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10 posts from May 2008

May 28, 2008

FIU At The Movies 2

Movies_4 We just passed Memorial Day so it must be the start of the summer movie season and what better way to recap the year in FIU sports than by going to the movies.

So here, with the help of movies that debuted during the past FIU sports season (Aug. 2007-May 2008), is our sequel to the original "FIU At The Movies" on the GPP last May 29. Hopefully, this one does better than most other sequels. Turn off your cellphones, the show is about to start....Nocount_2

No Country For Old Men (right): With more than 70 percent of the roster made up of freshmen or sophomores, this was the story for the 2007 FIU football team.

There Will Be Blood: Well, at least that's what ESPN thought when they showed up to nationally broadcast the football re-match between FIU and UM. The worldwide leader left disappointed with just a neighborhood football game to broadcast.

Resur_2 Resurrecting The Champ: For a long time, the Orange Bowl has been a champion stadium. On a late 2007 November night, the "champ" got knocked out with a 48-0 loss as its primary tenant bowed out. But the OB's other 2007 tenant, the Golden Panthers picked the "champ" up and sent it out a 38-19 winner.

The Comebacks: The FIU men's soccer team didn't fare well in the regular season, but got on a roll in the postseason to reach the Conference USA final.

National Treasure 2: Or sophomore Yarimar Rosa's story at FIU. Once again the Golden Panthers volleyball player earned an All-American honor. Rosa is FIU's first two-time All-American. Eva_2

We Own The Night (right): Actually, they own the pool. FIU swimmers Trudi Maree and Sara Giovannoni broke several FIU records on their way to earning All-American honors.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: We'll have to take artistic liberties with this title as well and go with Run Hard: The Ronald Forbes Story. Forbes, (below, left) who earned All-American honors this season, ran the nation's best time in the 60m hurdles.

Forbes_2 Feel The Noise: That's what the new FIU Stadium is being set up to do with limited space between the seats and the field. The tight "C" shape for this upcoming season should be loud, now it's time to get a few more "Ws".

The Final Season: That's about it for the FIU/UM sports series with the exception of men's and women's hoops and women's tennis. The men's hoops series ends this fall in Coral Gables. After the FIU lady hoopsters won in Coral Gables last season, that series may soon be cancelled too.Gb_3

I Am Legend: Raja Bell and Carlos Arroyo had their numbers retired by FIU hoops.

Definitely Maybe: The Golden Panthers men's hoops team and the saga of breaking the full court press.

The Great Debaters: The GPP's readers and commentators.

The Hottie And The Nottie: The Golden Dazzlers (hotties) and opponents Dazz_2 dance teams (notties).

27 Dresses: Or the number of logos FIU has had before the university decided on 1 logo for all sports this coming year.

The Eye: What the NCAA has on FIU for the next 4 years.

Chaos Theory: What the uneducated media, that does not regularly cover FIU, thought/reported when FIU's NCAA infractions and poor APR news broke. It sounds worse than it actually is.

The Jane Austen Book Club: With FIU athletes' GPAs soaring this past year, it might as well be the FIU Book Club.

Eastern Promises: Once again the FIU women's tennis team (made up of eastern Europeans and southeastern Americans) had another successful season. The 3-time Sun Belt Champions may just be the most successful FIU sports program of the last 5 years.Sb_2

Nim's Island: As we all saw at home plate of the first FIU/UM baseball game this season, it's more like Jim's (Morris) Island when it comes to the future of this baseball series. Watch out for those alligator arms!

Superbad: What the UM fans were thinking as FIU closed out the 35-year-old crosstown baseball series with a 6-3 win in Coral Gables.

Saw 4: FIU softball player Monique White saw four bases many times this season as she broke the all-time FIU softball home run record.

Meet Bill: In this movie it's Meet Beth. That would be Sun Belt Softball Coach of the Year, FIU's Beth McClendon.

Gone Baby Gone: What was said 14 times this season after Tyler Townsend deposited pitches beyond Carm_2 the outfield fence. Keep going opposite field Tyler, that's your stroke.

Meet The Spartans (left): Sparta, rich in Olympic history. FIU may have future Olympians in track stars Ronald Forbes, Porsha Butler and Kerry Walker who all won Sun Belt Championships earlier this month.

Strange Wilderness: The preserve behind the baseball stadium. Time to raze it.

Hitman: All-Sun Belt 2B Ryan Mollica (27-game hit streak) and 3B Jorge Castillo (30-game hit streak) were hitmen this season. How Castillo did not get All-SBC honors is beyond me.

Awake: With a record-breaking crowd of more than 3,000 fans showing up to a spring game for a 6-year-old football program it Awake_4showed the momentum from last year's spring game continued and we didn't even need Jessica Alba (right, in "Awake") to show up.

Step Up 2: Freshmen golfers Paula Hurtado and Cristina Marin made the transition from high school look easy with All-Sun Belt honors.

My Kid Could Paint That: What the MC and TT detractors are crying out after the first season for both FIU coaches.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: This spring we remembered what an essential player to FIU's defenseBuck_3 Marshall McDuffie is and while we're at it, Jeremiah Weatherspoon as well. Welcome back both.

The Bucket List: One thing FIU fans have on their list: to see FIU in the Top 25 in all sports at Theend_2 some point in the future.



We'll make next Thursday, June 5, the final day for you to get your questions for MC in to the GPP.

FIU Fan: I'll look into all the bells and whistles that are being planned in the new stadium. I'll get a poll up on this subject in the next post.

The Ultimate FIU Fan: The hiring of Mike Jarvis at FAU will definitely help the Owls. Jarvis has a good track record making Boston and George Washington matter. He also coached at St. John. He has taken his teams to the postseason 11 times in 18 years, not too shabby.

May 23, 2008

The Next 70-Something Days

Ku We're 99 days away from the season opener at Kansas on Aug. 30, but in the next 70-something days we'll have plenty of time to get to your requests.

That 70-something days period is how much time before FIU begins fall football practice, around the second week of August.

Before we get to what's on tap on the GPP this summer, wanted to share with you an observation from some of my summer duties at the MH.

This summer the MH started a high school/college sports recruiting section in the Herald's on-line sports section. Basically, several writers, yours truly included, go around Dade, Broward and Palm Beach checking up on some of the top college football prospects during spring practice.

I've been assigned Broward, but been keeping tabs on Dade and Palm Beach, I've noticed FIU has been around a bunch of high schools and here are some of the players that already have offers or interest from FIU for the 2009 season:

Everglades High linebackers Roderic Blunt (6-2, 210) and Devon Butler (5-11, 210). Miramar S/WR Quinton Byrd (6-0, 178). American Heritage LB Brent Singleton (5-10, 200). Norland WR Xavier Rhodes Griffin_2 (6-2, 190). Carol City DE Cory Henry (6-4, 245). Pace WR Sterling Griffin (left) (6-2, 177). Central WR Jerious Williams (6-5, 185) and center Derrick Jean (6-3, 260).

Of course, there are some Top 25 teams also after these players, but it's encouraging to see FIU going after some of this area's best players.

You can start sending in your questions for MC as he's ready to partake in another Mc question and answer session with you. That's one of the upcoming posts on the GPP this summer.

We'll start the summer off by bringing back one of the most popular posts on the GPP. Check it out next week.

We'll also take another tour of the new stadium soon. TT will drop by to talk about the 2008 season and see what's going on in 2009 for FIU baseball and we'll have much more.


Got another question for you. Wanted to know what type of GPP posts you like best. Vote below.

maxx: New stadium tour will be on the GPP soon. Waiting for the west end zone to take more shape so that we could shoot some photos from there, as well as photos from around the entire stadium. It would be a good idea for season ticket holders to get a tour, if not, I do think FIU has planned a select-a-seat day.

FIU Fan: On the next stadium tour, we'll be sure to get all the details on the skyboxes, party and meeting rooms. Thanks for bringing up the Sebastian sacrifice altar....I did not know that was part of the stadium.

The ads all over the MH site are a necessary evil, unfortunately. They clutter the GPP and every other Danica_4 blog, but they pay the bills. As long as they don't have me wearing a bunch of ads like auto racers do, I think it will be OK. Not that there's anything wrong with Danica.

FI-UM Fan: We'll try to get a PG interview on here talking about FIU sports since he took over and what lies ahead.

May 22, 2008

La Pierna Talks Again

Back to the final part of our interview with new offensive coordinator Bill Legg or as they would say in Legg_2 certain parts of Miami, Guillermo Pierna.

What's your offensive philosophy?

BL: The bottom line is we want to spread you out, make you defend the whole field so that we can define your weaknesses easier, because there are 11 players trying to cover 21 zones. I talk to the quarterbacks about that all the time. Between the 8 run lanes, 5 short passing lanes, 5 intermediate passing lanes and the 3 deep passing Twentyone_2 lanes those are 21 areas of the field that 11 players have to cover. There's multiple people with dual responsibility on every play. Our job is to find those guys and take advantage of putting them in a run/pass conflict and try to take advantage of them. That's our goal.

What did you think of the receivers this spring? Who stood out?

BL: I really feel that Jeremy Dickens had an outstanding spring and if he continues to work hard he has a chance to be a real good inside receiver. Greg Ellingson, Marquis Rolle, James Rucker had good springs. Those guys come to the top of my mind, but the receiving corps as a whole has done a nice job of picking things up. I noticed those 4 guys, because they have a tendency for whatever reason they end up getting the ball. That doesn't mean the other ones are not doing a good job, because Elliott Dix, for example, I think had an outstanding spring, but hasn't had near the number of touches that those other guys had. That's just because when Dix happen to be in there, the coverage dictated that we go somewhere else.

It's like Travis Felder. We got him playing tight end to try to take advantage of his athleticism and one day we threw nine balls at the tight end and he happened to be in on only one of the plays, because we're trying to rotate people to get them the number of reps. John Ellis (below, right), we're trying to dual Ellis_2 train and, boy, did he do an outstanding job. We're kind of trying to turn him into an H-back. That way we can run 2 backs if we want to. We can run 1 back. We can put him in a wing. He can line up and play tight end. You could do a lot of different things with him without taking him off the field. He's a good football player. Now what are you defending? Are you defending 1 back, 3 wide receivers and a tight end or are you defending 2 backs and 3 wide receivers or is it 2 tight ends and 1 back or is it 2 backs and 1 tight end? His flexibility I think is going to really pay dividends for us.

What about the running backs?

BL: I have been happy with all four running backs. I can’t sit here and honestly say one of them is head and shoulders above the others. They’ve all really done a nice job of picking things up. They got better at identifying the blitzes and protections. All have done a better job of putting their hats on and playing physical.

How has the offensive line responded to the tweaks you’ve made on offense?


BL: They are coming along. I’m a little concerned with the depth right now, because most of the second group are real young, inexperienced guys. That’s an area that we probably have the most work to do Line offensively, because it’s the most technical. It always has been and it always will be. It’s the most technical position to play. It will be the last position to come along. I really feel that the guys are working really hard. I think [offensive line coach] Greg [Laffere] is coaching them hard and we’ll get there. I saw improvement every single day.


Because of the concern of depth in the offensive line, is that one reason you made the quarterback more mobile in this offense or was that your plan all along?


BL: It was the plan all along. Like I said very few programs in the country can take a statue and play him at quarterback. Even the ones that do, every once in a while run into somebody that they wished they had somebody that can move around. We’re not looking for a running quarterback per se, but we do have to have a quarterback that has the ability to run. Otherwise you're playing with 10 guys on the field.


You are in Miami now. Have you learned the translation of your last name "Legg", minus one "g" in Spanish?Legs_2

BL: I have been told it about 15 times and I'm still not sure if I could say it properly. I had 18 credit hours of Spanish in college (West Virginia), but I graduated in 1985 so I haven't used it since then. A little bit last year when my daughter was taking Spanish in school. I could remember the basics. I can still count a little bit. I could tell you that I can't speak Spanish that's about it. I hope to get some of it back.




FYI to GPPers, this new password system the Miami Herald installed for commenting on all of the MH blogs does not put out any of your information. Only I get to see your e-mail addresses and you will NOT get hit with any spam e-mail or ads by registering. The MH put this new password garbage on every MH blog, (yes, it is garbage, IMHO), because 3 of the Herald's blogs (the GPP is NOT one of them) have gotten out of hand with vulgar comments.


ridgepanther: FAU is ahead of FIU as an athletic dept. right now, because of several reasons. On the field, FAU had better coaches and recruited better in several sports during the time frame when both schools started football. As we can all see Howard S. had a much better idea on how to build a football program and recruited better than the former FIU football coach. Take for example, their quarterback Rusty Smith, who won Sun Belt Player of the Year last year. Smith was lightly recruited by D-I schools, but Howard saw something there. Plus, looking back at the first 5 years of FAU and FIU football, the Owls always seemed to be the Score_2 better prepared team, with the exception of 2005.


In baseball, last weekend we saw several players on FAU's team that could have been playing at FIU. Owls 2nd baseman William Block (who was 9 for 13 with a HR and 3 SB against FIU) will play in the big leagues one day and having covered Block in high school at Davie Nova, I asked him back then if FIU was recruiting him: the answer was no. FIU rarely hit Broward County back then in baseball recruiting. Also, FAU was better prepared as an athletic department when it came to student-athlete academic support. The Owls did not take the hits FIU took with the APR and with NCAA violations during the past 5 years. Now, FIU has that S/A academic support in place. I'm glad FIU football jumped to D-I in 2005, but the Golden Panthers were not completely prepared to make the jump when they did in 2005.


Yandro: FIU signee, left-hander Mason McVay had surgery earlier in the past baseball season. Speaking with TT about him a few weeks ago, TT expects McVay to start throwing by the end of 2008 and will likely be brought along slowly in the 2009 season. Could possibly redshirt, if he's not completely recovered.

May 19, 2008

Early Summer Vacation

We found out early last Friday morning that FIU baseball would start its summer vacation earlier than expected.

After FIU lost to Florida Atlantic on Thursday night and Middle Tennessee beat Western Kentucky in the wee hours Friday morning after a 3 hour and 20 minute rain delay, the Golden Panthers baseball season was over and yours truly also got an early start on summer vacation by canceling a trip to Lafayette, La. for the Sun Belt tournament. Maybe, I should have asked the FIU witches for some magic potion like FI- UM FAN suggested.

Lamp_3 So we're stuck here in Florida and as you know, "they never close Florida".

But the FIU sports season has come to close and here's what we learned from the Golden Panthers baseball team after a 20-36 season, 9th place Sun Belt finish.

* FIU needs plenty of pitching. Late in the season, Eric Horstmann, James Lajiness and Jorge Marban emerged as some of the more consistent arms, but EH and JL have graduated. The only returning starting pitcher is Corey Polizzano and after CP and Chris Allen (also graduated) the starting pitching this season was erratic. Asked TT about recruiting pitching and he estimates he'll need about 10 quality pitchers to get this going in the right direction. One pitcher that would be interesting to see how he progresses next season is Daniel DeSimone. Coming off Tommy John surgery, last year, may have limited DD from going all out this season. When DD did pitch it sure looked like he has good stuff. Maybe after a year of college ball he can put it together next season.

* Of the returning starters, FIU has a good core to build on in 2B Ryan Mollica, 1B Tyler Townsend (right), C Steven Stropp and OF Javier Sujo, but of course that's just 4 players. Mollica finished second in the Sun Belt in hitting this season with a .413 average. Townsend hit 14 home runs. Stropp probablyTown_3  improved the most throughout the season both at the plate and behind it. SS was one of several FIU batters that heeded TT's advice to go to the opposite field and with it increased his average to finish at .289. Sujo, a freshman, was among the team's hitting leaders for most of the season. What the FIU lineup needs to improve on is hitting good pitching. Yes, the Golden Panthers hit .305 as a team this season, but when they ran into a solid starting pitcher, FIU struggled and good teams find a way to get to another team's ace.

* The defense got better as the season went along. FIU had a stretch of consecutive errorless games that helped keep them in the conference race. But 93 errors in 2008, despite the improvement from 104 errors in 2007, is still way too much, especially in college baseball where they use the aluminum and unless you have dominant starting pitching every game can be like you're playing in the thin air at Coors Field.

FIU currently has the No. 15 recruiting class in the nation for 2009, but it needs to get most of those players into University Park Stadium next spring. We'll have TT stop by the GPP soon to talk about the 2008 season and the year ahead for FIU baseball. TT is headed to the high school state baseball championship this week and then to the JUCO (Junior College) World Series in Colorado thereafter.

Until then, would like to hear your thoughts on the 2008 season. 


Not because it's an election year, but we're introducing a new feature to the blog below -- the GPP Poll. We'll randomly post FIU questions to specific blogs to gauge the feel of the GPP nation. 

MaXx: Not having the fieldhouse done in time for the season will not impact the west end zone seating as FIUBlueandGold posted. The west end zone seats will all be complete along with the ramps on the southwest and northwest corners of the stadium. The steel pillars for the west end zone are already in the ground. They are currently putting up the west side of the stadium. When there is something to walk on, on the west side, we'll have another tour of the stadium here on the GPP complete with updates from around the rest of the stadium.

hankgoldberg: Good point on your post. Agreed, I think some folks on this blog are putting the cart Carr_2 before the horse with talk of a "must" spot in a regional next season. After watching almost every game this season, the thought here is that FIU needs a serious overhaul with its pitching to even think of winning the Sun Belt next season. There was a huge lack of depth in the pitching staff this season due to ineffectiveness and injuries. That being said, the Golden Panthers do need to show improvement next season and every other season thereafter, but "get to a regional or else"?? If anyone saw more than 25 FIU games in person this season (and that meaning you stayed for more than 7 innings each game) then you know the lack of pitching I'm talking about. Sometimes, I just don't understand fans that analyze a team from the comfort of their laptop and don't actually watch the games.

May 14, 2008

Die Hard 3

So it all comes down to the final three games of the season and FIU has to make like John McClaneDh2_4 in all three games to have a chance.

While the Golden Panthers do not control their own destiny, there are still several ways FIU books a ticket to the Sun Belt tournament in Lafayette, La. Was going to have the FIU witches explain the scenarios, but Baseball Fan gave us the math in the previous post. Still, the ladies are here for moral support.

Fiuw These are the current Sun Belt standings concerning the teams FIU has a shot of catching:

6. South Alabama 14-13

7. Louisiana-Lafayette 13-14

8. Middle Tennessee 12-14

9. FIU 11-16

* FIU won the season series against South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette and lost the season series to Middle Tennessee. All of which would come into play as the tiebreaker if necessary.

To catch MT, FIU needs a sweep and 2 losses by MT to Western Kentucky OR FIU wins 2 of 3 from FAU and MT gets swept.

To catch ULL, FIU needs a sweep and 2 losses by ULL to New Orleans OR FIU wins 2 of 3 and ULL gets swept.

To catch SA, FIU needs a sweep and have SA swept by Troy.Eh_4

FIU's top 3 starters take the hill against the Owls. Corey Polizzano on Thursday. Chris Allen on Friday and Eric Horstmann on Saturday.

The trio will be facing a team that leads the Sun Belt with 88 home runs. FAU could very well turn out to be "the fly in the ointment", "the monkey in the wrench". If you saw Die Hard, then you know what I mean.....yippee-ki-yay!


Quijote: DLB still has a job with the Miami Herald, even though he's going on a year's vacation. So I'm still here.

ridgepanther: Glad you asked about the fieldhouse since I'll be taking another tour of the stadium soon. The latest word I have gotten is the fieldhouse is expected to be completed by Jan. 2009 and not May 2009. There has been a 3-month delay on the fieldhouse, because FIU was waiting word from the Florida Legislature on the 5.5 million for the project which includes the fieldhouse and the student meeting rooms/classrooms. We'll have more updates on the fieldhouse and the rest of the stadium on the GPP in the future.

May 12, 2008

The Legg Talks Part 1

Taking a little break from FIU baseball to hear the Legg talk. That would be new FIU offensive coordinator Bill Legg, who came over from Purdue after being the OC over there. With the Boilermakers, BL had the Big Ten's top passing offense in 2006 and the top offense and scoring offense last season.Bl

BL is originally from West Virginia, but has been a regular visitor to Florida over the years: his brother-in-law lives in the Keys and BL's in-laws live near Fort Myers.

In the first of our two-part Q & A, the FIU OC talks about one difference in his version of the spread offense and assesses the FIU quarterbacks....

So what intrigued you about the FIU football program when the OC position opened up?

BL: I think FIU has unlimited potential. Anytime I've ever made a move I've always looked for a couple of things. No. 1 was the type of people that were there. No. 2 is the commitment to be successful and I was convinced after coming down here for my interview and I remain convinced from the President on down that this place is committed to putting out a big-time college football program. They are doing the things that are necessary. Now we got a lot of things to do from a structural standpoint, a recruiting standpoint and a performance standpoint. The building blocks are in place and are moving forward constantly so that commitment convinced me that it can be done, especially with the location FIU is in. Let's face it, there may not be any place in this country that has better football than Florida as a whole, Fla_2 but definitely South Florida.

What did you see in the FIU offense last year?

BL: A young football team that was trying to find itself. Whether I would have come to FIU or not, the bottom line is this team is going to be a better football team this year with or without Bill Legg. This football team is going to grow in leaps and bounds over this next period of time just like all young individual players. There's an uncertainty in that first year, overwhelming at times, but then the players get to know campus and they find their way around it so the stress level drops. They get to understand the offense and they know how to play faster so the stress level drops. I think that's what we saw in spring. This team has a better understanding of itself. It is improving on a daily basis, because they are playing faster and faster and they are getting the benefits of a good off-season program.


Watching former FIU OC James Coley's offense last season and watching your version of the spread offense this spring, it seems that you have the quarterback being more mobile in your offense?Qb_2


BL: You can't be a statue and play football. If you're a statue back there as a quarterback then you better have 10 great players around you. Right now, we're a young football team and we're growing and we're getting better on a daily basis, but we don't have 10 great players out there around that quarterback yet. So consequently, the quarterback has to be able to make plays with his mind first, his arm second and his feet third and that's the approach we're taking. Does it mean the quarterback has to be a 4.4, 4.5 (40-yard dash) guy, no it does not, but it means he better have quick feet. He better have an understanding of how to sit within the pocket and he better have an understanding that in our run game he's going to be making reads no different than in the pass game as to whether he's going to give the ball here, there or throw it out there. The quarterback has to be able to function as the coach on the field. I think our quarterbacks are getting a good grasp of having that ability to be that coach on the field.Wy


What do you think of each quarterback?


BL: Wayne Younger (left) I got to see film on him and he's slowly, but surely coming back. Obviously, he's a very talented young man. He's very bright football smart, but he hasn't gotten to do much Pm this spring and we've already talked. He knows what he needs to do. He needs to manufacture some repetitions by staying in the playbook all summer. By coming in on his own and watching the cut-ups from spring football and by gathering some kids up out here every chance he possibly gets and throwing, because he lost a lot of reps during the course of spring.

   Paul McCall (right) has really come strong. He picked things up quickly. He's got good feet. He's got a good release. He's an accurate passer and again, intelligence, the ability to throw, the ability to move your feet and he has all those attributes. Those two guys both have experience, both have their strengths and it will be an interesting battle come fall.

   The 2 young guys (Colt Anderson and Darold Hughes) were on a little bit of a roller coaster ride. They Rc just learned the new language of college football and then somebody came in and changed that language on them. They struggled early to grasp, but they both have the raw ability to be good quarterbacks. They don't have the experience the other two have so it's going to take them more time, but they're not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. They probably are going to have to really hump it this summer to put themselves in position to have a legitimate shot at competing this fall. Now the last week of spring ball, things started clicking for both of them. It will be interesting. It will be wide-open during 2-a-days. Everybody will be given a fair shake. Everybody will be given an opportunity to compete for the job, but when we get through 2-a-days we're going to have to settle on who it is is our quarterback.


We'll have the last part of the Q &A with BL on here soon.




On the next GPP post before Thursday's 3-game series begins with Florida Atlantic, we'll check in with the FIU witches to see how FIU baseball can get into the Sun Belt Fw_2 Tournament. The girls have hinted that it won't take any kind of hocus pocus for the Golden Panthers to book a plane ticket to Lafayette.


outofthecage88 & DCpanther: Got both of you down as our 13th and 14th states on the GPP, also including our nation's capital. Thanks.


UltimateFIUFan: Yes, the infrastructure is in place at FIU to avoid any further NCAA issues.

May 09, 2008

Back to the Diamond

Let's put the NCAA mumbo-jumbo aside and get back to the diamond.

Raimy_2 With 6 games left in the season, FIU has its back to the wall when it comes to the team's baseball postseason hopes.

The Golden Panthers, currently 9th in the Sun Belt, trail Middle Tennessee by 1 for 8th place and Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Kentucky by 3 for 6th. The top 8 teams make the conference tournament.

Oddly enough, FIU's best chance to reach the postseason is by catching the Ragin' Cajuns, who sit in 6th, because ULL could slip against two tough teams in the final 6 games and FIU owns the season series (tiebreaker) with ULL. MT and WK both won their season series with FIU. ULL finishes with 3 against WK and 3 against New Orleans, who with a .340 team batting average leads the Sun Belt in hitting.

Not that the final 6 games will be cake for FIU, hardly anything has this season. The Golden Panthers Cake last two opponents: South Alabama and Florida Atlantic -- 2 of the best power hitting teams in the conference -- come to town starting with the Jaguars tonight for a 3-game series.

The thought here is FIU must win at least 5 of its final 6 games to book a plane ticket to Lafayette for the Sun Belt tourney. So a sweep is needed against either SA or FAU.

We could summon Joaquin Andujar here, but don't know if it will help because FIU is in a tough spot.


Noticed the blog comments have turned a little bit into a Springer show. Let's try to keep the racial comments, slurs, etc. out or the Golden Paw will come out. You want to insult each other's school and who has the better cafeteria food or hotter girls go right ahead, but let's clean up the act.

FIUrulez: The penalties are the loss of scholarships. The probation is just the NCAA's wayMicro_2  of saying we're watching you closely for the next 4 years to make sure you don't do all of this again. There was the possibility the NCAA was going to ban FIU from all postseason eligibility, but that did NOT happen. As far as PG, he knew before he took the FIU AD job what he was getting into with the NCAA mess.

UltimateFIUFan: The ineligible players occurred on all 12 FIU teams that were cited by the NCAA. In the document the NCAA sent me, the names of the players are blacked out. The NCAA told me that is because of student-athlete privacy rights.

FI-UM Fan: No, the GPP has not hit all 50 states yet with readers. At last count, these are the 12 states Usa the GPP is read in: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Colorado, California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Tennessee, Vermont, Pennsylvannia and North Carolina. Plus, outside the U.S. we hit Puerto Rico and Spain.

TNGoldenPanther: Spoke with MC the other day and asked him about doing another Q & A with the fans like last year. MC said he would take the fans' questions on the GPP later this summer. I'll work on getting some Q & A with players on here. I'll post on the GPP when you guys can start sending in questions for MC.

Ww LoveFIU-butiwonder: Welcome to the GPP. One reason the soccer programs were hit the hardest was that they overawarded scholarships from 2004-06 and to answer your question....PG was not working at FIU during this period.

U24/7: The sanctions for the football and baseball teams were the loss of scholarships for both (3 for football and 1.5 for baseball) and the four-hour reduction in practice time for baseball starting in 2009. The probation lasts until 2012, but the scholarship losses were already taken by FIU football and baseball in this past signing period.

May 07, 2008

And That's the Last of It

Simp_2 The final punishment handed down by the NCAA on FIU was announced on Wednesday.

For the compliance infractions committed by FIU from the 2002 to 2006 seasons, the NCAA added one year of probation for FIU and took away 20.32 scholarships -- most of which FIU already absorbed in the past signing period for recruits. This is different from the APR news from Tuesday, which has to do with the academic progress of student-athletes.

Last fall, FIU self-imposed a three-year probation period for past compliance violations that included using ineligible players from 2002 to 2006, misapplied enrollment and financial aid rules, and transfer requirements. The NCAA added a fourth year of probation that puts FIU on probation beginning May 15, 2008 and ending May 19, 2012.

When FIU made the jump from Division I-AA to Division I, the university's compliance department was not adequately staffed or prepared to take that step. I know FIU likes to do everything on a fast track, but when it moved to Division I it was not ready for its compliance department to become Division I.

Since self-imposing its penalties, FIU has strengthened its compliance department with the necessary resources to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Taking some positives out of all of this: most FIU teams have their full allotment of scholarships for next year, with the exception of men's and women's soccer which still have to give up one scholie each. Also, there were no postseason bans handed down by the NCAA.


FI-UM Fan: We'll have a blog updating the new stadium soon.Be_4

UltimateFIUFan: Next time I run into Mike Lowell, I'll ask him about his new book. As far Brad Eldred (right), he's playing for the Chicago White Sox's Triple A team, Charlotte Knights. Eldred leads the Knights with 8 home runs and 29 RBI.

paradox: The 16 hours practice time the FIU baseball team is being restricted to next season has nothing to do with TT. The four hours the NCAA took away were for the baseball team's low APR for the past four years before TT. And that is something that CANNOT be pinned on former coach Danny Price either, because FIU did not have the proper resources (advisors, tutors, technical support) for the student-athletes.

MaXx: The GPP is talking FIU sports. Yes, all teams with the exception of the soccer teams and the one scholarship the men's basketball team has to surrender for the APR for 2008-09, every other FIU team is fully-loaded with scholies for next season.

jimmy: Welcome to the GPP. Yes, the APR is different from the NCAA probation. FIU football gave up 3 scholarships for APR, that's why MC can only sign 22 players this year, instead of 25. The probation scholies come off the maximum roster size this year. So instead of having the max roster size of 85 players this upcoming season, FIU football can only have 82 players.

May 06, 2008

APR Bottom Line

The NCAA released its Academic Progress Report on Tuesday and while FIU took some hits this year, it Teach was not as bad as in years past.

Here's who lost what:

FIU football gave up 3 scholarships in this past February's signing class, but will have a full allotment of 25 scholarships next season.

Baseball won an NCAA appeal to regain a full allotment of scholarships for next season, but lost four hours of practice time per week in 2009. So TT is fully stocked with scholies, but next season FIU can only practice 16 hours per week instead of the regular 20 hours. A couple of reasons the baseball team got all their scholies back were they posted the highest GPA in program history last semester with a 3.04 and the baseball team's yearly APR rate jumped from 725 to 925.

Men's basketball will give up one scholarship in 2008-09 and have 12 scholies instead of the full 13, but get all 13 back the following season.

Swimming and Diving lost 0.49 of a scholie and Men's Outdoor Track and Field lost 1.26 scholies.

As far as the yearly APR rates for the rest of FIU's sports teams, each team saw their rate get better with the exception of men's hoops. Women's hoops (1000 to 982), women's golf (972 to 938), and swimming & diving (917 to 915) also had their APRs dip, but remained above 900.

Men's cross country and women's tennis scored a perfect 1000. Despite the dip, women's hoops still had the third highest score of FIU teams.

Among the FIU teams that saw dramatic improvements in their APRs were: football (822 to 881), men's soccer (844 to 972), Women's cross country (833 to 964), Softball (870 to 966), Women's soccer (864 to 924), Women's tennis (969 to the max 1000) and Women's Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field (846 to 935).

FIU is not out of the woods yet on the APR. FIU must continue showing improvement. Starting next year, chronic violators of the APR face a ban from postseason competition and possible scholarship restrictions.


INS PUB ADJ: FIU assistant hoops coach Bill Wuczynski was hired at Texas Christian.

Miri: Post your Siskel & Ebert on Bull Durham.

Clawing Cancer: During the summer downtime, we may just have to break out a GPP Blogger Awards. Stay tuned.

FIUBlue82: We'll get the Cowgirls on here soon enough.

FIUESTUDIANTE & DaU4Life: Welcome to the GPP. Were you guys in the movie, "Malibu's Most Wanted"?Malibu

NYCFIUFan: Even June Cleaver from "Airplane" may not even be able to help here.

May 05, 2008

The 2nd Annual Marios

Spring football ended two weeks ago and fall practice won't begin for another three months, but we'd be remissed here at the GPP if we didn't get to the 2nd Annual MARIOS Spring Football Awards.

For those that did not attend last year's inaugural Marios awards, here's our disclaimer: The Marios do NOT include opinions expressed by the FIU head football coach and all results are tabulated by the accounting firm of: Soley, Maya, Opinion and Dats-It.Mario

Each Marios award winner will receive a 1-foot high MARIO statue (picture, right) depicting an Italian plumber, because like the plumber all Marios award winners have shown that they are not afraid to get their hands dirty to get the job done on the gridiron this spring.

Jja Let's welcome our Marios awards presenter to the stage, Miss Jennifer Aniston, who is currently in Miami filming a movie with Dupree at the Marlins game last Friday.Ja_2 BTW, JA is holding the prototype Marios award in the photo on the left. Now, on to our first Mario....

The Visine Award....And the Mario goes to....Jeremiah Weatherspoon and Marshall McDuffie. Both players were a sight for sore eyes with their returns to the team, especially for an FIU secondary in need of some safety help. JW had an excellent Vis_2 spring, not only in the defensive backfield, but returning kicks as well. At 6-1, 221 and with a burst of speed, JW could be a weapon returning kicks. He returned one for a TD in a scrimmage. MM is a great story coming back after the whole brawl fiasco. Besides making things better off the field, MM also showed he wasn't too rusty on the field.

The Missouri Award....This award is named after the "Show Me State", because the recipient, you guessed it, showed what he could do in the spring and now looks to bring that same effort to the regular season. And the Mario goes to....It's a three-way tie. FIU running backs A'mod Ned, Julian Reams and Daunte Owens all receive a Mario for showing flashes this spring of what they can do. AN had a long touchdown run in one scrimmage. JR broke free for 37 yards at the Blue & Gold Game and had a 40-yard kickoff return in another scrimmage. DO ran for nearly 120 yards in the first spring scrimmage. Now it's time for one or more of these backs to consistently show us again starting at Kansas, Aug. 30.

Rhh The Robin Hood Award....And the Mario goes to....Colt Anderson. It may have been the quietest, strong performance of the spring. Like the denizen of Sherwood Forest did with a bow and arrow, CA showed he can be pretty accurate throwing the football. In the last two scrimmages, including the spring game, CA was 15 of 18 throwing the pigskin.

The Matrix Award....And the Mario goes to....The new option play. Unveiled this spring, the play gives the FIU offense another dimension. New offensive coordinator Bill Legg brought a revamped spread offense and with it the option. Not saying FIU is turning into the old Big 8 Conference teams of Oklahoma and Nebraska, but the option is a nifty little play to have in your arsenal. Reams broke a long TD run off the toss from Paul McCall in a scrimmage this spring.

The Surround Sound Award....And the Mario goes to....Bill Legg. Without some throat drops or some hot tea, the new FIU OC won't have a voice by the third game of the season. Remember, Turtle with Ss_2 the  mike at FIU baseball, no microphone needed for BL, who could be heard loud and clear this spring while he taught the new O to the Golden Panthers. Would like to hear a contest between BL and FIU D-coordinator Phil Galiano (who won the Mario for Best Pipes last year) to determine whose voice would last the longest.

The Food Network Award....And the Mario goes to....The H-Back/Tight End position. Something special could be cooking with this position in 2008. Four players (Travis Felder, John Ellis, Eric Kirchenberg and James Wiggins) manned the position this spring and some intriguing possibilities resulted, especially with JE going long on several passes. TF, with his basketball skills, may have the most athleticism to become a big part of the FIU O here. (NOT comparing here, but remember San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates and Kansas City Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez were former hoopsters).

Ab_2 El Monstruo Award....And the Mario goes to....Another three-way tie or we could just rename this the Munsters Award. Defensive linemen Reggie Jones, Quentin Newman and Jonathan Betancourt all brought to mind former FIU and current Baltimore Ravens LB Antwan Barnes, with their tenacious work in the offensive backfield this spring. Although not with the same quickness as AB, these three excelled. In two scrimmages, RJ had 6 sacks, QN had 5 1/2 and JB had numerous tackles for loss, along with 3 sacks.

The Anti-Saturday Night Live Award....And the Mario goes to....Marquis Rolle. Unlike, the SNL performers, MR is ready to be a prime time player. The receiver has size, is physical and showed a penchant for making catches in traffic and beating defensive backs for balls downfield. Twice MR and Colt Anderson connected for long TD passes down the sideline.

The Sleeping Giant Award....And the Mario goes to....The FIU Athletic Deparment. For the second consecutive year, the Blue & Gold Spring Game was a hit drawing more than 3,000 fans after having more than 2,400 people show up last year. Like it's been mentioned on here before, if there is this kind of interest for a 6-year-old program that hasn't had that breakthrough win yet, imagine the response when winning becomes a habit at FIU.

Cc_2 The Cindy Crawford Award....And the Mario goes to....The 63-yard touchdown pass from Paul McCall to Jeremy Dickens down the middle of the field that split the defense at the start of the spring game. Like our inaugural Marios Awards Show presenter, Miss Crawford, the pass play was the prettiest of the spring and got the loudest reaction from the spring game crowd. When PM dropped back you heard the crowd buzz and when Dickens got open and caught the ball, a big roar came from the stands.

That's going to do it for the 2nd Annual Marios Spring Football Awards. Thanks for reading and thanks to Jen for presenting the Marios. New football season starts in 117 days.


OutoftheCage88: Welcome to the GPP. Still a little too early for making any predictions on the coming football season considering the whole team has yet to practice (the freshmen arrive in August). Your 9-3, 8-4 and even 7-5 records may be a bit out of reach this season. Still those ambitious records would probably result in a Sun Belt title and Coach of the Year honors for MC. But you may be getting ahead of yourself there. Without having brushed up on FIU's opponents or having seen the entire Golden Panthers team, I would think if FIU wins 4 or 5 games it would be an accomplishment since the team is so young -- more than 70 percent of the team is freshmen or sophomores.

gpantera: The hiring of Tim Harris across town should not affect FIU's pipeline with Booker T. First of all, until FIU starts winning on a consistent basis, the canes are going to have first choice in recruits. But the canes can't get them all. All college teams are allotted 25 scholarships each season. Plus, when you factor in the work ethic in recruiting of MC and his staff, FIU is going to get its share of quality players. Remember, MC and co. have contacts all over the U.S. Last year, while TH's kid, Brandon, signed across town, FIU still got Florida's sacks leader in Kambriel Willis and defensive end Jonathan Jackson, plus Tarvis Pullins and Winston Fraser.

FIUBlueandGold: I really don't have an answer for TH taking an admin. role instead of a coaching role in Coral Gables. Maybe there are no coaching positions available now and after this season Randy Shannon will fire someone and then TH becomes a coach over there. I'm sure TH will be involved with recruiting Cof over there. You don't hire the coach of the #4 high school team in the country to push papers around and serve coffee to the coaching staff.

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