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11 posts from June 2008

June 30, 2008

The Flying Burrito Bros. & Other Answers To Your MC Questions

Mc In about 35 days, FIU football begins its second season under head coach Mario Cristobal when the Golden Panthers open fall practice.

But before MC and his Golden Panthers step onto the FIU recreational fields to start preparations for the season opener at Kansas on Aug. 30, the FIU coach tackles your questions in the first of a series of interviews.

You good people sent in a bevy of questions and MC answered them all. If you don't see your question on this post, don't worry it will eventually get on the GPP. So let's get to it....

CJ: Is the athletic dept. going to hold a watch party, like they did for the Penn State game, for all the away games?

MC: Not sure yet, but we want to create that. What we need to do at FIU from a public relations standpoint is that we do publicize that as much as possible and make sure that our alumni is woken up not only in Miami, but everywhere else in the country. We have to create that buzz. Every year we are going to get better as a football team. This is a process. It’s going to take some time, but that momentum, that energy, is something that we have to create on a daily basis. I totally encourage it. Anything that I could do to help that out, please let me know and I will do it.

FIUJM: What are the difference between Coach Coley's and Coach Legg's offensive philosophies? Leg_2

MC: They both do a great job. I think what we’ve done now with coach Legg (right) is we’ve moved to a true spread, multiple offense. Coach Coley, I wish him the best. He did a great job here. We’re tremendously blessed to have coach Legg here. A guy with great experience that led the Big Ten in offense two years in a row with some guys that probably weren’t as talented as the rest of the teams in the Big Ten. You look at a guy that has great leadership skills, commanding presence. He knows what he wants to run. He’s a guy you can trust. He wants to build FIU and that’s what gets us excited.

FIU Fan: What measures are being taken to make the fans have the greatest football experience in the new stadium?

MC: Besides a scoreboard that should be second to none with a jumbotron, putting the games at 7 p.m. is an opportunity to create a dynamic pre-game tailgating experience and with that I mean everything from alumni with the Panther Club, to families and others. There is going to be a set-up out there like Fb Wre the NFL Experience Game Day thing that has everything from a tackling circuit to the throwing competition to the moonwalk. You know as a kid I actually got kicked out of the Youth Fair for having a wrestling match in the moonwalk, but that’s another story -- The Flying Burrito Brothers. But we want to create basically a gigantic FIU gathering/party/rally/event. We are going to have a traditional Panther Walk which as we pull up we want the sides of the sidewalk and entry to the locker room lined with FIU fans and the band and cranking that thing up. Other things are in the works, which we’re keeping low-key right now. But our goal is making sure that people understand that this is really a commitment. This is not a “hey, let’s kind of win a couple of games and build a little”. This is to build a monster program, to take care of our alumni base and everyone else down here and give back to the South Florida community and really go to the next level in customer service and gameday experience.

MaXx: What incoming freshman do you think can make an immediate impact this season?

MC: I think they all will. We are never going to discriminate. There are guys that are walking on and are going to make an impact. They weren’t recruited by anybody. I think we have a boatload of very talented freshmen. I think we have a good amount of guys that have gone through a year where the culture has been changed and they’ve endured and understand the expectations. Every freshman is Btw_2 going to be expected to compete right away. They know we are in dire need of talented, talented guys that can step in and play right away. That’s what they have been brought in here to do so I expect them all to compete for immediate playing time.

SouthPaw: Are there any transfers we can expect to see in FIU uniforms this coming year?

MC: Ulavale Matavao is a 6-3, 338 offensive lineman, I expect him to come in and play right away. Other than Ulavale, I can’t comment on other players that have not signed with us.

FIU Fanatic: After the success in recruiting of the 2008 class (if any new recruit/transfer, please mention) how is recruiting going so far for 2009, both in terms of general response and in terms of commitments, if any?

MC: Other than Ulavale Matavao, I can’t comment on any other players that are not here. Recruiting for 2009 is going excellent. The camps we just had were a big, big hit. We had 360 prospects show up at our Dade camp. I would love to share commitments, but I can’t do it, because I want to protect our guys. We are at a stage right now where we’re very, very young and for us to advertise the guys who have committed to us would only be putting information out there for the people that have not done their work.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

More of your questions with MC will be on here soon. Will be blogging to you next from Denver where I'm headed Wednesday to cover the Marlins/Rockies 4-game series at Coors Field (right). Coors_2

Speaking of baseball, here are some FIU baseball recruiting updates. FIU lost two more recruits from the No. 15-ranked class in the nation. Infielder Kevin Fontanez from the Puerto Rico BB Academy decided to sign with the Cleveland Indians, who drafted him in the 24th round. Also left-hander Matt Gilson did not qualify academically at FIU.

On the plus side, FIU did sign infielder Corey Figueroa, who was a Florida Gator recruit and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants earlier this month. Figueroa, who turns 21 today, said he is not signing with the Giants and is coming to FIU. Figueroa was a 1st team All-State player at St. Petersburg JC last season.

Hay: Could you briefly summarize the questions you're answering in the pawse section. It's easier than looking for the comment on the last blog, and gives a bit more context for the answer.

Not a problem. We'll debut the Pawse's new Q & A format with your question. I knew we had readers in D.C., I just have forgotten to add the nation's capital to the readership list. Miri and MaXx are up in D.C. too, reading the Pawse on vacation.

Gold: Do you have any news on whether the people from the FIU athletics department are taking into consideration any of this blog's suggestions for "tradition starters". I know you did a story on this not too long ago.

Beach_2 Yes, I have spoken with the athletic dept. about some of our ideas here on the GPP. It seems the "FIU Beach" is the most popular one not only among GPP readers, but with FIU as well. I'll keep talking to FIU about creating "FIU Beach" at the new stadium. Maybe we can even get Sports Illustrated to come out and shoot part of their swimsuit issue at FIU.

Puma: Any update on what's going on with the soccer program and what should we expect for the next season?

One thing we know is the men's soccer program is NOT being eliminated, contrary to what several "insiders" have been harping about since PG became AD. Coach Munga Eketebi signed three recruits for next season. Among them is forward Ricardo Ximenes, who scored 7 goals and had 3 assists last season for San Jacinto College -- the No. 5 JUCO team in the nation. FIU soccer finished strong last season with its run to the C-USA final.

ridgepanther: What is the real time frame for the fieldhouse part of the stadium to be completed, Can that really be completed in six months like PG says? Also, NO PRESS BOX? where are you goin to work on game days?

PG and Pres. Maidique both have said they expect the fieldhouse to be done by January. I've been told one of the suites is going to be used as the press box this season. Don't worry, you'll still be able to read FIU game stories in the Miami Herald on Sundays this fall.

FIUJM: If Alphonso Bryant is cleared to play football, will he be able to play this upcoming season?

From everything that I know regarding Bryant, he would be eligible for this season if he's cleared.

We're still a little more than a month away from the start of fall practice, but here's an opening question to whet your football appetite....

June 26, 2008

New Threads

Your Golden Panthers football team is expected to sport new uniforms this coming season and here are Puffff the colors and combinations the team may choose from and possibly one choice that would make SouthPaw's day. No, not a gold puffy shirt, but some gold might be involved.

FIU is still expected to have dark blue jerseys and white jerseys to choose from. As for the pants, the blue pants are still around, but are expected to be a darker blue -- to go with the darker blue in the new logo. Also, FIU is supposed to have white pants to wear this season. There is talk of the gold pants making a comeback, but unlike the white pants, which are a near certainty, the gold is still being bandied about.

The difference between the new and old blue tops and blue pants is supposed to be that the new blue tops and blue pants will have a gold slash running down the sides. The new white tops and white Blueblue_5 pants will have a blue slash running down the sides.

Don't yet have actual photos of these new unis, but here's an idea of what these new uniforms are supposed to look like. The new uniforms are expected to be somewhat like the Denver Broncos uniforms. EXCEPT, replace the orange slash down the side of Denver's blue uniforms (photo, left) with GOLD. WhThe white uniforms (right) the Broncos wear have the blue slash that FIU's white uniforms will have. Of course, FIU can also choose to go with the gold pants, but that's not supposed to happen just yet.

There are supposed to be alternate pants (without the slash) if the team wants to mix and match the blue and white jerseys with different color pants.

You be the FIU GQ Editor below the Pawse.

 

Logo_2 GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

FIU Fan For Life: Yes, J.C. Otero tore his left ACL, but is expected to return by December according to SR.

Gold: Charlie Jones jumped to Memphis. FIU does have one mammoth transfer in Ulavale Matavao, a 6-3, 348-pound Samoan offensive lineman who is eligible to play this fall. Matavao came to FIU from San Antonio JC in California. Don't worry about updates on the new stadium, I should be touring it either next week or the following and I'll have plenty of information and photos on here soon after the tour.

quijote: FIU recently received $5 million from the State of Florida to renovate FIU Arena. So it's only a matter of time before they start improving the venue. They need to spruce up the place, because the university uses that building practically every day. Also, FIU is currently in negotiations with several South Florida corporations to sell the naming rights to the arena.

gpantera: I'm no artist or anything like that, but here is an idea of how the new FIU logo would look on the blue helmets. This image on the right is from doodling on the Paint Pad on my laptop. Notice the FIU block lettersHelm_2 are in white with gold outlines. The blue background I got on this is not as dark as the helmets. That was the darkest blue the Paint Pad would allow. Also, the logo is supposed to be a somewhat streamlined on the helmet so that it fits properly. By streamlining the logo, it will take the shape of a shield, somewhat. (The old logo fans have suddenly stood up and applauded). This is obviously not an exact replica, but hopefully it gives you an idea.

DG2327: Welcome to the GPP. I have heard the same thing regarding the baseball roster. I'm not so sure all the guys leaving would have helped much. Let's see what the No. 15 recruiting class in the nation has in store for FIU baseball next season. FIU did lose Stosh Wawrzasek, who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. SW was the top pitcher on the Canadian junior national team that played FIU last fall. Also, there is nothing new on the search for the new pitching coach.

FIU Fanatic: Former UCF defensive back Alphonso Bryant is enrolled at FIU, but has not been cleared yet to play football. That is expected to happen later this summer.

CJ: Sorry, I couldn't post the first part of the MC interview to give you something to read during your Nashville wedding. I've been covering the Marlins the last couple of days, but Part 1 of MC's interview Wc will be on the GPP sometime this weekend.

Pantera Dorada: The new stadium will have a new turf installed soon. They have to go with turf, because of all the high school games and other events that will occur at the stadium. If they went with grass, by October FIU would be playing on a dirt field.

alt7787: The GPP talks other sports as well. If the Marlins are going to upgrade any part of their team before the July trading deadline, it will be the bullpen which is god awful. The Fish are counting on the returns of Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez to bolster the starting rotation. We're already starting to see moves being made in the 'pen with the demotion of Matt Lindstrom to the minors on Tuesday and with Doug Waechter being moved to a role later in the game. Still, they need to get a good closer and move Kevin Gregg to the 7th or 8th inning and get some better middle relievers. They won't catch the Phillies if they don't improve the bullpen.

Ultimate FIU Fan: Fresno State showed that NCAA baseball has the best playoff system in college sports. It gives every team equal chance to win a national title. Fresno State started the season 8-12, beat former No. 1 Arizona State in the Super Regionals, finished with 30 losses and still won the College World Series.

outofthecage88: I traded e-mails with a Jacksonville writer and he said QB Cedric McCloud is the real deal. He's athletic, has a strong arm and when he scrambles the kid breaks tackles like a running back. Nice pickup for FIU.Stl_2

**Let's welcome our 28th state of readership to the GPP: Missouri. The handy-dandy Google Map Tracker -- no, I don't get royalties by mentioning Google on the GPP -- shows that St. Louis, Missouri has chimed in our latest poll question.

Let's break out the scorecard and pencil: The 28 states the GPP is read in: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS.

Bh Dartford, United Kingdom also participated in the last poll.....Cheerio!....Globally, the GPP is visited in these 8 Countries: Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom, U.S.A. and also in 1 Territory: Puerto Rico.

Close call on the last poll question regarding your expectations for three of FIU's teams this coming season. At the latest count, 36.4% of you good people expect the most out of FIU hoops. FIU baseball and football are dead even at 31.8%.

Here's the new question and, yes, I know those are Denver Broncos in 3 of the photos. And yes, I know it's a slow time of year when we're asking about football fashion statements:

June 22, 2008

21 Months Ago....

Wasn't exactly the way anyone would have liked to start a new job, but at that time new FIU athletic director Pete Garcia was hired. On his first day on the job, PG had to dole out suspensions forPg  the Rocky VIII auditions against UM in the historic stadium FIU closed out the right way with a win.

Now with a new on-campus stadium on the way and having overseen a full calendar year of FIU sports, PG talks Golden Panthers athletics to the GPP.

GPP: What are your thoughts on the past year of FIU sports? Is it what you expected or not?

PG: Growing. Getting better. Hectic. Exciting. Challenging. It was kind of what I expected. These programs you hire the right people. You let them do their jobs. They have to bring in the right student-athletes and once they start getting their student-athletes in there then you start seeing the difference. You start seeing it in a lot of areas. You start seeing the improvement right away academically and then you start seeing them in wins and losses.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: As far as the teams, in the past year which team surprised you a little bit in the way they performed and which team did not perform like you expected it to?

                                                                                                                                                      

PG: I would say beating the No. 1 ranked team in baseball is obviously a good accomplishment for our Base_2 baseball program. I would have liked to see us do better in men’s basketball and everything is else is kind of what we expected.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: Were there any teams that maybe you didn’t expect much from this year and they overachieved?

                                                                                                                                                      

PG: No, because we expect a lot from all our teams.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: How do you feel about the stadium progress?

                                                                                                                                                       

PG: The main thing is that we’re still on time for September 20th. Every day I go out to the stadium and it’s exciting and the closer it gets, the more complete the stadium gets. It’s hard not to get excited about it.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: In the original drawings of the stadium it didn’t seem like it was going to be tight around the field and there was going to be a gaping hole on the north side, but I’ve been by it now that the west side is going up and it looks very tight. What do you think?

                                                                                                                                                         

PG: People heard us say before that we had put it right on top of the teams and they don’t really realizePmac  that until they go out to the stadium. Once it’s complete and they see where the seats are and see where the teams are, they can almost reach out and touch this team. It’s right on the field. There’s not too many stadiums around the country that have that feel to it.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: What about the progress of the fieldhouse?

                                                                                                                                                         

PG: The fieldhouse has been started and right now we’re hopeful that fieldhouse will be completed by January 2009. The stadium has to be ready to go by September 20th, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be things in there that we’re not working on through the season when there are no games being played. Other than the 5 weekends, they keep working the rest of the time.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: What do you expect from the football team this season?

                                                                                                                                                         

PG: I know they will be improved just because they have one year under their belt of the new coach, the new coaching staff and the players' off-season conditioning program and then the new recruits that have been brought in here. Then the improvement of the kids that were already here. I think it will be an improved team. We still have a challenging schedule, but I would say that we’re always going to have a challenging schedule. That’s how you get better and that’s what we expect to do – get better game by game.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: What about the men’s basketball team, what do you expect there?

                                                                                                                                                         

PG: I expect to have a great year in basketball.

                                                                                                                                                      

GPP: Because of the new recruits, returning players?

                                                                                                                                                      

PG: I expect to have a great year in basketball.

                                                                                                                                                      

Opp GPP: What do you expect in Turtle’s second season?

                                                                                                                                                      

PG: I expect to have an improved year in baseball. Turtle has done a phenomenal job recruiting-wise. I’m real excited about the kids he has signed and all the pitchers he has signed. I wish baseball season was starting now.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: You’ve been 21 months on the job. What’s been the toughest part during that time?

                                                                                                                                                       

PG: Just trying to do all things that have to get done, at once. With the staff that I have here, we’re taking on the challenge to not wait. If it needs fixing we’re doing it, no matter what area – compliance, academic support, improving the teams themselves, whatever it’s been, we’ve gone out and got it. It’s not like we could only fix 2 things at a time. We’re trying to fix a lot of things at the same time and build a stadium.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: Did you encounter something along the way you didn’t expect when you became AD? Hd_2

                                                                                                                                                      

PG: I knew it was going to be a program that had to really be built, not re-built, it had to be built from the ground up according to Division I standards. So no, I haven’t been surprised. You just have to hire the right people and put them in the right areas and let them do their jobs and if we do that we’ll be OK.

                                                                                                                                                       

GPP: What’s been the most rewarding part of the job so far?

                                                                                                                                                       

PG: I love building. So here you’re building everyday. Literally, everyday. I go home and my shoes are dirty, my pants are dirty. They know I’ve been to the stadium. You can’t hide it.

                                                                                                                                                         

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

                                                                                                                                    

The MC Q & A that you good people submitted the questions for has been taken care of and we'll have the first of several parts on here this coming week. Don't know how many parts we'll break it into, because I haven't gone through the tape and MC's answers for the majority of the questions were very detailed.

                                                             

MaXx: When I get a hold of a photo of the new football helmet, it will be on the GPP. The entire logo will be on the helmet, but the difference from the logo you see above left next to the words Golden Panther Pawse, is that the block FIU letters on the helmet will be white with gold outline. The entire new Golden Panther logo will adorn the helmet and the helmet is a darker blue.

                                                                                                                                                       

FIUFan: Yes, it is a slow time of year. No coaching searches going on. Golden Panthers football training B camp is still about 47 days away, but the GPP will still be here all summer. So don't worry the MH has not cut my hours, but I do have 3 weeks of vacation time that I'm going to take in the next 46 days before the MH football previews and the season gets going. I will still be blogging when I have downtime during myG  vacation and throughout the summer. There's only so many beaches and golf courses a man can go to.

                                                                                                                                                      

Miri: Both the football and baseball wins in the previous poll were significant. FIU football won't see the OB again (neither will anyone else) and FIU baseball won't see UM again.

                                                                                                                                                       

FIU0406: Thanks for your understanding. I'll let the people at the MH know about the old FIU logo on the Golden Panthers' MH web page.

                                 

Let's make it 27 states now that the GPP is read in after our latest poll tracker Indy indicates Shreveport, Louisiana and Indianapolis, Indiana have joined the GPP.

                                                                                                                            

Grab a pencil to adjust your scoring at home....The 27 states the GPP is read in: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS.

                                                                                                                           

The GPP is also global with these 8 Countries logging on: Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom, U.S.A. and the GPP is also followed in 1 Territory: Puerto Rico.

                                                                                                                              

You read what the AD expects from three Golden Panthers teams this coming season. Now let FIU Nation know what are your expectations....

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                         

June 17, 2008

The Forbes Standard

Ron_2 In a year that was not exactly one for the FIU sports highlights archives, FIU hurdler Ronald Forbes, like the Golden Panthers football team, ended the year onMount_2  a very high note -- Mount Olympus-high.

By running a 13.63 in the 110m hurdles last week at the NCAA Track & Field National Championships, RF qualified for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He will run for his native country - the Caymans.

Bei On Tuesday afternoon, RF dropped by the GPP to talk about making the Olympics, what's ahead and those 4:50 a.m. bus rides.

GPP: So how does the sound of "All-American and Olympian Ronald Forbes" feel like?

RF: It's something that I can't put into words. I've dreamed about it ever since I was a little kid watching Michael Johnson and other track greats. I always wanted to know that feeling of what it would be like to be an Olympian. You get a chance to experience a part of history now. My island has had less than 10 people that have ever made it to the Olympics. This is a tremendous opportunity and honor not just for me, but for my country and FIU as well.

GPP: When you were running the 13.63, did you feel you had the mark or did you have to turn around and look at the clock and wind speed?

RF: I know I got off to a bad start that race. But halfway through the race I got a surge of speed. For some odd reason I don't feel I am running to my full potential until after I clear the first two hurdles. But a determination came over me at that point. I ran pretty even with the winner, Jason Richardson of South Carolina, so when I finished I felt good about it, but I wasn't sure until I took a look at the wind Ane speed (right). When I saw the wind speed was 0.4, I said "Oh my God, yes, I finally made it". My ticket is booked for Beijing. This was a good time for FIU sports, me personally and everyone involved that helped me reach this point.

[The Olympic qualifying mark for the 110m hurdles is 13.72 and that mark has to be run in wind speed of 2.0 or less, Forbes's personal best until the decisive race was 13.73]

GPP: So what's next for you before you board a plane for Beijing?

RF: I am trying to bring my time (13.63) down much lower before the Olympics. I'm going to get back in the weight room and the training room to take care of an annoying pain in my right foot. Then I'm off to Jamaica to compete in the national trials. In July, I'm going to run in the Central American Shak_4 Caribbean Championships in Colombia. I leave to Beijing in late July. After the CACs, I'll go back home to the Caymans to meet officials and organizers of the Olympic trials.

GPP: How much did the foot injury affect you in the final race on Saturday?

RF: It started to nag on Tuesday and Wednesday. Started to get unbearable on Friday. On Saturday my foot didn't even work. I had to muscle my way through the race. My foot just said "I gave you what I can I give you."

GPP: You have given FIU fans one of the few athletic moments to cheer about this year. What do you think of being one of the athletic program's highlights this year?

RF: This has been a tremendous journey and a tremendous opportunity to represent FIU. FIU gave me an opportunity to get an education coming out of Bacone College (NAIA) in Oklahoma. Like I told you for the article in the Miami Herald, I wanted to end it on a positive note. I wanted to set an example to certain people that are going through tough times, that you can make it. You can do it, if you dedicate yourself and put in the hard work. It can pay off.

GPP: So what do you think now of the 4:50 a.m. 20-mile bus rides you took 5 days a week to practice growing Bus up back in the Caymans?

RF: I've gotten phone calls about those bus rides now after local supporters back home read about it in the article. The people back home have told me they couldn't believe that someone who grew up right before their eyes has made it this far. They tell the kids back home, you can be like this kid [Ronald].

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

With Forbes's success, got a new poll question at the bottom of the Pawse.

inspubadj: I very highly doubt Lazer would be headed to FIU. Yeah, the guy can coach and recruit, but like Clawing Cancer pointed out, too much baggage. Plus, FAU is calling Lazer. However, he's not the only big name assistant that the Owls are interviewing. Florida State assistant and former Tennessee head coach Rod Delmonico, who was campaigning for the FIU head job last year before the Turtle was hired, has also been linked to FAU. Regardless if it's Lazer or Delmonico at FAU, Base college baseball recruiting and competition in South Florida is going to get very interesting pretty soon.

Miri: We'll take your questions for Turtle in a future interview. I'll post on here when that happens. There is no set date for the license plates with the new logo to be available, but like new FIU merchandise it will all be eventually put out with the new logo.

FIU Fanatic: The FIU baseball signing class should be made public at some point this summer. Of the four FIU signees that got drafted, I think FIU may only lose one -- pitcher Stosh Wawrzasek (16th round-Brewers). From my understanding, Matt Gilson is signed with FIU. He's one of the four left-handers that TT signed.

The Golden Panthers football freshmen start reporting on Monday, June 23. I'll include your question for the MC Q & A.

FIU0406: Been told that FIU is working out the kinks with the web host and that's why they have not changed the logo on fiusports.com. Don't worry it will be up. I wouldn't post a new logo on the GPP Jax_2 if FIU was not switching logos.

SouthPaw: I'll go halfway on your vote. I always liked the gold pants and blue top, sort of the St. Louis Rams look. The only thing I would fix about the gold pants is to make them actually gold-colored. The previous pants were more on the side of yellow thanBrown  gold. I'm not hot or cold on the blue pants, but it does seem like the style now at every level of football is to go with the same uniform color for top and pants -- not really a fan of that, unless it all white like the Dolphins.

Quijote & The OC Panther: Thanks for the e-mails regarding the recent Miami Herald cutbacks. Fortunately, the cutbacks on Monday did not include yours truly. So for the foreseeable future, the GPP and myself are still hanging around FIU and the MH. Thanks again for the kind words.

FIUBaseball Girlfriend: Welcome to the GPP!  Right now, it's not clear which players will be returning to FIU baseball and which will not. Fall ball starts in September so we should get an idea about this come August.

CJ: I traded e-mails with Rudy of Odebrecht last week and he said I can come tour and take updated pictures of the stadium some time next week when they finish putting in all the seats of the west end zone. We'll have a comprehensive update with photos on the new stadium on here right after I tour it.

**Due to my schedule conflicts, I've had to reschedule meeting with MC for the Q & A until later this week, so I'll keep taking your questions for the FIU head football coach until this Friday, June 20 at 6 p.m.

**The GPP keeps reaching readers around the world. Here are the latest readers to join the Prowl according to the Google Map Tracker that is used for our poll questions:

Welcome Clinton, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin and internationally: David, Panama and Budapest, Hungary Vh are all reading the GPP.

We're halfway home to covering the good old U.S.A.....That makes 25 states, 8 countries and 1 territory that the GPP is read in. States: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IOWA, KAN, KY, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS. Countries: Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom, U.S. Territory: Puerto Rico.

Here's the latest poll question for FIU Nation:

June 13, 2008

Turtle Waxes & You Could Have Gold

The College World Series begins Saturday and that's where FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas would like to eventually take the Golden Panthers. But first things first, such as a review of the past FIU baseball season and what to look forward to next season. TT dropped by the GPP to share his thoughts....Tt_2

GPP: What did you think of your first season as FIU coach?

TT: We started a little bit slow, because the kids were getting used to a new regime, a new system. No question, that was part of it. We didn’t really lock in what pitchers we were going to have in what roles successfully until about mid-season. Once we got to about mid-season we didn’t play badly. We played pretty good. We did some things that you’re proud of your guys like beating the No. 1 team in the league at the time, UL-Monroe 2 out of 3 was a very good accomplishment, because nobody else had done it. Beating South Alabama for the first time in 7 or 8 years, 2 out of 3 was a nice accomplishment. Of course, beating Miami was a good victory for our club and our program. Even some of the games we got beat like the UC Irvine 5-2, we were right in there until late in the game. Arizona State, the first game, we were 5-5 in the bottom of the 7th. Southern Cal on Sunday we were up 7-3 in the 7th, didn’t hold it.

You know people said one of the problems FIU had in 2007 was fielding, yet, in conference play we finished 4th in fielding. We broke the school record for 5 straight games of errorless ball and we broke it again with 6 straight games a few weeks after that.

Once we solidified mainly 5 guys pitching that could do a good job for us. Chris Allen and Corey Polizzano starting. James Lajiness and Eric Horstmann in mainly long relief and Jorge Marban as the closer we started to win some games. 20-36 is not a positive record, yet there were a number of things during the season that we did some very positive things for our program. We hope we set up a good nucleus of players coming back. We got a lot of new players coming in, that again you have to find the right roles for, teach them FIU baseball. We’ll be hopefully ready to getting better in the future years.

Doom GPP: What was the toughest part of the first year for you?

TT: Losing 8 games in a row in conference. That really in a way kind of doomed us. Getting beat 3 at Western Kentucky. That was third of 3 straight weekends on the road. We didn’t do a real good job there. We got beat at home by Middle Tennessee. We had 2 games right in our hands that went extra innings that we could have, should have won. Then we got beat the first 2 games at New Orleans and then came back to win the 1 on Sunday. It’s just too hard to make up an 8-game losing streak in conference.

GPP: You had a pretty good lineup for the most part, but what were some of things you would like to improve upon from the 2008 season?

TT: We definitely have a lack of quality pitching depth. That was our biggest weakness on this ballclub. There weren’t many guys that you really knew what you were going to get when you sent them out there. We just couldn’t get that consistency from no more than 5 guys throwing well for us. That’s the biggest thing we need to shore up. Team speed was definitely very much lacking. When your leading base stealer, Corey Lozano, steals 11 bases that doesn’t speak volumes for your team speed. That was a problem throughout the lineup and that hurts you both on offense and defense. That’s definitely Aaron another thing we need to shore up.

You also got to have some guys that can hit it out of the yard. You got to have some guys that can give you that 3-run homer, grand slam occasionally. We feel like we got the 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 hitters. Ryan Mollica and Tyler Townsend will probably be 3rd and 4th batters next year. We really need another 2 middle of the batting order boppers. It takes a lot of singles to score 3 runs. Where one swing of the bat can get 3 runs. In our league there are some boppers and some good offensive teams and you got to have better pitching than they have, but you also got to match them offensively, too. You better put runs on the board when you need to.

                                                                                                                                                    

GPP: From what I saw, would you agree that catcher Steven Stropp may have been the most improved player on the team as the year progressed?

                                                                                                                                                    

TT: He came on by leaps and bounds, no doubt about it. He hit .340 to .350 from mid-season on. Definitely a tremendous improvement as a catcher. He threw almost everybody out. If he got any kind of chance at all from the pitchers, he would throw them out. Even in the Miami game he threw Yonder Alonso out big time to end the game, but we dropped the ball at shortstop. That would have been a good way to end it. [Alonso] was dead out at second base. He’s definitely the most improved position player we had.

                                                                                                                                                    

Poly GPP: How much did it hurt having only one left-handed pitcher (Polizzano, left)?

                                                                                                                                                       

TT: We’ve signed 12 pitchers, 4 of them are left-handers. We need left-handed pitching badly. This year teams were able to stack all kinds of left-handed batters against us. That hurt us a lot, no question about it. To go along with the lack of pitching depth, not having any left-handers other than Polizzano is a killer right there. People would pull left-hander after left-hander out of their bullpen to throw at our left-handed batters. We couldn’t do that to them.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: What are you looking for in your next pitching coach?

                                                                                                                                                         

TT: You’re looking for two things. You want somebody that is a good instructor of pitching. That can call a good game. That can decipher pitching charts, watch a pitcher and try to figure him out. You want somebody that can figure out some weakness in a hitter to be able to get him out. You want somebody that can mainly teach a guy, pitch ability and that can teach a guy to improve the stuff that he has or maybe add another pitch into his repertoire. And you’re obviously looking for a pitching coach that can bring something to the table recruiting-wise, that is a well-known figure in pitching. A guy that knows a certain recruiting area well and he can bring you players from that area.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: You guys start fall ball in 3 months. Do you have a timeframe for when you want to have a pitching coach hired?

                                                                                                                                                       

TT: Yesterday (TT says jokingly). We still got 3 months before we get started. Not everything has surfaced yet, meaning there are more jobs open every day. Like Texas Tech came open, but not that we’re going for someone from there. You don’t know what some assistants from other schools are going to do. Maybe some get a head job, maybe some get retained. You just don’t know what’s necessarily out there yet. So if you go jumping on just anybody right away there might be 3 candidates that are better than the first guy you think of hiring. [FIU assistant coach/recruiting coordinator] Sean Allen could easily be the pitching coach and we’re considering that, because he knows that area of baseball very well. We could go for a position player coach as well. We can go either way that we want Email Fone to do successfully.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: Have you been bombarded with phone calls for the pitching coach job?

                                                                                                                                                         

TT: We’ve had our fair number of calls. We’ve had e-mails, calls, people calling to recommend other people. There hasn’t been a shortage of interest.

                                                                                                                                                         

GPP: How do you feel about having your full allotment of scholarships back after the NCAA situation you inherited was resolved a few months ago?

                                                                                                                                                         

TT: It’s great to have all the scholarships back, because we basically played with 8.7 scholarships last season. Nobody was complaining about it last season and our guys played hard. They did the best that they could do. But probably if we would have had the other 3.63 scholarships, we probably could have had much more pitching depth, maybe some other hitters coming off the bench that could be good. Maybe the 8th and 9th spot in our batting order could have been a little more solid. We knew we had some issues when we came in and took the job. It’s water under the dam now and we have to make sure we move forward correctly and make sure we don’t have any APR issues.

                                                                                                                                                      

Ttjm GPP: Have you gotten a call from across town in Coral Gables to invite FIU to renew the 35-year-old crosstown series?

                                                                                                                                                       

TT: Nothing new on that.

 

                                                                                                                                                      

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

                                                                                                                                    

Results of our last two polls show that nearly half of the GPP nation likes the new fiercer, stronger Golden Panther. However, in the last question regarding the helmet, GPP nation is torn between the design of FIU in block letters with the Golden Panther head (40 %) OR just FIU in block letters on the side of the helmet (38.6 %).

                                                                                                                                                       

The thought here is that the block letters of FIU have to be on the helmet, because FIU is not completely nationally known yet. And let's add the Golden Panther head too, to give the helmet some Uggla_2 character.

                                                                                                                                                      

Miri: No, I was not at the game when Jr. hit No. 600. I covered the first 2 games of the Reds/Marlins series and the 3 games of the just-finished Phillies/Marlins series. I did get to write about Dan Uggla's grand slam. Uggla Slam

                                                                                                                                    

FIUrulez: You're becoming the official survey officer of the GPP. We got another couple of questions below the Pawse.

                                                                                                                                                         

CJ: You are correct the MH is not shelling out the dime for me to go to Iowa to cover Ronald Forbes, but the GPP wishes RF well tonight when he runs at 9:05 p.m. You can watch RF's race live and free at Rf_2 NCAA.com. If you missed the MH story on RF here it is. Run, Ron, Run

                                                                                                                                                         

FIUFan: The new Golden Panther is not FIU's institutional logo. The new blocks letters are. The Golden Panther is the new FIU athletics logo. Check out my explanation to FIU Fan & gpantera in the "Holy Cow" post that I wrote on June 7. Hopefully, that clears it up.

                                                                                                                                                         

gpantera: Yes, thank you. The focus should be on winning football games. Regardless of whatever the new uniforms and helmets look like, they will look fantastic if FIU is winning.

                                                                                                                                                      

Cane.at.Heart: Welcome to the GPP.

                                                                                                                                                       

Let's also welcome our 23rd state of readership on the GPP. In our last survey we received votes from the home state of Ashley Judd. Louisville, Kentucky, according to the handy map tracker for our poll questions, has joined the Prowl.Kent_2

                                                                                                                                                       

That's 23 states, 6 countries and 1 territory that the GPP is read in. States: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDA, IL, KAN, KY, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER. Countries: Australia, Brazil, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, U.S. Territory: Puerto Rico.

                                                                                                                                                       

We seem to be in accordance that the new fiercer, stronger Golden Panther is an improvement. But still some debate about the helmet design, so we'll ask again. And for that measure we'll make SouthPaw's day as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                             

June 11, 2008

Logo Update with Helmet Poll

No, FIU did not change the logo again, but here's an update to the new Golden Panthers logo.

The first draft I saw of the logo on the football helmets were with the FIU block letters in dark blue with gold and white trims. That was a rough draft. Very rough.

The block FIU letters are going to be in white on the dark blue helmet. Sort of like how the letters Helmet_3 have been on the previous helmet (right), except that the letters will be block.

The entire logo (blocks letters and new Golden Panther) fits on the side of the helmet. Whether that's the final decision remains to be seen.

The Turtle will stop by on the next post for a talk with the GPP.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

SouthPaw: Like you I too wondered about blue letters on blue helmets, but FIU got that squared away.

FIUrulez: The Sun Belt Conference does not have any rule on musical instruments at games, unlike the SEC.

CJ: I'll get your question to MC when we do the Q & A.

FIUBlueandGold: TT wants to wait until after the College World Series to see what assistant coaches are available around college baseball for the pitching coach job. I'll have an interview with TT on the GPP soon.

Miri: The new FIU merchandise should come out later this summer in time before the new stadiumChip  opens. Maybe, you'll root for Larry Wayne Jones later this summer when he's tries to become the first .400 hitter since Ted Williams (.406) in 1941. He's currently at .420.

FIUJM: Ryan Mollica was only a junior last season so he will be back for his senior season at FIU in 2009. Another year of hitting over .400 and over .500 in conference play will get him drafted.

FIUFan: The change in the Golden Panther logo was to usher in a new era of FIU athletics and the university wanted to consolidate the 50-plus logos into 1 by going with FIU in block letters. President Maidique said the new aggressive Golden Panther was re-drawn to reflect the aggressive nature of FIU. At least the Golden Panther is on the prowl. Unlike the bird from the other school you mentioned. Like you said that bird is going to need something to clean his foot with, because he's about to step in it.Simps_2

Clawing Cancer: Seriously, I think we could excuse Jessica Simpson if she had a pimple on her face....Come on!

waveonshore, AxlRoseLovesWRGP, FIU Civil Eng. & EddieM : Welcome all to the GPP.

waveonshore: Glad to hear Justin Leith is headed to FIU. The Golden Panthers had just one lefty pitcher last season and could use many more.

AxlRoseLovesWRGP: I know you're a big fan of FIU. But one question, did you ever find that Axl Rose statue on the FIU campus?

FIUrulez requested it and since the new FIU helmets have not been made yet, let's hear what you think....

June 07, 2008

Holy Cow

Hc It's been a busy past few days for FIU baseball both past and present. The only thing missing from this week's success of Golden Panthers baseball is a postseason appearance, but that will come.

What's already here is two more former Golden Panthers acting like kings of the major league hill, two ex-FIUers got drafted and four future Golden Panthers also got Scoot a chance to take their games to professional baseball before having the chance to don an FIU baseball cap....as the late "Scooter" Phil Rizzuto (right) or Harry Caray would say: "Holy Cow!"

As we've mentioned in the last couple of blogs, former FIU pitchers Josh Banks and Mark Worrell have had terrific starts to their major league careers. JB, who was originally drafted by the Blue Jays, is 2-0 and has allowed 1 earned in 23 innings pitched thus far for the Padres. MW, who is coming out of the Cardinals bullpen, has pitched three scoreless innings and hit a 3-run HR against the Nationals on Thursday.

Jc Sox In the 2008 MLB Draft, FIU 3B/1B Jorge Castillo was drafted by the White Sox in the 26th round. Former FIU right-hander Elih Villanueva was selected by the Marlins in the 27th round.

As far as Turtle's 2009 recruits, four of them got drafted and we'll have to wait and see if they're coming to University Park Stadium or not. The four FIU recruits drafted were:

Right-hander Stosh Wawrzasek, who pitched for the Canadian junior national team, was picked by the Brewers in the 16th round. Infielder Kevin Fontanez, from Puerto Rico BB Academy, was taken by the Indians in the 24th round. (You can see video of KF playing baseball in P.R. on MLB.com). Left-hander Justin Leith of Naples Barron Collier High was drafted by the Cardinals in the 31st round, and catcher/infielder Doug Joyce from Washington was picked by the Royals in the 41st round.Chip_4  

It's a milestone week on the diamond. While we got this baseball post going, the GPP would like to congratulate one of its favorite players, Chipper Jones, a former TT recruit, on hitting his 400th career HR on Thursday against the Marlins. I'm writing this post from Dolphin Stadium during Saturday's Reds/Marlins game as the MH has me on the Ken Griffey Jr. 600 HR watch for the second consecutive night. Hopefully, Jr. hits number 600 tonight and I got something to write about. So far, he's 1 for 3 in the 7th inning.

Logo GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Before we get to the GPPers comments, here's a thought on the new logo. FIU must have had the GPP in mind when they designed the new logo. Many of you have wondered about the Golden Panther's left leg (and for the record so did I when I first saw it). But when I took a second look at it, I realized that FIU was thinking of the Golden Panthers Prowl when they drew up the new logo: the reason the new Golden Panther's left leg is up in the air is because he is on the Prowl.

The latest GPP poll question's voters are indicating the new logo is "sharp, solid, FIU got it right". Nearly 50 percent of the GPP voters like the new logo. We got a new poll question at the end of this post.

Among those voters we welcome is our newest international reader from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (yeah, she's from Brazil - photo, right) and our Braz_2newest readers from the good old US of A: Schaumburg, Illinois and Montgomery, Alabama. If your scoring at home -- and I know you are -- that makes 22 states, 6 countries and 1 territory that the GPP is read in. Since we're talking baseball in the first part of this post, here's the linescore of readers' states: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDA, IL, KAN, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER. Countries: Australia, Brazil, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom. Territory: Puerto Rico.

FIU Florida Power and Light; Rick M; Pantera Dorada; Current FIU Student: Welcome all to the GPP.

Now to the reader comments....

Rick M: From FIU Student Media posted on the FIU Stadium: Do It Yourself blog. FIUSM is going to work with FIU Athletics on the Golden Panthers entrance to the field at the new stadium. They are looking for suggestions to songs when FIU takes the field. Post your ideas on the GPP....You see I wasn't kidding when I wrote all of FIU are big fans of this blog and read it with their daily cup of coffee.

Pink Gold: Yes, Iowa, where FIU plays its the second game of this season, painted the visiting locker rooms hot pink. Don't think it would mess with opponents minds, but instead make those teams more pumped to play. I'm not a fan of the idea.

FIU Love: The "FIU Bricks" will be placed on the concourse level of the stadium so that everyone walking around the stadium concourse can see them.

CJ: The new design of the end zones and midfield have not been done yet. The new logo will most likely be at midfield and the end zones will likely have a different look than the ones in old FIU Stadium. Sure, let's open up a cafe and pastelitos stand at the new stadium. I'm always good for a shot of Cuban Pas_2 coffee.

alt7787: FIU Spanish broadcasters Jerry of the Castle and Pepe Fields were the originators of the "El Monstruo" nickname. I once asked Antwan Barnes about it and he loves it.

FIU_Fan_For_Life: Yes, FIU would need big wins and win consistently in order to get a radio deal with a sports station. That's the way it works in our city: Bandwagon, U.S.A.

FIU Fan & gpantera: The block letters in the new logo are for the entire university, not just FIU sports. The only difference is that FIU sports will have the new Golden Panther in the middle of the block letters. The other departments of the university will have the block letters logo and then their department name below it like: FIU (block letters on top) and then School of Medicine written below the block letters or School of Law written below the block letters. There is no more shield logo.

FIU Florida Power and Light: Yes, there will be new FIU license plates with the new logo, but there is no date yet on when they will be available.

quijote: We got a new logo, so we got to update the GPP's logo. You notice I got rid of the old paw graphic next to the Golden Panther Pawse.

Clawing Cancer: I saw the new FIU football helmet with the new logo on it. The block letters and the Golden Panther are both on the helmet. They fit fine and you can read the letters just as well.

June 05, 2008

From 1 Million To 1 Logo

OK, so FIU didn't really have 1 million logos until today, it only seemed that way.

The day is here for the new FIU logo that will be used by the entire university and all of the Golden Panthers athletic teams here it is:

Logo_2 

I like the solid dark blue block letters and a fiercer looking Golden Panther. This logo will be on all FIU teams uniforms and also will be the helmet decal for the football team.

Not only is the new logo being unveiled today, but from now on -- and as a devout reader of the GPP you already knew this -- Florida International University will strictly be known in sports lingo as FIU, the way it should be. The FIU Golden Panthers sure sounds, looks and reads a lot better than the 5-word alternative that had been previously used.

Post your thoughts on the new logo and vote on it below.

June 04, 2008

WINZ Of Change

FIU football's radio coverage is moving down on the dial for the coming season. You can hear all the Radio English language coverage of the Golden Panthers football games in 2008 on WINZ 940 AM. The first broadcast is Aug. 30 when FIU opens at Kansas.

FIU football was on WMCU 1080 last season, but has now moved to a station with better reception. Got several e-mails last year and people telling me that the 1080 signal wasn't always the best. With 940, FIU football games on the radio should have a stronger reception.

Kj As far as the FIU football Spanish broadcasts those can still be heard on 1550 AM with the "Cuban Keith Jackson" (left) - Jerry Del Castillo: "Oye, Nellie!" and Pepe "Chamby" Campos.

Another former FIU pitcher is in the major leagues. Right-hander Mark Worrell Mw_2 (right) made his big league debut last night for the St. Louis Cardinals. MW pitched one scoreless inning of relief in the Cards win over the Washington Nationals. That currently makes  3 Golden Panthers in the bigs: MW, Josh Banks and of course, Mike Lowell.

The Major League Baseball Draft is tommorrow (Thursday) and FIU's prospects include 2B Ryan Mollica and 3B Jorge Castillo. Let's see what happens.

Gppaw GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

Keep sending in your ideas for features you want to see at the new FIU Stadium. I've been told the FIU athletic department are big fans of the GPP and read this blog daily with their coffee in the afternoon. They are reading your ideas and I'm relaying them as well. We got an updated poll question on the features below that you can vote on.

Clawing Cancer: That is a great idea to have a Beach section at FIU Stadium even though the majority Beach of the home games will be at 7 p.m. Still we got beach weather year round and FIU has a plethora of lovely ladies to fill the sand with. Yes, it would be must see TV. And for the record your ideas are not obscured as you can see I'm pumping them up as I write this.

Met with TT yesterday and former pitching coach Felipe Suarez went back to BCC, because of financial reasons and he's getting married. Congrats to him.

FIU Fan: Definitely got to have Miami themes at the new stadium. Like your cousin, FIUFan's ideas of palm and orange trees lining a section of the concourse. After all, 200 years from now the answer in Trivial Pursuit to who won the last football game at the Orange Bowl will always be FIU. The stadium concourse will not be Orange covered, but it has to remain mostly clear for the walking area. Like the mini-airport Towe_2tower - that would also embrace some FIU history.

FIUBlueandGold: The UCF lineman you are referring to is Cliff McCray. CM, an engineering major, had a heart condition in high school, but was later cleared to play college ball. Speaking with a friend in Orlando, I was told CM may have played his last down of football. His mom told the Orlando Sentinel, that CM is concentrating on his studies even though he left UCF.

CJ: Parking for the new stadium will be located on the west and east sides of the stadium. And all parking is free. Club suites and club seats owners will have private parking on the south side of the stadium. The bathing suit idea for the stadium -- yes.

alt7787: I was at FIU last Thursday, but I was not on a golf cart. Next time stop and say hello. They tell me I'm a friendly person.

Section444: Yeah, I know the FIU Witches (right) haven't been around the GPP of late. They've been shopping for outfits they're going to wear to the Beach at FIU Stadium. Here are some they bought....Fiuwit

rblan008, FIUTerp, FIU_Fan_For_Life, Looking for 411, Eddie, FIU LOVE and Ms. Blog Administrator: WELCOME ALL TO THE GPP!

Boy, the Miami Herald tears down the comment wall and look at all the new GPP readers that come out of the woodwork. Folks, thanks for reading the GPP and don't be strangers when it comes to posting now that Ms. Blog Administrator has torn down that wall. Thanks again, Ms. BA.

rblan: I like the idea of the Protect the Panther piggy bank for charity.

FIUTerp: Put another shrimp on the barbie and make that 5 countries, 20 states and 1 territory that the GPP is read on.

Looking for 411: Sean Allen is still on TT's staff as the recruiting coordinator/assistant coach. SA missed a majority of the season, because he has been all over the globe recruiting for FIU. Mc_3

FIU LOVE: Your question of MC and his sideline fashion will be asked of the FIU head coach.

FYI, to all, this Sunday, June 8 will be your last chance to get your questions in for MC for his future Q & A with you folks on the GPP.

In the last stadium poll question, "Grand unique entrance by the Golden Panthers" is currently the most important feature you would like to see. Let's take that as a given, because I don't see FIU walking into the stadium like their having afternoon coffee at Cafe_2Starbucks or Versailles.

But here's another question for you now that we have kicked some ideas around to make FIU Stadium -- a one of a kind stadium.

June 02, 2008

Mr. or Mrs. Blog Administrator Has Torn Down The Wall

KoolAlthough it does not nearly have the same effect as the Berlin Wall coming down, more like Kool-Aid breaking through, wanted to let you good people of the GPP know that the registration/sign-in process for posting comments on the GPP has been taken down.

Now you can just comment and click "post".

Thank you, Mr. or Mrs. Miami Herald Blog Administrator for tearing down that wall.Gppaw_2

Now that's not to say the Golden Panther Paw won't come out if you don't keep your comments clean, but no more going through a DMV-like form in order to comment on the GPP. After all, we were NOT one of the blogs cited for trashy commenting.

The tearing down of the Blog Comment Wall is the first item to relay in this potpourri of a post.

Been going through the last few polls that have been posted on the GPP and here are some interesting tidbits.

In the "Which GPP posts do you like best?, the winners in a landslide were FIU news and interviews. So we'll try to keep that a major part of the GPP. WIth Fans Q & A's with FIU sports people finishing third.

Mc Speaking of which, since the Blog Comment Wall just came down this morning, we'll extend the time to get your questions in for the Q & A with MC until this Sunday night, June 8.

Another tidbit from that first poll and from the results we have so far from our latest poll on the features of FIU Stadium (you can still vote on the last post), is the various places around the world the GPP has been receiving votes from in the polls so far.

At last count we had 14 states, Puerto Rico and Spain as part of our readership. With the gadgets the MH has provided to build these polls is a Google World Map Tracker that shows where in the world people who vote on the GPP are voting from.

In the last couple of polls, we have had readers vote from Orangeburg and Blythewood, South Carolina; East Lansing, Michigan; London, UK; Rome, Italy; Moscow, Idaho (see there's more than one Gorbachev reference in this post and a place in Idaho with some Russian flavor); Groesbeck, Texas; Toledo, Ohio and Kansas. The city/town in Kansas was not available on the map tracker.

Borat_2 No Kazakhstan yet.

So that gives us now 20 states (FL, GA, NC, MD, CO, CA, NY, NJ, MIN, TN, VER, PA, MASS, VA, SC, MICH, IDA, TEX, KA, OH), Puerto Rico, Spain, United Kingdom and Italy.....Not too shabby for a blog about a school that is basically starting over with its athletics program.

Congratulations to Ronald Forbes for reaching the NCAA Track and Field Championships. RF was a big part of our "FIU At The Movies 2" blog, garnering recognition in two films: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Meet The Spartans.

Congrats also are in order for former FIU right-hander Josh Banks (right), now with the San Diego Padres. JB threw his first career shutout this past Saturday when he blanked the San Francisco Giants. JB has not Banks allowed a run in 17 innings pitched thus far for San Diego. With that kind of start and the Padres starting rotation banged up, JB should be in SD for a while.

Speaking of current FIU baseball, pitching coach Felipe Suarez has gone back to Broward Community College. Called TT today and he says FS went back to BCC, because coaching Division I baseball takes a lot more time than coaching at the junior college level. FS is getting married.

TT is currently looking for a new pitching coach. When there's more news on this, you'll have it here. I'm meeting with TT tommorrow for an interview that will be posted on the GPP soon.

June 01, 2008

FIU Stadium: Do It Yourself

I'll be taking another tour of the new FIU Stadium some time next week and we'll have more info and the latest photos on the "crown jewel" here soon. For now you can check out fiusports.com for some recent stadium photos.

There has been talk lately on the GPP about establishing some traditions or creating some unique features to the new stadium.

So go to your favorite neighborhood do-it-yourself home improvement store, grab your tool boxes,Estad_2   drawing boards and post what you would like built or see that would be unique to FIU Stadium.

I think FIU got off on the right track when it began the "Brick Campaign". Right there is something unique to the new stadium -- to see a bunch of bricks with your names on them forever surrounding the concourse of the stadium. That will ensure that you're not just "another brick in the wall". Apologies to Pink Floyd.

Brick_4 We've heard from some readers about a Panther growling noise after 1st downs and touchdowns. A Golden Panther statue at the entrance or the team possibly entering the Cage to "Welcome to the Jungle".

You can vote in our latest GPP poll below on what is the most important bell or whistle you would like to see in the new stadium.

With the help of our friends at Sports Illustrated, I researched the other 118 Division I football programs and their stadium/program traditions (yeah, it is a slow time of year at the Miami Herald). Here are some of those traditions to possibly help give you some ideas.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks enter the stadium to the theme of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Their mascot "Cocky" appears from under a sheet in the end zone. There has to be a theme song that leads the Golden Panthers into the stadium. Don't know about Roary appearing from under a sheet.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs fans used to ring their cowbells until the SEC banned it. But a lot of fans  still sneak in their cowbells to the games. More cowbell! Haze_2

East Carolina (right): The Pirates enter the stadium through purple smoke (team colors are purple/gold) with the sound of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" playing. Maybe a blue and gold smoke to lead FIU.

Louisville: The Cardinals take a lap around the field to high-5 fans after every home game -- win or lose. The Golden Panthers did this after the inaugural game against St. Peter's in 2002.

Arkansas State: After each touchdown, the Indians mascot throws a spear through a replica of the opponent's mascot.

Af_2 Air Force: Has flyovers before the game and after wins. The airport that used to be on FIU's campus is long gone. So let's skip this one.

North Texas and Texas: Apparently, they're big on lighting towers in Texas. Both these teams light up an on-campus tower after each win.

Washington and Tennessee: Both have some tailgaters arrive by boat, but we're a little too far from the water at FIU to do that. The Vols also have the famous UT checkerboard end zones, maybe FIU can do some unique design in their end zones.Ut

Ole Miss: The Rebels fans tailgate in "The Grove" (a shady area surrounded by oak trees) wearing their Sunday best. Men in coats and women in their southern belle dresses. While we do have our "Grove" not too far away, it might be too hot in Miami to do that at FIU.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets drive out their Ramblin' Wreck old jalopy.

Clemson: The Tigers touch Howard's Rock and then run down a hill in the east end zone of Death Valley.

Colorado: Ralphie the Buffalo always takes a run on the field. Don't know about live panthers. The Miami Herald had a little trouble with that during a photo shoot one year when Strock was photographed Buf with live panthers for the cover of our 2003 FIU football preview. Sorry, FIU Dad, but your dream of seeing live panthers run across the field likely won't happen.Panth

Florida State: Chief Osceola spikes his flaming spear at midfield before each home game.

Auburn: Many teams nowadays have their "(insert team nickname here) Walk" but it was Auburn that started this tradition. The "TIger Walk" has fans assemble along the street to the stadium and applaud the players as the team walks by on their way to the stadium.

Notre Dame: Hits the "Play Like a Champion" sign on their way to the field.

Those are some thoughts to get you going. Let's hear what you want to see.


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