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MC and the Night Owl

Yes, there will be plenty of turkey on the Golden Panthers plate tommorrow, but FIU will also have to deal with its share of Owls this week.

Tonight at 7 p.m., it's the Kennesaw State Owls visiting the FIU hoops team at Pharmed Arena. Yes, FIU Fan there is hoops tonight.

Coaches_3 On Monday, it was dinner with the head Owl. MC and FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger got together at the South Florida Touchdown Club's FAU/FIU Coaches Dinner at Miami Shores Country Club and each had some interesting points as they addressed the dinner crowd.

HS took the mike first and told the story of how Bobby Bowden and himself drummed up interest for the Hurricanes/FSU series when there was very little.

HS said back when he was the Hurricanes head coach, in the early 1980's Bobby Bowden called HS and said he was having trouble getting Florida to cooperate for a yearly series. So BB asked HS to join him in some media photo-op events to make more people aware of their series. While FSU cowgirls in the Fsu_3 stands may have helped more this is what the two coaches did. The first year HS and BB staged a boxing weigh-in. HS said he won that one, because he was much slimmer. The next year, BB called HS to a Tallahassee boxing ring. The two coaches put on boxing gloves and got in the ring for another photo-op. While the series eventually would gain popularity, because of the play on the field, the two coaches had the right idea from the start.

MC and HS are adamant about making this series special as well through public appearances and by developing top notch football teams. HS mentioned the FAU/FIU series is at a similar point as the "Seminoles and Ibises" --those were HS's words-- were when BB called him in the early 1980's. Both the "Seminoles and the Ibises" were looking to establish themselves in college football at the time.

Shula_2 The FAU/FIU series or the annual Don Shula Bowl as it is also known, has a chance to develop into a true college football rivalry once these two teams establish themselves. And for the cynics, it may not be too much longer before that happens, because of the location and leaders of both schools.

Yes, FIU is behind FAU now, because of the ineptitude of the previous coaching staff, but both schools are in a hotbed of high school football and unlike their Sun Belt rivals, the Golden Panthers and the Owls will have first crack at these players. FAU can win the Sun Belt this season with a win over FIU on Saturday and then beating Troy next week. Within a few years, FIU should be among the Sun Belt's top teams as well. While MC does not have HS's experience, you cannot deny that FIU's head coach and his staff have a work ethic the football program had not seen in the first five years. MC told the crowd that college football is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year job and then went on to give an example of a typical day for FIU's coaching staff. After about a 5-minute speech on all that FIU coaches do on a daily basis, HS jokingly told MC: "I'm not going to your school" to which the crowd burst out in laughter.

MC mentioned to the crowd that with schools developing new stadiums and football facilites (like FIU) it then comes down to the high school player's choice of whether he likes the people at school A or school B and whether that player wants to go to school A and possibly sit for two years and then play OR go to school B and play as a freshman, which is the case with most Sun Belt schools.

You can see the Sun Belt talent already coming to fruition. This year Troy knocked off Oklahoma State, FAU beat Minnesota and last week Louisiana-Monroe beat the Alabama Saban Tide. Not bad for a conference that is only in its 7th year of football. About Monroe's win over Bama, HS cracked to the dinner folks: "That was one win everyone down here loved."

With limited space in Tuesday's print edition of the Herald, I wasn't able to get all of the above in the story, but here's what I did get in: MCHSstory

HS, who recruited both MC and his brother, Luis when he coached at Louisville, gets reacquainted with MC on Saturday in the Orange Bowl for the 2007 Don Shula Bowl.

PANTHER PAWSE

Cran Pass some more of the cranberries, and Happy Thanksgiving to all the GPP faithful, even you wacky folks from Coral Gables.

Don't know how many of you saw the fine print in today's Herald, but TT has inked another pitcher to the Golden Panthers baseball team. Miami Dade College right-hander Eric Berkowitz, a former All-Dade pitcher from Killian, signed with FIU on Tuesday. Berkowitz was 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA and had 22 K's in 23 IP last season.

Head scratcher & FIUer: Welcome to the GPP.

24/7: While Carr, Callahan and Coker all have more experience than MC, I don't think they would be the right fit for FIU if they were available. The Golden Panthers needed discipline, an infusion of energy and better recruits. None of the 3 coaches above provide any of that. MC has the first two qualities and the third, we'll find out in due time. As far as MC being in la silla caliente (hot seat), although my Spanish spelling may be off, as John McEnroe would say: "You cannot be serious". If you're going to judge by the first season, then Randy Shannon should be on his way out the door as well. But neither of those two coaches should be checking their mailboxes for pink slips, because you got to see what they can do when they got their own talent in there and not when they inherit another coach's mess.

We'll be back either Thursday or Friday with a preview of Saturday's game between FAU and FIU.

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