Well now that we know what's going on with FIU's colors, name, logo, etc. let's talk some more sports with FIU President Mitch Maidique.
In the second part of our three-part interview with the Prez, we find out a little about the FIU chief's sporting background and what was it like closing out the Orange Bowl -- the right way with a win....
GPP: You're a big sports fan, so what's your athletic background?
MM: I played baseball and ran track at the Menger School in Corpus Christi growing up. In baseball, played right field, because I was a much better hitter than I was a fielder. The highlight of that athletic year was the day that I hit a home run that won the only game the school won that year in baseball. We were 1-11. I also used to high jump scissor-style. I jumped 4-11 when I was 11 years old in the city championship. I was pretty tall when I was 12. I was 5-6.
My mother refused to buy me a football uniform, but I played on the football team. I played wide receiver and all I had to do was run diagonally from my position to the other side of the field. They would throw me the ball and I would catch it and since I was big for my age, kids would grab me and I would continue to walk several steps before they brought me down.
When I was about 13 they found out that I had scoliosis and because of that the doctor said I shouldn't compete in organized sports. During that time I perfected my free throws so I used to be able to shoot 22 to 23 free throws out of 25 at recess. They would post everyday who had the best average so I was very competitive in making free throws. In fact without the other team I was an excellent basketball player. It's when the other team got in my face, tried to push me around, tried to throw off my shot that I had a real problem.
When I was 16 I found another doctor that said "let him play organized sports, that is not a problem [for scoliosis]". But by that time enough years had passed. Four years is a lot for a kid to catch up. I always loved athletics. I'm very competitive. It's unfortunate that that doctor told me to lay off for four years.
GPP: So how do you view athletics now as the President?
MM: It's a little bit like the guy who wanted to be an athlete and he wasn't able to and he owns his own athletic team. Well I don't own anything, but I do have the privilege of leading a university that has a dozen and a half athletic teams. I love tennis. I like basketball. I like them all, all the sports it's a lot of fun. It's more fun when we win, frankly, than it is when we lose. I have great confidence in Pete [Garcia] with his experience and his coaching of the coaches and some of the new people he brought in as well as improvements in the people that are already here that we are destined in time to become a major athletics program.
GPP: Did you have a favorite sport growing up?
MM: Yeah, it was basketball. It was primarily, because of my eyesight. I began to need contact lenses and my vision was not as acute so I went from baseball to softball to basketball. There I found a ball that I could really see well. So that's the sport that I played the most. But by this time I like them all.
MM: My favorite player growing up was Mickey Mantle, but that's not very unique. Everybody's favorite player at that time was Mickey Mantle. I had the honor of meeting Joe DiMaggio (right). We gave an honorary FIU doctorate to Joe. In basketball, it's very difficult to prefer anyone other than Michael Jordan (left). He was just a genius in basketball both with his athletic ability and his smarts. I bought some of his tapes. I just enjoy seeing him play.
GPP: What did you think about FIU closing out the Orange Bowl with a win?
MM: I think we became part of Orange Bowl history even though we played just a few games there. I think what was more important to me than closing the Orange Bowl was that it was Mario Cristobal's first victory -- one of many, many victories I'm sure that he will have over the years. And it was also the prelude to having our own stadium. I don't know what we are going to call it. We are still working with donors to find out what the name is going to be. We hope that we get a substantial donation from a corporate friend to name the stadium. We want to own that field. We want to protect our home as well as we can. I think the students will be very proud Sept. 20. There will be tremendous excitement. I hope that stadium is actually brimming with people.
The Prez wraps up his interview on here soon by talking about the new stadium and why FIU athletics has not enjoyed much success in years past.
** No word yet on which spring practices are open to the public. As soon as I hear I'll post on here. The first practice is next Tuesday, March 25.
** MC will be on Spanish sports talk show "Descarga Deportiva" 1550 AM with Jerry of the Castle and Joe Fields tomorrow, Wednesday, March 19 at 6:15 p.m. The show will broadcast live from Joffrey's Coffee House at 11531 SW 88 St. (next to Pollo Tropical). For our non-Spanish speaking friends, I will have a translation of the interview on the next post.
** Been asked to be one of the judges at the Roary tryouts at Pharmed Arena in May. FIUsports.com has all the info if you want to wear the new muscular Panther suit for the opening of the new stadium. What about tryouts for the FIU Cowgirls?
SouthPaw: Kent Henderson is no longer on the team.
CJ: The view from my bracket looks like: Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Duke in the Final Four. Then again, I'm no college hoops expert like Messod or Crazy Cane, so don't go to Vegas with what I say.
CrazyCane impersonator: Let's stop with the tasteless posts. Anytime there is a post on the GPP, I get that poster's e-mail so I know when the post is a fake. The reason Crazy Cane visits the GPP is because it's a damn good blog.
Get used to folks from Coral Gables showing up on the GPP, because when FIU starts winning on a consistent basis they will be on here daily. Right now, with all three of the Golden Panthers major sports teams in a building phase, there are not too many reasons for the Coral Gables faithful to visit. Still, the Miami Herald now releases daily blog rankings and even with the down times in FIU sports, the GPP is consistently in the Top 10 of the 34 MH blogs. Thanks to all and even the caners.