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Q & A with Turtle Part 4

Yes, football recruiting is starting to heat up with 8 days until national signing day, but for a brief Tttt_5 moment let's all catch our breath and finish off your Q & A with Turtle.

Here's the final installment of your questions and the new FIU baseball coach's answers. Plus, a little anecdote on TT from LSU athletic director Skip Bertman, who won five College World Series in 17 years while he was the Tigers head coach. By the way, if you need your recruiting fix you can catch the FIU recruiting story in the Miami Herald on Wednesday.

FIUJM: Can you tell us what your expectations are for your first year at FIU?

TT: We mainly just want to get better everyday. We want to improve learning how to play the game, playing together. I don't necessarily want to say "We want to finish third in the league or we want to get in a regional". We do have expectations amongst our team, but I just want to say right now that improvement is the main thing that we want to get.

24/7-11: Why do you recruit players that you know are going to get drafted and never go to FIU?

TT: That's probably the best question in this whole thing. First of all, you don't really know a year ahead when you're recruiting guys what's going to happen next June [month of baseball draft]. You don't have Crystal a crystal ball in front of you to look into the future. Number two, if you are going to get some superstars that are going to take you where you want to go, you have to sign them. If you don't sign the real good ones, then you are going to be an average team at best. You got to have some stars that play for you. I've always been told that you need to have at least three offensive stars and then you got to have good capable college hitters in the other slots. You need three real outstanding weekend pitchers and you need two good closers. It takes 9 or 10 pitchers now. If you are going to play the 56 regular season games, the conference tournament and hopefully into the playoffs you've got to cover over 600 innings of pitching. It literally takes 20 good players to have a good club. You've got to have 11, 12 good hitters, because there are injuries and slumps. When you are talking about why sign those guys. Look at the catcher that is going to Miami, Yasmani Grandal. He got offered $750,000 [by the Red Sox]. I've been in his house. His whole house area is as big as [the FIU baseball press box]. I would think he would have signed for $75,000 much less than $750,000. You don't know who's going to college and who's not.

Baltimorepanther: Why do you think you have been such a successful recruiter?

TT: I don't know that I have. There are a lot of great ones out there. First of all, you got to have something to sell. We got a lot to sell here at FIU and I think it's just going to get better and better as time goes along. I think the number one thing you got to have is an eye for talent. You got to kind of look at a kid and when it's 90 miles an hour can he hit that or is he good about hitting 80-82 mile stuff. Can he hit at that next level. Like a pitcher. Three characteristics of every pitch is velocity, movement and location. Does he have at least two of those qualities in his pitches. Does he have a second pitch, a third pitch. A guy can't just be a one-pitch guy unless he's going to be a closer and he can blow it by somebody. The three most important things for getting a guy to me is the visit to your school has to go well. He has to feel comfortable. He has to like what he sees around the program. Number two if you make a home visit or a visit after a game, how does that visit go? Do you relate to him? Number three Fm is the phone calls, the letters, the e-mails. But the biggest thing in recruiting is perseverance.

Baltimorepanther: Do you have any spring games planned against the Marlins or Yankees?

TT: No, but we would like to play the Marlins definitely in the future. No question about it.

GPP: Anything new with the possibility of continuing the series with the Hurricanes, beyond the two games scheduled for this season?

TT: Nope. It's up to them. I would like to play them eight times each season. Four games here at FIU and four over there, but I'm not going to beg.

I had the chance to speak with Skip Bertman last Saturday at the Miami Dade College baseball reunion. SB will be the keynote speaker at the FIU Baseball Diamond Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. at FIU's Graham Center. Here's what SB had to say about TT, who was SB's assistant at LSU during the 2000 Sbb College World Series championship season.

SB: We could not have won that 2000 title without Turtle. Yes, he is an excellent recruiter, but what makes him stand out more than anything is that he's one of the best 1-on-1 coaches in the business. During the 2000 season, we had a 2nd baseman named Ray Wright, who we needed to convert to an outfielder, because of injuries. Ray had never played the outfield before, but we had Turtle teach the kid how to play the position. By the time the College World Series came around, Ray saved a couple of games for us with two spectacular catches in Omaha. As a coach, Turtle is very underrated. That FIU program is going to take off under him.


Would be a coup to see Booker T. defensive lineman Jonathan Jackson join teammate Kambriel Willis at FIU. JJ has taken a beating lately from the Coral Gables faithful after saying "FIU's my leader". Of course, the other school's fans are going to belittle the kid. God forbid they lose a football recruit to 6-Jj year-old FIU.

NYCFIUFan: We really won't know how good the FIU recruiting classes will be until a few years down the road. On paper, everybody recruited has their share of accolades, but whether those show up on the college gridiron remains to be seen.

FIU Fanatic: 28 sacks from Kambriel Willis is correct.

Baseball Fan: FIU baseball alumni game is cancelled, because due to NCAA rules the current Golden Panthers baseball team already played the one exhibition game they can play (vs. Canada last November).

CJ: Like the rest of the FIU recruiting class, we'll just have to see how good defensive back Marcelus Manear is. Unlike, some of the local players like Willis and Jackson, I personally did not get to see Manear.

UltimateFIUFan: The word is Redd White quit the team, because he was not happy not being the number one scoring option on the Golden Panthers. In the last game he played at FIU, SR benched him Mj the entire second half for disciplinary reasons. The kid wasn't exactly the second coming of Michael Jordan, if he was Texas A&M never would have let him transfer.

paradox: Like Jeff Gordon, here's what you said John Petika has to look forward to..Ing_2

24/7-11: Good to hear from you, thought Randy Shannon had fired you with his D-coordinator.

FIURisingUp: Welcome to the GPP.


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The 2008 Sunbelt Conference baseball media guide is out. Check it out at www.sunbeltsports.org

They are available to download in parts (each team has its own 'chapter'). If anyone needs the complete version in pdf, please advise. It's just a 50MB file download.


Once again, great job! I was just wondering when your next update on the stadium is going to be?




Once again, great job! I was just wondering when your next update on the stadium is going to be?



Very insightful questions and answers by TT. Great job with this thing, Pete....Hope to hear some more on recruiting and information about the stadium and the final amenities, measurements of the fieldhouse, locker rooms, coaches offices, training room (if any..since the one at Pharmed is so nice), etc...

Again, thanks~

FIU just got another commitment. This time it's WR Junior Mertile, a Miami Herald All-Dade first team selection.

Mertile played receiver, safety, quarterback and running back at North Miami High, but will line up as a receiver for the Golden Panthers. He scored 8 all-purpose touchdowns last season.

FIU0406: I'll have the next updated tour of the stadium some time next week. Right now, construction is ongoing for the west end zone. Look for the next stadium blog soon after National Signing Day next week.

Thanks for the info, Pete...Now we have 20 public 'known' commitments to date...Mertile is another playmaker, and was also selected as a class 6A 3rd Team All State player as a Utility player...Hilton and others in offense are needed as well.

Pete it seems like MC is keeping the staff intact. Is that the case?
No major firings or guys leaving to other schools from our staff should be a great boost for the players.

Pete,Great job with the TT interview!!! I appreciate you getting the questions answered. I'm ready for the baseball season. Also, thanks for letting us know on Junior Mertile.

I've been reading that FIU's offensive coordinator, James Coley, is one of the leading candidates to fill FSU's tight end/recruiting coordinator job....Hope he stays a while longer to see this thing blossom....

BTW, that was a really good article on recruiting today!! Way to include the new stadium...and state of the art fieldhouse!

must agree it was a great article on recruiting. im all fired up and ready to see what comes of my bday lol if it isnt the superbowl landing on my bday its Nat'l signing day lol

Great work Pete.

This is the best interview yet. Turtle gave REAL answer not just a bunch of sports cliches.

In retrospect this series with Turtle makes me think ALOT less of Mario's interview series.

1.Whats up with Rouco's interview? Pete, is he to busy losing?

2.By the way instead of the FSU cowgirls don't forget our own www.fiugoldendazzlers.com

3. Any more info on the logo or name change. I wold like us to drop the "Golden" our name is already Waaaaaaaaaaay too long.

I think I heard, and agree it's a good idea, that our administrators should try to "develop" the brand "FIU" locally and nationally versus the Florida International...Sort of like UCF has been doing..or done....I mean, sometimes I see on ESPN ticker something like "FLA INTL" or in USA Today something like "FLINT". FIU is what we are known in South Florida and Florida...we should expand on it....

Pete, could you confirm that yet another Booker T. Washington player, this time Winston Fraser, has committed to FIU?..If so, anything on him? Thanks

Hey everybody!! I want to introduce myself to my fellow golden panther fans. This my first time writing on this blog, though i have been reading it for months. I really have to hand it to you Pete your been conducting a great blog... i never write on blogs, but this one has grown very interesting... so i'm proud to be a part of the GPP in the name of my school!

FIU Fanatic: you are totaly right, I couldn't agree more. I don't like being refered to as FLA INT. Everyone I know refers to us as FIU... Miami is UM, Florida is UF... FSU,USF... ect. we are FIU and thats should be enough for people to start recognizing.


I'm not much of a baseball fan, although I was one of the naked runners on calle oche celebrating the Marlins '97 championship lol. Anyways, just wanted to give you my congrats on a very detailed and interesting q&A with turtle. After reading the four segments, I'm honestly excited to see what the team has this upcoming year. Aside from keeping readers informed, a beat writer can also stir up interest, and you've done just that.

Thanks, and go GPs!!!

Roar Baby

Hey baseball fans! Here's something to get you excited for the new season. The 2008 FIU baseball Media guide is available for download from www.fiusports.com

Obviously, it's more comprehensive than the one that sunbeltsports.com put out. Great read! 22 days until opening night!

PP, I agree with OC Panther. How about a SR interview. I think this is the only FIU sport that's happy being on page 99 on the Herald Sport Pages. When they're on the road and lose you can't hardly find them. Is this done on purpose ?. Don't they understand that they can't fly under the radar anymore. I refuse going to the games, but PP, is it true the crowds are south of 200 ?.

BTW bloggers, Kansas State had the biggest upset of the year when it beat Kansas. The Wildcats were ranked #22 and they will likely be in the top 15 next week. The reason I bring this point is that 4 years ago the inept Rick Mello had two finalist competing for the headcoaching job here. One of the them was Frank Martin and the other SR. While SR keeps driving this program into the ground, Mr. Martin is one of the candidates considered for "Coach Of The Year".

Very good point RPF, Martin was a local high school coach. He is good recruiter also, got Michael Beasley to stick to his Kansas State commitment(when Huggins left). It would be nice to hear what SR has to say about his team. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see win against NO...but SR, can we be consistent in the Sun Belt??

Interesting points on Martin, guys... but if memory serves me correctly, wasn't he one of Shakey's boys? I think he was on the staff at Miami High when Shakey was there. I also think he was the coach there at one point, and everyone knows the rumors of dirtiness that went on there.

Don't quote me on any of that... high school hoops isn't my forte... but if all that's true, there's your answer as to why they would hire SR over Martin. FIU does NOT want to associate itself with anything from the Shakey days, and frankly, the school' still paying for it. A lot of FIU's troubles in recruiting locally can be traced to that whole mess. Also, look how long it took to retire Raja Bell and Carlos Arroyo's numbers. Both were here when Shakey was, and Arroyo in particular was Shakey's boy. That's pretty much all you need to know. You may not agree with it, but there's no doubt it's a factor.

I know lots of people are frustrated with the team. I am, too. They are better than their record shows, I think. But I don't know if it makes sense to dump Rouco. The guy's clearly brought talent to FIU, and for that alone I think he deserves another year. People have forgotten so fast what a wasteland this place was under Donnie Marsh. SR's done a pretty good job getting the pieces he needs to win. Now we just need some freakin' coaching.

If these same problems come back again next year, I won't argue about him being gone. And if that happens - which I hope it won't - at least Rouco's given the next coach some talent to work with. That's a positive in and of itself.

Completely agree with Messod! Count me as one who is disappointed w / BOTH hoops programs, however the talent SR has brought in is good w / Soto (former Mr. Florida Basketball!) starting next year. Now NEXT year there better be an EXPONENTIAL improvement.


Messod not to be disrespectful, but you make no sense in what you're saying. You're blaming not hiring Martin because of his association with Shakey. Rouco was Shakey's first assistant at Miami High. How can you blame the recruiting on Shakey? The guy left 8 YEARS AGO, he's worshipped by coaches everywhere. Currently THE ONLY PLAYERS in the history of FIU were discovered, recruited and molded by him. By the way he's coached over 12 current NBA players.

Then you go on about how long it took to retire Raja's and Carlos' numbers. Wake up and smell the coffee, the only reason this happened is because FIU gains (financially, PR and recruiting from it).

This is Rouco's 3rd merry-go-round at FIU and every time it gets worse. Do you know that after Shakey left 8 years ago, FIU with the exception of one year, has lost 20 games every season? My friend this is not bad coaching, it is down right SHAMEFUL.

Let's get back to Martin. You might be right about the big brass at FIU being afraid of him. It was well known that Mr Mello, (The worst thing that has happened to FIU in its history) along with the hypocrite of Gallagher, never liked him. However last night's crowd at KS Arena was bigger than anything that has ever happened at FIU. Frank has recruited or coached 10 NBA players and watching last night game I saw the NBA number 1 draft choice.

It looks to me that you're a happy to please guy when you're content with FIU's talent. Accept the fact that FIU blew it.

Another disappointing loss by FIU hoops yesterday!!

On a positive note, just read on Rivals that Winston Fraser committed.


that one is very positive that makes it 20 in this class right?

That is 20, hopefully we can get some surprises on Feb.6th.


landing jackson would be a nice addition on feb 6.

Great news!! Now, we need Jonathan Jackson to joing his teammates...and Ty Hilton to choose us over Ole Miss and West Virginia!!That is 21 players now committed...Remember that Mertile was added late, thus the confusion....

List of "Public" Commitments:(21)

1. Corey Lattimore LB
2. Milhomme Jean-Charles DE
3. Aaron Davis DE/LB
4. Joey Harris TE/DE
5. Kambriel Willis DE/LB
6. Chris Charles DB
7. Kenneth White OL/DL
8. A.J. Grant LB/DB
9. Cedric Mack OL
10. Chuck Grace Safety
11. James Jones DE/FB
12. Darriet Perry RB
13. Troy Dannehower QB
14. Kasey Smith DE
15. Stephen Bailey OL
16. Derrick Clark DB
17. Andre Pound DT
18. Donnell Wilson DT
19. Marcelus Manear DB/WR
20. Junior Mertile WR
21. Winston Fraser LB

them 2 and Pullin would make this years class 24 (if all stick) and a very optimistic future for FIU... (yes i know messod cant tell till they play)

Fraser is a big add, that guy is a playmaker. Last week on "the countdown" recruiting analyst Larry Blustien specificly pointed Fraser out as one that would be a big signing... lets hope all sticks!!


Hey You should ask Turtle Thomas these questions when you talk to him again.
1. Exactly how many players does he plan to cut after this season since his plan is to out recruit the old team and bring his own players to play for him.
2. Does he feel like he set a record for the number of scholarships he took away from athletes and former athletes should be something to be proud of huh?
3. How does he plan on pulling out a good season if he had a great number of player transfer out or leave the team becuase of his Communist ways of taking away scholarships.
4. why has he been through sooooo many different colleges in so little time? mhmm i wonder over recruiting and scholarship snagging i dont know ask him.
5. HOw long does he plan on having his job until he gets booted when someone drops a hint to NCAA on his little scholarship adventure he is having.

Thank god that the NCAA passed a rule stating that 30 players of a 35 man roster must be under some type of scholarship. But, unfortunately it didnt take effect this year becuase many players who cant afford college suffered.
Now this should be posted on the Herald becuase this is just a little something something from what i was told from a reliable source IN FIU.

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