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.
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 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 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.
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.
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....