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You Are Always On My Mind

OK, I'll admit it I listen to country music once in a while, there are some good country songs. Not every country song is about a guy's pickup truck breaking down, his girl leaving him or his dog dying.

Willie_2 So with apologies to Willie Nelson, we're making a little change to the title of one his songs for this post. Willie's original song title is "You Were Always on My Mind". Let's change the verb for the theme of this post.

Judging by the response to the GPP's FIU football posts, that seems to be the sport that is on most FIU fans minds. With that in mind, Spring Scrimmage No. 2 is tommorrow (Saturday) at 10:30 a.m. We'll see if the FIU defense can get going earlier than last week, if the running backs can keep up their production and if Paul McCall continues his solid effort toward winning the starting QB job.

But Willie's song for this post is in tribute to what happened Wednesday night at University Park Stadium with the opposing coach, because apparently TT is still on JM's mind or in his head as the psychology folks like to say. From JM's comment of "Turtle, Who?" in the preseason media day and againTtjm_2 on Wednesday night.

Let's get the baseball facts out of the way first: um has a heck of a baseball team and they should challenge in Omaha this June.

The other fact is FIU is not on that level yet offensively, defensively or with its pitching. There are several people on this blog that think the Golden Panthers baseball program TT took over was not in as bad a shape as the football program MC inherited. News flash folks: FIU has little to zero pitching and when a good opposing pitcher takes the mound the FIU bats struggle. Add to it that FIU is handicapped by having only 8 to 9 scholarships available per year until 2010, because of past APR no-nos and you have a baseball team that needs to be built, not re-built.

Back to the point of this post. It makes no difference to me whether any of the series between the two schools in the three major sports continue beyond this season. As many have pointed out and I agree with: the two schools are on different levels right now. (BTW, the hoops series ends after next season's game in Coral Gables).

What caught my attention on Wednesday was the lack of class displayed by the visiting team and their coach.

As MaXx pointed out in one of his comments and was heard loud and clear from the press box (which also means most of the stadium heard it): what kind of classy team gathers before a game and screams "(word that rhymes with "puck") Turtle Thomas, let's kill these guys!" The opposing players were still in middle school when TT was an assistant under JM so they wouldn't know anything about the history between the two coaches.

Os Jfk Which is another thing, only the two coaches really know what happened between them in 1999 when JM let TT go. I get a kick out of all these on-line experts from the peanut gallery with their Oliver Stone/JFK conspiracy theories of what happened between the two coaches. You all know the types: "Yeah, I'm real close to the program and I know the real truth....yada, yada, yada, yada".

The other moment that stood out Wednesday was the meeting at home plate to exchange lineup cards. TT extended his hand. JM looked at the hand, thought about it and then as one of our regular posters, FIUJM, wrote in the comments section of the MH Game Story, JM got "alligator arms" when he shook TT's hand.Wally

Neither coach wanted to talk about the past on Wednesday and that's fine. That's their business and their prerogative. After Wednesday night's game, I asked JM about continuing to schedule FIU and that TT wanted to play his team four times a season starting next season. JM frowned and changed his tone of voice when responding to both questions. You can read his comments in the game story link above.

The teams meet for the final time on April 23 in Coral Gables. Don't see FIU winning that game, unless it gets a Cy Young pitching performance and Cy Young has been dead for a while now. However, it would be interesting to see how the Golden Panthers react (classy?) if they do finish the 35-year-old crosstown series with a win.

Fiupaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU0406: Have faith man, the Golden Panthers can still go 19-6 and you can win the "Win a GPP Blog II". As it's looking right now, as Princess Leia would say in the first Star Wars Leia movie: "FIU0406, you're the blog's readers only hope".

FIUVoice: Or shall we say the Voice of Reason here. You are correct in pointing out that the two previous FIU coaches never played the type of schedule TT has this season. Were the games TT scheduled a bit too ambitious for the type of team he inherited? Probably so, but you're not going to get better playing Eckerd Drugs and Florida Southern Church.

24/7-11: Considering FIU has not sniffed the Sun Belt tournament in recent years and has resided at the bottom of the conference standings, being in third place right now is good considering the overall season.

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Great insight, Pete...Pretty classy of JM to (obviously) instill the hatred on his kids...oh well, so be it...Anyways, after reading Maidique's comments, and studying the increment in athletics' budget, with the new leadership we have, I feel as positive as ever in terms of the future for FIU Athletics. Patience....a little bit of time, and we will see positive results...

Go FIU!!!! TDAOS!!!!

Pete, I am glad I wasn't the only one who heard the comment. I'm not saying that our guys are a bunch of angels, but what surprised me about the chant was the fact that it had to come directly from the head coach. I don't really care if we don't play UCG again, especially if we can get more home games against teams like USC. I'd rather play classier teams like them who will draw a nice crowd and will still challenge our guys to get better.

One question about football Pete, maybe you can find out more than we can. There are many fans (and apparently many players) who believe that no matter how well Paul McCall does in practice that he will not be the starter because he is not Mario's "guy". Any truth to this rumor? I would like to give Mario the benefit of the doubt at this point in who he chooses to be the quarterback of the team. However, when you hear about the incredible Spring Paul is having you would think that Mario would name his starter so that the team can move forward with a true leader at the helm.

If there's one position I feel this team has been in desperate need of I think it's the quarterback. In my opinion, FIU hasn't had a truly talented QB since Jamie Burke. I really believe that Paul McCall may be that leader that the team needs but those kind of comments make me feel like he won't get a fair chance.

Thank you, Pete! I am glad that we weren't the only ones who noticed what the UM players said. TT did the right thing in keeping the past behind and acting maturely about it. You pointed out the same exact thing that Max and I talked about that night. Those players weren't even around when TT was there, so all that hatred for him has to come from JM.

Pete, nice touch with the alligator picture!!! lol I'm glad many noticed that that handshake between JM and TT. Seems like TT was the bigger person in that exchange. As for the UM players chanting the profanity before the game; things like that can escalate on the baseball field. Very classless!!! I still want to keep the series going with UM. With a couple recruiting classes from TT; it will become a competitive matchup.

On to football, I'll be going to practice today. Definitely Paul McCall has looked impressive. But I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't win the QB job. I've stated before that it's his job to lose; but most QB's that run spread offense are mobile. I don't know if he's shown enough to coaches to prove that. I just see other teams that run spread and they definitely have the QB's for that system (example, USF,UF,WV,Illinois,Missouri,Oregon, etc). Don't get me wrong, after seeing him practice, i could care less about mobility because it's all about getting the ball to your receivers. It just depends what MC and OC Legg want at that position.

What I do want to see today is the O-Line have a good day like they did last week.

GO FIU!!!

Guys, please report and give us, out of towners, the run down on how things are going, who impressed you in the scrimmage, and other particulars. As always, thank you.

Hey Pete, The reason why the baseball team has not responded to TT is because he's made up his mind on running off several players. What ever happen to Evan Ellison? He carved UM twice last year! Is he still on the team or has TT asked him not to come back because he's taking his scholarship away. Ellison was clocked as high as 93 MPH during those two games and he made UM hitters look like "dolls." How can he bring in 21 new recruits and get rid of underclassmen on this years' club. I would like to see their APR when he does it and Pete Garcia's face when FIU gets placed on probation. TT has experience doing it; since he was the main reason UM was placed on probation several years ago. Over recruiting players and then dumpimg them to JUCO's or to schools like Barry,Saint Thomas, NOVA etc..Now that's the "real" reason why JM ran TT out of town. By the way, haven't you heard that Arizona Sate is being investigated for over recruiting players and then dumping them to JUCO's in Arizona. Well, who was the recruiting coordinator at ASU last year.

Did you get dumped John? Hopefully you did.

I really don't care about what happened in the past. I just hope he over recruits at FIU and gets the program in order.

Cheers

One more thing, UM was not put on probation because of Turtle. It was because of Jim Morris. He is the head coach and is responsible.

Side note: it was because Gino Dimare illegally spoke to high school players at the World Series in a hotel conference room and because of the Lazer saga.

wake up and get a clue

No comment on baseball. All I know is this guy "John" has some issues with TT. Just be patient is all I can tell you!!!

Just got back from FIU football scrimmage. I'll give it my best shot to inform those that couldn't make it today. I know PP's insight will definitely be more detailed.

First of all, great to see many of the incoming recruits at practice. Kambriel Willis, Jonathan Jackson, Souarrin, Aaron Davis and more recruits were there. From what I gather, these kids are ready to come in and compete. They wanted to put on pads and see how they would do on the field.

Seemed to me that both offense and defense had some sluggish moments. These are the positions and players that stood out to me:

QB position--McCall had the best day but wasn't as impressive as last week. He had his moments where he struggled but he's ahead of CA and DH. As for CA and DH, they did look more comfortable than last week. Towards the end of practice Colt Anderson made some great throws and was able to move the offense.

RB position--great day by Amod Ned. On a fourth and 1 play he had a 42 yards TD run. Other RB that stood out was Turner. I think he's FB but he just runs hard. Very hard to tackle.

WR position--Marquis Rolle looked impressive. He had some one-on-one opportunities and made nice catches. One was for a touchdown(thrown by CA). Other receiver that had nice day was Jeremy Dickens. Very solid, just made plays when he had the ball thrown to him.

That's it for the offensive side of the ball, O-Line did ok. What i also want to see is production out of any TE. Wiggins made nice catch, but to me that position needs somebody to step up.

Finally, the defensive side of the ball. On the line of scrimmage, best day goes to Reginald Jones. No LB stood out. That's just my opinion; i don't want to offend anyone. Secondary, good day for Anthony Gaitor. He seems to be #1 corner on the team and he sure likes to talk on the football field(in a good way).

Overall, I don't think defense or offense dominated. I'm looking forward to read what some of you that went to practice thought and PP perpesctive.

GO FIU!!!

i was at the practice.. in general im not goin to call out players. but the first team in gen looked sharper thatn the first team defense.. over all. DH and CA seem to be relaxing a bit. so thats a plus. the one thing that really got my attention was the class of 08 finally made it to the practice feild! good job showing interest plus, looke like some highschoolers as well made it out there. of the 08 recruits that i recognize there was K Willis, J Jackson and E Sourin.. so great to see them out there watching. best part of the practice by far was the i guess 2 on 2 drills having all the team around and all the fans on the outside great stuff

Good stuff...thanks for telling us, and please, keep doing so....

Thank you FIUJM and CJ, if you ever in Baltimore I'll invite you to a crab cake for your reports on practice for all the out of towners. We really appreciate your blogs.

Thanks BP!!! I appreciate that. Just incase you guys couldn't attend practice, you could also read this:

http://www.fiusports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=11700&ATCLID=1433415

Sad to see FIU baseball get no pitching today; it's obvious that the reason we're 11-22 isn't because of TT...it's pitching.

GO FIU!!!

John - it's good to know I am not the only person who remembers how Ellison owned the UCG hitters last year. TT did in fact ask players to rescind scholarships; some did, some did not, but Ellison was not one of them. He's still here, and still has the heat. But there haven't exactly been too many situations this season requiring a closer, you gotta admit, and he had a rough start when we did see him.

There should be cause to worry all across the country about APR's given the hellacious game and travel schedules that resulted from the altering of the baseball season length. TT's practice schedule will not help his guys. Making your travel day your off day is a sneaky way of circumventing the rules. A very good student will get through okay but it will be very tough for marginial students - especially freshmen - to remain eligible. Just a prediction; hope I am wrong but also hope the integrity of the STUDENT-athlete education is not compromised.

BP ill take you up on that whenever i head to Balt. better yet for get the crab and lets catch the ravens and AB

OK - so I had a long talk this weekend with an FIU die-hard about the baseball woes this season. He basically made me a beleiver and I have decided to wait until the end of next year to pass judgment on TT. he does need to recruit a good class to have any hope.

On the brighter side of things - did anyone else see that ASU lost 2 of three this weekend? That means, wioth the sweep of Clemson by the Canes, UM may be ranked #1 in the counrty by the end of the day. Where are all of the FIU fans who talked about UM being on the decline? You all know who you are.

For those that didn't like a third place tie in the Conference standings, we are now in 9th after the weekend.

U24/7, I think it would be extremely difficult to argue that UM shouldn't be number 1 in the nation. The Canes obviously have an outstanding baseball team, right now.

When is the Blue / Gold spring football game?

GO FIU!!!

April 18th at 7 pm is Blue/Gold spring football game.

To all of you who say "recruiting is the problem with the pitching"... I hope you're right and I'm wrong. I really do. But I've tried to over the past couple of days and I can't. I'm sorry. I'm going to have to see it to believe it.

Last I checked, you have coaches to coach players up. This coaching staff's had nearly a year to do that. Right now, their 7.37 team ERA has to be one of the worst ever in FIU history. Probably the worst. And it's not happening because we're getting shelled by good teams. It's happening because anyone with a half-decent offense is killing these arms. That's never happened before.

To say this is a "recruiting" issue and that the "coaching" has nothing to do with this sounds to me like a lot of people here are drinking a lot of Kool-Aid. We should be better than 11-23 right now. Period. And the coaches right now have to take some responsibility for that. DP & company's teams weren't laying these kind of eggs. And how most of you are ignoring or dismissing that fact is just beyond me. I'm just glad I'm not there to see a proud program falling apart the way it is.

I hope TT & Company will prove me wrong soon. He'll get his chance to, hopefully. But I wonder how good a "coach" FIU's got if DP & Co. was getting more out of similar talent than TT & Co. are right now. Being a "great" recruiter isn't enough, and "experts" saying we've got a Top 15 class doesn't mean a hell of a lot. Sorry. Not when the best of said class will probably end up getting drafted and going pro.

Messod,

Not to disagree with you totally, but to say that DP was getting more out of these players that TT is isn't really fair.

TT is also playing a schedule that TT could only dream of. I love how people here and even in the UCG message boards, blast FIU for playing schools like Tampa, Jacksonville, North Florida and FGCU.

For those of you who don't know, Tampa is a two-time defending Division II champion (sounds like a good squad). Jacksonville beat Florida this season. North Florida hung tough with both Jacksonville and Florida, while FGCU is a school that is very talented in all sports.

We aren't playing the Bethune-Cookman's and FAMU's anymore. The only school on our schedule that I doubted is Barry, but we are playing them because when TT got here the schedule was blank besides conference games so he had to put it together on the fly and I think he did a hell of a job.

In a 10-day span, FIU played the No. 1 (ASU, twice), No. 2 (UM) and No. 5 (UC-Irvine) and then also thrown in there was a three-game set at ULL.

That is possibly the hardest stretch of schedule that I can remember and I've been following this program for nearly 10 years now. So take that for it's worth.

GOOD NIGHT EVERYONE!!!

Messod,

Not to repeat all of your concerns, which basically mirror mine but DITTO to your post.

FGCU does have a 25-8 record, however beside losses to UF & UCF, their other losses include BETHUNE COOKMAN, Kennesaw State, UNF & Belmount! Lets not initiate FGCU into elite status just yet!

UNF is 18-13 did beat UF & MSU, however before we lift the Osprey to the elite level lets not forget the losses to Lipscomb, some school named USC Upstate (??), ETSU, & Campbell.

Again, I believe TT deserves time. He deserves time to install his structure and gets his players. I'M NOT CALLING FOR A CHANGE IN COACHING!!! I'm just questioning his coaching because this team looks more lost, with less fundamentals than any FIU baseball team I've ever seen.

I truly hope TT proves Messod and I wrong and that TT rights this ship that as gone so astray!

GO FIU!!!

Roman,

I totally agree with you on the sked, and I commend TT with putting it together. We've certainly learned this program needs work because of it.

With that said... two points.

1) Tampa shouldn't be cited as a reason why this schedule is "tough". They may be the two-time D-II champs... but the key there is "D-II"! Had DP lost to them, most everyone in here would've been squealing like stuck pigs. That also applies with Jax, or UNF, or FGCU. And I know this because people did complain when DP lost to teams like that the last 3-4 seasons. If DP got hanged for that, why shouldn't Turtle? Did "tough" just get a new definition? Is it unrealistic to expect TT to beat teams like that this year? I don't think so. And, from the predictions, I think most people agreed with me there before the season began.

2) If FIU was just getting their brains beat in by USC and Miami and schools like that, I'd be chill right now. It's the other losses that have me wondering what's going on. Why is our pitching getting so outclassed against almost everyone else? Is that staff really that much worse than, say, what FIU's had the last 3-4 seasons? I have a hard time believing that. To expect worse numbers than last season is reasonable, but who here expected a team ERA above 7? Or 16 losses where the team gave up more than 10 runs? Even with this kind of a schedule, those facts seem loony.

In terms of record, DP certainly got more out of his players than TT so far. But that's is a misleading stat because of the sked. You've got a point there, Roman. That's not a great measure, and I probably shouldn't have used it. But I do think it's fair to wonder why this team is having problems beating schools most of us are used to beating.

UFF: USC Upstate's in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Just an FYI. But I'm glad to know someone agrees with me here. Thanks. :)

I'll give the great recruiter his out of conference losses. But if this team cannot improve on the conference record from last year, then I blame the coaches; all of them. Lost from last season: Dunn, McOwen, Pullin, Bautista, Whitley, and Siebenaler. New this season: Guy, Sujo, Castillo, Stropp, and DeSimone - all TT's guys (notice playing those same positions), plus Stewart and Francis, who were not available last season. The rest - barring a handful of guys - are the same, especially if one considers the players who do the bulk of the playing.
There are still 18 conference games to play. But I was sure hoping that FIU would not be struggling to make that tournament. Let's hope that is not the case. A strong conference showing and maybe THEN I will be willing to say this coaching staff can make the players play. I'm not from Missouri, but he's gonna have to show me.

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