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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.

Logo_2 GOLDEN PANTHER PAWSE

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....

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it'd be great if there was another bowl game for the SBC, but the postseason is so oversaturated. There are so many bowl games that most of the pre december 29th ones are obsolete. The Holiday Inn bowl, the viagra bowl, the Nabisco Cookie Bowl. It was really dissapointing that Troy was not invited to a bowl game last season considering they had a better record than some other bowl teams. I just dont know if adding another bowl game is the answer.

by the way. Is there any chance we can get Marlins pitcher Joe Nelson on those tobacco free florida commercials? you know the ones that go " Im so and so and I dont chew, i dont dip and I dont smoke".

Pete Pelegrin,

Randmom question:

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?

Pete,

My vote was for Weatherspoon, since he wasn't around last year, it is a big boost to the defensive side of the ball after watching him play in the spring game.

Pete,

My vote was for Weatherspoon, since he wasn't around last year, it is a big boost to the defensive side of the ball after watching him play in the spring game.

Thank you Coach Cristobal for you calling out the "body bag" question as a "dispicalble mentality."

I'm growing tired of the sickness that seems to have befallen alot of FIU faithful these days in thinking that our relatively poor athletics history is destined to be our future. It seems like most fans simply think that the only predictor of our future is our record in the last 12 games. I'm becoming astounded at how few people seem to realize the unique situation that we're in at FIU. We are sitting on a gold mine--a launching pad in South Florida. But it seems like too many are too close to even realize that (maybe I have better perspective living out of state). Other programs (like Kansas)would kill to be in our shoes. We need to stop dwelling on our past and look at the things that make our future so bright.

What are the "body bag" games on our schedule this year? Kansas? Iowa? Are you kidding me? Kansas has one good year in the last 100 years and it's a "body bag" game all of a sudden. Kansas? Are we talking basketball or football here? That game is very winnable. FIU is a football school (even though most of you guys don't realize it yet) and Kansas is a basketball school.

I'm not one for being cocky or overly optimistic, but I can't wait for the day when the "loser" mentality is finally extinguished from the minds of many of the FIU faithful. Our school/football program is truly in a unique situation and one bad season (or even one great season) isn't going to change the direction we're headed in. We're about to launch on a steady aggressive climb to the top of college football, and most of us aren't even aware what's about to happen.


I like your enthusiasm SouthPaw. Yes, between our location, new stadium and critical mass of students and alumni, the elements are in place for sustainable success. Once we have our signature win, our watershed moment, the loosing mentality of the past will give way to a new era of winning. Better days are ahead.

southpaw and gpantera i get what you guys mean. i hate it when people count us out. thats when i heard people start talking that the kansas game is going to be a blow out i posted the question.. i wanted to see MC get all riled up lol when i hang out w/ my friends they give me grief sometimes cause they know i really get into sports, and am i guess in their minds overly obsessed w/ FIU sports. and i understand they like to joke. but there are FEW people that realize what FIU is sitting on. a new house, a recruiting hotbed, young and hungry coaches. all things that will be very attractive to recruits. i mean when you think about it.. south of orlando (for now) we are the only team that will have a stadium of their own. and while UM will get to show that big jumbotron to all their recruits. wont we have something similar to that in our own home? point is that once fans start seeing results they will come. and i have a feeling they wont be bandwagoners. cant wait till football season.. the blood is boiling

I hope MC can turn this thing around, we need a winner to energize our programs.

hey does anyone know whwere we can watch/hear the sunbelt media day?

For us, FIU-dieharders,we all know the possibilities and..seemingly..endless potential FIU has. Heck, I envision the day FIU becomes a power in Athletics, as far fetched as it looks now. I share the enthusiasm and passion for FIU athletics, and FIU football in particular, especially given the apparent positive changes in Athletics.

I agree there is a chance FIU could "explode" this year into a contender. However, I still don't see it this year. I don't see how this equals a losing mentality, as much as it equals a more tempered enthusiasm and reality-based expectations. I truly hope we go 11-2 this season, win the SBC undefeated...and the Bowl game, while only losing two OOC games...I truly do. However, I don't see it. I love MC's approach to growing up and not to let anyone think it is a "body bag game"..after all you have to believe you can win, in order to win...great job by coach Cristobal there.

Great to "hear" it seems we have two "future Panthers" that visited the stadium, prompting them to (apparently) orally commit to FIU for next season. I wonder if they are from South Florida, or the two from Jacksonville whose commitments are "known" to the public...

In any event, great job PP....I too can't wait for next season, as I'm filled with optimism and hope for this team!!!!

For us, FIU-dieharders,we all know the possibilities and..seemingly..endless potential FIU has. Heck, I envision the day FIU becomes a power in Athletics, as far fetched as it looks now. I share the enthusiasm and passion for FIU athletics, and FIU football in particular, especially given the apparent positive changes in Athletics.

I agree there is a chance FIU could "explode" this year into a contender. However, I still don't see it this year. I don't see how this equals a losing mentality, as much as it equals a more tempered enthusiasm and reality-based expectations. I truly hope we go 11-2 this season, win the SBC undefeated...and the Bowl game, while only losing two OOC games...I truly do. However, I don't see it. I love MC's approach to growing up and not to let anyone think it is a "body bag game"..after all you have to believe you can win, in order to win...great job by coach Cristobal there.

Great to "hear" it seems we have two "future Panthers" that visited the stadium, prompting them to (apparently) orally commit to FIU for next season. I wonder if they are from South Florida, or the two from Jacksonville whose commitments are "known" to the public...

In any event, great job PP....I too can't wait for next season, as I'm filled with optimism and hope for this team!!!!

Great work, Senor Pelegrin. And I won't claim total credit for the beach. Anyone can have good ideas. Making them work's another matter.

Anyway... hasn't that framework been there for a while, Pete? At least, it has been, if it's the one I'm thinking about. It's next to that funky-looking sculpture as you hit the curve from the football stadium to the baseball stadium, right? If so, that's been there a while. I always heard it was to be a sandpit, but I never actually saw any sand.

Anyway... you could have the sandpit in the stadium and have it double as the beach on gamedays. Especially if you build it into the stands. Just a thought.

As for the "body bag" comments... no offense, SouthPaw, but that is what guys like CrazyCane mean by FIU fans not knowing what they're talking about. Us beating Kansas would be a bigger shock than Appalachian State beating Michigan. Kansas may not be a "football" school, but they're still in the Big 12. They have to deal with Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Any of the teams in that conference (except maybe Baylor) are of higher caliber than anyone in the Sun Belt.

They may have had a "fluke" season, but they still went 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl. That merits respect, especially from a program that went 1-23 the past two seasons. There's a difference between cautious optimism and unrealistic expectations. Beating Kansas is unrealistic. Not saying it can't happen, but it's hard to hit the moon when you can't get out of Earth orbit.

With that said... I like MC's attitude. It's the right one to have. You can't win physically if you've beaten yourself mentally. He and everyone else at FIU football should think they can whip anyone who comes their way. There's no problem with comments like that. That's showing leadership. But we as fans shouldn't look too much into statements like that.

Clawing Cancer,

Did you really mean to type "FIU beating Kansas would be a bigger shock than Appalachian State beating Michigan?"

Please tell me you've thought about that a little more now and you'll withdrawl that statement. Otherwise, I think I've made my point about many FIU fans having a loser mentality.

The Big 12 is a good conference, but don't get carried away--it's not the SEC. Don't forget that FIU went up to Manhattan, Kansas a few years ago and gave Kansas State a game into the 4th quarter.

With all due respect South Paw, App State would have beaten the turd burgers out of us last year. They were the D1aa natl champs last yr and numerous times before that. I don't think Clawing Cancer's comment is out of line at all. I do however agree with you that our athletic programs and our fan base have had, and continue to have, a loser’s mentality. But you know what's the only thing the will change that...winnning. Period. Then a winning attitude will snowball. Till then we wait.

Kansas State when we played them was a long way from the Kansas we're going to open the season with, SouthPaw. And I absolutely stand by that statement. Appy State was good enough to beat a LOT of I-A teams last seasons. And not just Appy, either.

Remember, SP, a lot of I-A transfer players who don't want to sit a season out often go to a top I-AA school. The top levels of I-AA have talent that's as least as good, if not better, than what lower-level conferences like the MAC and Sun Belt have. I know, because I saw a lot of I-AA while covering FIU when they were there.

I will also tell you that I-AA schools attract a lot of players who make going to a winning program a priority. There are many guys out there who would rather go to a Delaware and win than play for an FIU and lose, even if FIU is a D-I school and Delaware is I-AA. And with college football getting as big as it is, even playing for a I-AA program can still get you noticed in the NFL, so that's not as big a selling point as it used to be. See Joe Flacco and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Not to mention Steve McNair, Jerry Rice and Walter Payton.

You can say whatever you wish about my mentality. I really don't care. My point is, don't make the expectations too high or you'll be the one who's disappointed.

Would Panther fans be satisfied with a slower, more realistic pace of improvement? Could they appreciate a steady, systematic rate of progression? In the midst of increased anticipation we have to be careful not to get carried away. Should we set our goals on a lofty perch? Hell yes. But our expectations, if we are to be honest with ourselves, have to be tempered. We have to remember that we have the same guys we had last season, less the seniors. While we look forward to an infusion of talent from our incoming freshmen, they are in fact freshmen. We have a new OC with a new offensive system. We will start the season on the road against two traditionally solid clubs. We then come home to host USF - again, a solid club. We could reasonably start the season off by going 0-3. That's a challenge for a still young team which has no history of winning to call upon for encouragement. There is a "process" that has to take place before this team can successfully shed the attitude of defeat that has is mired in a funk.

I wish above all that this year's team is light years better than last year's. I hope Legg's legions can boost the offensive output to the point where the defense doesn't have to pitch a shutout in order to get a win. I hope the secondary develops a love for the ball, and goes after it a lot more aggressively, instead of always trying to get the big hit.

You knew last year would probable go the way it did. This year should yield more wins; probably 4 - 5. Steady, consistent improvement would be great. If the talent level in steadily increasing, if the offensive output is consistently being ratcheted up, if each victory reinforces the knowledge that THIS CLUB CAN WIN, then a program is truly being built.

BTW the jets shown next the comments about F-14's flying over are actually F-18's, the F-14's replacement.

I think one of the most improved defense players is defensive end Artis Warthen Jr. who has been hampered from my understanding with untimely injuries the past two years

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