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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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.