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13 posts from February 2008

February 28, 2008

FIU Quantum Leap

Sure it's been a rough week around FIU sports, but there are sunny skies ahead. I know you're tempted to push that panic button, or you might be on that ledge, but hold your finger and come down from the top of that building.

In honor of this leap year, which I guess we celebrate tommorrow with it being Feb. 29, let's all take an FIU Quantum Leap into the future and see what YOU would do to make FIU's teams better.Ql_2

You good people remember that TV show Quantum Leap where the protagonist would always finish his opening line with: "Anyway here I am, bouncing around in time, putting things right that once went wrong, a sort of Lr_2 time traveling Lone Ranger."

Well that's two TV shows, but who's counting. Now is your chance to tell us what you would do to put things right with FIU sports that once went wrong. You be the time traveling Lone Ranger. I'll start you guys off....

Baseball: It's no secret TT is a great recruiter, but the man had only 6 months since he was hired last June to bring in new players. Give TT a whole year to recruit and see what he does. I'm sure TT has already beat us in this time traveling thing and rounded up a bunch of pitchers for next season. One thing that was neglected in past FIU baseball recruiting classes was a focus on pitching. And as we've all seen in the first five games, pitching is FIU's most glaring weakness. Don't care how many runs you score, if you can't get anybody out you don't have a chance whether it's college baseball, Rbi slo-pitch softball, Nintendo RBI Baseball or wiffle ball.

Also, we need to go in the future and get some team speed for the Panthers. Speed can help you win games offensively and defensively. The hitting is there for FIU, but hitting can slump and as the old adage goes, speed never goes into a slump.

Football: MC addressed in his second recruiting class some of what was missing from last year's team: playmakers with speed, especially on D with half of the Class 4A State Champion Booker T. Washington defense. The Tornadoes are guys that can pressure the passer like El Monstruo, Alexander Bostic and Keke Bouie used to do.

The hope is FIU found its workhorse, every down running back in Darriet Perry. If not, we'll go into 2009 and bring that stud runner back for MC. Outside of possibly Rashod Smith, FIU's all-time leading rusher, the Panthers have never had that rusher with breakaway speed. If Smith would have had more size you might have seen him playing on Sundays.

If new kicker and former All-Dade standout Julio Moraga is as good as advertised then we won't have to Moraga_2 travel to a European soccer field or Australia to find MC a kicker.

Basketball: Let's find a way to break the full court pressure. Teams have done it all season to FIU and with a few exceptions the Panthers have struggled to solve the press.

Was going to visit Steve Nash, Magic Johnson or Jason Kidd to see if any of their sons want to play guard at FIU, but SR has some pretty good guard talent joining him next season in point guard Josue Soto and wide receiver/shooting guard T.Y. Hilton.

Add to it possibly, forwards Freddy Asprilla and J.C. Otero and next season could be SR's most talented team. We could leap into 2009 to see if it is, but what fun would it be if we didn't watch the season unfurl.


Would like to point out that the Golden Dazzlers were missed at last night's basketball game. Just not the same without the ladies there.

Even with a loss last night, heard the FIU women's hoops team clinched a 1st Round Sun Belt Tournament home game next Wednesday. Congrats to the Lady Panthers.

FIU baseball looks to rebound this weekend with a four-game home series against Wagner. It's been a tough start to the 2008 season, but here's something on the lighter side: FIU will be looking for its Numbertwo_2 Number 2 win of the season against Wagner. . .Hopefully, you get the pun.

FI-UM Fan: The new sound system at the baseball stadium sounded pretty good to me. Among the other improvements, the stadium got a fresh coat of paint on the inside, there are some suites available now for rent and there is talk of building field-level suites behind home plate. The talent on the team will eventually improve as well. TT knows what he's doing.

WhosHouse: From what I'm hearing FIU commit and pitcher Mason McVay has a sore elbow, but should be fine by the time he puts on an FIU uniform next February.

dan le batard, FGCU, maniac'82 & shocked: Welcome all to the GPP.

shocked: Unfortunately TT has to clean up the previous coaching staff's mess. In one of the last comments on the previous post "A What We Learned Weekend", dan le batard hit it on the screws with his comment. Forget for a moment about the baseball team's past academic woes, because that can be traced to FIU as a university not being prepared with enough tutors, computers, etc. to help a Division I athletic program. You can't pin that solely on the past baseball staff.

But the neglect of past baseball recruiting, the questionable game-decisions and the poor overall conditioning and preparation of the team -- all of this is what TT is cleaning up and building.

February 25, 2008

A What We Learned Weekend

So it wasn't exactly the type of FIU sports weekend you'll tell your kids and grandkids years from now, but at least we learned some things from the Panthers baseball and basketball teams.

First, we'll talk hoops, because it's easy what we learned: FIU basketball needs some major work. After losing at Troy -- a team FIU beat by more than 25 points in January -- you might as well put the final Cof_2 nails in the FIU hoops coffin.

The Panthers hoopsters don't travel well and that's what they will be doing for the 1st round of the Sun Belt Tournament. Currently, the No. 10 seed in the SBC, FIU has the two best Sun Belt teams at home this week: Western Kentucky and South Alabama, both who are 14-2 in the conference. Don't see FIU winning either game so that means a likely trip to New Orleans or Denver for the tourney's 1st round. Can you say: One and done?

The FIU baseball team got off to a rocky start against USC. Nobody panic, it was just three games and there are still 53 to go. The Panthers had a chance in two of the three games, but some of the same bug-a-boos from last year plagued FIU to start this season.

TT was concerned in the offseason about the pitching depth and we all saw his worries come to life in Sunday's game when the bullpen couldn't hold two leads and ruined a nifty performance by starter Steven Stewart, who missed all of last season with an elbow injury.

There seems to be some talent in the FIU 'pen, but not enough. One thing I noticed about several of the FIU pitchers this weekend was that they did not attack the strike zone and nibbled too much. Which when you nibble and fall behind in the count, it left those USC batters salivating, waiting for a strike, which when they got it, they drilled it. Got a feeling TT is going to load up on pitching in his next recruiting class.

Also, there is no speed on this Panthers team and if you attended any of the three games you Speed_2 witnessed first hand what having speed can do for a team. The perfect example was USC centerfielder Nick Buss, who made several catches in the power alleys to thwart FIU rallies.

On the basepaths, USC was able to steal. FIU was not. Some people think the stolen base is overrated, like the sabermetrics stats geeks in the Major Leagues, but I'll take a few guys on my team that can move around the bases any day. FIU needs some more Dennis Diaz-type baserunners (DD is FIU's all-time steals leader). I'm sure TT will address that in his next recruiting class as well.

Remember, TT was hired last June so he DID NOT have an entire year to put together a recruiting class. TT was in the same recruiting boat as MC in year one. And we all saw what kind of class MC got when he had a full year to recruit.

What else did we learn? FIU can hit. That should not be a problem all year long. If this team can figure how to get some outs, it can have a much more successful season than last year's 26-29 team.


In what seems to have become, a Hamlet type of baseball question (you remember from English Lit in school or the Mel Gibson movie - "To be or not to be"), the thought here is there is no way you bunt Raimy Fuentes in that situation, down 5-3 with runners on 1st and 2nd and no Ham outs and your No. 3 hitter, Fuentes, up who was 4 for 8 to that point.

I can see where you want to move the runners over, but Fuentes was swinging the hottest bat on the weekend. I say roll the dice and let him swing away. Turns out he hit a smash off the pitcher's leg and the ball luckily ricocheted right into the shortstop's hands for a DP. But hey, that's the beauty of baseball where there will Zeta_2 always be more than one way to approach a situation.

UltimateFIUFan: FIU does not have a radio package, but that's not unusual. Heck, USC, who has 12 national championships and has been in business since 1880, does not have a radio package for baseball. The Trojans media relations director called all three games against FIU on the web back to Los Angeles.

The hoops recruit you are thinking of is J.C. Otero, a local kid, who was at BYU and plays forward. He is supposedly headed to FIU next season.

Messod: The crowds were pretty good all weekend. Even Sunday's game under the hot 1 p.m. sunshine drew a nice crowd. I've said it before and I'll say it again, once FIU starts winning on a consistent basis, the crowds will take care of themselves. Winning is addictive.

Here is the official list of entries for the Win a GPP Blog II:

gpantera: 56-0 (College World Series champs); Messod: 41-15 (Lose in Super Regional); 2006PA: 40-16 (Lose in Regional); FIUVoice: 40-16 (Lose in Regional final); MaXx: 39-17 (Lose in Regional); Baltimorepanther: 38-18 (Lose in Regional); NY Josh: 38-18 (Lose in Regional); The OC Panther: 38-18 (Lose in Regional); UltimateFIUFan: 37-19 (Lose in Regional); CrazyCane: 36-20 (Lose in Regional); FIU Fanatic: 36-20 (Lose in Regional); CJ: 35-21; FIUChris: 35-21 (Lose in Sun Belt final); FIUJM: 33-23 (Lose in Sun Belt final); WhosHouse: 32-24 (Lose in Sun Belt semifinal); Baseball Fan: 31-25; fiufan751: 31-25 (Lose in Sun Belt 2nd round); FIU0406: 30-26 (Lose in Sun Belt semifinal).

* If no one has the exact final win-loss record, then we will do like the "Price is Right" -- the closest to the actual FIU loss total without going over. For example: If FIU finishes: 34-22, then CJ or FIUChris would win (depending on how far FIU goes in the postseason), because they each had 21 losses, the closest number of losses to 22.   

February 21, 2008

A New Beginning

As the seconds on the FAU Arena game clock dwindled down last night while covering the FIU Panthers season sweep of FAU, thoughts of my bartending days came to mind.

Not just because a robust adult beverage was what the occasion called for, but also because of the hit song "Closing Time" by Semisonic.

Agg_2 In the tune, there's a line that goes: "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end".

While a loss to the Hooters last night would have for all intents and purposes been the end of FIU hoops this season, maybe, just maybe the Panthers can build some momentum with their third straight win and have their own "new beginning".

Maybe this was the beginning's end of bad FIU hoops and a new beginning of a promising future that includes some solid recruits next season. Stay tuned. Before a quick trip to Troy on Saturday, the Sun Belt's top two teams (Western Kentucky and South Alabama) descend on FIU's Pharmed Arena next Wednesday and Saturday.

By the way, nice job by FIU Prez Maidique to get more than 100 Panthers fans on a bus up to the Mouth of the Rat (that's the Boca Raton translation for our non-Spanish speaking readers) for last night's Parting of the FAU Moses Red Sea. That's the kind of enthusiasm FIU fans are waiting to unleash when the Panthers teams make winning a habit. And unless, you actually heard the entire "Ole, Ole, Ole FIU" cheer from the FAU student section, who were standing and sitting behind yours truly on press row, you could have sworn it sounded like they were cheering for FIU. Don't start pounding your keyboards, Hooters fans, I know you weren't cheering for FIU.

Back to FIU hoops, the top 3 Sun Belt teams get tournament byes and seeds 4 through 8 get 1st round home games. FIU (6-9 in Sun Belt) is now No. 9 with three games to play. The Nos. 5-8 teams are all 7-7 in the Sun Belt.

Tt A new beginning starts tommorrow night against USC on the FIU baseball diamond.

While the Panthers baseball squad is not talking Omaha just yet (unless you count gpantera and his prediction of 56-0) -- at least from watching practice and new coach Turtle Thomas's detailed instruction, work ethic, enthusiasm and relentless conditioning program, and talking to FIU baseball players and reading your comments on the GPP -- there is definitely a sense of hope springing eternal at the FIU ballpark.

The biggest concern is going to be the pitching depth with the season compacted into a little more than three months. The hitting should be there, especially with TT's instruction and the fielding can only get better. Team speed is also an issue, with pitcher Akeem Francis probably being the fastest Panther.

If you need proof there is constant instruction under TT, here's a snapshot from a recent practice. A Panther went for a ground ball in the hole and missed it. Last season, when the Panther missed that kind of grounder, the former coaches would ask why did you miss it? This season when that grounder was missed, the first thing the new coaches said was: "Here's what you have to do to get that grounder"Bb  and showed the Panther how to field the play. While all that may sound a bit like the old "Baseball Bunch" TV show hosted by Johnny Bench, it's exactly what the Panthers needed.

Regardless of what happens at this weekend's three-game series with USC, I wouldn't read too much into it. First of all, it's the first three games of the season and either team or both may not be at their best. Second, while the point is to try and win every game, the experience of these 3 games against the 12-time National Champions Trojans will help the Panthers get ready for conference play where the Sun Belt is ranked No. 6 out of 31 Division I conferences when it comes to conference strength.

So if FIU sweeps, takes two out of three, loses two or gets swept, if you want a better gauge of where TT's team stands check the record on March 24 after FIU has played 25 games and has just come back from Arizona and a brutal four-game tournament against College World Series teams: Arizona State and UC-Irvine. By then, we should have an idea of how much work needs to be done at University Park.

Speaking of work at University Park, if you're going to the game tommorrow night, you will see a spruced-up FIU Baseball Stadium.

The inside of the stadium got a fresh paint job and if you happen to be one of those fans that bought one of the sold out suites or was invited to a suite to watch the game, then you may feel like you're watching the game from a major league stadium suite. There has been some serious re-modeling there.

Also, there are plans to build field level suites behind home plate to give fans a catcher's view of the Dodge game. There is a ton of unused room under the seats on the second level. The field level suite will be sort of like they used to have at Dodger Stadium before they re-modeled Chavez Ravine. And you thought the Turtle was only making FIU baseball better on the field.


If you want to see one difference a good pitching coach makes, then check out my FIU baseball preview in Friday's Miami Herald.

Last chance to send in your prediction on the FIU baseball season for the Win a GPP Blog II is before 7 p.m. tommorrow night (Friday). Once Chris Allen throws the first pitch, the contest closes. I'll list all the entries with records and postseason results in an upcoming post.

And I haven't forgotten about your stadium questions. Will have all the answers, soon.

FIUJM: MC is currently interviewing several candidates for the O-coordinator position, but last I spoke with him, there is no leading candidate. MC previously said he would like to have the position filled six days before spring practice starts. So by my count that would be in 10 days on March 2. FIU opens spring ball on Saturday, March 8.

FIU0406: You are correct the GPP would have to get another name after the "Golden" is dropped. I'll take suggestions for re-naming it from Panthers Prowl to whatever you good people of the GPP can come up with. Maybe we'll have a Win a Blog contest for the new name of this blog.

Jim: Welcome to the GPP. Yes it would be a great deal for MLS, FIU and Miami-Dade County taxpayers for soccer to come to the new state-of-the-art FIU stadium. MLS gets to play rent-free, FIU gets exposure and financial rewards, and the taxpayers don't have to help pay for a $120 million soccer stadium next to the new Marlins ballpark for a soccer team that may not be here in five years.

February 19, 2008

Win a GPP Blog II

Why wait until the 2008 FIU football season to write until your heart's content on the GPP? Here's your Jp chance to try and win another GPP blog.

With less than 68 hours until the first pitch against USC, here's what you can do to become GPP blogmaster for a day.

Just predict FIU's 56-game record for this baseball season and how far the Panthers will get. For example: win the Sun Belt tournament, lose in the Sun Belt tournament or win a Regional, Super Regional or advance to the College World Series.

Here are my thoughts as an example: FIU (34-22) and lose in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Tournament.

We'll use your FIU record to decide the winner and if there's a tie then we'll use how far you said FIU would get in the postseason as the tiebreaker.

The deadline to submit your entry will be before the first pitch on Friday at 7 p.m. Good luck.


FiuAL: There's nothing new regarding the unis.

The OC Panther: I agree with your FIU Panthers name. Sort of like UCLA, you really don't hear the media or fans refer to that school as the University of California, Los Angeles. So why not, FIU Panthers.

In fact, let's start it with this post in using FIU Panthers from now on. Of course, until the school makes it official you'll have to read in my Herald articles: Florida International and Golden Panthers.

TNPanther: Welcome to the GPP, again.

MaXx: I'll have an answer for your stadium question when I get answers for all the other ones and I'll have a post dedicated to the stadium questions. Yeah, I would imagine there will be something unique to FIU Stadium.

FIUgrag78: The only silver and black you'll find at FIU will be if you spot someone wearing an Oakland Oak_2 Raiders t-shirt. The FIU Panthers will remain blue and gold.

February 18, 2008

More FIU Stadium Photos and Details

Ca Just 3 days until Chris Allen throws the first pitch of the FIU baseball season and the Turtle Thomas Era begins against USC at home on Friday night. But before we get there, let's take one more field trip back to the Crown Jewel for a bonus tour of FIU Stadium.

Before we get back to the structure itself, wanted to let you know there will be a new turf on the field for the 2008 season. FIU Stadium is removing its old AstroPlay surface and installing Field Turf before South Florida visits for the opener on Sept. 20.

And that "Golden" you see in the end zones will no longer be there as well when FIU eventually drops Eastendzone Golden from its nickname some time this summer.

The next time we'll tour the stadium will be in April when the west end zone and FIU fieldhouse structures are actually visible. So keep the photo below on the left in mind as to what the area looks like now.

Betterviewfiufh Those pillars on the left are the first floor of the FIU fieldhouse.

We'll go back up to the club suites in a second, but first let's see if I can point out to you how all the seats at the stadium are built angled toward the field -- this was done so that no one goes home with a neck strain. If you have ever sat down the right field foul line at Dolphin Stadium to watch a Marlins game, then you and your neck know what I'm talking about.

Again, like I've said before, if your computer can enlarge these photos, please do so. Look at the photo on the right here and you can see how all the seats have been built with a slight turn toward theFieldcloseness  field.

Back up to the club suite level, in the photo below left, you can see the area (it's empty now) where the 12 bucket seats will be installed outside of each club suite. Add the 8 seats inside the club suite and you get 20 per Clubsuitesoutseats suite. A bucket seat is similar to what you sit on at the movies. The club seats -- which when you drive by the stadium is that patch of silver in the middle of the south stands (photo below right) -- will also be bucket seats. Right now that area is also empty, because they have yet to install those seats as well. Close50

Although there is not much to see right now, on the bottom left photo is a view from inside a club suite onto the field. The area on the left will be like a bar-type of area. You can see the top part is the window, which will open, and below that might be some bar stools to Viewfrominsidecs_2 sit on and watch the game with your favorite adult beverage. The area on the right would be a door-like opening for access to the 12 outdoor seats of each club suite.

You've seen where the FIU fieldhouse is going and how spacious that will be, so now let's show you where the opponents/officials/high school teams/soccer teams fieldhouse will be. The name I just created for that fieldhouse might take up a lot of room, but the visitors fieldhouse, which will go under those frames (below right) does not. Been told that fieldhouse will be 1/10th the size of the FIU fieldhouse. VisitorfhThe location of the opposing fieldhouse is under the east end zone stands. No structure has been built yet, but when it's done FIU's opponents will have to deal with the noise from fans above on the east end zone. The metal flooring of the stadium makes some serious noise when you stomp on it.

Now for the last part of your bonus tour, I'd like to show you where the west end zone stands will turn into the north side of the stadium. When I first learned that the first phase of the stadium was not going to be enclosed I thought there wouldn't be much of a home field edge, but after having stood where the west turn will occur I must say the stadium will be tight -- even as a "C" shape in the first phase.

You may need to enlarge the following two photos to see where the west turn will happen. In the photo Fh on the left, the west stands turn just right of the "S" on the Panthers end zone lettering. In the photo on the right, the turn Westurnatgate happens just to the left of the blue triangular shaped entrance gate. The west turn happens at the same spot in both locations, just thought I'd give you two different photos to see it from.

Okay, we'll be back at the stadium in April when the FIU fieldhouse and other parts of the stadium have taken more shape. Odebrecht has their construction crews working 6 days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. sometimes to 5 p.m. trying to get this all done by Sept. 20. And I'll have answers to your stadium questions in an upcoming post.

For now, Let's play ball!  Less than 93 hours before the first pitch against USC.


FIU Fanatic: From last speaking with MC, there is no leading candidate yet for the O-coordinator position. When I got something I'll post it on here.

UltimateFIUFan: The FIU hoops recruit you are thinking of is power forward Freddy Asprilla, who originally was going to become a Hurricane, but could not get into that school, because of grades. Hopefully he has a different fate at FIU. Heard the kid is a heck of a hoopster.

Ah I'm sure Coley knew of FSU's "double secret probation, whatever that means" when he took the job. Talking to some writers that cover FSU, the deal for Coley was that he will become the Seminoles offensive coordinator when current FSU o-coordinator Jimbo Fisher takes over for Bobby Bowden.

TNGoldenPanther: Ted Hutton over at the SS has been calling FIU the "Amber Kitties" for a long time. Just good fun. We could call FAU the Hooters if need be. Reading the posts on Ted's blog, the FAU folks are going a little bit postal over some of the FIU faithful joining their blog. Hoot_2 Hey, bring them over here to the GPP we'll amuse them.

February 16, 2008

2008 FIU Stadium Tour: The East End Zone & North Side

Welcome back to the second part of our first FIU Stadium tour of 2008. Grab your hard hats, put on your Aerial fluorescent vests and let's take the southeast corner ramp to go to the east end zone side of the stadium -- home of the sweetest view of FIU Stadium.

Before we get there, here are some notes for you: I've read all your questions about the stadium and I'll get them answered for you in an upcoming blog. Answering them here would take up too much space. Also following this blog, I'll have more photos of the stadium with some more details. Let's put our hands together and thank FIU media relations guru and official stadium blog photographer Evan Koch for all the stadium photos you are about to enjoy. Let's go east....

Taking the southeast ramp and any other ramp at FIU Stadium will remind you of the Orange Bowl, without the urine and beer smell. Good exercise going up and down the ramps and great views as well of the campus and Miami.

The first thing you are going to notice when you get up on the east side of the stadium, besides the wide wraparound concourse, is the magical view. Depending on your computer's capabilities, you can enlarge any of the photos on here to get a better look.

From the east side of the stadium you can see ALL of the following: the downtown Miami skyline, the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Coconut Grove, Dadeland and the Biltmore hotel in Coral Gables. MainstdowntownrtIn the photo on the left, if you can enlarge it you will see the downtown Miami skyline on the right side of the picture.

This photo also has a shot of the area (grass) where the future "Main Street FIU" will be built. For the next tour in April, the GPP will do a sunshine dance to keep the rain and cloudy skies away that we encountered on this tour in order to give you a clearer picture.

The photo on the right shows Dadeland. Dadeland_2

I suggested to Rudy of Odebrecht to install those viewing meters that they have in Niagara Falls so after FIU has a huge lead in a game, fans can walk on over to the east side, put a quarter in the meter and gaze at the beautiful city of Miami.

Let's get back on track. Back to the stadium. The other part of the east side and eventually the whole stadium that will leave an impression on you is the wide concourse (20 feet wide) that will wrap around the entire stadium. Here are some photos (left and right) of what I'm talking about. You can literally drive two cars Concour_2 through the concourses. Besides the width, the other good thing about the concourse is that if you get up to go to the concession stands, you won't miss a play, because of the concourse wrapping around Ppconcour_3 the entire stadium. It also allows you to see the game from a variety of angles. Nice touch to the stadium.

Okay, stop staring. You people can keep looking at the east view another time. Before we move to the northeast corner of the stadium. Here is probably one of the worst seats on the first level (sarcasm here, because there really are no bad seats). Well, if you had to pick one this might be it. The photo below on the left is shot from the top seat of the southeast corner of stadium. Again, you may need to enlarge this photo with your computer to see that this is really NOT a bad seat.

Badseatsecorner_3 While some may think there won't be much of a home field advantage with the stadium not fully enclosed in the first phase, let's see if I can show you how cozy the first phase really is in relation to the field.Closeendzoneseats Look how close the east end zone seats are to the field in the picture on the right. I walked that area and counted 7 yards from the first row of seats to the field.

When we get to the end of northeast corner of the stadium where the new seats turn into the north side of the stadium, you can see where PG made the adjustments to the stands to allow for soccer to be played at the new stadium.

While construction won't begin on the north side until 2010 -- when the student services center, welcome center and north stands start going up -- in this photo below on the left you can see where the east side stands end. It's at this point where retractable seats will begin for the entire north side of the stadium.

Soccerseats  You know how Dolphin Stadium has retractable seats on their north side where the Marlins scoreboard and the left field outfield wall are, well the same type of seats are going to be in place on FIU Stadium's north side.

These seats will retract for soccer matches. NO need to panic, they will be the same exact comfortable seats as the rest of the stadium, only they can retract.

Also, I've been told when the north side seats are done, they will be as close to field as all the other seats around the stadium.

Here are some other north side tidbits. Need more evidence that the seats are real close to the field. If you climb to the top row in the old north side bleachers that would be row 24. The further you go up on the old north side bleachers the further away from the field you are getting. Now if you climb to row 12 on the new south side seats -- you are at the same height as row 24 on the old north bleachers. What's the difference? The old north side bleachers move further back from the field, the higher you go -- sort of like high school bleachers. Whereas the south side and every other side of the new stadium just goes straight up, the higher you go. Think of it as going up a diagonal line (old seats) Old_3 as opposed to a somewhat straight line (new seats). Enough geometry, I for one struggled with that subject in high school.

See if you can tell the Incline_2 difference between the old bleachers, where yours truly in the yellow hat is sitting, (photo left) going back from the field and the new east end zone seats (photo right) going up in more of a straight line.

As far as the area (photo below left) where the old track used to be and is now a wide gap between the opponents bench and the old north seats, well that area will remain vacant until construction on the north side begins in 2010. I think that answers CJ's question.

Nside I'll have more photos and other details on the stadium on the next blog.

February 15, 2008

2008 Football Schedule

Fiuhelmet_2 Here's the 2008 FIU football schedule just released a few hours ago. Looks like another tough one, but the first three games will help when Sun Belt plays rolls around.

Was working on the last part of the new stadium tour when I got word of the schedule. I will have the stadium tour on here real soon as well as Fiufoot_2 a more in-depth blog on the schedule and 2008 record thoughts.

2008 FIU Football Schedule
Date        Opponent         
Aug. 30     at Kansas (12-1)
Sept. 6     at Iowa (6-6)
Sept. 20    SOUTH FLORIDA (9-4)
Sept. 27    at Toledo (5-7)
Oct. 4      at North Texas (2-10)
Oct. 11     M. TENNESSEE (5-7)
Oct. 18     at Troy (8-4)
Nov. 1      at Louisiana-Lafayette (3-9)
Nov. 8      ARKANSAS STATE (5-7)
Nov. 22     LOUISIANA-MONROE (6-6)
Nov. 29     Florida Atlantic* (8-5)
Dec. 6      WESTERN KENTUCKY (7-5)
HOME GAMES IN CAPS; Home games begin at 7 p.m.

* at Dolphin Stadium

February 13, 2008

Help Wanted

Jc Offensive coordinator James Coley has accepted the tight ends/recruiting coordinator job at Florida State. A pretty big loss for the Golden Panthers with spring practice just 24 days away on March 8.

No word yet on who will replace Coley, but his innovative play calling will be missed.

Speaking with MC a little while ago, he says he will interview candidates for the offensive coordinator position from among the current Golden Panthers assistants and also coaches from other programs.

The FIU offense improved from 2006 to 2007 - Coley's first season as O-coordinator. The Golden Panthers scored more points (181 to 115) and had more first downs (165 to 150). FIU more than doubled its rushing output under Coley going from 682 yards in 2006 to 1,429 yards last season.

FIU also averaged more yards in total offense in 2007 compiling 269.7 yards to 233.1 in 2006.

February 11, 2008

2008 FIU Stadium Tour: The Fieldhouse & South Side

Went back to the "Crown Jewel" last Friday and here's the latest on the FIU fieldhouse and the south side of the stadium. There is plenty of new information to share so we'll break down the latest tour by the four sections of the stadium.

On the next blog, I'll have what is probably the sweetest view of the stadium -- the east end zone side. I'll finish the latest tour with what's going on in the north side, the intimacy of the field to the seats and other goodies. For a full story on the stadium you can read this recent story: The Crown Jewel

Depending on your computer, if you click on the following photos of the stadium, Cindy or Mel, you can get a larger image. I enlarged these photos as much as the Herald's blog system allowed me to. Enjoy!

Wfh There are pillars now in the ground on the west side of the stadium for the FIU fieldhouse. In front of the pillars (photo left) you can see some round gray supports coming out of the ground -- these are the bases for the west end zone seats.

While all you can physically see now are those pillars, the groundwork is now being laid for the fieldhouse and the west end zone. I've been told that you'll start seeing the west end zone seats and fieldhouse go up around mid-to-late March.

Before we walked the stadium, I sat down and talked with Odebrecht stadium project manager Rudy Armenta. I got a look at some detailed renderings of the fieldhouse and when Odebrecht e-mails them to me I will post them on here for you good people to see. After talking with Rudy, this is how the FIU fieldhouse will be composed....

On the first level of the fieldhouse will be the weight training center (gym) for all FIU athletes that will be nearly 70 yards long by 20 yards wide (200 feet by 60 feet). Besides having the latest training equipment, the gym will have windows facing the west parking lot meaning if you're bored you can go Ccdbb_3 watch your favorite FIU athletes train.

The FIU locker room, which will be quite spacious with 120 lockers, also will be on the first floor. The locker room has a side exit that leads to the southwest corner tunnel of the stadium where the Golden Panthers will run onto the field.

Also on the first floor will be the entrance to fieldhouse -- this is on the northern end of the fieldhouse. The FIU ticket offices for all sports will be located here. Next to the ticket offices, there will be an FIU sports merchandise store. Also the brand spanking new rehab facility will be on the first floor.

Let's take the stairs to the second floor of the FIU fieldhouse. Here are where the FIU football coaches offices will be. MC's office will have a window overlooking the field and so will the conference rooms. The FIU assistant coaches offices will be across the hall from MC and the conference rooms so the assistants offices will be windowless.

The conference rooms, which there will be five of them, will be used when the team breaks up into positions meetings. These conference rooms can also be used as suites during games so that would give the stadium 24 club suites in the first phase of the stadium.

The nicest part of these conference rooms/suites is that they all open onto a patio that overlooks the Eastendzone_2 field from the west end zone. You can bet future FIU recruits will be taken there.

The picture here on the right, is shot from the east end zone: this is a view similar to what a person will have from the west end zone patio on the 2nd floor of the fieldhouse, except they will be closer to the field than this, because this photo was shot from above the east end zone seats.

There will also be a huge conference room for the entire team to gather on the second floor. This room will seat 135 people and sort of resembles an auditorium.

We could take the southwest corner ramp to go up to the south stands seats, but that's not scheduled to be built until mid-to-late March. So let's climb the south seats stairs and go up to the club suites level.

Suite The club suites (photo left) are taking shape. Each suite is currently getting the electrical wiring done. The suites can each hold 20 people and each has an open-air seating area with chairbacks for 12 people in front of the suite -- in case you want to watch the game outside with the rest of the fans.

The President's suite which is located at the 15-yard line of the west end zone will hold 40 people and is twice the size of the other 18 King suites. It's good to be the President.

Like it has been written on here before there will be four elevators at the stadium: two to be used by FIU coaches and opponents' coaches, one for club suite holders and the other for general access.

The photo on the right has Rudy showing yours truly the hallway for the club suites. Plenty of walking room there. This hallway leads to the elevators Clubhall_2 and out onto the concourse that wraps around the entire stadium.

Before we take the elevators down to the first level, I wanted to show you some of the 264 private parking spaces for club seats and club suite holders. Obviously, the photo below left does not show all 264, but all the spaces are already there. This is located on the south side of the stadium next to the two new soccer fields that Tamiami Park has created. Those two soccer fields (which you can see above the parking spaces on the photo below) would serve as part of the 6 soccer fields FIU would have ready for use if Major League Soccer's Miami-expansion soccer team would come play at the new FIU Stadium.

Park Let's pretend to take the elevators down to the first floor of the south side of the stadium to take a look at the Panther Club under construction.

In the following photos you'll see some burgundy beams, this is the frame of the Panther Club, which will be a gathering place for club seats and club suite holders. The Panther Club will be 8,000 square feet of party area. And here's an interesting possible tidbit about the new FIU Stadium: since the south side of the stadium sits on Miami-Dade County land and not FIU territory, there is talk of possibly having alcohol sales on the south side of the stadium since technically it is not on university land. Nothing has been decided on it yet, but sounds Pctwo Pcthree interesting. Pc4

Check back here in a few days and I'll have the latest on the east end zone, north side and some shots of how close the seats all around the stadium are to the playing field and team benches.

February 10, 2008

A Home Run and A Home Win

Great turnout on Saturday night for the FIU Baseball Diamond Dinner where first-year coach Turtle Tt_2 Thomas and the 2008 Golden Panthers baseball team were introduced.

A little baseball here on the blog before the latest football stadium tour. Don't panic the first of two parts of the stadium tour will be on here either Monday or Tuesday.

Heard the baseball dinner raised more than $30,000 for what will likely be put toward improving the FIU baseball stadium. The stadium has already undergone a makeover along the outfield wall where a padded wall was installed to replace the tarp covering the outfield fence.

As for the dinner, besides the savory filet mignon and shrimp, the other highlights of the night were that suddenly the FIU baseball out-of-conference schedule got a lot tougher the next three years.

Counting USC, Arizona State, Cal-Irvine this season, FIU will take a trip to Tallahassee next season to play.....NO not 6 games with FAMU....., but rather Florida State. Tennessee and Oklahoma State also are on FIU's schedule in 2009.

FIU plays current No. 3-ranked San Diego, San Diego State and Missouri in 2010. And host San Diego and play at Georgia in 2011. In addition, FIU will also play every team in the state of Florida in the next two years, except Florida.

These types of schedules can only make the Golden Panthers much better and when they go into Sun Belt play -- which as TT said last night, the SBC is ranked No. 6 out of 31 NCAA baseball conferences as far as strength goes.

Countdown to Opening Day at home against USC: 11 days.

On a side note: there are a couple of brothers on my Sunday morning softball team who brought up some interesting comparisons to the past week's Hurricanes Karim_2 baseball coach Jim Morris's "Turtle who?" comment.

The brothers said what JM said was no different than other "(Name here) who?" in sports in years past. Such as when the Red Sox and Yankees had that tough 2003 American League Championship Series where former BoSox pitcher Pedro Martinez and former Yanks outfielder Karim Garcia got into a shouting match after Pedro threw a pitch near Garcia's head. Afterwards, when asked about the incident, Pedro said: "Karim Garcia, who are you?"

Former FIU and current Suns guard Raja Bell got into a similar incident with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant Raja after a little tussle in the 2006 playoffs. Afterwards, Kobe said: "Who is Raja Bell?"

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his former assistant and current Jets head coach Eric Mangini also had an issue after the first time their teams played each other. At midfield after the game, Belichick, instead of doing the Belmang_2 traditional coaches handshake, walked right past Mangini.

So what does it all mean? Well, the "Who's" (Garcia, Bell and Mangini) have 2 wins versus 1 loss against their adversaries -- only Belichick won. We'll see April 2.

Hey, how about that FIU basketball team. Finally after 23 games, the Golden Panthers were able to break the full court press and get a win against Middle Tennessee on Saturday night.

Don't want to rain on the win, but MT only pressed four times. SR made a nice adjustment using forwards Chris Fuller and Alex Galindo to help with the press break on Saturday. I would like to see FIU beat the press all game long. Arkansas-Little Rock will likely try that on Wednesday at Pharmed Arena. If the Golden Panthers are to even get past the first round of the Sun Belt tournament they will need to solve the riddle of the press on a consistent basis.

February 07, 2008

NSD: The Day After

For most of National Signing Day, the GPP took a tour of the local high schools where the newest Golden Panthers attend and here's what the 2008 FIU freshmen had to say about signing with FIU. . . .

Fiud_2 The Golden Panthers got 6 defensive players from Class 4A state champ Booker T. Washington. Here in the photo from left to right are 5 of them all wearing new FIU caps (from left to right): Winston Fraser, Tarvis Pullins, Johnathan Jackson, Franklin Brown and Kambriel Willis and BTW defensive coordinator Sheldon Hanks.

Jackson, who had 19 sacks this season and 3.5 sacks in the state title game, thinks the six Tornadoes defenders can have an immediate impact at FIU.

"We know FIU is a young program," Jackson said. "Following them somewhat last season, I know they had a lot of young guys on defense. So if we do what we're supposed to do, I don't see why we can't get on the field early in the season. We always competed against each other on defense at Booker T. that's how we pushed each other to get better. That's how we won a state title and allowing 3 points a game also helps."

Originally it was going to be just Willis, Fraser and Jackson going to FIU, but Brown spurned Rutgers and South Florida late Tuesday night to become a Golden Panther. Pullins and defensive back Rennie Carty decided to join their teammates as well.

"That was one of the biggest things I was hoping would happen," said Willis, of 5 other Booker T. teammates joining him at FIU. "It's been a real pleasure to play with these guys. Every day it was a race between us to see who would get to the quarterback first. You can tell the FIU fans to expect big things from our defense this season."

At Norland, newest FIU defensive back Emmanuel Souarin (second from left) and offensive lineman Kenneth White (far right), both Norfiu 1st team All-Dade players, gave a little advice and got a little advice regarding FIU.

Souarin watched the FIU secondary closely last season and this was his assessment: "In my first year I want to get on the field as soon as possible. They know I'm a talented DB and I can get all over the field. That was a problem last year, the secondary didn't have the speed that I have."

Souarin had a Florida and FAU hat along with an FIU hat in front of him before tossing the Gators and Owls caps to the floor and picking FIU.

"I see FIU as an upcoming program with a prospect of good talent," Souarin said. "Coach Cristobal is confident in us. He said he thinks we're gonna shock the nation."

White made the most of his visit to FIU by getting some good advice from sophomore quarterback Colt Anderson.

"I got a chance to talk to Colt," White said. "He said that college life isn't really that hard as long as you put your mind to your school life, athletic life and social life. He said you have to look at it like a pie Pie chart: 33 percent of each. Getting on the field has to be the goal, you can't start out second-stepping."

In the Miami Springs library, T.Y. Hilton had an FIU hat and a West Virginia hat and by now you know he chose to stay home and play for the Golden Panthers.

As late as Tuesday night, Hilton was thinking of going to Morgantown, W Va., but one reason he picked Tyh FIU was the same reason he went to high school at Miami Springs.

"When I first came to Springs, everybody was asking me why I chose Springs," Hilton said. "I could have gone to the 'West [Northwestern High] and played there. But I wanted to make an impact at my own school. Now I choose FIU over West Virginia. It's basically the same thing, I'm trying to impact a program. I want to make the same impact at FIU that I made at Springs."

Hilton, who is a guard on the hardwood, will also play hoops for FIU. God knows, FIU could use all the basketball help it can get right now.

Mc In case you didn't catch MC's NSD press conference on Panther Pass yesterday, here are some thoughts from the FIU coach on some of his newest players:

[Lake Gibson defensive end] James Jones: "One word comes to mind: explosion. We needed pressure on the quarterback. We signed arguably three of the best pass rushers, not only in the state, but in the country in James Jones, Kambriel Willis and Johnathan Jackson. We made a commitment to more athleticism, more speed and more pressure up front. These guys combined for about 70 sacks for the year."

Lowndes, Ga. running back Darriet Perry: "A rolling ball of butcher knives."

T.Y. Hilton: "Unquestionably one of the best players in the state of Florida. He's a guy that's been recruited nationally for a long time. When he touches the ball, absolute magic. He's a guy that a lot of people targeted as their franchise recruit. He stuck his foot in the ground and said I want to build this championship football program right here in my backyard."

On the relentless work it took to land a talented class: "You take a look at our staff each one of those guys probably had "No" said to them in terms of looking for a prom date at least two or three dozen Prm_2 times when they were in high school. They were not afraid to hear "No". What does that mean? We are not going to compromise our standards, because school A, B and C are recruiting a young man. . .If we believe in a young man, whether he has 100 offers or 0 offers we are going to go after that young man. We won some big time battles which is a testament of two things: number one: FIU and the direction of the program, and number two: the work ethic of our staff. They outworked everyone out there for these young men."

Can't get enough of FIU football? Spring practice begins on Saturday, March 8.


GPP Faithful, my apologies for not running an update thread of signings yesterday. It was quite a busy day from visiting the high schools in the morning and early afternoon, to MC's press conference at 3, to then writing the FIU NSD story and also got handed to write a UCF/FAMU/Bethune-Cookman NSD story as well with a 7 p.m. deadline on both and then had to cover the FIU hoops game against Louisiana-Lafayette. Hopefully, next NSD, I have only FIU football duties.


  • Back to the blog.....I guess Jim Morris, the canes baseball coach, showed what a classy guy he is (sarcasm here) during Monday's media day over there.

  • In case you missed it: Morris answered like a 1st-grader when told FIU coach Turtle Thomas wants to play the Hurricanes four times a season. Morris said: "Turtle, who?"; Morris then said: "Next question".

  • I relayed the incident to TT on Monday when I visited FIU baseball practice. TT just smiled and said: Smile_2 "Sounds like they're worried about us."

  • As far as what happened between the two coaches while they were on the same staff in 1999, only they know for sure and they are not talking about it. But speaking with Jerry Del Castillo, who was the Hurricanes baseball Spanish play-by-play broadcaster back in 1999 and is now FIU's play-by-play hombre, JDC says: "Morris and TT did not speak all season, all communication was done through then-pitching coach Lazer Collazo."

  • The two baseball games: April 2 at FIU and 23rd in Coral Gables are sure going to be interesting.

BamaGoldenBoy & FF II UU FIU: Welcome to the GPP.

I'll be taking another tour of the new stadium tommorrow and will have the latest on the "crown jewel" on the GPP soon enough.

February 04, 2008

Countdown to 7:01 a.m.

There's less than 38 hours to go before the National Signing Day faxes can start pouring into the FIU football offices.

At 7:01 a.m. on Wednesday, the Golden Panthers could begin to receive signed letters of intent from the recruits FIU has targeted.

While we all know the 21 verbal commitments FIU has received thus far, getting these final four players would cap off a solid recruiting class for FIU.

T.Y. Hilton - The two-sport star from Miami Springs played wide receiver, defensive back and returned Ty_2 kicks this season for the Golden Hawks. He scored 19 touchdowns and has 4.4 speed which is something you can never have enough of on your team.

T.Y. was real positive about his visit to FIU recently telling Miami Herald high school writer Andre Fernandez: "FIU's coaches really look like they know what they're doing over there. I really got to know them well and they seem to have a good vision of what they want to accomplish. I like them because I could see them doing big things in a couple of years."

Hilton is a pure athlete, who also played guard for his hoops team and could even help out the FIU hoops team -- and as we all know from this season, they could use all the help they can get. Where Hilton would play at FIU is still to be determined, but could you imagine that speed as a slot receiver, in the secondary or returning kicks. FIU didn't have too much speed last season, with maybe Lionell Singleton being the fastest Panther.

It's pretty much down to West Virginia, Florida (who joined the T.Y. recruiting party recently) and FIU. Hilton will make a decision on Wednesday.

Jjj As we've talked about before, getting defensive end Jonathan Jackson (48) from Booker T. would complete the Tornadoes trifecta (along with Kambriel Willis and Winston Fraser). Recently speaking to several people close to Booker T., it sounds like JJ is going to drive past Coral Gables and join his teammates at FIU. With his speed on the outside and KW and WF's speed at linebacker this could have the makings of a special D for years to come.

Norland and All Miami-Dade first team defensive back Emanuel Sourin would also be a tremendous signing for the FIU secondary. Sourin had four INTs this season, two returned for TDs and would make a strong 1-2 punch with Anthony Gaitor.

Now here's a shot in the dark, but again when you're dealing with teenagers, who could have trouble deciding between blue and red Gatorade -- you never know. Northwestern receiver Kendal Thompkins skipped past Coral Gables to visit Nebraska. Earlier, KT had a good visit at FIU, but was in Cornhusker land last Gatorade weekend. Who knows what's going through Thompkins' melon right now, but maybe he wants to stay home and not play in Coral Gables, that would leave, you guessed it -- the 6-year-old football program that is suddenly not afraid to recruit against the big boys. It will get interesting in the next 37+ hours.


CJ: Pretty much what you read about Main Street FIU in the stadium story is what's available right now. The plan is for retail stores, restaurants on the ground floor and dorms above that. I'll have more recruit, or rather, new FIU football players interviews after signing day.

FIUJM: Yes, I walked in the stadium on the first tour posted on this blog back in October 2007. And I walked the stadium last Saturday when they snapped the photos of MC and PG. The newest Stadium Tour blog will be on here later in the week or early next week. I am planning on touring the stadium some time this week and we'll have updated photos on here of all that is done and all that is being worked on, such as the west end zone and FIU fieldhouse.

GO FIU!: Welcome to the GPP.

February 01, 2008

Talking More Recruiting with Troy and Junior

Five days until National Signing Day, but there's no need to wait to hear from two of FIU's offensive recruits: Daytona Beach Seabreeze quarterback Troy Dannehower and North Miami wide receiver Junior Mertile.

Troy_2 Dannehower -- who was NOT named after former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman even though the Cowboys are his favorite NFL team -- threw for 1,550 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, along with rushing for 537 yards Aik and 8 TDs. The soon-to-be Golden Panther, who has some pretty good initials (TD) for a football player, had a solid junior season as well. Dannehower, 6-2, 215 pounds, was named the Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 1,600 yards and rushing for 865 yards. TD graduates early from Seabreeze, but not early enough to enroll early at FIU.

GPP: Daytona Beach is not quite like Miami. How did you find your "new" home for the next four years when you took an official visit to FIU?

TD: What's great about FIU is that it's in Miami, but it's not in the middle of the city. There is a college atmosphere at FIU. Unlike Georgia Tech, which is located in the middle of Atlanta. FIU has its own area. That's good, because everything is accessible.

GPP: What did you like on your visit to FIU?

TD: That's a great stadium we're going to play in. It shows that FIU is moving in the right direction and the football facilities are going to be excellent. But what really made me want to play at FIU was the coaching staff. They are just like the coaching staff I had at Seabreeze. They are a younger coaching staff, about the same ages. They really made me feel at home and that's the type of coaching staff you enjoy playing for. It's the same deal.

Danne_2 GPP: Having spoken to some of the high school writers that covered you, they tell me the offense you ran at Seabreeze is very similar to the spread offense FIU installed last season. Tell us a little bit more about your high school offense.

TD: I don't know how similar it is, but at Seabreeze, I was in the shotgun 100 percent of the time and we had four wide receivers every down. But still we ran a pretty balanced offense. There were some design runs for me. I think I split the rushing carries with our running backs 40-60, with them carrying the ball about 60 percent of the time.

Junior Mertile is an All-Dade first team selection for the North Miami Pioneers. JM played all over the Jmm field in his senior season. He played receiver, running back, quarterback and defensive back. At FIU, he is expected to play receiver, but with the creativity FIU's offense showed in MC's first year, we may see JM all over the field. JM is a 6-0, 184-pounder, who is a dart with a 4.4 in the 40. He had 787 yards and 8 TDs. He also had 65 tackles and 2 interceptions.

GPP: You had offers from Mississippi State and Central Florida. Why did you commit to FIU?

JM: They're building a program to win more games. I saw they got a lot of offensive players last year and are going after a lot of defense this year. I like how the coaches are recruiting every position. They are entrusting us and the players already there to win more games.

GPP: What did you learn and like on your visit to FIU?

JM: Obviously the stadium is going to be great and so are the facilities. The coaching staff there knows what they're doing and what they are trying to build, a championship team. I really liked a lot how the classes are set at FIU and there a lot of places to eat too.

GPP: You played all over the field in high school. What are you looking to play at FIU?

JM: I'll play whereever they need me to play. I guess I'll start out by playing receiver, but the coaches might use me in different positions. I started at safety in 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Also played some quarterback when our quarterback got hurt and also played running back. I'll play whereever I can make big plays.


FI-UM Fan & FIU Fanatic: MC did not make any firings on his staff after year one. Yes, offensive coordinator James Coley's name has popped up at FSU for the tight ends/recruiting coordinator job. Coley's past LSU ties with future FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher are the reason for that. Coley made a huge impact last season with his innovative play calling. Sure would be a big loss for FIU if he heads north.

OC Panther: Of course, I would never forget about the lovely Golden Dazzlers -- they have been the bestFiudaz Fiudazz part of FIU hoops games this season. Ciao bellas!!

I got so wrapped up in the football season that I never asked SR to do a Q & A. But it does sound like a good idea. As  far as Golden goes, that is likely out for FIU's nickname for next season. Last I heard on the logo, there aren't any planned changes to the logo and the school colors will remain BLUE and GOLD.

FIU Fanatic: Winston Fraser is the latest Booker T. commit to FIU, and Jonathan Jackson appears headed this way as well, but hold on to your caballos because we got T-minus 5 days to NSD.

RabidPantherFan: The crowds are not good at FIU hoops games, but can you blame them? The Golden Panthers hoopsters have not given them any reason to show up this season. Only the Golden Dazzlers have. As far as the location of FIU stories in the Herald, I only write them. I can make suggestions, but unfortunately I don't have a say what page FIU's stories land on.

quijote: Thanks for the kind words. Maybe soon you'll be running on Calle Ocho celebrating an FIU Ft_2 baseball championship. Just do us all a favor and don't pull a Frank the Tank from "Old School".

esteban688: Welcome to the GPP. Good to hear you are a long time reader, first time poster. Thanks for the props on the blog. Much like FIU, our blog keeps growing and getting better with each passing day.

I forgot to post on the previous blog, so here's your GPP Official Countdown to Opening Day vs. USC at FIU: 21 days or three weeks.

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