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9 posts from July 2007

July 31, 2007

Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 5

Six days away from the first fall practice, which takes place next Monday at 7:45 p.m., but unfortunately is closed to the public. But we'll have a story on it in next Tuesday's Miami Herald and of course write something about it here on the GPP.

Mc2 Before we get to your final 8 questions with MC...here's some FIU baseball news in case you didn't catch it in Tuesday's Herald or Herald on-line. Only the paperwork is left to do to officially announce the new FIU baseball assistant coaches. The pitching coach -- which just about everyone on this blog is interested in -- will be BCC's Felipe Suarez, who was the Seahawks pitching coach the last four years. Felipe has only one way to go: up, after the last 2 seasons of FIU pitching. These are the last two FIU team ERAs with no pitching coach on staff since Mark Calvi left for South Carolina. The 2005 FIU pitchers had an ERA of 5.43 and the 2006 pitchers were at 6.18. That's pretty good if you're playing slo-pitch softball. Again, can't put the blame squarely on Slo the pitchers shoulders, remember they've had no teacher since Calvi. On the bright side, TT got an oral committment from Mason McVay, a senior left-hander from Killian High. McVay was All-County last season for the Cougars and is tall at 6-7. He was 6-3 with a 1.92 ERA last season. Back to football. . . .

FIU Fanatic: How difficult is it recruiting for FIU outside of Florida?

MC: We really try not to extend ourselves outside of Florida, unless we have a great connection on a great player that we love and want to have and that player is really interested in FIU. Fortunately for us we end up getting a great defensive end from California, a great one from D.C., because of our connections out there. A couple of linemen from Georgia and a quarterback from Nebraska and Louisiana which if you would have told me we would have gotten 6 out-of-state kids in our first 3 weeks here I would have told you, you were crazy, but again there is a buzz. The people we've come across in our network system over the years, they know what we're about. They know that a university is about the people who are there and if the right people are doing the right things it will be great.

Quijote: So far the preseason rankings and season projections for FIU have been downright insulting, with most predicting another winless season. What's your answer to all of the negativity sportswriters across the nation are showing the program? What do you have to say to them?

MC: I think everyone has a couple of different things that stoke their fire. I think when selecting this staff we wanted to make sure we selected people that kind of take the same way I do. Stuff like that is Hhmario Hhmc perfect for the group of men that we have. We know we have a huge challenge. Our guys wake up every morning with a hunger. These guys are salivating at the opportunity of what we are going to do here. Stuff like that -- just keep printing it, because we'll keep using it, because when the time is right we'll open up that folder.

gpantera: What role is there for former FIU players who want to be part of the FIU family?

Rsmith MC: Whether they do great in the NFL or off the field, I would like the former players to come back and educate our young guys and encourage academics, because a football career can be short-lived. We want all our players, current and former, to understand the pride of FIU. We want the former players that started this program to be involved in every aspect and in the community and be part of this family.

CJ: What team would you like to create a year-in, year-out rivalry with if um decides to pull out of the series with FIU?

MC: UM !

FIUandMe: Describe for me how you will feel when FIU beats um this year?

MC: [laughs] I promised the athletic director I wouldn't make any predictions on any games.

FIU Fanatic: What do you mostly sell recruits about FIU?

Jnichols MC: The truth. The absolute truth. We came here to build a monster. We did not come here to mess around. To build a monster we need some great football players that have great character and that are great people. We have a great school where you are going to walk out of here with a big time, big time degree and let's face it you want to live in South Florida and one out of every two graduates in Dade County are from FIU -- guys you do the math, who are you going to be working for or who are you going to be working with, probably FIU alum.

24/7: Why do you feel you are qualified to run a D-1 program when you have never ever been a coordinator at a D-1 program?

MC: I have worked under some of the best coaches in college football over the last 9 years and I think more than anything I've been able to see 3 different pictures in that process. Number 1 at Miami, a team was coming off probation and how to deal with limited scholarships, how to deal with academic situations, how to evaluate a little bit more strictly and somehow summon enough energy, enough pride in the program and somehow turn it back around. We went to the most difficult situation in the world at Rutgers. I don't know if there's a better training ground than going to Rutgers in the year 2000 after Sports Illustrated wrote an article "Rutgers: The Graveyard of College Football". That was handed to me Sopr before I went and got on a plane to go to New Jersey and dealing with the 80-7 routs against West Virginia and being on the plane ride back and picking up a paper and reading the media talk about how Rutgers should drop football and how it should be I-AA. Those things harden you and you could do one of two things: you could just do your job, you can go to sleep and come back do it or you can spend every waking moment you can with the head coach and find out exactly what to do. Butch Davis and Greg Schiano told me a long time ago every single day on the job is your interview for your next move in your career. Every single day you should be interviewing to be the head coach in every thing that you do. When you are the o-line coach you are the head coach of the offensive line, when you coach the tight ends, you are the head coach of the tight ends. So being around those kind of people and having those experiences I think more than prepare me to be a head coach here. Not to mention the fact that this is my home. I am from South Florida, born and raised down here. I'm just a local guy who grew up right down the street.

GPP: What do you think of the slogan: "Those Days Are Over, Son!"

[Without saying a word, a big smile runs across MC's face].


Check out the Herald's FIU football preseason poll that I created at this address: http://www.miamiherald.com/637/story/187513.html

Vote early and often.

Quijote: Glad to know you're a fan of Jewel. Know you enjoyed the last blog.

Messod: Keep reading/posting on the GPP even at NC and USF.

TheFIUfan: I think Messod got the name Bobby Alonso from the greatly revered broadcaster Bobby Alonso from the old Miami High days, at least that's the story I've heard.

FIU-GO-PAWZz: Go ahead and use your cMC and cTT on your posts. You own the copyright to that.

NYPanther: Glad to hear you enjoyed the MC series. We'll try to make it an annual thing here on the GPP.

CJ: Freshmen are already on campus. First practice is Monday, August 6 at 7:45 p.m. but it's closed to the public. You could find new FIU stories starting next week when practice opens and of course when the Herald's FIU football preview comes out on August 29.

FIUBlueandGold: The um folks are attracted to this blog, because the GPP is damn good blogging.

24/7: The FIU football program is behind the other state schools, because of two reasons: 1) At 5 years old, FIU is the youngest of all the Florida football programs. 2) FIU football was mismanaged the last few years as you could read in my Back to the Future blog that concocted a strange Kool-Aid.

July 27, 2007

Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 4

Back home in Miami, but after having fallen asleep on the plane I didn't need too much of a reminder to let me know I was home.

Just walking from the plane to my car the other night, here were three signs that let me know I was back in Miami: the aroma of Cuban coffee in the airport terminal, the beautifully tanned women (Hola, Veronica) and the bevy of parked cars in a NO parking zone on an airport curb. Gotta love it! Well, at least the first two signs.

With 16 to go, here are eight more of your questions with MC. . . .Mc_4

FIU Fan: Coach, are you seeing the QB situation at FIU the same way many of us are, i.e. is Wayne Younger going into the fall practice as your #1?

MC: We're going to let that play out. We are not going to play games with the media. Whether it be in one day, four days or five weeks once it's clear who that starting quarterback needs to be for that first game, it will be clear. It will be established and we'll go from there. Whoever is number two will need to support it, will need to get better to try and be number one. That's the way it's going to be. There is no room for any selfish players here. We're a team. We're a family and that's just the way football is. Football is business, never personal. Whoever is the guy will be the guy.

FIUJM: During the scrimmage, TE Moses Hinton looked impressive; can he be as good or better than Sam Smith was the last two years?

MC: Don't know enough about Sam Smith to make a comment on that. I'd say Moses had a good spring not a great spring. He's got a ton of work to do. He's now down to 258 pounds. When he got here he was 272. Two fifty-eight is ideal right there. He's naturally a very big person. He's athletic, he's strong. He's running much better routes. He's in better shape. He feels much more comfortable with the offense. We expect big things out of him. To compare him to somebody -- I've been lucky enough to be around some great tight ends -- you got to be pretty special to impress me on that. The Shockeys of the Ljsmith_2 world, the L.J. Smiths (picture, left). Moses has enough ability to be a great one and be a next-level guy some day, but he's got to do it in a game. He doesn't have much game experience.

Miri: After the success that was our spring scrimmage event, are there plans to continue the big event every year like it was this year?

MC: Yes, it will probably be even bigger. It will probably be tied into two days of events involving FIU baseball and football. It's going to be like a freaking carnival out there.

PantherFan: When is the Cage expected to reach the 45,000 capacity -- any timelines? And are there plans for a sponsor or a name change to the stadium?

MC: We're taking all callers for creativity on names for the stadium and maybe logos as well. When that stadium opens up it's got to be special. I know this -- the faster we pack it up the faster it goes to 45,000. We're going to have a beautiful, beautiful place. It's going to be a place where not only we play, but all the local high schools will be playing their games as well and seeing our place. It's going to be such a home for so many people that people are going to be more and more comfortable with FIU. What's going to happen is it's going to be really, really cool to be at or around FIU. We are responsible for that momentum. When I say we I mean the FIU family. If you're out there and you're an alum and you're reading this, man, let's go! Let's not wait, because this is our baby. This is our shot. So let's make it work.

FIU Fanatic: Do you see a shift in recruits' perception of FIU and its football program?

MC: No doubt about it. One of the things is that a lot of these recruits had never seen nor heard from FIU so they had no idea. The other part is some guys that did know about FIU only knew that last year wasn't a great season. But once they set foot on campus with their parents -- whether they committed already, they want to commit or they haven't committed yet -- they all leave with a wow factor, because they see the campus which is beautiful. They see their living quarters which are outstanding. They get to experience some time with their academic people which are excellent and they get to see the school itself, which is truly a jewel. On top of that, they see a stadium that just got knocked down. They see Jewel_3 Album_3 the renderings of one that is going to go up as well as meet the coaching staff. They know here there is an opportunity. That there is a big-time, big-time opportunity. There's a great, great buzz in the state of Florida right now about FIU and we want to keep it rolling.

FIU Heisman: Will other running backs have an equal chance to start or play or will you only go with A'mod Ned and Julian Reams?

MC: The best players will play. I don't care if they walked on. I don't care if their Rivals 5-star or player of the year. If they just hitchhiked and got here from the turnpike and they're a good person and got Hh accepted into school and they're doing the right things and they're doing the best jobs they are going to be the guy.

YouGotGold: Would you wear a T.D.A.O.S. t-shirt?

MC: [breaks out laughing] If it's adidas-sponsored we may have to.

FIUandMe: What are some similarities and differences in this program to Rutgers AND between the coaching philosophies of Greg Schiano and yourself?

MC: Schiano is excellent, one of the best in the business. Truly, I learned more from him than anybody else that I've been around, because I've spent more time with him. The infrastructure, the structure, the set-up of your staff, your philosophy in bringing in a staff. Your philosophy on practice and player regiment. Your philosophy on how you handle a situation. I think I took a great chunk out of Greg Schiano's philosophy. Being with Greg at Rutgers when we first got there it was very, very similar to FIU. A place that had not won, except they had been around for 90 years or so. A place where the Schia culture was of not winning. The expectations were lower than a gutter. One thing he told me before taking the job, remember two things: vision and tough decisions. The first one is easy, the second one is real, real hard. Make sure that every single person in the program is an extension of yourself. Make sure that everyone in that program is treated with great respect and that there is loyalty across the board. Any signs of some one who is not loyal, they need to go somewhere else. It's a tough enough job as it is when everybody is together. Let's not make it any more difficult than it needs to be. The part that is similar, but I believe is much better at FIU is what we learn in business school: location, location, location. To get Rutgers rolling we had to recruit the state of Florida for 4 1/2 years picking up 8 to 10 guys a year to get Rutgers turned around. We live in the greatest hotbed of talent in the country and everything from FIU -- the situation, the location itself I believe makes it a better situation than we had at Rutgers.

PANTHER PAWSE No. 24                                                       Gppaw

FIUBlue82: MC and his staff have visited a few schools this summer. Besides LSU, MC and defensive coordinator Phil Galiano both took a plane to Rutgers. Offensive coordinator James Coley saw FSU workout and Special teams coach Apollo Wright and running backs coach Mike Cassano both went to see the defending national champion Gators practice. Other FIU defenders that stood out this spring besides Lionell Singleton and Scott Bryant were: Jonathan Betancourt, Roland Clarke, Robert Mitchell and Matt Garris. As far as the FIU offense, you can look forward to a creative spread and not the antique, vanilla pro-set from days of yore. Exhibit A: In one of the spring scrimmages, Ned threw a halfback pass to set up a touchdown. A foreign concept the past 5 years.

FIU-GO-PAWZz: I agree the FIU unis need an upgrade and so does the logo. Need Golden Panther on the helmet. I've heard a new logo is being discussed, but nothing concrete yet. As far as new initials for coaches, we've been going with MC and TT since this blog started 4 months ago, so we'll keep the tradition.

FIUBlueandGold: You mean there are um fans actually posting on this blog???.........FIU fans can't let umers stop them from writing on this blog. FIUers are better than that. Plus, umers are just closet FIU fans anyway.

CJ: You can see video of FIU's incoming freshman on the Rivals site which has some of their best high school plays on there.

gpantera: Your question has been answered and it will appear on the next blog.

fiugrad: Thanks for making Pennsylvannia the 11th state the GPP is read in! Former FIU football P.A. announcer Bobby Alonso got a job with a North Carolina radio station and he informs me to count North Carolina among the GPP readership states. So that's 12 FIU states: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Colorado, California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Tennessee, Vermont, Pennsylvannia and North Carolina. See you on Sept. 1 in Happy Valley, fiugrad.

24-7: I like arroz con pollo. My mother makes a mean one with shredded chicken and then finishes it off with parmesan cheese in the oven. Since you're a closet FIU fan and will be at the new stadium opener, you could try some there from the FIU concessions. Aaroz_2

July 24, 2007

Big Easy Bits

Bourb NEW ORLEANS -- Le bon matin de mardi mes FIU amis.

Combining some of the French I learned back in high school with what I've picked up here in New Orleans, my Frenchspeak above translates to: Good Tuesday morning my FIU friends.

It's about 2 in the morning here, 3 a.m. back home in Miami. Just got back from Bourbon Street and must say outside of the smell, it was an interesting night in the French Quarter.

But that's not the purpose here. Wanted to share some news, notes and funny anecdote relating to the Golden Panthers that I came across today in N'Awlins.

First, got that call back from Turtle and he informs me all the new FIU baseball coaches have been hired and there should be some announcement within the next week or two. TT would not comment on specific names I brought up, but from what I'm hearing former Broward Community College pitching coach Felipe Suarez is the new FIU pitching coach and an assistant coach from the University of Houston will take the other FIU assistant coaching position that deals with the fielders.

Also asked TT about the FIU/um series and the prospects of playing beyond the 2 games scheduled for 2008. TT says Jim Morris has not called him to discuss playing after next season. I asked TT if he would like to continue playing um two times every season like FIU has done in the past. TT's response: "Heck, I'd like to play them 4 times a year if we can."

Caught up with Lionell Singleton for some Po' Boy subs at Serio's for lunch today for the story running in Lionell_2 this morning's Miami Herald.

By the way, before we get to LS, this place Serio's is the type of restaurant/sports hangout that needs to open across the street from FIU in that shopping center on SW 107 Ave. and 16 St. Especially, with the new FIU Stadium ready to open next year. My brother wants to get in the restaurant business, might need to make a suggestion. Anyways, Serio's has just about every Division I college football team helmet hanging inside the place and a boatload of LSU memorabilia. Absent was the FIU helmet, but I suggested to FIU media relations guy Evan Koch to donate the FIU helmet he brought along. Heard someone inside Serio's say the um helmet hanging there was taken when the Tigers brawled with the canes at the 2005 Peach Bowl. Thought it was funny.

Back to LS, you can read the nuts and bolts of the story at Miami Herald.com. But here's one question I didn't get in the story.

Me: Did you hear the phrase "Those days are over, son!" a few times during spring practices?

LS: Yeah, I remember the coaches would say it. I think it's a reminder for us that whatever happened last year is over. The days of lollygagging or walking back to the huddle are no more. There's no more time to be lazy. It's time to step up now.

Tiger Meanwhile, MC left at 5:15 Monday morning to visit LSU's workout in Baton Rouge. Speaking with MC later in the day, he said his coaches have made a habit this summer of visiting top programs such as Florida, Florida State and Rutgers.

"We're always looking for a competitive edge," MC said. "Whether it be with our strength and conditioning program, our offensive scheme or whatever. Going to LSU today, they have a knack for developing  great football players and that's what we pride ourselves on doing at FIU."

MC also said FIU hired Roderick Moore as the head strength and conditioning coach for football. Moore joins the Golden Panthers after previously being at the University of Tennessee.

As for the funny anecdote, well, that came to me after meeting with FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger in the afternoon. Our conversation eventually turned to the FIU/FAU game and the Don Shula Trophy, which HS refers to as the "Dunce Trophy" because the 4 times FAU has won the game and trophy, the Owls place the trophy against the wall with the FIU side facing the wall -- like a dunce in school.

That's not the funny part, but it was somewhat humorous. Here's what had me laughing....The Shula Trophy has two wooden sides with each team's helmet on one side. On each side after the game, a gold "little" plaque goes on the winner's side of the trophy with the final score and game MVP.

The one time FIU beat FAU in the teams 5 meetings, 52-6 in 2005. Someone from FIU went out and had a "large" gold plaque made with the score in big numbers and had it placed on the FIU side. HS was cracking up as he told me the story.

Part 4 of the MC Q & A will go up once I settle back down in Miami.


YouGotGold: Maybe I didn't make myself clear to 24/7. Yes, coaching does make a difference, when a coach does have to actually coach. On a team that is not as talented as a team that is loaded with talent, that's where a coach makes a difference. If a coach inherits a team that is an all-star team then his job is not to screw it up. Let's turn to baseball here....Ever since the Atlanta Braves (my favorite baseball team) had to follow a strict budget when Ted Turner sold the team to whatever corporation, Braves manager Bobby Cox Cox has had to really manage his tail off just for the Braves to stay near the top. With a payroll no longer in the $100 million range, Atlanta cannot go out and get whatever star free agent to add like the Yankees. So Cox through his managerial skills has probably helped ATL win about 10 games a season since the late 1990's budget cuts. Whereas, Joe Torre over in New York has about a $200 million payroll and basically any player the Yanks want, they get. So Torre has never really had to manage that team, because its been a team of all-stars for a long time now. Some will say Torre has had to manage lately, because the Yanks stink this season. Yes, he has had to manage, but the Yanks are bad this season, b/c age is catching up with that team. Hopefully, this clears it up a little.

FI-UM Fan: I'm planning on breakfast this morning at Cafe du Monde and definitely trying the beignets. The place is right by the riverwalk and the Hard Rock on Decatur Street. That was one of the first places, the Scarlett-look-a-like bartender told me to go have breakfast during my "first rodeo" here.


July 22, 2007

Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 3

NEW ORLEANS -- Good afternoon y'all as they say in these neck of the woods here in New Orleans, La. In town for the Sun Belt football media days which begin Monday.

First time in New Orleans and as the pretty New Orleans bartender, Ashley, who took care of me at lunch today and looks a little bit like Scarlett Johansson, would say "Pete, it's your first rodeo here". Scarlett_3 Nice way to start the trip.

Anyways, MC and Lionell Singleton, who is representing FIU, are both here for the events and I'll be writing a story on Lionell in Tuesday's Miami Herald, so check it out and will be talking some more to MC. For now let's get to MC's Q & A Part 3. . . .

FIUBlue82: How is our offense responding to the change from the old pro-style to a newer more spread format?

Mc_2  MC: I think kids like creativity. They like flexibility, because if we can't move the ball with a two-back set, pro-set then we might have to open up things a little bit just to get guys out of the way. If the quarterback has to drop back and run 14 times, because he can't find a receiver and he's making it work and those stats are ugly as can be, but it means a win, then so be it. I think our players fully understand that we are a whatever-it-takes kind of team while at the same time having a base. There is a certain time of the game where you need a play where you got to get that extra yard. What is our attitude play? What is our staple? The players know what we have.

A Realisst: If and when you endure success and other top programs or the NFL comes calling, do you think about making a move or do you see yourself at FIU for many years to come?

MC: No one in the world should ever take a football job and think about jumping anywhere else and that's how I have approached this job. [Oklahoma coach] Bob Stoops spoke to us when I was a graduate assistant at Miami and he said when you are taking on a job you approach that job like that's the last job you are ever going to take and you better make that the very best place in the world. You got to Bc realize when I saw coach [Bernard] Clark up there in New Jersey and I was still working at Miami and he was working at South Florida, I asked him: "What is there at FIU?" and one conversation with him had me convinced. Again, I didn't know much about FIU. I knew it was down the street, but I had never been on campus, but I was certainly excited as I can be about the possible opportunity I had gotten. I had not been offered the job yet. But my conversation with coach Clark, he painted such a clear picture of what [FIU] can, should and will be. We really want to make this one of the premier programs in the country. I, myself, owe this community that and much, much more. That is my promise. That is my committment to making this thing happen.

staugpanther: Do you see this year's linebacking unit as having enough talent and/or depth to hold up under a demanding schedule and be the playmakers that last year's crew turned out to be?

MC: We definitely need more depth. We are thin at linebacker. We did get a late start on recruiting and we tried to get a couple of more guys. A couple of guys are walking-on that are real good football players that have a chance to earn scholarships here. We're going to have to find out in camp. In the spring, we were definitely thin.

FIU Fanatic: Give us a timeline of future expected success at FIU...in terms of wins and losses and type of recruits being lured our way and bowl game participation, etc.

MC: Just hard to say, because we haven't played a single game yet. Judging from where we've been at Rutgers and what we're doing here, I expect us to do it faster than we did at Rutgers. Rutgers took 5 years.

FIU Fanatic: Are we going to be fully-funded scholarship-wise to give out the full 85 once the APR thing is over?

MC: Yes. The APR is what it is. It's something we inherited, but we've invested a ton of money in academics. Our coaching staff is all about being very strict on academics. In fact, we should have 100 percent retention 2 years in a row which means that we have a great chance of having 90 to 100 percent graduation rate in our first full cycle.

Cheat_2  Prediction: Coach, under Don Strock, the opponents knew FIU's game. How much of a benefit will you have with opponents not knowing your strategy?

MC: I think football is football and I don't think anyone is going to reinvent the wheel over the next 20 years. When you go up against an opponent that has a brand new staff you view film of their former employer. They'll look at the places that we worked at. At the same time you go into a place you might be thinking opponents are doing one thing, but they're going to completely change, because they have another opponent they've been practicing things for. I think it's give and take.

FIUandMe: How do you plan to get the community more involved with our program, particularly alumni?

MC: We're going to be as visible as possible. Every day we try to be out there. Whether we're speaking at some type of engagement or event. Whether our players are out there reading on national signing day or giving FCAT pep rallies, events that we are going to be holding throughout the summer. Just putting it out there, that please, FIU alum come on! Come out forward and express that you really want to support this thing and make this thing go, because the bottom line is this: just like any great football program across the country, one of the most important things that you need to have is an alumni group that is ready to come out and support it at all costs. They truly make or break it. They're the ones that fill up the stadium. They're the ones that push and create the energy that surrounds the program. You got a group of young men that are willing to live and die with this thing to make everyone proud. Let's face it 1 out of every 2 college graduates in Dade County is an FIU grad. That is a fact. That's a lot of people. Let's round up. Let's support this thing. Let's make this thing explode. We don't want an average deal, cool little, nice event. A nice little place you go down and enjoy the weekend. No, we want to create something special, explosive. Something when the weekend comes around you want to cancel everything else to come down here and check out a day.

FI-UM Fan: What are some of the things you have done to stress discipline within the team?

MC: There are consequences for any miscue. For example, during the summer you are not allowed to run [players] if they mess up in school, but what you can do is you can have study hall from 11 at night to 1 in the morning on a Friday or Saturday night which kind of puts a dent in their social calendar.Breakfast During the season anything involving lateness, for mistakes on the field in practice as long as they are mistakes that have to do with not giving full effort -- you're better off going to hell. Players understand what's going on. They really are not testing the waters, for a couple of reasons: they know the consequences that come with it. I think we're now at that transition point where it's not about the consequences enough anymore, it's about getting better. Once a team makes that decision that it's about getting better, instead of the fear factor, now you're starting to become a ballclub.


CJ: There are only 2 freshman QBs (Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes) since Bryan Mann will not be eligible for this season. All 4 (including Wayne Younger and Paul McCall) will have a shot to earn the starting job.

FIU Fan: Your question has been answered and will be posted on the next Q & A. When I came up with the Q & A idea I said all questions would be asked of MC and graciously enough MC answered them all. I appreciate the job advice you gave me on the last blog, but I'll take it from here.

Willis alt7787: Yes, I have been covering the Marlins lately. Lionell is the FIU rep here, last year it was Keyonvis Bouie. As far as Dontrelle Willis, I think he's pitching hurt, but won't fess up. And the Marlins won't say anything, because it would ruin Dontrelle's trade value before the July 31 trade deadline.

FI-UM Fan: MC is in the process of finalizing the fall practice schedule, but I'm sure there will be some practices open to the public before they go into Penn State prep mode. The first fall practice is Monday, August 6.

FIU Fanatic: I've been told Wendy Napoleon is done playing football, because of the concussions he suffered last season.

FIU-CALI 99 & FIU-GO-PAWZz: Welcome both to the Prowl ! Keep on posting.

A Realisst: I called Turtle on Friday and still have not heard back from him. Word I'm getting is BCC's Felipe Suarez is expected to be the FIU pitching coach. Although TT has not confirmed it yet. Reading into Jim Morris' comment on um-FIU series, I don't expect Jimbo will want to play TT, because of the curdled milk between the two.

NY Josh: Thanks for the props on the blog. It's OK if you want to jump on the FIU bandwagon while there's still room.

Crazy Cane: Coker didn't have to talk in 2001, because he was winning with Butch Davis's players. Jim Morris did the same with TT's recruits. How many NCs did Coker and Morris win when they had to recruit their own players. Alex, I'll take Easy Answers for $800.....What is zero?Jeopardy

We got 16 more questions to go with MC. I'll have a Shrimp Po' Boy sandwich before then and finish my "first rodeo" in the Bayou.

July 18, 2007

Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 2

After going through more than one-hour plus of tape from the interview of your questions with MC, it looks like we're going to have to break this Q & A into 5 parts. So let's get going with No. 2. . . .

Mc_2 FIU Fanatic: How is the walk-on program coming along?

MC: It's going real, real good. I think it's one of the biggest advantages we have, because being that school is inexpensive here and a lot of the financial aid situations kids can get to come over here to FIU, truly, I expect our walk-on program to be the best in the country. You can literally come to FIU and have everything else paid for through some financial aid funds that you can achieve and you can earn yourself a scholarship here and you are doing it in South Florida, living in Miami in front of your family and friends. It's hard to picture a better situation. I think what we experienced in the spring with walk-ons and the ones that are coming on now lead us to believe that they are going to create interesting situations because a lot of these guys that are coming over are scholarship-type players. They are worthy of scholarships and other ones will develop into that which creates a great problem to have. We very actively recruit walk-ons.

GPP: About how many walk-ons showed up for the first time you had tryouts and how many you think are actually going to have a shot to stick?

MC: 77 showed up and we're keeping 12 and of those 12 just about all of them at the very minimum will contribute on special teams.

FI-UM Fan: Has it been a big challenge to change the culture of losing within the program or has the Rutgs_3 team been receptive and ready for change?

MC: I think after being at Rutgers and changing that culture, it definitely prepared myself for what to expect. It won't be as difficult to change the culture here, because it's real simple: it's all about demand and supply. This place [FIU] is on its way to being in real, real high demand. People want to come here and they want to build something real, real special. So it's real simple: either you're on board and you're killing yourself on a daily basis to get it done or we'll find a place for you to be nice and comfortable and we'll bring in somebody else that will do your job better.

FIUJM: With the departures of defensive leaders like Bouie, Barnes, Smith and Bostic, who do you think will be the leaders of the defense?

MC: Guys that have really stood out so far [linebacker] Scottie Bryant has done a real, real nice job. [Defensive back] Lionell Singleton has done a real, real nice job as well. Up front on the defensive line you got a bunch of guys that got a bunch of playing time and [defensive line] coach [Bernard] Clark has done an awesome job with those guys. He's got them ripping off the ball. They know he's a demanding guy: either you get it done or he's going to find somebody else to get it done. What you find out most about these guys is that playing time is the most important thing in the world for them and when that's at risk they'll come through and do what they gotta do.

Encyo FIUandMe: How has Pete Garcia enabled you to do your job effectively?

MC: He's a great mentor. He is a grinder and he's very demanding. Besides being someone I know, he holds you accountable which makes you understand, yes, we do know each other and there is a relationship, but the bottom line is he is the boss, he is the athletic director and I have to perform. Just because we have a prior relationship doesn't mean there is room for error, room to slack off. He knows that this is a very demanding job and for us to be successful you have to be on point: academically with your players, discipline with your players. He was with Butch Davis when they took over Miami. Miami was coming off probation so he's seen the pitfalls. He can warn you of those things. He can give you advice on recruiting. He can give you advice on dealing with high school coaches, with relationships across campus. He's been there and done it in difficult situations. He's like an encyclopedia of information on the how-to-be a head coach thing.

FIU Fan: Coach, do you feel you have the horses up front to be able to compete in the Sun Belt this year or are we still a year away?

MC: Any coach that walks into a season telling you that you are not going to compete --they shouldn't be coaching football anymore. Yes, we will compete this year!

Jonathan: Will you tryout any FIU soccer players for the kicking job?

MC: A couple have claimed that they want to come walk-on. We are more than welcome to see what they got. I was in NFL Europe when Darren Bennett (punting in Pro Bowl, picture right) who was an Dbpunt_2 Australian Rules Football player, was our punter. He was a guy that on his honeymoon in San Diego called the Chargers and said "I can punt the ball 100 yards, 'mate" and they said OK. So when he walked over to the Chargers facility and punted the ball 96 yards, well long story cut sideways, he became a 12-year NFL All-Pro except he used to tackle people. If we can find one of those guys that tackles people, well then, I want that guy!

FIU Fanatic: What aspects of FIU have you found a surprise?

MC: The first thing that surprised me was how nice it was. When I stepped foot on campus I was truly blown away. I grew up 7 miles from here and never did anything except go to the Youth Fair. What surprised me and I appreciate more than anything else is the committment to making this a big time, big time program. The president, the people on campus they understand that it's a major committment, but it's the only way to compete and get things done and they're willing to do it.


A Realisst: We have not forgotten your question. We will get to it soon. MC answered everyone's questions. There's more than 40 questions we have to get to, but all of them with their answers from MC will be posted on this blog.

Roman: Good to hear you've joined the GPP. So you're not the FIU baseball PA announcer anymore? I told you, you should have sang during the 7th inning stretch. You couldn't have been as bad as Ozzy at Ozzy Wrigley Field. Don't be a stranger to the GPP, keep posting.

Quijote: Yes, I was interviewed on the "Dos Amigos" show. You can hear the audio clip on "The Inconvenient Truth" blog which you can find in the GPP's May archives. Look for the photos of the steak and the baloney and just click on the clip when you get there.

Euro Eduardo "Eddie" Hondal: Welcome to the GPP! EEH is an FIU grad (1988 and 2000) and e-mailed me that he has been keeping tabs on the GPP during his European Vacation. EEH has followed the GPP in Rome, Ana Capri, Florence, Sicily and Barcelona.

gpantera: If you're adding FIU sports info, then feel free to write away on the blog. Good comparison of Wake and FIU. You do have a point FIU does have more going for it than Wake did before they won the ACC.

We'll have Part 3 of MC's Q & A soon. Have some Marlins duties this week, but Part 3 should be up soon. Headed to the Sun Belt football media days next week in New Orleans for 3 days. Look for an FIU cajun blog from New Orleans. MC and Lionell Singleton will be in the Big Easy as well.


July 13, 2007

Mario Cristobal Q & A Part 1

Just 49 days before the Mario Cristobal era officially kicks off at FIU when the Golden Panthers open the season at Penn State on Sept. 1. So here with the help of you faithful GPP readers is the first of a four-part question and answer session with the new FIU football head coach. You asked it, he answered....

Mc YouGotGold: How are you going to address the kicking issue?

MC: Dustin Rivest was the kicker here last year. Also competing for his job are a couple of guys. John Paul Fraites has shown a real strong leg. We have to see what he can do. Then we have Chris Abed (Weston Cypress Bay) coming in. He was a guy that clearly was impressive in his workouts. We're going to heat up that competition as much as we possibly can by making it completely open. We're also bringing in two guys to compete for the long snapping position as well just so that there is no comfort zone. We have to let people know that seniority, hype doesn't guarantee you a thing. Special teams here last year were a little too comfortable. FIU was last in special teams last year. Last in return yardage, everything that had to do with special teams. We're going to make sure we bring in as many bodies that are capable of competing for special teams. Every freshman will long snap, anyone that has a leg will be tried out at kicking.

NYPanther: How do you size up the Sun Belt Conference and how many recruiting classes do you need to win the Sun Belt? What conference do you see FIU joining next?

MC: The Sun Belt is loaded with some pretty good talent. Your goal every year and everyone's goal is to win your conference. But truly we're recruiting to beat everyone in the country -- that's our philosophy. People might raise an eyebrow or might be skeptical, but truly we don't give a [darn]. Every single one of our coaches are resilient sons of a gun. We really don't care who we're recruiting against whether it be Ohio State, Miami, Florida, we're still going to go after that kid. We need a couple of recruiting classes to make sure when we break that huddle we look like a big-time, legitimate college football team. It's hard to put a number on [recruiting classes] because we haven't played a single game yet. First and foremost let's make the Sun Belt great, because the way these teams are beating these out-of-conference opponents it might take a turn where a BCS bid is granted to the Sun Belt. But those are the type of issues right now that I don't even worry about, because that's out of our control.

gpantera: Is having so many tough out-of-conference opponents the best strategy for such a young FIU program? Will you seek to play an aggressive OOC schedule or a more balanced one?

MC: The OOC schedule was something we inherited and it probably increases the difficulty for a growing team. The flip side is there's that much more hype, energy and exposure. FIU has made a decision to be a big time Division I program and what better way to do it than be on the big stage. We're going to build a monster here and it's just a matter of time. If we catch a big monster a little bit before we Mons become a monster and we're in for the fight of our lives, so be it. We're playing ball, let's go! I think we're going to have trouble scheduling opponents, because when we're in year 4 of our plan you're going to throw in an FIU tape and you're going to see a team that's been lifting, running in a program that has been geared to developing the finest in the country. People are going to see a program that they might want to pass on instead of playing FIU, especially in our stadium when the place is rocking. We're not going to shy away. I would like to go out west and play one of the big boys out west. I would like to play in the Northeast. Play some of the teams that come down here and try to recruit South Florida so we can let our South Florida boys know, "Hey, what are you doing?"

FIUmom: What is being fundamentally done to shore up the O-line?

MC: The offensive line -- just like anything else whether it be football or the ultimate fighting challenge -- the guys who are in the best shape usually win out. We have to develop our core, lower body and our explosiveness better than anybody else. With that comes discipline, toughness and the ability to recognize and think on the run. More than anything it's the attitude. Just committing to becoming nasty and smart. You can only increase someone's athletic ability by so much, but you certainly can increase their toughness, awareness and their freakin' attitude to get after it.

FI-UM Fan: Does tight ends coach Alex Mirabal still head butt people without a helmet?Mira

Rhodes_2 MC: I see no scars on his head like Dusty Rhodes. [MC says laughing] I haven't seen a head butt yet. He is an intense son of a gun and he has not changed since the days that he and I played side by side in Columbus [high school].

CJ: How's Mirabal doing with the tight ends?

MC: The tight ends, let's just say they leave practice and they want to be carted off the field on a stretcher. He grinds them. He works them. They've taken to him, because they know that dude lives and dies for this thing. He's doing awesome!


FIUGolden: Yes, I think the number of FIU license plates have definitely been on the rise. They're almost becoming as prevalent as those kids stickers people have on their rear windows -- just not annoying like those stickers.

FIU Fanatic: Post on any GPP blog, no problem. Bryan Mann is not eligible for this season and same with Shaquan Hicks. Jermaine Malcolm still has a chance to be eligible.

CJ: The Northwestern issue was a joke. How could the leaders of that school let that go on? Meanwhile, Antwan Easterling is in Southern Miss without a care in the world. A lot of people missed the boat on that one starting with the schools superintendent, Rudy Crew. Are those the kind of coaches you want at FIU -- heck no!

Congrats to Antwan Barnes on signing that 3-year, 1.4 million dollar deal with the Ravens. Speaking with some friends in Baltimore, the word there is that El Monstruo may even start.

Hey, everybody is welcome on the GPP as long as it's G-rated material.

NY Josh: Hadn't heard from you in a while, thought you fell asleep. Thanks for the FIU Top 4 sports figures plug, but I haven't done anything, yet. However, you could nominate me for the top 4 pitchers in my 4-team Sunday softball league!

July 10, 2007

All-Star Tuesday

You folks have certainly plenty of interesting and insightful questions for the Golden Panthers new football coach.

Cheesecake Reading the number of these detailed questions made me think back of when I had to take the food and bar test before I started bartending at Cheesecake Factory during my college days. At least you guys didn't ask MC or myself to name all the ingredients in a Luau Salad.

We expect to have your questions answered some time later this week.

As for tonight, catch former Golden Panther and current Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell play in his fourth All-Star Game for the American League against the National League in San Francisco on FOX.

Mike right now is the lone FIUer in the big leagues and is having a terrific year for the BoSox Lowell_3 hitting .300 with 14 HR and 63 RBI.

Mike is also the lone Golden Panther on the Miami Herald's current Top 4 South Florida Sports Figures Poll. You can vote for Mike at http://survey.herald.com/sports_poll/standard/

That Herald poll got me thinking, we should have here on the GPP: the Top 4 Sports Figures in FIU History. Send in your thoughts on who should be nominated and we'll compile a final list and vote on these sports people after we get through the Q & A with MC.

As for other things making my brain cells work. . .Maybe it's just me or maybe it's just better marketing, but lately I've been seeing a lot more FIU gear at places I've been.

Fiutee Just last week at a restaurant in Weston, I saw a kid walk in with an FIU shirt. Over at a Pembroke Pines coffee shop there was a guy with an FIU cap. Visiting my folks down in Kendall last Saturday and at Sports Grill there was a guy wearing a gold FIU polo. Maybe its T.D.A.O.S. with FIU marketing as well. If it's like this now, could you imagine what it will be like when FIU starts winning on an annual basis.

Don't worry the FIU witches and I haven't forgotten about the T.D.A.O.S t-shirts. The girls just can't seem to agree on a design. As you can see by this photo all 4 have their own styles. Chm_3

Gppaw_2  PANTHER PAWSE No. 19

FIU Fan: You are correct as far as FIU not having a coach moving up in the coaching ranks -- it has not happened yet. Mark Calvi would be the closest, but he was not a head coach and did not get promoted to a head coaching position. FIU has to start a winning tradition for that to happen and who knows maybe when it does happen with whatever FIU coach it may be, that coach will have it so good down here that he won't want to leave.

fiugrad78: No apologies necessary for getting off topic in the last blog. When the time comes the situation at 1st base between John Petika and Jorge Castillo will sort itself out. It's always a good problem to have too much talent than not enough. I'll be doing a story on Turtle soon and I'll get to your questions then. By the way, though not official, sources have confirmed that Castillo is very likely to be in an FIU uniform next season.

FIUBlue82: TT is down to two guys for the pitching coach job, but would not disclose those names to me. He's currently moving all his stuff from Arizona to Miami and expects to be in town later this week. I imagine something will get done by the end of the month.

A Realisst: We will try to get all questions answered. I'll post the question asked before MC's answer when I write that blog.

FIU: Paw or claw? Don't know exactly what you mean by that question?

Quijote: What part of the world are you at? Is it new to the GPP that we can include it in our readership count of states and other countries? Thanks for keeping tabs on the GPP from afar. The miracle of the world wide web.

July 06, 2007

Yesterday is History. . .Today is the Day

So apparently not too many of you folks liked the Kool-Aid concocted in the last blog. Kool_3

So we'll return the DeLorean and bring in golfing sage, Chi Chi Rodriguez, to take us to this blog with one of his colorful quotes: "Yesterday is history, tommorrow is a mystery, today is the day."

Chichi_2 Before we get to today, having closely covered FIU football on a daily basis since its inception, I still stand by my Kool-Aid about last year's team. All that team needed was direction to have a successful season. But let's get to today.

FIU baseball is suddenly a hot topic among college players. Word is there have been plenty of calls placed to Turtle Thomas about players looking to transfer. GPP asked TT about it and he had no comment. One of the more potent bats that appears headed to FIU is Louisville first baseman Jorge Castillo.

Castillo, who hit mostly fourth or fifth in the Cardinals lineup and helped UL (47-23) get to the College World Series, is a local kid who played at Gulliver. The first baseman would be a senior next season and unlike other NCAA sports, in baseball, Castillo (picture, below right) would not have to sit out a year. He hit .317 with 7 HR and 62 RBI and was 5 for 13 in the CWS. Cast

Yes, I know the follow up question is "What about the pitching coach?" Talking to TT, he has narrowed down his choices, but there hasn't been any contracts signed. But rest assured, there will be a "real" pitching coach in place at FIU next season.

Speaking of a "real" coach, I texted MC the other day about doing a Question and Answer session with you good people on the GPP. Earlier this year, you guys asked for an MC interview, the GPP did one better....we're going to make it a Q & A with you guys and MC. By the way, MC's response to the idea: "Absolutely!"

Mc_2  So send in your questions and I'll bring them to my meeting with MC later next week and we'll get all your answers on this blog. I imagine we may have to divide the Q & A into two separate blogs, but we'll get it done!

As for other "today" FIU news, Mark Lewis, a former FIU soccer player, won Arena Football League Kicker of the Year this week. Lewis, a kicker for the Austin Wranglers, is the AFL's all-time leader in field goal percentage. Lew_2


YouGotGold: We'll soon have a blog on FIU's upcoming opponents.

FIUGolden: I'm not too familiar with what's going in Sweetwater, but that would be a great idea to try and make that area into a college town atmosphere. Slowly, but surely FIU is shedding its commuter school image. Winning in sports will be a major factor for that.

FIUJay: We're glad the GPP can be your one-stop shop for FIU sports news. Sort of like Tar-jay.

A Realisst: You may or may not have drank the Kool-Aid, but thanks for understanding the point of the previous blog. I think too many people jumped the gun thinking I was saying FIU should have been in a BCS bowl last season. All I was trying to get across was that last season's talent was wasted.

FIUMom: 56 days until Happy Valley.

The June numbers are in for the Herald blogs and the GPP is holding steady at No. 4 out of 9 Herald sports blogs, but we dropped four spots from No. 6 to the No. 10 among all the Herald's 32 blogs. The four blogs that leaped the GPP: TV, gossip, crime and politics.

24/7: The GPP won't go into the future until after seeing what develops in Camp Cristobal with the returning players and incoming freshman class. After that we'll have a blog on thoughts for this upcoming season.

July 02, 2007

1.21 Jiggawatts = (8-4) 5-2 SBC + title

Some of the college football preseason previews have hit newsstands and the two I've read have FIU headed for another 0-12 season. Both the Sporting News and Athlon Sports are predicting another winless season for the Golden Panthers.

The GPP won't make any predictions until after getting a long look at the team during fall practice which begins in August. We'll have our two cents for you then. Which is exactly what everybody's predictions are worth anyway -- since none of the writers or fans of college football actually play or coach the sport or know what's going to transpire during the upcoming season.

Delor But lucky for you, the GPP has rented a DeLorean and we're going to go back in time to see what FIU's record would have been last season if MC and his staff coached the most talented Golden Panthers team in the program's five-year history.

Just to refresh, the 2006 Golden Panthers had senior skill players (Josh Padrick, Chandler Williams, Sam Smith) on offense that were All-Sun Belt in 2005. But somewhere along the way, the o-line's needs were not addressed and neither was the kicking game. On defense, FIU had future NFLers Antwan Barnes, Chris Smith, 2-time Sun Belt defensive player of the year Keyonvis Bouie, Alex Bostic and other All-Sun Belt defenders. EbrownOn an 0-12 team in 2006, this defense finished 1st in the nation in tackles for loss, 4th in pass defense and 28th overall in total defense.

Now before we get the flux capacitor running and the 1.21 jiggawatts, I'm sure there will be some folks, who are not fans of time travelling, who will say "what could MC and staff have done different to prevent an 0-12 season". Like one of the newest readers to the GPP pointed out MC has never had any coordinating experience. True, but just from looking at some of the offense and innovation on both sides of the ball during the spring and watching the discipline and work ethic FIU had under MC in March and April, it might have been a different story in 2006. So let's set the controls in the DeLorean to August 31, 2006. Destination: Murfreesboro, Tennessee...Btf_2

Aug. 31: Final score: Middle Tennessee 7, FIU 6. . .The easy answer is to point out how FIU lost by missing an extra point. But with some of the offense shown this spring by o-coordinator James Coley, the Golden Panthers make this game a rout, especially with MT needing 3 guys to block "El Monstruo" Barnes most of the game. (Back to the Future FIU record: 1-0, 1-0 in Sun Belt).

Sept. 9: South Florida 21, FIU 20. . .Yeah, yeah, we know another missed extra point. MC would have a recruited kicker, no doubt. But this game fell apart with a USF punt returned for a touchdown and a late FIU turnover deep in its own territory. Better special teams coverage under new ST coach Apollo Wright (some of the former FIU players who were at spring practice this year stood next to me saying things like "we never did that on special teams" or "we haven't done that since high school" when watching Wright direct the STs in practice). The discipline brought by the new coaching staff may have helped prevent that late fumble. (BTTF record 2-0).

Sept. 16: Bowling Green 33, FIU 28. . .A 5-point loss. Here's some of the offensive lowlights: a 9-yard fumble returned for a touchdown. 3 sacks, 3 interceptions. A'mod Ned had a huge day running for 169 yards, but the passing game (145 yards) could not get going. Not Padrick's fault, he had no line and he couldn't call his own plays. Coley's offensive innovation and MC recruiting an o-line turn this game FIU's way. (BTTF 3-0).

Mcfly Sept. 23: Maryland 14, FIU 10. . .Here's where lack of preparation really hurt. Down 14-10 with 1:35 left in the game, FIU starts at its 20-yard line. "Hello, McFly", Can you say two-minute offense? Golden Panthers offensive players would have liked to, but later told me they never really worked on it in practice. Despite that, FIU drives to the Terps 9, but can't get in the end zone. Again, a little more offense and there's no need for a last minute drive to win. (BTTF 4-0).

Sept. 30: Arkansas State 31, FIU 6. . .This is another lack of preparation game as FIU players admitted afterwards. Coming off almost upsetting Maryland, FIU was thinking "we belong in the ACC". FIU didn't take ASU seriously and that was evident down 21-0 early in the 3rd quarter. Watching that game, FIU was clearly faster and bigger than ASU, but not mentally better. MC and company would have addressed that. (BTTF 5-0, 2-0 SBC).

Oct. 7: North Texas 25, FIU 22 (7 overtimes). . .Yes, again kicking was an issue. But FIU having the ball 1st and goal at the NT 1-yard line in OT and not scoring a TD is inexcusable, especially with a mobile QB in Padrick and not being allowed to use his mobility. I think Coley finds 1 yard in his pocket next to some coins. (BTTF 6-0, 3-0 SBC).

Oct. 14: um 35, FIU 0. . .Here clearly um was more talented as a team than FIU, even with a close score (7-0 in 3rd quarter) before the Rocky auditions broke out. (BTTF 6-1).

Oct. 28: Alabama 38, FIU 3. . .Down only 10-3 at halftime and missing 18 players due to um suspensions, FIU still was mismatched against a better foe. (BTTF 6-2).

Nov. 11: Louisiana-Monroe 35, FIU 0. . .Forget about being undermanned, this was a game where nothing went right. (BTTF 6-3, 3-1 SBC).

Nov. 18: Louisiana-Lafayette 17, FIU 7. . .Here's the classic example of the questionable offensive play calling last season. FIU is ahead 7-3 and driving in the 2nd quarter. The drive started at their own 2 and running back Julian Reams has gained nearly 48 yards on the drive to the 50-yard line. It's now 3rd and 1 at midfield. I don't know? Maybe you give it to Reams who has not been stopped? No, the bubble screen (that has worked 1 time in 4 years) is called and FIU loses 2 yards and has to punt. Again, different thinking on O wins this game the way FIU's D was playing. (BTTF 7-3, 4-1 SBC).

Nov. 25: Florida Atlantic 31, FIU 0. . .Like Monroe, there were no answers for the Owls. (BTTF 7-4, 4-2 SBC).

Dec. 2: Troy 26, FIU 13. . .This game might have been for the Sun Belt Championship. Troy entered the game 5-1 in the conference. Looking at the DeLorean's numbers, FIU was 4-2. With no o-line, a bunch of players still suspended and inept offensive play calling, FIU actually led this game 7-6 just before halftime. But 4 punts, a possesion ending on downs and an interception in the 2nd half ended any hopes of a win. With the new staff, there would have been an o-line, better play calling and an SBC title. (BTTF 8-4, 5-2 SBC).

As for this season, MC and staff have their work cut out for them. All the senior skill players on offense have graduated and so have most of the defense's best players. Going by that alone, you can see how the preseason magazines see an 0-12 season. Whether it will be, we'll find out soon enough. But folks, with the lack of discipline and the predictability of last season behind now, I don't think we'll need to rent another DeLorean to wonder what might have been.

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