would have already played in at least 1 College World Series. And if you want a local example, the other day I filled in for another softball team (the Isotopes) in the league I play in on Sunday mornings. The Isotopes starting pitcher was running out of gas in the final inning while they were ahead 7-6, so I told the captain of that team to bring in their regular pitcher, a lefty. With runners on first and second with no outs, the lefty struck out the first batter and then got the next batter to hit into a double play. Isotopes held on and won 7-6. That was a coaching move that helped win that game.

Let's go talk FIU in the NFL...

June 22, 2007

FIU, no mas? FIU, no mas?

Heard about the mumblings of the annual baseball series between FIU and um possibly being cancelled beginning next season and the first thought that came to mind was old "Hands of Stone" boxer Roberto Duran. Duran_3That's him getting pummeled on the right by Sugar Ray Leonard.

As he's infamously known for, Duran uttered the phrase "no mas, no mas" during his 1980 bout with Sugar Ray Leonard. For those in need of translation "no mas" means no more.

So is um baseball becoming "Feet of Ice" with the new FIU hiring of Turtle Thomas? The GPP checked it out.

Reached by phone, um AD Paul Dee said the 2008 um baseball schedule has not been made and that any scheduling um coach Jim Morris does has to be run by the AD. Have not heard back from Morris. Currently, TT is out of Florida evaluating talent for FIU and has not returned phone calls.

Milk_2In 1999, Morris let TT go, because of what um told the Miami Herald were "philosophical differences". Word was philosophical meaning recruiting. Whether there is still curdled milk between TT and Morris is only something those 2 know. Or could it be that playing FIU now is no longer 2 easy wins and Morris will actually have to coach now. No mas of...."He's bigger than me and he wanted the ball" decisions.

Sure would stink for um's recruiting if they began losing to FIU on an annual basis. Thoughts of "Please, don't fire DP" probably ran through Morris's mind when he ran into PG this past season.

um already said they will not continue the football series with FIU. C'mon, it was an 0-12 team in 2006...oops, forgot there was a coaching change at FIU. Now, could um cancel baseball, too? If so, maybe the feeling of T.D.A.O.S. has reached the Coral Gables school.

On to other FIU baseball matters. The pitching coach has not been hired as of this post and fiurulez: I am not the pitching coach.

Hey, good story by Marcus Nelson of the Palm Beach Post on PG and his turning around the culture of FIU sports. The quote by DP in the story summed up the attitude of FIU athletics before PG took over. "It was a case of someone who came in from the outside and had no feel for FIU" - DP. This guy is turning into the anti-wise Yogi Berra with his quotes this year.

Going to have to go a little John McEnroe here.....You cannot be serious, DP! Jmac_3

Translation: Someone who came in from the outside and had no feel for the mediocrity and losing and decided to do something about it.

Msha_2.....Let's finish this post on a brighter note!.... Spasiba, Maria!... (Russian translation: Thank you, Maria!)


CJ: Recruiting already for FIU baseball....Priceless and let's intend that pun, b/c it's never been done for.

FIUDad: Like your enthusiasm on the blog. Let's first give the TDAOS t-shirts a shot and see how that goes. Once the winning begins, I'm sure all kinds of t-shirts will come out of the woodwork.

ConcernedFan: The FIU baseball games on the radio, much like the team itself has been inconsistent for awhile now. I imagine eventually, they'll get some real announcers and more games on the radio. Although, they are not pros, the student radio sure didn't help matters this year by hardly broadcasting any games.

Enrique: There's not too much anger on this blog. Just lots of passion.

24/7: Sounds like you want to become a Miami Herald sports editor. I know you got green and orange in your veins, but "you still don't get it, Scott!"Evil You keep mangling the definition of TDAOS. Please refer to CJ's post on the "J.D.'s FIU Pitch" blog. CJ gives the clear definition of TDAOS there. And for the record, the GPP has never divulged which coach first uttered the phrase, "Those days are over, son!" in spring practice. So you can't say it was MC.

June 18, 2007

Turtle talks FIU

Omha_2 For the last five seasons, FIU baseball could not get gas in its tank, much less find any kind of road to get to Omaha. 

Last Thursday, The Road to Omaha was discovered for the Golden Panthers as they filled up their tank and got a driver, Turtle Thomas, to show them the way to the College World Series. Having been in the CWS 14 times, TT knows the way. In fact, he's there now with the Arizona State Sun Devils who won Saturday and play tonight against defending champion Oregon State.

Before TT hopped on a plane to Omaha, he went recruiting for FIU at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Cincinnati last Friday. The PGNS is the first chance coaches get to see the top high school juniors in the nation. Depending what happens tonight with ASU, TT said he will also fly to North Carolina this week for the Tournament of Stars, which is another h.s. juniors showcase. TT described it as the USA junior national trials. Is there any wonder why TT had 19-straight Top 10 recruiting classes, that included players like Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez? Arod Chip

Here's what TT had to say to the GPP about his new job before he was introduced as the FIU baseball coach last Thursday...

Turtle GPP: What interested you about the FIU job?

TT: The Miami area for recruiting is probably the best area that plays high school baseball of anywhere in the country. I'd say that and Southern California. We feel like we can get the majority of our players from the South Florida area. I have always thought and many coaches around the country have always thought that FIU is a sleeping giant that has been asleep for a little while. Hopefully we're ready to wake it up and get things going.

GPP: What do you think of the Sun Belt Conference?

TT: First of all the Sun Belt is a good baseball conference. Three teams made this year's tournament and you compare it to the Pac 10, which had four teams and the SEC had five. That's not far behind. There are two big schools down here. Miami is going to get its share of players. FIU is going to get its share of players. We're going to be one of those people that is not afraid to go after any of the big boys.

GPP: Attendance has dwindled at FIU baseball games the last 5 years. How do you get people in the seats?

TT: Skip Bertman had the blueprint 23 years ago. They had about 350 fans a game at LSU. Skip and his staff went to every Lions club, Rotary club, Kiwanis club, every service club around and they took season ticket brochures, camp brochures and at the end of their speeches they would make a pitch for LSU athletics and we're going to do the same thing. We're going to sell season tickets right on the spot. We're going to do every thing we can to get the message out and get people excited, to keep people excited about FIU baseball. Winning is certainly big. There's nothing you can do to substitute for winning. That's the number one thing that draws people to your games. We fully expect to do that.

GPP: What kind of situation are you inheriting at FIU?

TT: What we want to do is make steady improvement. This is not a fix-it immediately type of thing. It's not going to be an overnight success. We have to move up the ladder. Get a little better in the Sun Belt, get better nationally so that we can get to where we want to go.

GPP: How do you sell FIU baseball to a high school player that has been turned off by the previous FIU baseball coaching staff?

TT: This is going to be a situation where you are going to help us build this program. You are going to be one of those foundation type of guys. You're going to help us get to where we want to go. Our coaching staff I guarantee you is going to be a good one. I'm going to still handle the hitting and catching. We're going to have a very good coaching staff that is going to help develop them as players to make them a better college player and eventually a higher draft pick. We're going to try and develop their skills as much as we possibly can.

GPP: Were you offered other head coaching positions along the way in your 30 years in college baseball? If so, any reason why you didn't take them?

TT: Yes. One was Evansville (Ind.). I had it, but honestly I didn't really want to go north and the financial whatever was not the greatest in the world. I would have had to take a big cut in pay. Some people can do that, some people can't. Most assistants don't have a large amount of extra money laying around. I just didn't think that mainly because it was in cold weather and it was not a great conference and things like that.

GPP: So I guess for a college coach, coaching baseball in a warm weather city is a big deal? Mia_2

TT: No question. Just like in recruiting, obviously, you've got some selling points here. The best weather in the country. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale area there's so many things to do and see. You got the four major sports franchises down here. Championship level play. There are many attractive things to attract a recruit to this area or keep one at home. Here, if we can keep the homegrown talent around then that increases attendance for one Alba thing, because you got families and relatives and girlfriends that come to the game as well. We would like to keep the best players at home and attract them to our school.


GPP: Why do you think you have had 19-straight Top 10 recruiting classes?

TT: One thing, you're at a good school and that attracts players right away. Number two you have to have a great work ethic to be a good recruiter. You can't let an hour go by without making a recruiting call. Calling a coach, a player, whatever it might be. It's perseverance more than anything else. You sit down every night and you make at least 3 to 4 hours of phone calls every night. You keep information coming to them through e-mails and texts and mail outs. You try to keep that stuff going to them as much as you can. It's much hard work, perseverance, be willing to sit at 4 or 5 games a day from 8 in the morning to 11 at night, which you do so often during the summer. I think you have to have a pretty good idea for talent too and not everybody is able to do that.

GPP: Have you thought about your assistants? A lot fans have been clamoring for a "real" pitching coach since Mark Calvi left. Will you have a "real" pitching coach?

TT: I have contacted some people and we've discussed some terms and job descriptions. I will hire a pitching coach. Mark was a good one. The guy I have in mind I am interviewing him when we're done with the press conference. He's been in professional ball and he's in college now. He's supposed to be absolutely tremendous. He's a Hispanic kid and he's not too terribly far away from here. It's not anybody from Miami.

Tortuga GPP: Where did your nickname "Turtle" come from?

TT: It came from a friend in the 9th grade back in North Carolina. Back in those days I was as tall as I am now, about 6-2, but I was 155 pounds. I had a long, skinny neck and the school I caught for had green catching gear. The chest protector looked like a turtle shell. It wasn't that I was that slow, because I was a relatively fast runner.

GPP: What do you think of the FIU baseball facilities?

TT: There's a good base there. I think it has to be spruced up some. Pete [Garcia] has some plans to do some luxury boxes and things like that. Maybe move the coaches offices to another part of the stadium. Just some different ideas to do some things, which I thought were all very good ideas.

TT added he wants to coach another 20 years, so that he totals 50 years of coaching in college baseball. TT signed a four-year contract with FIU for $320,000. He added that in addition to recruiting at the tournaments in Cincy and N.C., he has compiled a list of 75 "scavengers" -- players that are still available to sign with FIU. These are junior colleges players or overlooked high schoolers.

PG announced after the TT press conference that FIU will host USC (Southern Cal) for a 3-game series next season. FIU is also working on playing FSU next season, likely in Tallahassee. No more of those road trips where the FIU bus bypasses FSU and parks in Florida A&M. To be the best, you have to play the best.

June 15, 2007

At-bat: Panther Pawse; On-deck: A Talk with Turtle

Who would have thought to speed up the development of FIU baseball, Pete Garcia needed to hire a "Turtle"?

We can now officially say T.D.A.O.S. to what was the stale, old baseball program at FIU the last 28 years. Well, we'll skip the 2001 season which reached a super regional.

Although it would be a stretch to say FIU is Omaha-bound next season, let's welcome Henry "Turtle" Thomas to the FIU baseball diamond where the Golden Panthers took the first step to the College World Series on Thursday morning.

Before yesterday's press conference, the GPP sat down with Turtle and conducted an hour-long interview. We'll post the interview as soon as we transcribe the recording and get through this Panther Pawse.

By the way, did you know the name of the kid (Elliott) in E.T. is Henry Thomas. Well, now he's an adult. Ets_2


Yandro: Now that there's better coaching in place on the FIU baseball diamond, you'll see more Golden Panthers get drafted in the MLB draft. Chris Dunn would have been drafted, but he chose to sign a free agent deal with the Marlins. Also, Walker Whitley probably would have been drafted, if he wasn't yo-yoed between the bullpen and starting rotation all season. Thanks for the anecdote on the Killian catcher, who was not recruited by FIU. Of course, you all know what happened with the catcher. The kid signs with Manhattan and what does Manhattan do to FIU this season, the Jaspers swept 2 games here in March.

pantera: I believe the 300 attendance in baseball must have been tickets sold, because you are right if you went by the head count at games this season: there were probably more people in line at the Publix deli on a Sunday morning.

fiugrad78: The only blog etiquette on the GPP is keep it clean or risk being clawed out. By posting on another entry on the GPP you did not violate any blog etiquette. Post as much as you'd like. Tell your friends about us and your family, too. As of last month, the GPP was 26,761 strong! Tripling the number of readers in our inaugural month of April.

Concerned Fan: Turtle has some work to do, because of the shape the program was left in. Yes, FIU will miss its top 4 hitters, but the cupboard is not bare. John Petika, Tyler Townsend, Raimy Fuentes and Kevin Mirabal all can swing the bats. Turtle has to get into the local high schools where FIU's presence has been non-existent. That's what high school coaches in our area have told me.

FIU Fanatic: Don't worry if this blog senses a shift toward UF-um debates, the big 'ol Golden claw will come out and make a belt out of the Gator and dry out the "Tropical Depression".

CJ: I see you have mastered the definition of T.D.A.O.S. by explaining it to 24/7-11. We may need to hire you as a graphic consultant for our T.D.A.O.S. t-shirts. I'll speak with the FIU witches about it.

24-7/11: You may have been asleep (no pun intended) when we defined the term "sleeping giant" earlier on the GPP. The term does not mean FIU is playing in Arizona for the national title this season or going to the Final Four or even going to Omaha in 2008. What SG means is that all the potential in the world is available for FIU: fertile recruiting grounds, a public state university -- meaning more walk-on athletes that can be diamonds in the rough, more than 100,000 alumni and now FIU has an athletic administration that has a clue. Before FIU athletics was like a ship drifting asea with no captain, steering wheel or compass. Now they got capt. PG, steering wheel MC and a TT compass. We know one day you'll be wearing a T.D.A.O.S. t-shirt, let us know your size? Ship_2

June 12, 2007

J.D.'s FIU Pitch

Until the new FIU baseball coach is named, the GPP will try and round up as many of the candidates so that they may give their thoughts on the "Charmed" job they are pursuing. The first of our series of interviews is with um pitching coach J.D. Arteaga. Jd_2

Before we get to JD, here's an update from sources and the FIU witches -- of course -- about the FIU coaching search as of Tuesday night. Former FIU pitching coach and current South Carolina pitching coach Mark Calvi interviewed today. That makes 4 interviews for the job: JD, Gino DiMare and Le Moyne College coach Steve Owens (interviewed Monday). Arizona State assistant coach Turtle Thomas is expected to interview for the job on Wednesday. Word is a coach could be named as early as Thursday or 10 days from now. Lazer Collazo did not interview and no word yet on Rod Delmonico interviewing.

Anyways, onto why do you want to be the man who leads FIU to Omaha....

JD, a former um lefty who holds the program's record for wins, pitched in the organizations of the New York Mets, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. JD interviewed last week at FIU. The photo up above is JD pitching for the Caguas Criollos of the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League.

GPP: What interested you about FIU?

JD: It's an exciting time right now at FIU. You've seen what's going on with Mario and football. I grew up around the campus and it's changed a lot. Any desire for the job got greater after seeing the facilities. FIU is such an attractive job for baseball. All the talent is in this area. It's not going to be easy to get them all, but you have to go and get the local talent to play here.

GPP: You guys beat FIU twice this year. What did you think of the FIU baseball team this year?

JD: They didn't have as good a year as they could have had. There's definitely some talent there. From the outside looking in, it looked like there was a lot of pressure there.

GPP: What can you do to make FIU better?

JD: My thing is you have to get the community involved. The community has to know your name, your face and so do the local high school coaches. Of course, you have to get the local players. There is so much talent in this area. I look at Louisville, who beat us this year and is going to the College World Series, they had 7 guys from Miami. That cannot happen. You have to give those players a reason to stay and play baseball here. I look at FIU like a Cal-State Fullerton. (GPP looked up CSF: 15 CWS appearances, that's pretty good) You have to stay local. There's plenty of talent in Miami, just like Los Angeles, to support 2 good baseball programs.

GPP: What are your strengths and do you feel you're ready to become a head coach?

JD: I can relate to people well. Whether it is out in the community or with players. As with any sport, there's a lot of psychology involved. You have to find out what drives some players. Some players like to be pushed, some like to be pulled. Am I ready to be a head coach? Absolutely. I've been an assistant for 5 years now and I have plenty of baseball experience. It's all I have ever done and known.

GPP: We've seen that FIU has had trouble developing pitchers since former pitching coach Mark Calvi left. Should you get the job, what is your plan for the pitching staff?

JD: You have to have a pitching coach, no doubt. I may handle some of those duties, but I will more than likely bring in a pitching coach. Everyone knows how important pitching is in baseball.

GPP: What should be the expectations of FIU baseball when a new head coach is named?

JD: It's definitely a job where you can build a quality program that wins consistently. This program right now is a "diamond in the rough". There is no doubt that FIU should be playing at the highest level of college baseball, going to Omaha. It's a strong desire everyone has. If it wasn't, then why is everyone applying for this job?

Thanks JD, for your time and thoughts and the GPP wishes you good luck in landing the job.

Charm_2 The FIU witches will review JD's answers about the "Charmed" job and see what they make of it in their coaching brew. And you guys thought, we'd get through a blog without a picture of the girls. Lucky you.

One thing the witches and myself have discussed that I'm sure some ignorant people may bring up: What if PG hires another um guy?

Well folks, let's bury this non-sense. You get the best coaches to win, regardless of where they previously coached. If FIU has a staff of all former um coaches and they win a football bowl game, lead the hoops squad to the Big Dance or reach Omaha to play for a national title, then no one will ever say another um-peep again. Forget, where these coaches are from and focus on the here and now -- FIU.

At-bat Panther Pawse; On-deck J.D.


Gppaw Tea Let's all take a deep breath, drink some decaf hot herbal tea, sing Kumbaya and get back to talking FIU athletics (thanks, YouGotGold for directing traffic).

While some want to discuss who has the better school cafeteria, FIU or um. The GPP wants to answer your questions and concerns before we get to an interview the GPP conducted with future?? FIU baseball coach J.D. Arteaga.

The FIUfanatic: Rod Delmonico has yet to interview for the FIU job. As of this post, Arteaga, Gino DiMare, Le Moyne's Steve Owens, Mark Calvi and Lazer Collazo have either already been interviewed or been talking with FIU about the baseball job. Turtle Thomas and Mike Taylor are currently headed to the College World Series with Arizona State and Rice, respectively, and won't be available until their teams are eliminated.

FIUmom: No word yet on softball coach. Baseball is a more important job to fill, in my opinion. Softball will likely be filled after baseball.

SouthFiFan: Manny Mantrana has done a heck of a job at St. Thomas University and he's better than DP, but I have not heard MM's name in the FIU coaching soup.

paradox: You are correct FIU has some pitching talent and did a good job with the um bats at the beginning and middle of their 2 games this season. The reason I keep referring to the 2 losses is because they are the most blatant examples of how incompetent the former FIU coaching staff was. Could you believe that the former head coach did not know the pitch counts of his pitchers in most of the games I covered. Of course, not having a pitching coach on staff since Calvi left didn't help.

FIU rulez: I'm going to have one of the witches give FIU a call on my behalf. I think I will apply to coach FIU baseball. Heck, some of the things these potential FIU coaches are saying about building the FIU baseball program have been said on this blog the last 2 months.

Yandro: Welcome to the Prowl !!

gpantera: As usual you give us an intelligent post -- Yes, post often and early here. Which reminds me, everyone raise your right hand now and put it over your left shoulder and pat yourself 2 or 3 times and accept this MARIO on the GPP's behalf. While I have yet to receive the Herald blog rankings for May, I did get the number of views and we have nearly tripled the popularity of the GPP. During the first 40 days the GPP was on-line at the Herald we got 9,882 hits. For the month of May, the GPP had 26,761 hits. Here's another MARIO to you all !! MariobroThe GPP and FIU, a couple of "sleeping giants".

NY Josh: Thanks for the update. Glad to hear you have become an Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes fan. And glad to hear EM is tearing it up in Baltimore. I spoke with EM recently and other FIU NFLers. We'll have a blog updating their mini-camps soon.

Now onto J.D....

June 08, 2007

Let's Play Two; Let's Say Too or 2

Banks It was an Ernie Banks type of day for FIU baseball on Friday. First, 2 Golden Panthers get drafted and will play in the pros, then a future Golden Panther?? says he too wants to get drafted, but not in the pros -- rather by FIU. And another future Golden Panther?? was expected to prowl onto University Park on Friday.

Left fielder James McOwen was picked in the MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners in the 6th round and catcher Luis Bautista was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 32nd round -- not too shabby for FIU baseball after the dismal season that is mercifully over. Mcow_3 Mariners

McOwen says he will sign with the M's and Bautista, a senior, obviously will be a Cub. Congrats to both. McOwen had one of the better offensive seasons in FIU's 35-year history.

"This makes me feel real good,'' said McOwen. "I know it doesn't fix how bad our season ended, but it definitely is something I'm proud of.''

Bautista provided one of the season's most majestic hits when he clobbered that 2-run shot at um in the 10th inning. I heard the ball finally landed at Coral Gables city hall the other day.

As for the FIU baseball coaching update, Rod Delmonico was on the "Descarga Deportiva" sports talk show on Friday evening with Jerry del Castillo (who corrected me in that the "d" in del is lower case). By the way, JdC translated the English interview with RD to Spanish for his listeners. I will translate JdC's name to English....Jerry of the Castle.

Anyways, RD is "very interested" in the FIU job -- now there's a shocker, isn't everybody interested? RD said the FIU job is "a job where you can build a program. A program that can get to Omaha and win a national championship. This is an area rich with talent where you can go to your mailbox and a find a player."

RD went on to add that "the first thing is to keep the talent at home" -- RD must be reading the GPP's previous blogs. Maybe the FIU witches and myself should apply for the baseball job, after all.

Which reminds me, since the coaching search will only get more in-depth with every available coach in America applying, let's take a moment to introduce our newest FIU witch, Kaley, who was summoned by the 3 original FIU witches to help solve this FIU coaching spell. Everyone say hello to Kaley...Kaley_5

Back to RD, he finished by telling JdC that FIU "is a job that's a sleeping giant." Now, I know this guy is reading the GPP.

RD was not the only big name talking FIU on Friday. South Florida pitching coach Lazer Collazo was expected to be on FIU grounds on Friday and it was probably not for the vacant FIU softball job.

So that makes JD, DiMare, RD and Lazer. Turtle Thomas (ASU), Mike Taylor (Rice) and Mark Calvi (South Carolina) are still involved in super regionals so they can't speak FIU language until their teams are eliminated. That's just a starters list, who knows who else may come a knocking on PG's door. Maybe Morris Buttermaker wants the job. Except, that the Bad News Bears days at FIU are over, son!

Matth_2  PANTHER PAWSE Gppaw

FI-UM Fan: The 790 radio interview is available on "The Inconvenient Truth" blog. Just click on the link.

HiHardHeat: You make a very valid point with your "Development" post. FIU has had baseball talent before. Just look at how this year's team hit, but the development from the coaching staff was never there. Exhibit A was the pitching this season. You can't totally blame the arms, because there hasn't been a pitching coach at FIU since Mark Calvi left.

scUMsanitizer: The GPP admires and respects your passion for FIU, but the liberal claw has to keep it clean.

RedArmy: Thanks for reading the GPP in Vermont. By my count we've reached double digits (10) in states readership. Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Colorado, California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Tennessee and now the Maple Syrup capital - Vermont. Pancak

24/7: Coaches are not overrated. We need to look no further than FIU vs. um this year 2 times (there's that 2 theme again) where FIU's former coach blew both games. "He's bigger than me and he wanted the ball." -- famous last words.

Heck, my slo-pitch softball coach can win 2 or 3 games a season on his managerial decisions alone.

June 05, 2007

Stirring the "Charmed Job" Brew

Charmedd_3 After taking the weekend off to design the T.D.A.O.S. t-shirts that YouGotGold suggested, the FIU witches are back with some revelations in their brew about the FIU baseball head coach job or as it's also known -- the "Charmed Job".

The FIU baseball position is the "Charmed Job" because who would NOT want to coach a Division I college baseball program in Miami with the wealth of high school talent in South Florida at an up and coming university and play in a stadium with plenty of potential to establish a winning tradition. It's almost like asking a potato farmer if he wants to develop his crop in Idaho.Potat

Through their magical powers, the girls have seen in their brew the two um guys (J.D and Gino) interview at FIU in these last two days. But unlike some folks -- like the "concerned" media -- might think, there are more candidates than the um guys. In fact, one interesting name became available on Monday.

Former Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico was fired from UT on Monday. Yes, Delmonico has had some off years, but he did take the Vols to the College World Series as recently as 2005 and has been to the CWS in 2001 and 1995. UT still owes him a ton of money, so the greenbacks should not be an issue and RD has always recruited well down here and owns a home here as well.

Rose, Alyssa and Holly also saw visions of Turtle Thomas, Mike Taylor, Steve Owens and Mark Calvi appear in their pot as they stirred.

Thomas, an Arizona State assistant, has been a master recruiter at um, LSU and ASU, but has never been a head coach in his more than 20 years in college baseball.

Taylor, a Rice University assistant and recruiting coordinator, has also emerged in the girls' brew. Taylor has been with the Owls 15 years and helped put 2-ger the 2003 national championship team.

Rice Here's Rice celebrating the 2003 national championship....how about FIU?

Owens, the head coach at Le Moyne College, is the 9th winningest active coach in NCAA Division I. He has coached for 15 years and is a consistent recruiter in South Florida.

Calvi, the former FIU pitching coach and current South Carolina pitching coach, was sorely missed when he left FIU. You folks have seen the decline in FIU pitching since Calvi's departure. In his 11 years at FIU, the Golden Panthers ranked five times in the top 10 nationally in ERA. Since then the only ERA worth mentioning at FIU is the Equal Rights Amendment in a history class.

Along with Delmonico: Thomas, Taylor, Owens and Calvi seem like solid candidates. Wouldn't anybody really be a step up, anyway?

But seriously, these 5 guys seem to have the qualities to take FIU baseball to the next level and not let the talent down here bolt for It's Cold Up North University. As for the um guys, I'm not so sure they're ready to become head coaches. The resumes of the 5 other guys seem to dwarf the um guys. 

That's just the conclusions the girls and I came to. What do you guys think of these 7 candidates? Is there someone we may have missed?


FIU Fanatic: The way it seems to go with the local media is that until FIU wins on a regular basis, these guys and gals will only show up when there is a hiring or a firing. Until then they will blindly comment on FIU when it's convenient.

gpantera: Good to hear they are T.D.A.O.S-ing at the Prez's on-campus house.

FIU GoldenPanther: Heard there may be some work done to the Pharmed Arena in the future. Yes, the arena does need a nip and tuck.

fiurulez and FI-UM Fan: The witches and I couldn't coach FIU baseball. No one would pay attention to the game with the girls coaching, including me. So that kind of makes it like the last 5 years.

24/7: I think you will be one of the first people to buy tickets to USF at FIU on Sept. 2008.

A Realisst: Why do I not doubt you played for FIU? Because everything, you posted sounds so true. Thanks for your input.

Shannon: We could take that long walk on the beach when you dump your boyfriend.

Folks, you can catch a Spanish FIU segment with yours truly on "Descarga Deportiva" (1550 AM 6-7 p.m. weeknights with Jerry Del Castillo and Pepe Campos) starting soon a weekly basis. Radio seems to want to get on the Golden Panthers train. Although I've got to say "Descarga" has always been on there. Don't worry will translate for the non-Spanish speakers.

FIU and Me: Here's your early X-Mas gift from the GPP........Chrm_2

June 02, 2007

The Inconvenient Truth

Let's stick a fork in this steak, which is actually turning into baloney now.   Balon_2 Steak_2

Nearly 2 weeks ago, the Danny Price baseball era at FIU was cooked. And within the last 12 days, some of the "concerned" local media have come out and said things like "it was an asinine move" to let DP go and "what a disgrace FIU has become by firing DP".

Add to it the so-called "police" escort off-campus that DP said he got and you got yourself Fantasy Island -- local media style.

Island Let's set the record straight here, because apparently the "concerned" local media -- who by the way never showed up for one FIU baseball game or practice this year -- is delusional with this firing.

No. 1: DP was NEVER escorted off campus after he was fired. DP left his pick-up truck with the lights on and the front door open parked in front of the gate of the baseball stadium at 11:30 p.m. that Saturday night. FIU police, doing their regular rounds, saw this truck and went into the stadium to make sure no one was breaking and entering. The link to my story on this is below. In the story, FIU chief of police Bill King said about the bogus police escort:

''No sir, that was not case,'' said FIU Chief of Police Bill King, when asked if police had been called to escort Price. "That might have been Coach Price's perception. . . . Officers didn't even know he was terminated. I don't think we would ever have to escort a person like Danny. I think it was just a matter of different perspectives.''


So let's end the melodrama on the escort at FIU. The only escort at FIU that night might have been a Ford Escort parked in the parking garage.

No. 2: Some of the "concerned" local media had DP on the radio last Saturday morning where the host said it was an "asinine move" by FIU to let DP go. C'mon man, how many more years of mediocrity and letting South Florida's top high school players bolt for colleges like Manhattan, Samford, Marshall and then watch those players come back with those teams and beat FIU like Manhattan swept FIU this year.

FAU coach Kevin Cooney was also on that radio show and he too was not happy about DP being fired. Of course, Cooney's not happy, because he's owned FIU in the last 12 meetings between the Golden Panthers and the Owls. FAU is 10-2 against FIU in the last 12 games. That reminded me of how much Bill Belichick used to praise Dave Wannstedt when Wanny coached the Dolphins. Of course, Belichick said Wanny was a great coach, because the Pats owned the Fins during that time and as long as Wanny was there the dominance would continue. Belic

Both Cooney and Jim Morris probably choked on their oatmeal when they read the headline in Sunday morning's May 20th edition of the Miami Herald: FIU fires longtime baseball coach Price.

Now both coaches will have to actually coach against FIU.

"Asinine" would have been NOT to make a move with the baseball program. Like I've said a zillion times, there is NO reason whatsoever why FIU cannot be a Top 25 team when it comes to baseball. There is WAY TOO MUCH talent down here for that not to happen. This baseball program has been going down the toilet the last 5 years. Now, T.D.A.O.S.

So for the "concerned" local media, when you start actually covering FIU then you would actually be able to form a somewhat realistic opinion when moves are made to the university's sports programs.


Great movie comments by you guys. sunblazer69: Interesting comparisons of FIU coaches to movie characters. I could see MC in Gladiator.

ScUMsanitizer: Your movie posts were hilarious, but No. 7 got the claw, because we got to show moms respect. When referring to um, The Saint and Catwoman references were right on the money.

Yours truly had a guest appearance on the "Dos Amigos" radio show 2 days ago on Wednesday. The Dos Amigos: Larry Milian and Alan Strauss (10 p.m.-12 midnight weeknights on 790 AM) talked about creating a weekly FIU segment on their show as we get closer to football season. Will let you know when the segment begins. Here's the link to Wednesday's interview.


Chrm_2  The FIU witches have informed me that the search for the new FIU baseball coach involves coaches whose teams are still playing in the NCAA regionals this weekend so it'll probably be another week or so before the girls can start seeing the top candidates emerge in their witches brew. We'll help the girls out on the next blog.

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