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The Prez Talks New Stadium, FIU Athletics Part 3

With a break in spring football here on a Wednesday -- the next practice is Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and Scrimmage No. 2 is set for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday -- let's take this time to finish up the interview with Mmmm FIU President Mitch Maidique.

Yes, I know the Coral Gables team visits FIU baseball tonight for the final time. Canes coach Jim Morris is not renewing the series after the April 23rd game in Coral Gables. We'll get to baseball later in this post.

In this last part, we'll get MM's take on the new stadium and the state of FIU sports. Let's get to it....

GPP: So what are your initial thoughts on the new stadium?

MM: I think the most exciting thing that is happening is the new stadium and the fieldhouse. It will be both a gathering place for all our university as well as a football place where all the university staff, Stad faculty, friends, alumni, administration can all come together to cheer our team. I think that will be a transformative moment on September 20 in FIU's history. I just hope everyone that is a supporter of FIU athletics is there. The more exciting thing that can happen is to begin winning a few games in football.

GPP: Is the student services center still on target for construction in 2010 and finishing the north side before the 2011 season?

MM: Yes, but we're trying to accelerate that. What will be done by Sept. 20 is everything except the north side. The fieldhouse, we're negotiating right now for a completion date, but it shouldn't be more than a few months later than Sept. 20. Both levels of the fieldhouse. By the time we're done playing in 2008 it will be completely done, but we hope it will be done sometime during the season. That's what I'm shooting for.

GPP: I'm sure you already walked the concourse of the new stadium. What do you think of that view from the east end zone concourse (photos below left, right) where you see the downtown Miami skyline, the Ritz Carlton in Dade Coconut Grove, the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and Dadeland?

MM: It's phenomenal. It's the best part of the stadium. And when we go to 45,000 capacity which is the next step, you will have an even better view in an even higher up concourse. It's wonderful that Miami is not so built up that you can see the downtown from the suburbs. I can't wait to get in that presidential box and see the original kickoff. I may not even be in the box for that. I'll probably be down on the Econ field.

GPP: What's the latest on Main Street FIU?

MM: We need cooperation from the county so I'm trying to get the county to make available the land that we need to build that. But as far as we're concerned, it's a question of timing, but that's something we are going to do. We are going to do.

GPP: The land you are talking about is the Tamiami Park/Youth Fair area?

MM: Yeah, so the parking garages could spill over. They will be used by the Youth Fair, by Tamiami Park. We would make more efficient covered parking so it's a real asset I think. The Main Street would go between the stadium and where the performing arts center is. The residential parking lot would go and we would actually push back the space a little bit and we would have Main Street there with dorms on both sides, residential, commercial. It will be phenomenal.

GPP: Why do you think in the past FIU has not had that athletic success that you want to have in the future as a major Division I college athletic program?

MM: I think the main thing is I had focused on academics and I had focused on getting new programs and building a research university and not an athletics powerhouse. Up to the time that Pete Garcia got here, the athletic director was a secondary figure reporting to a vice president, maybe even sometimes an associate vice president. Right now with football, athletics becomes a major force in the university Elling and the athletic director reports directly to me and is aware of everything that is going on in the university. I think the priority we're giving to athletics now, if you look at the athletic budget now it probably doubled over the past five or six years. So it's a question of investments, it's a question of attention and I think we are on the move now.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Tonight will be the first of the final two meetings between FIU and the Coral Gables school and with a stacked Hurricanes team it could get ugly for the Golden Panthers and their suspect pitching -- especially since TT is not exactly on Morris's Christmas Xmas card list. Don't be surprised if the score gets run up.

Yes, a win would be great for FIU and TT, but the focus for the Golden Panthers has to be on the Sun Belt right now since the 11-19 record does not give any hope of an at-large regional bid. By the way FIU0406 is looking like he or she is in the driver's seat for the "Win a GPP Blog II" with a 30-26 predicted FIU record.

FIU has played well in the conference this season at 5-4, where that record could easily be 7-2 with a little better pitching and defense. Still at 5-4, FIU is one half game from third place in the Sun Belt.

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btw if you go to the main page of football on the FIUSPort.com... you will see a great write up on the spring practice complete w/ a new rendering showing the stadium as a double deck!!! i didnt know that existed

you were right Pete, its getting ugly

It's 12-1 in the fourth inning! We already have 3 errors on top of the 6 from last night! Fundamentals look shoddy and I'm not impressed in the least! I have a ton of work to do and can't waste my time on this! One more inning and it will be the first time I leave an FIU game earlier than the 7th inning! EMBARRASSING!

GO FIU!!!


It was an ugly game tonight. You can tell Jim Morris got his hatred for Turtle into his players heads. Before the game, the UCG players gathered around and were screaming, "F-ck Turtle Thomas, let's kill these guys." Pretty classless considering all the kids in the stands above their dugout but oh well, I kind of already expect that type of behavior from them.

Pete,

Can't wait to see the newest renderings on the stadium.

On another topic, my prediction seems like a long shot, it implies winning 19 more games and only losing 6 more. Nevertheless, lets be optimistic, GO FIU!!!


PS: I'm a him.

You were right Paradox - FIU CAN hit. That was a funny April Fools joke. I know we have discussed that FIU mid week pitching is suspect at best, but what is the excuse now for the FIU bats going silent against UM last night? Do the midweek bats differ from the weekend bats? How abou the poor feilding? Do the players use different mid week gloves and only the good feeling gloves during weekend series? You FIU baseball fans have to admit this team is piss poor. They cant pitch, they cant feild and against any team that is half way decent, they cant hit. Correct me if I am wrong, but that was not UM's number 1 or 2, or even 3 pitcher out there last night and he made the FIU batters, who CAN hit, right Paradox, look like junior high team.

I think my "dreadful" statement on the previous blog post was understated.

I think my "dreadful" statement on the previous blog post was understated.

1/2 game from third place in the SunBelt. Are you serious Pete? Is that supposed to be good? Is that supposed to make the FIU basbeall fan base proud? I think that being 1/2 game out in the SUnBelt should embarass the FIU baseball fanbase. It shouldn't be celebrated. FIU baseball is the only sports program at the school I actually want to see succeed as born and raised Miamian and a huge baseball fan. What I saw last night (from FIU) was a disgrace. Now, UM is my team, and they kept right on rolling, but TT has taken this team a few steps back. I know the pitching is not up to par, and that may have something to do with recruiting by the former regime, but the lack of hitting against quality pitching, the rediculous fielding errors, which has more to do with a lack of focus than a lack of talent, and the overall loser attitude is all TT. I think it is time for some reevaluation of this coaching choice. At Miami and ASU, TT recruited with the powerful tradition rich and the promise of the CWS at his disposal, he really has none of that at FIU. I hope I am wrong, but I think the recruiting expertise of TT is going to be excused and this is one hire that PG is going to regret for a long time.

In the seven years Tom Wonderling (FIU's first baseball coach before DP) was coach, his worst loss record was 25 losses. In DP's 28 years, the worst was the terrible '04 season with 33 losses (DP's 25th year as coach). At this rate TT will have this infamous FIU record in his FIRST year as coach!

In DP's 28 years he was sub 500, 3 times and had an average winning percentage .645, Wonderling had a winning percentage of .617. TT has MAJOR catching up to do! As a diehard FIU fan it pains me to witness a program fall to this, however as a diehard I also have hope that TT can turn this around. I think we FIU fans were told about this "DEVINE TT" and expected immediate results, however the performance I saw last night was disheartening and as someone posted earlier "we've taken several steps backwards". All we can do now is hope for respectability. We currently have NONE!

GO FIU!!!

Okay, I admit that last nite was certainly a few steps backwards. Most disheartening was the fact that our top two returning starters for next year (Polizanno and Desimone) were both shelled. I just find it hard to get too excited over one game. Players and teams have bad nites in baseball. Were it a three game series and we got pasted three times - I would be concerned. The Major League season is very young and already, big time allstars have had evenings where they've struck out 3-4 times. Were you to judge them on that one game, you might suggest they are junior high talent. Anyone who's been around the game alot knows that games like last nite happen and they're difficult to explain. That's not to take anything away from Miami because they are without a doubt one of the best teams in the nation. It's just when your pitcher rolls thru the first and strikes the first two hitters out in the second - it's really weird to see 6 or 8 straight hits without being able to record an out. The law of averages should have had one of those rockets hit right at one of our players. Please don't tell me that they all of sudden decided to start hitting when they got two outs in the second. When Pete mentions third place in the Sun Belt, I would think people should be pretty excited if it ended that way. Unless I'm wrong, FIU didn't even make the Sun Belt tournament the last couple of years (at least last year for sure). You guys that are questioning TT this early must have an agenda; bellyaching this early and then qualifying oneself as a diehard FIU baseball fan is really constructive.

Yes this diehard does have an agenda, I want FIU to win and eventually go to the CWS. I am realistic not to expect miracles in a year of transitions. That is why I have called for patients. Still this level of play falls below what I expected. I agree that the last 5-6 years under DP our team underperformed. That is why I was critical of DP. I wasn't as critical as many on this blog, however critical I was. I felt and still believe that DP's release was MISHANDLED, again NOT that DP should be retained just that his release from FIU was handled VERY poorly. Then TT is thrusted on us. All his successes were discussed and his baggage minimized. Believe me, from speaking to some in college baseball and the MLB scouting world there is baggage. Still, I was told that he would be an awesome recruiter (I DO believe that!) and that he would coach back the fundamentals missing in this club. This part I haven't seen. So when you're told ALL these glowing remarks and you still can't beat an Atlantic Sun team or the University of Tampa, your optimism is dampened. Believe me, I want TT to succeed, NOT because of TT because I'm a Golden Panther fan for life. So whether the coach was DP, TT or Seinfeld, I would want that particular coach to succeed @ FIU. So there is my agenda.

GO FIU!!!

Wow - I am honored to be dogged by Crazy Cane. As others here have said, bats can turn off and FIU's did. But that does not change my mind that these guys can hit. Of course, Crazy, I suppose you are the expert about that having seen, hm what - one FIU game in person? Gosh - I have only been to 17 this season. I must be a slacker.
Yeah - it was ugly and I thought it probably would be. But as fiufan751 reminds us - what are the odds that not one of these 7 shots hit off Polizzano in a row did not go into a glove? A three game series would tell the tale better so two of our most promising guys do not have to go out there on three days rest.

Oh - and since we are at it, the word is spelled field and patients are what a physician has. If you are calmly waiting it is patience.

Paradox you are correct and I stand corrected. I guess I was so bothered about our teams terrible play, I felt sick and needed to see a doctor.

GO FIU!!!

3rd place in the Belt is NOT a bad thing. I'd be ecstatic with that at this point, frankly. The SBC's always been an underrated baseball conference, and they're only getting better. As is the rest of the conference sports, frankly.

I, for one, am not so upset over the Miami loss. I was expecting it. We've stunk against worse competition, even if the likes of FGCU are better than what I believe. I wouldn't really call last night a step backwards. We've never really been at Miami's level baseball-wise. The losses to FGCU, Tampa, those kind of teams... THAT'S a step backwards. Those are the kinds of teams we normally beat that we haven't. It's a trend from Price's final years that, so far, hasn't been bucked.

I must give credit to UFF for some of his last posts. They basically say what I feel. We shouldn't be talking about a 30-loss season. Our talent is not that bad. And I, for one, do not believe we set the bar so high for TT, either this year or in the future. I mean, if all it took for us to be happy was a 30+ win season and a shot at regionals, then why is Price out of FIU? We brought TT in to take us to Omaha. Period. The bar SHOULD be high. I won't bring it down.

If people want to say we need better talent to compete with Miami, fine. If people want to say "let's wait for TT's guys to come in", fine. But I sure hope this coaching staff starts showing, and soon, that they can coach the guys they've got to some wins. Right now, they aren't doing it.

Woah...you think FIU fans would be happy that this team is only 1/2 game out of 3rd place in the Sun Belt conference, seeing as that this team has missed the conference tournament last year. THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT!!!!

As for the amount of losses and winning percentage, if you look in the FIU Media guide, you can't compare the schedules that both Tom Wonderling and Danny Price played in comparison to what TT has amassed this season.

Fact is that in the past 10 games, FIU has played No. 1 Arizona State (2 times), No. 2 Miami (once), No. 5 UC-Irvine (once) and also played TWO-TIME defending Division II National Champion Tampa as well as Sun Belt conference pre-season favorite ULL (which we actually won the series).

Guys, just like in football we said you need to give MC time to build with his classes, you all need to give TT the same benefit of the doubt.

As mentioned in a previous blog I believe, FIU currently has the 15th best recruiting class in the nation, when was the last time FIU could say that....ok then folks time heals all wounds.

Everyone's entitled to an opinion but I'm just amazed at the impatience. I don't know of any top leadership job (baseball, banking, IT, etc) where a new individual is hired to come in and fix a situation but isn't given the time to fix the climate, work ethic, attitude, approach, personnel weaknesses, etc. That my friends doesn't happen over night! I'm not sure Harry Houdini could have pulled that off? When I started reading this blog back in August, I'm almost certain that it was pretty much unanimous that DP was a great guy but that the program was struggling in recent years and that it was time to bring in new blood.

Messod, per my reference to a step backwards, had you read my recent posts, you wouldn't have taken my comment out of context. I know how good Miami is. I thought it was a step backwards only because I was gauging our progress to date on games when we throw our big three and despite the losses in some of those games, I'd noted that we've managed to compete well and keep the scores fairly close. My optimism was only slighly tempered because neither of next year's top two returning pitchers were effective against Miami. We sacrificed one of our conference weekend starters; we didn't send out one of the guys who normally pitch the mid-week games. I think it was a worthwhile gamble on TT's part and it was certainly made doable by Horstman's last two performances.

I know for a fact that some changes in the rotation were coming so don't think necessarily that TT was sacrificing one of weekend starters...lets see what happens against Western Kentucky this weekend,

so spring scrimmage 2 is tom. how bout a herald blog cheering section

Count me & my kids in!

Go FIU!!!

Good idea guys....give us then your own "report" on the scrimmage and particulars from it. Thanks in advance.

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