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10 posts from July 2008

July 31, 2008

Clubbing At The Stadium

Let's go clubbing. No, not to South Beach, it's too early in the afternoon for that.

Grab your virtual tour hard hats and join me back at FIU Stadium to see what's going on in the south side -- Club South --  where the club suites, club seats and Panther Club are all located. Again, enlarge the following pics for a better view.

Clubhall_2 Enter here in the club suites hallway (photo, left) and let's see what the suites look like nowadays.

The cabinets are in most of the suites and the counters arrived the last time I was there. All the electrical wiring is in as well.Clubcab_2

Now not everyone will be watching the game from the club suites. In fact if you've seen one of the latest Miller Hi-Life beer commercials on TV, they take a comical turn at watching a game from a club suite. But that's another story.

However, everyone will be using these (photo, left) when they go to a game at FIU Settoilet Stadium. Yes, folks, the plumbing is starting to take shape all around the stadium. The photo on the left is the ladies room in the southeast corner of the stadium.

Here's a fun fact you can entertain party guests with or win a bet at your Women_2 local watering saloon: FIU Stadium will have 60 bathroom stalls for women compared to only 40 for men. Been told the reason is women take longer in the restroom -- you don't say.

If you happen to make the biggest donation to the stadium or if you secure naming rights to FIU Stadium, then this photo on the right could be your view from the 50-yard-line club suite.50club_2

Before we go down to the Panther Club, let's go outside the club level and give you a few more looks at the stadium.

Here's a shot, below left, from atop the east end zone looking at the west stands with the open rectangular hole in the middle that will Eastendzoneview_2 eventually be meeting rooms and more club suites with patios. By the way, was told that the new turf on the field would start being installed earlier this week. I have not been to FIU since this tour, but will be there Monday for the first practice, so I'll take a look and see what's going on.

Over here on the right is where FIU Main Street will go when that gets underway.Fiumain

Remember, in the last stadium tour "All Quickening On The Western Front", I said there was a gift for FIU baseball at FIU Stadium. Well, here it is on the left. This is the old football turf that was taken out a few Smurfs months ago. This turf could be used to replace the Smurf-colored apron Turtleturf around home plate at University Park Stadium. The turf is just 6 years old and still has it's sharp green color. Come and get it, Turtle! BTW, Odebrecht tells me they have finished building the visiting team's clubhouse at University Park Stadium. Among other improvements to the baseball stadium. Boy, that Turtle moves fast.

Let's go see where your bricks will be laid.

As we walk toward the Panther Club, there is a big square area set aside for your FIU Bricks. Here it is on the right.Bricks Just to the right of that green Tonka toy in the photo is where all the bricks will be laid with your names and personal inscriptions on them.

Nothing to see there yet, so let's mosey on over to the Panther Club.

Pcentrance Here on the left is the entrance and then we'll step foot inside.

Again, there is still work being done on the inside so there's not much to look at now, but might as well get our monies worth while we're out here. The photo below on the right is the inside of the PC. Obviously, when Odebrecht hands the stadium's keys over to FIU,Pc  the University will decorate the interior of the PC. If you're scoring at home that's 6,500 square feet in that Panther Club.

In between, practices and working on the FIU Football Preview for the MH's special college football section this month, I'll make time to head back to the stadium at some point in August to get some more updated photos and information.


SouthPaw: Do you know what the plans are yet for RB Darriet Perry?

GPP: No plans are set in concrete regarding the Golden Panthers backs. DP will get a shot in camp this month to show what he's got. A'mod Ned, Julian Reams and Daunte Owens will have first crack at the bulk of the carries, but if they get off to slow starts and DP shows enough this month, don't be surprised to see Perry with the ball. MC showed last year that he's not afraid to play freshmen.

We'll have a look at the FIU offensive backfield in the next post on Saturday and the receivers and offensive line on Sunday before fall practice kicks off on Monday morning.

BTW, fall practices are open to the public until Aug. 9 (next Saturday), then they are closed from there on out. So you good people get 7 chances to see your Golden Panthers before they kick it off in Kansas on Aug. 30.

Here's the OPEN practice schedule: Aug. 4-7 at 7:00 a.m. Friday, Aug. 8 at 9:00 a.m. and the final open practices are Saturday, Aug. 9 which is the first day of 2-a-days. The Saturday practices are at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

So what do you think about the bricks?

July 30, 2008

Secondary To None?

Let's continue our preseason look at the 2008 Golden Panthers and what could be considered their strength this season: the secondary.

Already lined in the spring with a quality defensive secondary thanks to the returns of safeties JeremiahJw Weatherspoon (13, right) and Marshall McDuffie, FIU also got back a healthy Robert Mitchell, who missed most of last season with a leg injury.

Then you add 5 talented incoming freshmen, plus redshirt freshman Alfonso Bryant (if he's cleared in time for the start of the season) and these could be the most competitive battles for starting positions throughout fall practice.

Going into Monday's practice, this is what the preseason depth chart looks like, of course, that can change quickly: Anthony Gaitor (26, left) and Dez Johnson (29, above, right) are listed as the starting corners. Starting safeties are Ash Parker (11, left) and Weatherspoon -- who has the potential to be the next FIUer in the NFL. Then you got Devin Parrish and Mitchell as backup corners and Kreg Brown Parkgaitor and McDuffie as backup safeties....Not too shabby.

Add Bryant, a former all-world secondary player, who left Central Florida to come back home to FIU. Plus, Derrick Clark (Apopka) who led the entire state in interceptions last year. [That gives FIU the state sacks leader (Kambriel Willis) and INTs leader (Clark)]. Plus, All-County stars like DB Chris Charles, safety Chuck Grace and DB Emmanuel Souarin (right), who with his speed could be a factor in special teams as well, and you could see the potential for some lockdown pass coverage and serious help stopping the run.Souarin_2

FIU had the 4th best pass defense in the nation in 2006, not saying this group will go that high in 2008, but don't be surprised if before they all leave FIU, this group pushes the Golden Panthers back in the top 10 in pass defense in college football.

To wrap up the defensive preview, we'd be remissed if we didn't look at one of the more underrated positions in the game: punter.

Chris Cook battled a sore back last season and again in the spring. MC said he should be ready in the fall. When Cook is on, he can nail some long, high ones like the 68 and 71-yarders against Troy last season, and a 66-yarder against Maryland.

Former Miami High punter Carlos Munera showed his booming leg in the spring and with Cook gives FIU 2 strong legs to win the field position battle -- which is one of the most overlooked parts of a football game.


Will have the second part of the latest stadium tour photos on here next. And you can check in this weekend as we take a look at the FIU offense before they kick it off bright and early at 7 a.m. on Monday morning.

FIU Fan & esteban688: Where exactly is the parking and tailgating for the Stadium?

GPP: I'm told parking for the general public will be on the east side of the stadium in the empty grass Park_3 field. Here's a photo (you enlarge for better view) on the right, which I was going to save for the next post with the 2nd part of the stadium tour. People with club seats and suites will have private parking on the south side of the stadium. Tailgating is being planned for the east side of the stadium and the north side like they did in 2006. Been told right now the plan is for the west side to be left alone, because the construction of the fieldhouse will be ongoing throughout the season.

Ghostrider117: Anyone know if practice is OPEN to the public?

Open GPP: Welcome to the GPP. Practice is OPEN to the public. It all starts at 7 a.m. on Monday, August 4.

FIU Fan: I remember for the first football game ever back in 2002 they had fireworks before and after the game. Do you know if they will be doing the same this year?

GPP: From what I've heard there will be some pre & postgame festivities like 2002. Of course, a win over the once-No. 2 South Florida Bulls will make that party last until Monday, Sept. 22.

FIUBaseball Girlfriend: Any other updates on how FIU baseball players did during summer ball?

GPP: Click on this for more FIU baseball summer updates: FIU Summer Pitch

FIUBlueandGold: Any word on give-aways for the 1st game?

GPP: FIU is still working on all the bells and whistles of the first game.Willis

The poll is still open, but from the early voting, you good people are talkin' about Willis....That is you're expecting the most from Kambriel Willis (57.1%) among the freshmen defensive front 7 players. Let's turn to the secondary for the next poll.

July 28, 2008

7 Days Until Fall Practice, Defensive Front 7

Sunrise Around sunrise -- yes sunrise -- next Monday, August 4, FIU football gets going and then takes the field at 7 a.m. for its first fall practice of the new season. Between now and then we'll take a look at your 2008 Golden Panthers and get your input about them.

Defensive Line

In 2006 when El Monstruo, Keke Bouie and Alexander Bostic were leading the defense, the Golden Panthers delivered a consistent pass rush and led the nation in tackles for loss that season -- when they passed Florida State in the season's final game to register the most TFL in college football. Last season, FIU lacked that pass rush. Now with a season of experience in DC's Phil Galiano's system and one year in Roderick Moore's strength and conditioning program, we should expect some heat on the QB from the Golden Panthers.Rj_2

Among the returning D-linemen: Reggie Jones (right), Artis Warthen, Jarvis Penerton, Jonathan Betancourt, Cody Pellicer, Daniel Chacreton, Curtis Bryant and Ricky Booker, someone has to emerge. If we go by spring ball, Jones, Betancourt, Bryant and Pellicer showed the most, but let's see who improved over the summer when fall camp gets underway. The return of Jonas Murrell will definitely help. The last time JM was on the field for FIU in 2006, he could be found in the opponent's backfield quite often. Bryant and Booker have all the physical tools to have big seasons as well.

Kw_2 Of course, we can't forget about the heralded freshman class of D-linemen of Jonathan Jackson, James Jones, Kambriel Willis (left), Andre Pound, Donnell Wilson and Kasey Smith. It will be interesting to see what the 2 JJ's and Willis can do early on. The trio combined for 54.5 sacks last season. Jackson and Willis attended several of FIU's spring practices to see what would be in store for them in the fall. Whether these guys will be ready from the start or might need a year in the weight room we'll find out soon enough.


Scott Bryant is poised to have a huge season after leading the team with 91 tackles (45 solo) last Buzz_2 Oso_2 season. "The Buzzsaw" or "El Oso" (you pick SB's nickname) leads a talented LB corps and if the D-line can open some holes, these guys will help supply that missing pass rush.

Michael Dominguez (right), Ryan Martinez, Matt Garris, Toronto Smith, Mannie Wellington, Quentin Md Newman and Tyler Clawson round out the LBs. Martinez, Wellington and "Little Canada" had good seasons in 2007. The coaches say Garris had a good off-season. Newman had several sacks in the spring.

The frosh LBs (Aaron Davis and Winston Fraser) bring speed. Davis is recovering from a knee injury and Fraser was MVP of the state championship game with 13 tackles for a Booker T. defense that also featured Jackson and Willis.

Regardless, of whether the veterans or freshmen shine on the defensive front 7, FIU needs a consistent pass rush this season to have a better showing on defense and force opponents into more 3-and-outs.

While FIU almost matched opponents in time of possession last season (29:49 to 30:11), opponents did convert 3rd downs 42% of the time. Putting teams in longer down-and-distances this season with some defensive pressure will get that 42% into the 30's in 2008.


Have not forgotten about the second part of the new stadium tour. Will have that on here soon. We'll continue our 2008 position preview next with the secondary and punters.

Got word that FIU 1st baseman Tyler Townsend (right) tore it up during summer ball. In the just completed Valley League, TT led the league in batting average (.405), home runs (11), slugging Tt percentage (.763), on-base percentage (.512), total bases (100) and runs (36). He was third in RBI (34), stole 13 bases and played errorless ball in the field. If you remember, TT finished last season by hitting home runs in 5 straight games.

Max: Any idea when the seats for the club level will be put in?

GPP: The club seats are expected to be installed in early August. After the next stadium tour post, I'll try to get some updated photos on here in August.

FIUPantherFan: When are FIU Radio broadcast rights are up and what [PG] intends to do about the lack of professional coverage?

GPP: FIU radio rights are up after this football season. Will try to find out about the future of FIU radio coverage for you.

FIU Florida Power & Light: Will FIU students get +1 guest entrance like it has been in the past? Or is it just one entrance per student?

GPP: For USF game, it will only be one entrance per student. For all the others, it has not been decided yet.

inspubadj: Any word on the hiring of the new basketball assistant? With all the problems with Jorge Decespedes is he still going to work in the athletic department?

GPP: No new assistant yet for hoops. JDC will not be working for FIU.

Cowgirl_4 Quijote: Pete, the most important pic that should enlarge doesn't, pleasssse get that cowgirl to work!!

GPP: Enjoy!

Looking at your voting, most of you believe FIU will be the 4th or 5th best team in Florida in 5 years. That will be very interesting to see where the 7 Florida Division I college football teams stack up in 2013.

And almost half of GPP Nation (47.6%), said the new FIU helmet is sharp. For those that didn't really like it, winning some games will make that helmet that much better looking.

We asked about who was the most improved returning defensive player earlier this month and you good people chose Anthony Gaitor with Reggie Jones coming in second. So now let's turn to the freshmen defensive front 7:

July 24, 2008

All Quickening On The Western Front

Two weeks ago, you got an updated view and notes on the west side of the new FIU Stadium. Here are some more photos and news after the most recent visit to the Crown Jewel. Again with all of these photos, I have enlarged them as much as the blog program allows, but you can enlarge them even more on your PC. So, please do so.

The concrete for the concourse on the west side of the stadium has been set and here are some photos Atopnwcorner_2 standing atop the west concourse. This first one on the left is from the northwest corner of the stadium.

The next photo on the right is the view of the club suites from the furthest corner of the west concourse. You can't go any further on the west concourse than this point until they build the north side of the Nwcornerclub stadium.

Here below left is shot from atop the west end zone. As you'll notice from the photo, even from the last row of the seats in the W end zone, the Atopwestendzone_2 view is pretty good.

From the furthest point on the northwest part of the concourse, you can see where the old east scoreboard -- which will become the west scoreboard -- is currently residing, behind the north bleachers. You have to enlarge this photo on the right to see the old scoreboard. Oldscorenwcorner

Behind the southwest corner of the west concourse, you can see lying on the ground the frame for the new field lights and the poles that the lights will be attached to.

The 4 poles (1 for each corner of the stadium) are 140 feet in height and each pole contains 60 light fixtures. Was told that for football games only 48 light fixtures are need per pole, but FIU got 60 lights per pole, because that's the number of lights needed per pole for pro soccer. So when the Golden Panthers kick it off Litepole against South Florida 12 light fixtures will be turned off per pole. For those scoring at home or if you're hobby is light poles, FIU baseball stadium's light poles are 94 feet high and have 24 light fixtures. Here on the left is a new light pole. Not an exciting photo, but thought it would add to this tour.

Before we go down to the field to show you what's going on there -- and Sd_2 you don't have to ride in the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine to notice there's something going on in the field from the first photo -- here are some shots of the west end zone stands from two different parts of the stadium.

Here on the right is what the west stands look like from the southeast corner of the stadium.Westfromsecorner_2

And here on the left is a close up shot of the west stands from the Weststs southwest concourse. Again these west stands like the rest of the stadium's stands are right on top of the field -- big-time home field advantage.

On that photo on the left, you'll also notice the asphalt for the back of the west end zone was laid down.

That measures 7 yards from the back of the end zone to the bottom of the stands. So nobody has to Gus worry about pulling a Gus Frerotte with their helmets against the stands unless they do like Frerotte and actually go bang their helmet against Westendzonespace the wall.

This photo on the left gives you a closer and field-level look at the asphalt in the back of the west end zone.

You also can notice on this photo, the apron on the bottom of the stands has been installed. The apron is the blue paneling that is the facade of the stands around the entire the stadium. Here on the right is a shot of it Southapronclub from field-level of the south stands.

As far as the field goes, they have begun installing the foundation for the field turf. The black tarp covering the field is the very bottom layer of the new turf. Above that will be a thick layer of a sponge-like surface and then the new turf and the ground-up tires inside the new turf. The new turf is expected to be laid down at the end of the month. Below left Closeviewturf is a close-up view of the field.

On the right, below, is a shot from atop the west end zone of the bottom layer of the turf being laid down.Layturfwest

If you have followed FIU football from the beginning, then you'll remember that Halloween game against Jacksonville that former FIU running back Rashod Smith had a monster game and then a huge deluge came down, the lights on the stadium went out and down by a million points, the JU coach could have called the game, but didn't. All that was memorable, but so were the bubbles that popped up all over the old turf, because of a poor drainage system. Here on the right is a photo of a brand new drainage system that Drainbubble will not allow the field to flood or those turf bubbles to surface.

Cowgirl_3 Again that was not a sexy photo (this on the left is), but thought the drain and a future FIU Cowgirl was interesting for this tour.


Just east of that drain is where the west field goal will be installed. They Fginstall have already put the base of the goal post in and here's proof on the left.

We have plenty more photos from the last visit to the stadium to get to and they will be on the next post. On that post, you'll see how the club suites are taking shape, the Panther Club, where your FIU bricks are going to be laid and a take a look at a gift for FIU baseball.



Pretty interesting idea from the mind of Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnelly that he relayed at Sun Belt Media Days in New Orleans. In case, you missed it here is the story: Howard's Bright IdeaHs_2

Some people might think HS is off his rocker, but I think he may be right when he says that in 5 years you won't know how the 7 Division I college football teams in Florida will be ranked. The state of Florida has the best high school football talent in the nation and all 7 of these teams make getting those players their priority. Not much left for the rest of the country. Don't see UM, UF or FSU agreeing to HS's idea, but you can bet FIU, FAU, USF and UCF would open their schedules for HS's idea.

FIU Fan: How about making the [Golden Panthers] entrance look like a giant cage? You really got the UM fans pissed off, lol. They are going off on you in the UM blog comments.

GPP: Great idea! And with the silver stands it would look like an actual cage. I'll bring it up to FIU and see what they think.

Guess, I rattled some cages with the Larry Coker/Sun Belt story. I just wrote the facts: Miami has 2 Ds college football teams, Dolphin Stadium is cavernous (Dolphins have never had a home-field advantage there) and there is no on-campus stadium in Coral Gables.

FIUPantherFan: Will they do a weekly radio show this year like they did with Strock? Also, are there any plans to broadcast basketball games this year (and I don't mean student broadcasts).

GPP: MC does not have a weekly radio show this year. Basketball broadcasts will be student radio again this season, which is not a bad thing, Andrew Julian and WRGP do a good job broadcasting FIU hoops.

Look into your crystal ball and answer Howard's question, but more specifically, regarding FIU in 5 years.

July 22, 2008

Let's Go Bowling, Here's Your Helmet

NEW ORLEANS -- Welcome to the Big Easy, GPP Nation. It's yours truly's 2nd rodeo in New Orleans and unlike last year no sight yet of the Scarlett Johanssen look-a-like bartender at the Sun Belt Hilton hotel No_2 here in downtown.

Anyways, let's get to the Sun Belt matters at hand today on a busy Monday and also got a photo of the new FIU football helmet.

First, although it won't be announced until Tuesday morning, which by both Eastern (Miami) and Central (New Orleans) time, it's already Tuesday morning as I write this, the Sun Belt will tell us in about 6 hours that 3 bowl games have lined up Sun Belt teams with winning records as alternates.

Pj What this means is in a perfect world, the Sun Belt could have 5 bowl teams this season and for the moment, in reality, the SBC could have 4 teams going bowling this winter.

Here's how that works: the Papa Johns Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.), St. Petersburg Bowl Ind and Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.) have all agreed to take Sun Belt teams if the conference teams with tie-ins to those bowls do not have winning records. That plus the New Orleans Bowl (the Sun Belt Champ gets an automatic bid to that) makes 4 bowls that could have SBC teams this season.

In a perfect world, the way the SBC gets 5 teams bowling is if a SBC team pulls a Boise State or Hawaii  and goes undefeated and forces their way into a BCS bowl. Like I said that's in a perfect world, but it's happened before. Hey, didn't Billy Bob once marry Angelina and Billy Joel marry Christie Brinkley? Aj_2 Stranger things have happened.

Still, overall it was a good day for the Sun Belt here in the Crescent City on Monday. MC and Scott Bryant are here representing the Golden Panthers and you can catch an FIU football story in Tuesday's Miami Herald.

So what will Bryant and the rest of the Golden Panthers be wearing on their heads this season.....here are a couple of photos of the new FIU helmet, notice the Golden Panther has been lowered from the letter I to clearly spell out F-I-U:Helmet (you may need to enlarge to get a better view)

Helmets_3  Let's see what's in store for Day 2 of the Sun Belt Conference Football Media Days on Tuesday as Larry Coker is slated as the guest speaker after Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters.


Got all the new photos I took of the new stadium last Friday ready to go on my pictures file and will have those on here when I get back to Miami later this week.

FIU Fanatic: Do you know anything in terms of how many season tickets have been sold so far?..and compare it to last year?...club seats and suites sold?...What about the USF game tickets sold?

GPP: Trying to get those numbers for you. I do know the USF tickets are going like hot cakes. You know Cakes Miami (Bandwagon Capital) everyone wants to be at the new stadium opening.

Max: Got any info on the basketball schedule?

GPP: Although it's not confirmed yet. I've heard that FIU will play two traditional college basketball (NOT Purdue or Kentucky) powers this season in the non-conference schedule. When it's a done deal, I'll post on here. Like recruiting season, I'm a firm believer of when it's signed on the dotted line, then it's true.

Quijote: What's your take on the soccer corner kicks, proximity to the sideline in the new stadium?

GPP: There is plenty of room for corner kicks in the new stadium and same with the proximity to the sidelines. As you'll see when I post the end zone photos I took with the new out of bounds area installed in the stadium last week, you can see there are about 12 yards to the sidelines and 7 yards after the back of the end zone. No worries for the futbolistas and their jewels.

FIU Fan: What are they intending to do with the empty patio space that's there now (in west end zone)? Those suites wont be done by Sept. 20...or will they? Will they have additional seating? The band? FIU Beach_2 Beach? Closed off?

GPP: The empty patio space in the west end zone will be closed off for this season while they build the conference rooms/suites and patio area inside the west end zone stands. BTW, FIU Beach is gaining some steam from what I've heard from some good sources at FIU. Clawing Cancer's idea seems to be a hit with the people it needs to be a hit with at FIU.

FIU Florida Power & Light: Can we get an update as to how many tickets have been sold for the USF game?

GPP: Will try to get a number on that for you, but heard the tickets are going quick, especially with USF begging for more -- not that they're going to get more.

FIUJM: I wonder if there is going to be someone paying for naming rights at stadium?

GPP: FIU is currently in negotiations with several South Florida businesses for naming rights to the new stadium and also to FIU Arena.

FIUFan: By the way, has Odebrecht, Pete, Mitch or anyone come up with an idea on how to personalize THE CAGE?

GPP: Ideas are being tossed around like "FIU Beach", there will likely be something unique to the stadium.

gpantera: With our new FIU logo, can you get us an example of the "Panther" logo, that is how will FIU write the word "Panther" with the new logo brand guidelines?

GPP: Going through all the media stuff here at the Sun Belt event, there are no renditions of the font the "Golden Panthers" will be written in. In all the Sun Belt media stuff, Golden Panthers is written in block letters, but I don't think that's how it will appear in the end zones of the new stadium. When I get a hold of the new font, I'll post it on here.

Truck CJ: Does anyone know where we can watch/hear the Sun Belt media day?

GPP: Only if you have a live satellite truck is SBC Media Day available. Otherwise, you have to go on-line to sunbeltsports.org to read about the 2 days. If there's significant news like the 3 new bowl games and FIU's helmet, it will be on the GPP.

Clawing Cancer: Hasn't that framework been there for a while?

GPP: Yes, although that area looks like the sandpit, it is not after I asked MC about it today, but MC said that would be the area where the football training sandpit will go.

As Apollo Creed would say "Ring the bell, ding, ding". Phoenix, Arizona has joined the Prowl. Someone in the land of the cactus wants to see the suites/patio area up already in the west side of FIU Stadium.Wil

Here's the latest tally: The 31 states the GPP is read in: ALA, ARI, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MO, NEB, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS. 9 Countries: Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A. 1 District: Washington, D.C. and 1 Territory: Puerto Rico.

So what's the verdict on the new FIU helmet?

July 20, 2008

F-14s, Sandpit & Stadium Stairs....MC Q & A Wrapup

Just 2 weeks left before FIU hits the practice field for the first time in preparation for the 2008 season. The Golden Panthers begin fall practice August 4, but we won't wait Mc that long to finish your questions with MC.

Here's the final part to your questions and MC's answers.

Frank: Will you schedule less body bag games when you take control of the schedule?

MC: If you go in there thinking it’s a body bag game, then you are going to come home in a body bag. I think it is a despicable mentality. Our coach in high school told us all the time: they are still putting their pants on one leg at a time too. There are no superheroes on the other side. Can they be more gifted, more talented, guys that are more mature after years of recruiting the elite players in the country, so what. The bottom line is this is football and you get to settle it on the football field. We never ever use those words (body bag). We eliminated it from our vocabulary. For us Sh there is no such thing. Every game is an opportunity to go out and win and hit somebody right in the mouth and that’s what we aim to do.

CJ: Kansas fans are already talking about how big a blowout game 1 is going to be. Saying by a 40 point margin. What do you think about such an outrageous prediction?

MC: Do they have superior talent to us or than us? Absolutely they do, but I know one thing us as a program we have matured physically, mentally in terms of our process, our toughness. That’s a challenge that if that doesn’t in some way shape or form doesn’t stoke your fire or if that doesn’t hit you hard in terms of your pride then you don’t belong playing football. You need to look at that, you need to take that and you need to use that. You can’t approach that with fear. You have to take that personally as an individual and turn it into a team thing as well and you have the best off-season that you can and you go up there to win that football game.

FIU Fan: What traditions would you like to install for the program?

MC: First of all I would like to say we are open to suggestions, because we do want something special. I have been around FIU now for one year and one thing I know is that it’s a special place and people have a lot of pride in FIU. Our job as a football program is to take it to the next level so that pride grows and nurtures itself and creates a giant snowball of enthusiasm and energy. So we’re open to suggestions. I would love a Panther Walk where those players as they come off the bus and are in that Walk_2 gameday mentality mode they get to see the people that have been the essence of FIU, who support FIU, just line that entire walk toward the stadium as they are going along with the band. Let the band sound off. Let the people go nuts, let the high-fives start flying. Let them know that come hell or high water that they have our back. As a young program – and people have to understand this – you have to build this. It’s a young program, you have to build this program right. This is not about bringing in 45 renegades, win in 1 year and then going back to nothing. It’s about building it with character, with integrity, with hard-ass work and discipline. I want our guys to always see that there is support there and we’re always going to work our butts off to make sure we make them proud.

I would like to get some F-14s from the Homestead Air Force base to fly overhead. Some of the things we’re doing is we are building a gigantic sand pit which we are going to use for training during the week, which could double as “FIU Beach”. F14_2


(Note: That sandpit will be on the other side of the road between the baseball stadium and the preserve. The framework for it is already set. I mentioned to MC that "FIU Beach" has to be inside the stadium. Still, good to see the FIU coach is enthused about "FIU Beach") [Great job, Clawing Cancer].


SouthPaw: Are there any particular areas that you and your staff will be focusing on harder than others in the 2009 recruiting class?


MC: We still have a lot of holes to fill. We recruit and we stagger the classes. If you look at our depth chart in our war room, it’s not only done by position, it’s done by year and position to make sure we’re never caught in a situation where we have to sign 7 receivers or 9 offensive linemen. We always want to sign a good amount of offensive and defensive tackles – the guys that are at a premium. The skill guys we’re always going to sign anywhere from 2 to 5. Receivers 2 to 5. Defensive backs 2 to 5. Linebackers always 2 to 4. Defensive tackles 4 and if there are 8 we’ll take them. Offensive tackles the same way. Guards and centers you can create, if there is a special one out there we’ll go get him. Running backs we’d like to sign 2 to 3. Whenever there is a great quarterback, even if we have 9 Qbs quarterbacks on our roster, if there is a difference-maker out there, you go get him, because the guy touches the ball on every single play. If he can be better than what you have, no matter how good you are, you have to go get him. We’re always going to upgrade every position. A rule of thumb is: everybody we recruit is as good or better than what we have.


GPP: How will the offensive play calling go on gameday? Will Coach Legg be calling the game or will you call the game?


MC: As a head coach you always have some suggestion, you have your feel for it. This is truly his offense which I really like. I trust him to call the football game. I want him to call the football game. As a head coach you want your coordinators to have ownership on their side of the ball and that’s something that he’s going to do. I’m always going to have my hand in there, but I don’t believe in letting a coach’s ego try to take over the situation. This guy has called a lot of games. He’s got a lot of experience. There are certain things that I might like, of course, I’m going to have input on both sides of the ball and special teams as well, but I want him to call the football game.


FIU Fanatic: How happy or not are you with the physical development of not just the stadium, but the fieldhouse/offices with all the amenities?


MC: I love the development of the stadium and fieldhouse. I’m very excited. Of course, you would like for it to be done now, but you have to love that we have an awesome President and administration that have made this thing happen. That stadium is going up fast. We went up there the other day to the top with a couple of recruits that looked down, looked across, looked across how the downtown Miami Run_3 skyline looked and then looked at the campus and they just fell in love with FIU. They are going to be future Panthers. It just shows you the impact of a facility and it’s still in its infancy. The stadium is taking shape, but it’s quite impactful. It’s a home. It’s our place. There’s a lot of pride being taken every single day. Trust me, when we start running stadium stairs at 5 a.m. there will be a lot more pride invested in that thing.


Went back to the "Crown Jewel" last Friday morning to take some photos different from the tour 2 weeks ago and there have been several new additions to the new FIU Stadium. Will have a few more stadium tour blogs on here after the Sun Belt Football Media Days in New Orleans on Monday and Tuesday.

By the way, the Sun Belt will make a postseason announcement Tuesday in New Orleans. Likely, another postseason bowl tie-in for the Sun Belt. Will post it on here as soon as they tell us what it is.

Will get to your questions on the next blog from New Orleans. For now, you good people said Paul McCall (38.1 %), Marquis Rolle (28.6) and Colt Anderson (12.7) were the most improved offensive players from last season after watching them work in spring ball.

Tell us who is the most improved defensive player....

July 16, 2008

West Side Story (New Stadium Tour)

If you visit FIUsports.com often, then you know by their countdown there are just 66 more days for the Golden Panthers and you good people, the fans, to unwrap your new stadium present.

Here's sort of like a Sears catalog version of what you're getting for your Sept. 20, Football Christmas day. First, let's go West, young men and women. (Note: I've maximized the size of these photos on the blog, but you could probably enlarge them even more on your PC to get a clearer view). Thanks to FIU students and GPP interns-for-a-day, Veronica Hernandez and Rick Martinez for taking these shots during the tour. And who says the GPP doesn't care about giving back to FIU photo journalism?

On to the tour:

The west side stands are just about done, with the exception of the concourse, which was being built when I left the stadium last Thursday. Here are some photos (left and right) of the open area (future extra Patio2_2 suites/patio over looking the stadium) in the middle of the west seats. The photo on the left shows the exits of the 6 suites/conference rooms to the patio area overlooking the west end zone.

The photo on the right shows an overhead view of that patio area.Patio 

These 6 extra suites/conference rooms are expected to be done when the first two floors of the fieldhouse are completed in July 2009.

So in total the stadium will have 25 club suites in Phase 1, except that 5 of those are expected to be used by the following: 2 suites for assistant coaches from each team. 1 for radio, 1 for media and 1 for the stats crew.

Let's stay on the west side and go down to the fieldhouse area. This photo on the left is what it currently looks like. Odebrecht Construction is currently working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., 6 days a week, building the FH and will continue throughout the season, Fh_2 except on the 5 Saturdays when FIU plays home games.

The 1st and 2nd floors of the fieldhouse are scheduled to be done by July 2009. Originally, it was going to be just the 1st floor by January 2009, but the plans changed to get the entire FH done by next summer. The 3rd and 4th floors might be added with Phase 2, depending if pro soccer becomes a tenant of FIU Stadium.

What you see above left here is where the 12,000 square foot weight training center/gym for all FIU athletes will be located. Next to the electrical room (white square building) on the top left of the photo is where the entrance to fieldhouse would be, which also would be where the ticket office and memorabilia store are located. Let's go underneath the west stands for more.

Before we get into the details of the FH, here on the right is a shot below the 6 west end zone suites Patioextrasuites and patio area. Where you see the brownish-red horizontal beams is where the actual suites/conference rooms are going to be. Just left of that area is the entrance to the patio over looking the west end zone. If you have good depth perception, you could tell the patio area is a pretty good size.

Back down to ground level now, and here, below left, is Odebrecht King and Stadium Tour guide, Rudy Armenta pointing to the area Gym_4 where the Golden Panthers locker room and FIU coaches locker room will be located.

If you remember from our last tour earlier this year, also on the 1st floor of the fieldhouse are plans for an injury/rehab center, FIU memorabilia store and ticket office. The 6 extra suites will also double as conference rooms for position meetings or offense/defense meetings. Plus, MC's office and his assistants offices will also be on the 2nd floor. The suites/meeting rooms may also be used as classrooms for some FIU classes.

FIU is still talking about bringing professional soccer to the new stadium and here is a photo to show you where a corner kick would be during a soccer match. See where the yellow construction Tonka toy is on the Cornerkick photo on the left, well, just to left of that, right below the stands (in this case, the northwest corner stands) is where a futbolista would line up for a corner kick. These stands all the way around the stadium are right on top of the action on the field.

Need further proof, here's another photo on the right, of the south stands in relation to the FIU sideline. That line of black stuff on the field is where the FIU bench area would be. If you don't like to hear what's being said on a football field and you're sitting here, thenClosesideline  either you get earmuffs or you find another seat, because the vocabulary does get colorful on a football field.

The frame above the west end zone seats is for the second Westscore scoreboard the stadium will have. That scoreboard is the old one that used to sit atop the east end zone in the old FIU Stadium. The frame for the state-of-the-art jumbotron video scoreboard above the east end zone seats has not been installed yet.

Before we start preparing the second part of our latest new stadium tour, here on the left is a view from atop the newly constructed southwest corner seats. If you enlarge this photo -- like you should Swcorner with all the photos on here to get the best view -- then you can see that even from atop the southwest corner seats, the view of the field is a good one. Not a bad seat in the house.

Will try to have the second part of the stadium tour on here in the next few days before I hop a plane to New Orleans for the Sun Belt Football Media Event, where MC and Scott Bryant are expected to join the other 8 Sun Belt head coaches and 8 other SBC top players. The SBC Media Days are next Monday and Tuesday, July 21-22 from the Big Easy. Will have a French Quarter/Bourbon Street blog from there.


Haven't forgotten about the last part of the MC Q & A, that will be on here soon.

FIUBlueandGold: When does the team start official practice? I noticed that the upper concourse had some benchseating near the aisles behind railings....can you find out if they will allow standing room only (SRO) on the upper-concourse as general admission. If the guys pull off an upset or at least a strong showing against KU and Iowa - I think at 25K might show on gameday?

GPP: Monday, August 4 is FIU's first fall practice. The bench seating near the aisles is for handicap. Regardless, of how FIU does against KU and Iowa, the stadium will be packed for the stadium inaugural game against USF. I heard from a Tampa writer that the Bulls AD wanted 5,000 tickets, but FIU is not going to give USF 5,000 tickets for the opener. Don't want what happened at Lockhart Stadium last year when USF visited FAU. The crowd was predominantly green and gold over the Owls' red and blue.

alt7787: What's wrong with Dan Uggla? He's playing tonight like he doesn't belong at the All-Star Game. Ug He's made a bunch of errors tonight and he can't get a hit. Where's the Uggla that hit the walk off grand slam or the one that hit 23 homers?

GPP: I think Uggla had some jitters playing at Yankee Stadium for the first time. His dad is from New York and grew up a Yankees' fan. Uggla said a few weeks ago about playing in Yankee Stadium, that the first time he played at Shea Stadium (Mets' home) he had to pull his cap down low, because if he looked up at the stadium he would get dizzy. Uggla eventually got over the Shea fear. Good thing, the only way he plays there again is if the Marlins and Yankees meet in this year's World Series.

Before the FIU Nation Question, FIU has asked the GPP if they could post the Stadium Brick Campaign on here and the GPP is happy to oblige. The bricks will be located at the entrance of the Panther Club on the lower level of the stadium. If you want to purchase a brick here's the link: Not Just Another Brick In The Wall

While we're on the subject of the stadium....

July 11, 2008

"Muscle Here, Muscle There" & Other MC Answers

Mcccc We're halfway through your Q & A with MC with 12 questions and answers left to post. We'll tackle 6 more of those here.

Before we get to the latest Q & A, took another tour of the stadium yesterday and must say that is one impressive football structure. Will post all the latest details and photos on here real soon. Now on to your questions....

FIUJM: With the loss of Lionell Singleton, which players (current or recruit) do you feel are ready to handle return duties?

MC: A number of guys. I think in our kickoff return they are going to see Jeremiah Weatherspoon. He’s a strong runner. He can get downhill fast. He’s a big body. We’re getting all these young players in Jr_2 which should upgrade our special teams. Guys that can move and guys that can break those arm tackles. I think Jeremiah and Julian Reams (right) give you a great shot at doing so. I think Daunte Owens will get a crack at that as well. At punt return you’ll see a couple of guys. Anthony Gaitor did a great job returning punts. His godbrother who is coming in, T.Y. Hilton will be involved as well. Greg Ellingson did a nice job last year so did Jeremy Dickens. The nice thing is now we have 4 to 5 who can do something. We have to find the special guy that can do the most.

SouthPaw: What players have made the biggest improvements in the off-season from last year's roster?

MC: In the secondary, a couple of guys really stood out. Jeremiah Weatherspoon (below, right) really showed what he can do. Hopefully, he can keep it coming and become a real impact player. I love what Ash Parker did as well. He was a guy that struggled in conditioning and he was pressed to get better and he did so. I think the competition that really stepped up in the secondary really helped him out. I think Anthony Gaitor Jw_3 really took a big step. He put 12 pounds of muscle on his body and his reaction time and his change of direction is really something. He’s going to be a special corner for us. Matt Garris is doing well. He didn’t get to compete (shoulder injury), but he is a guy that is doing a real nice job. Mario Caraballo is a guy that has really stood out. He got himself to 280 pounds. Has played tackle, can play guard, can play center. He was one of the more dominant linemen that we had in the spring time. Expect big, big things from him. Brad Serini took a big jump. Joe Alajajian (50) had a great winter and put a ton of muscle on his body, really leaned up and got more flexible in his hips and his ankles. He played with more Dicala explosion. We’re pretty fired up about him as well. The running backs all stepped up and had a good spring. I thought Paul McCall had a real good spring. He was real effective in taking on a new offense. Paul did a hell of a job. Marquis Rolle did a hell of job. Greg Ellingson was solid. Jeremy Dickens (5) had a great spring. All these guys their bodies are changing, now there’s muscle here, muscle there, where they didn’t have it before. A bunch of guys had great springs. I can go on and on and on, but we have to continue to get better. When I say get better, it was expected. They had to get better and that’s what the expectations are going to be all the time.

FIU Fanatic: Any news in when will Phase II of the Stadium Construction start?

MC: I expect it to start right away. I truly do. FIU moves fast. We’re so behind most other programs that have been around a while and that’s OK. We’re behind in terms of talent, facilities, but we’re ramping up at warp speed. What you see around the country is that every year people continue to build more and more, for us to catch up to the rest of the country we have to continue to get ourselves better and better. What the new stadium does is continue to put out there the commitment of FIU becoming a big-time program. So we’re very happy with what’s going on right now. The fieldhouse is well on its way up. The stadium is looking beautiful. It’s a big-time facility. You will be hard-pressed to find a better place to develop as a football player. It’s something that we need. It takes hard-ass work and identifying the right guys to develop and you need a facility to develop those guys and it’s on its way.

CJ: What are the chances that FIU will strongly pursue North Miami Beach High QB Nico Flores considering they have recruited 3 QB's (4 if you include Bryan Mann) in the past 2 years?

MC: I can’t comment on recruits.

GPP: How is the kicking situation looking heading into fall practice?

MC: We have a couple of walk-ons that are coming in and Dustin Rivest will be kicking as well. Tie

FIU LOVE: My question for MC is fashion. Is he going to continue to wear the tie or will he begin to style a more unformal look?

MC: I’m not sure yet. I think the shirt and tie really represents our school well. I want to make sure – whether we’re playing horseshoes, speaking at a convention, putting on a clinic or addressing the media – we want to make sure we look as sharp as we can. We want to represent at the highest level. Is it the most comfortable for a coach running around on the sideline? Of course not, but whatever it takes we’ll go with it.


Ultimate FIU Fan: We know about Morris and TT, however your statement about FIU coaches not enjoying a cold one with UM coaches sounded more than just baseball. How is MC's relationship with RS? If they are tight, then I guess RS is not in charge of scheduling. Their AD must be. Your thoughts.

GPP: My statement about FIU and UM not having any Sunday afternoon barbecues together goes for UM athletics, overall. These folks just have some animosity toward FIU, even though FIU has not really challenged them on the field or court during the history of the series. Several times that I've gone to Coral Gables to cover an FIU/UM game, I'll get remarks degrading FIU from the people over there and I'm not just talking about fans. It's the usual: "[FIU players] wish they could play here" type of nonsense. As far as MC and RS, don't really know what kind of relationship they got. But regardless of that, it's UM's new AD that controls the scheduling and he came out the other day and said NO to scheduling FIU. Jwb Even JM said the AD controls the scheduling when I asked him about continuing to play FIU back in April. Of course, that's a bad example, b/c we all know JM wants no part of TT. Really, FIU doesn't need UM. With apologies to Al Davis, FIU should just concern itself with one thing: "Just Win Baby!" In the fickle South Florida sports scene, winning solves everything.

CJ: I have taken notice that the FAU team is getting together for voluntary player hosted practices. Do you know if FIU is doing the same thing?

GPP: FIU players are practicing on their own. Been told Wayne Younger is constantly out there rehabbing his collarbone and throwing the pigskin.

alt7787: Let's talk Marlins baseball. Now that Josh Johnson is back and Anibal Sanchez is expected after Jj the break, what's going to happen to Hendrickson, Miller and Badenhop? I guess Tucker is working out of the bullpen now. Hendrickson and Miller have been pitching very badly as of late and I havent seen Badenhop pitch in a while. Is the starting rotation going to look like 1)Nolasco, 2)Olsen, 3)Johnson, 4)Sanchez, 5)Miller/Hendrickson. Oh and what the hell is up with Joe Nelson's face? He kind of looks like Popeye.

GPP: The rotation for the foreseeable future until Sanchez returns is: Nolasco, Olsen, Miller, Johnson and top pitching prospect, Chris Volstad.

Mark Hendrickson was moved to the bullpen after another poor outing last Sunday in Denver. He was not happy with the move at all after that game, but his ERA has ballooned and he has not won since May Pop 25. Ryan Tucker has also been moved to the 'pen. Burke Badenhop is on the disabled list and will likely go back to the minors when he's healthy. Joe Nelson looks like Popeye, because he shaves his head and chews tobacco. That's why he has that bulging cheek. He's just missing the pipe.

You good people read MC's answer to SouthPaw's question above. Now it's your turn to answer. We'll go with the offense first and we'll ask about the defense on the next post....

July 08, 2008

Number 15 With A Bullet

Back from Denver, where the Marlins made a pleasantly surprising move bringing up top pitching prospect Chris Volstad, who pitched two scoreless relief innings to win his major-league debut and beat the Rockies on Sunday.

Mia_5 In Miami, another pleasantly surprising baseball move....

As if having the No. 15-nationally ranked college baseball recruiting class wasn't already enough of an accomplishment in his first season, FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas's next class should have a higher ranking at this time next season.

Only the Florida Gators (No. 12) had a higher-ranked recruiting class among Florida schools this year.Rdm_3 

TT filled his vacant assistant coach position on Tuesday with the hiring of Rod Delmonico -- the winningest coach in Tennessee Volunteers history -- and along with TT, RD is one of the top recruiters in the nation with his recruiting classes having cracked the Top 10 many times while he was at UT and as an assistant at Florida State.

You may remember when the FIU Witches (yes, that is a gratuitous photo placement of the FWs) were casting their FIU coaching search spells last summer that RD was in the running for the FIU head coaching job along with TT. When he didn't get the Fiuwitch job, RD took an assistant coaching position at FSU. Now with the chance to work again with his good friend TT, RD could not pass up the opportunity.

"We've been friends for more than 30 years," RD said. "This is a great opportunity to help Turtle turn FIU into something special. FIU has always been a place that can be great. I've spent a lot of time recruiting South Florida. This is a hotbed for talent.''

TT and RD coached together at Clemson earlier in their careers and TT has always been looking to coach again with RD.

"I've been quietly waiting on Rod for a long time,'' TT said. "He's always done a great job recruiting South Florida and the state and he knows the game as well as anyone."

Besides helping bring top talent to FIU, RD will coach the infield, baserunning and be TT's bench coach. Sean Allen, last year's infield coach, is now the pitching coach. And before you ask, SA has been a pitching coach before. None of that old FIU musical chairs coaching carousel going on with TT's staff.Mus_3

                                                                                                                                                                                                           LogoGOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

We'll continue MC's Q & A on the next post. Also, will have an updated FIU Stadium tour with pictures on here soon.


ridgepanther: Who or what is to blame for UM stopping the crosstown matchups?


UM will not play FIU, because of two reasons: 1) God forbid, if FIU happens to start beating UM on a consistent basis, the people in Coral Gables won't know what to do with themselves. And while no one over there will admit it, that could happen in the future, because FIU finally has its athletic act together. Since PG took over as AD, the coaching and recruiting at FIU has improved 200 percent. The athletic academic mess has been cleaned up and not swept under the rug. And the athletes arriving at FIU have more talent than ever. Just witness, the No. 15 baseball recruiting class in the nation. Football cracked the top 100 (No. 81) for the first time in the 6-year history of the program and Bbq_2 basketball looks to have a promising year.


2) While this is not the main reason, you also have to take into account that some of UM's coaches are not exactly inviting some of FIU's coaches over for a Bar-BQ on Sunday afternoons. Remember "Alligator Arms" JM at home plate at FIU earlier this year?


Fgg_2 The Home of the Griffins (left) has joined the Prowl....Quahog, Rhode Island reads the GPP....actually it's Pawtucket, Rhode Island (home of the Pawsox - Red Sox Triple A team).


Db Count 'em down, Dingo and the Baby: The 30 states the GPP is read in: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MO, NEB, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS. 9 Countries: Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A. 1 District: Washington, D.C. and 1 Territory: Puerto Rico.


So what have we learned from the last 3 poll questions: FIU Nation loves the classic unis (blue top/gold pants), The Golden Panthers offensive line should be a major reason for FIU's success in 2008 and UM is the yearly opponent you good people would like to see FIU play. . . .Well, going 2 for 3 (UM not going happen) leaves you with a batting average of .667 and a spot in the Hall of Fame.


Here's a baseball question for you:

July 04, 2008

"I Knew This Question Was Coming" & More Of Your MC Questions

DENVER -- Welcome to the Mile High City, GPPers. Here for the 4th of July weekend to cover the Marlins/Rockies 4-game series, but the Prowl boarded the plane and got into the overhead baggage compartment and is here as well.Mmc_2 

Got some Denver scenery observations for you later, but for now let's continue our Q & A with FIU head coach Mario Cristobal (right),

FIUBlueandGold: I'd like to know if our lack of depth on the roster at many positions will prompt you to get as many of the 2008 frosh class on the field this year or can we expect many of them to be red-shirted?

MC: We have to play a lot of freshmen. It’s going to take 4 years total just to have a complete roster. Yeah, we are going to have to play freshmen. Quite frankly, they are talented enough to play right now and all that does is up the competition. It’s going to make everybody better. We didn’t recruit these guys to come in and sit down. We don’t have that luxury, because we are so thin. Every young man we recruit is a guy we’ve identified as someone, who not only has the physical tools to do it, but has the mental toughness to realize that.

Frank: What are some of the future out-of-conference games you would like to play when you get control of the schedule in 2010?

MC: We are still looking to play big time opponents. We want to play Miami. Hopefully, they will come around and understand that it is a great game for the community. Florida and Florida State are also teams that we’re looking at as well. After having recruited the west coast, I would love to get some of those opponents as well. We always want to continue that we’re upping the challenge. Umfiu We want to make a situation that we put ourselves on a national stage. Hopefully by 2010 our players, recruiting and player development has taken us up another level and give us a chance to win those football games.

Clawing Cancer: What do you think of the "FIU Beach" idea and other ideas for the stadium that were posted on the GPP?

MC: I think creating an exciting atmosphere, especially in a unique place like FIU, is an idea that has a lot of merit. I don’t exactly know the dynamics of how you can work [FIU Beach] out. There is great enthusiasm behind all those [GPP readers'] ideas. Keep the ideas coming, because we certainly are going to go with something that makes sure that we bring a lot of fun to that stadium.

GPP: What's the timetable to make a decision on your starting quarterback?

MC: I knew this question was coming. It could be decided day 1, 10 days out or a week out. There really Jeop_2 is no magic formula to that. Would you like it to be done right now? Absolutely. But the bottom line is when a guy distinguishes himself as the guy, he’s the guy. The quarterbacks know we won’t tolerate any non-sense regarding that kind of stuff, because all that does is become a distraction and hurts team unity. A guy needs to stand up, be the quarterback and in every aspect. I don’t care if a guy looks pretty throwing a couple of balls here and there. This guy has to be a tough-ass, son of a gun, who is a team leader and gives it up for the team day in and day out. I think our guys are ready to do so and take that step and that thing should really work itself out. We’ll make a decision, we’ll announce it and we’ll go from there.

CJ: What do you think of the Shula Bowl Trophy?Dstroph

MC: It’s a pretty unique trophy. I think it’s a hell of an honor whoever wins that thing and it’s something all the players look forward to at FIU and FAU to take that thing home. We have to work our tails off to go win that thing. The bottom line is that it’s been placed there for a purpose for the winner to take home and not let that thing go the other way.

FIU Fanatic: Are any of our original "signing day" signees ineligible, or not cleared yet?

MC: It looks for the most part that most of the guys are in and have qualified. The class looks like it’s about 95 percent eligible right now.


A couple of thoughts here on the Mile High City. Spent some time in Lo Do (lower downtown Denver) last night after the baseball game and must say the scenery reminded me a lot of South Beach and the Grove with all the clubs, bars and female population. Nope, didn't see the Coors Light Twins, but several of their relatives were hanging out in Coorslighttwins Lo Do last night.

Another thing about Denver, people are actually into their baseball team, despite being at the bottom of the NL West division standings. Sold out crowd of 48,000-plus at Coors Field last night. The Rockies fans broke out chants of "Tulo" throughout the game for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and sang every word in unison of the national anthem before the game and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in the bottom of the 7th inning....So that's what a baseball town looks and sounds like. On to your questions....

Quijote: I read in Sunday's Herald that FAU has declined their invitation to play UM this upcoming season (or was it next?) due to guaranteed funds not being too attractive (nice to see the Sun Belt champ muscle their way around). With this said, it would be interesting if you can tell us is the FIU/UM tradition can continue, taking into account scheduling/logistics/etc issues?

You can just about forget about UM calling FIU to play for any sport. The folks over in Coral Gables are cancelling just about every series with FIU. Football ended last season and unless there is a change of heart over there (which I wouldn't hold my breath) the series is done. We all know the baseball coach over there holds a grudge toward TT so FIU/UM baseball ended after FIU won the final game of the series last April in CG. And the hoops series is done after this season's game in CG between the schools. I believe the only sports the two schools will still compete against each other are women's tennis and track & field. The scheduling and logistics are no problem whatsoever for the crosstown series -- the schools are only 9 miles apart.

FIUBlueandGold: Do you know if the USF game might be on a regional telecast within Florida on espn? Do you know if anything will be done to the exterior/facade or any landscaping to cover the metal and beams that are exposed?

Tv It's early, but right now the only FIU games scheduled to be televised are the first two against Kansas and Iowa. The KU game is on the Big 12 network and the Iowa game is on the Big Ten network. Sun Sports or ESPN regional might pick up the USF game. Several FIU Sun Belt games could be carried by CSS. The Sun Belt Football Media Day event is July 21 in New Orleans and that's when the Sun Belt TV schedule is expected to come out. I'll be in New Orleans for that and I'll blog about it as soon as I know.

Like FIU Fan pointed out, the east (alumni center), north (student services/welcome center) and west (fieldhouse/training center) sides of the stadium will have attachments. Before those buildings are constructed, sponsorship signs are expected to adorn the exposed metal beams.

WRGPLovesAxlRose: Any word on when the Baseball recruiting class is coming out?

TT has a couple of more spots to fill. When he does so the 2009 baseball recruiting class will be released.

The GPP keeps rolling worldwide. FIU baseball's ultimate destination the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska joined the ProwlOmaha  on the last post to give us 29 states of readership and Bangkok, Thailand also has an interest in FIU. Like 57 percent of FIU Nation, our reader in Bangkok thinks the FIU offensive line is the most critical position for an improved 2008 season. My thoughts exactly. If you can't run block and pass block, you're not going to score too many points and you got to score to win football games.

The updated readership totals: The 29 states the GPP is read in: ALA, CA, COL, FLA, GA, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MO, NEB, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TEN, TEX, VA, VER, WIS. 9 Countries: Australia, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, U.S.A. 1 District: Washington, D.C. and 1 Territory: Puerto Rico.

Let's follow up MC's thoughts on the future out-of-conference schedule....

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