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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.


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Thanks for all the info Pete =)

We should have a pretty large space for tailgating then! Woo-hoo!

I'am sure the frat boys are planning up one hell of a party.

I just saw on fiusports.com that FIU will host the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2009 NCAA Champonship! Amazing! Hope its not some old news... lol

I am so pumped up! I feel like we can pull an upset against USF, especially considering that it will be the first game in our new stadium. As always, great read pete. Thanks for your hard work!

Pete, for the offensive update, do you know what the plans are yet for Dariet Perry, the talented RB from Valdosta, GA (Lowndes HS). I know that we're pretty set at RB this year, so it wouldn't surprise me to see Mr. Perry redshirted, but I'd love to see him get some touches next year.

By the way, congrats to him for helping Valdosta get named Titletown, USA by ESPN this week in leading Lowndes to 3 HS state titles. Let's hope he helps bring a few titles to FIU before his career is over.

As usual, Pete..great read....The secondary, it seems, will become a force in this defense...I'm just hoping our middle linemen defenders can, somehow, plug the middle enough so that running against us is not as easy as it was last season....

BTW, just read a ridiculous blog in the other South Florida paper (sorry Pete), making fun...and criticizing the fact that MC is the highest paid head coach in the Sun Belt...I guess these yahoos can't understand the term "commitment to excellence"..and "vision". This is what the administration at FIU think of athletics and football in the future. They (over there) only see the past, it seems..how dumb.

FIU Fanatic: Explain how FAU sees the past?
We will see you on the field this year. I hope you don't win because it would be chaotic. Let me ask you something!
Why when FIU plays FAU the attendance is so low on FIU's side?
Is it that we are not good enough?
I thought 6 shula bowls, 1 Sunbelt title and the N.O Bowl championship would be enough for you!!
Congratulations again on the stadium!!

Those fans and writer, I'm talking about (not necessarily about FAU, you see?). For him (writer, not FAU, whatever it means)to make fun of FIU's leaders in hiring MC is kind of dumb, since he only takes into account the record FIU had in the past...Let's see what happens in the future...and maybe...just maybe...the salary paid to Cristobal ends up being a bargain...You come here a bit too ardent..relax and think a little before coming here and repeating things that have nothing to do with what I posted...Geez..too much coffee someone?

No one mentioned FAU dude.

He simply was calling out a writer from another newspaper regarding their criticism of FIU for paying the Head Coach so much.

MC is building something and its going to snowball into something huge, a couple more wins here, an even better recruiting class next year and suddenly we are winning even more, more fans and alumnis get excited, and it all starts to gain incredible momentum.

As for why we do not get excited for FAU games...

I think that may be because the "rivalry" is a slightly manufactured one. It's based purely on the fact that we are the too youngest football programs and thats about it.

The "rivalry" with UM (will it has been sorta one sided) is based on the fact that we are the two largest universities in South Florida and are so close to each other. While the football rivalry may be new, we have played each other in others sports for years and it naturally carries over. Not to mention our students and alumni base are amongst each other in every day life (again because of location.)

I don't know about you guys, but I always root for FAU or even Troy when they play non-conference games.

When FAU plays hard against big time programs and wins bowls, it elevates the entire conference. It would be great to see Sun Belt teams all over the 3 other bowls this year, even if its not FIU this year.

FIU Florida Power & Light:
I am sorry, but I dont find the FAU/FIU rivalry manufactured. We played something called the Shula Bowl. FIU does not play a bowl against UM. As far as UM and FIU being the 2 largest schools in south florida, I don't know about that. UM has a way larger fan base, it's private and UM is 40 years older than FIU. In other words, FIU cannot be compared to UM. On the other hand, FAU is 4 years older than FIU, FAU's campus is twice the size of FIU's and the fan base is a bit larger than FIU's fan base, besides both schools are public and have the youngest football programs. This sounds more like a rivalry right? !!!!!
Don't get me wrong, I am not here to argue.
Please explain why you think FIU is one of the largest schools in SoFL? is it its student body, campus size, number of programs or because it was established in 1965?
Remember that from Palm beach to the Keys is considered SoFL and there are some other schools like BARRY/LYNN/ST. THOMAS. In other words, what you consider large for a school.


I can't imagine FAU being larger than FIU. St. Thomas certainly is much smaller though.

Regardless, owls are gay. Oh my god, look at me, I'm being stalked by a friggin' owl I'm peeing in my pants!! Someone please, get that OWL off my shoulder!!! Oh the terror!!!!!

Quijote: very funny! I am not here to argue or to make fun of you.
I am here to clarify a wrong impression.

FIU = 1965 • FAU = 1961

FIU student body = 37,000 aprox. • FAU = 27,000 aprox.

FIU = 530 acres campus • FAU = 850 acres campus

FIU = 2 campuses • FAU = 5 campuses

FIU certainly has more students and I guess that is the ONLY reason is larger than FAU.
Hey ! I think FIU is great option for the miami area, and I am not taking away any credit. At the same time, I think FAU is an excellent option for the Broward and Palm beach counties.
Have a good day!

Sadly fans here in our area will switch sides in a heartbeat if FIU does well. Most "UM fans" have never even stepped foot in the school. Mostly because it is private/expensive as hell! In Miami its win then fans will come... and it always has. Most people a mentality that theres always something exciting and better to do in this city than watch a losing team. Sad I Know.

Barry? Lynn? Buddy, those schools have 10,000 students at best. UM HAS about 10,000 students. FIU is closing in on 40,000 students. WE ARE THE LARGEST SCHOOL IN SOUTH FLORIDA. More Populated than FAU. Largest in the Sunbelt. Our campus is bigger than UM's.

Most people in the poorer neighborhoods go for UM because its what they see on TV... it is what they know. But if they would realize that UM is a school that doesn't give opportunities to poor students. While FIU has been tops in giving degrees to minority students. The truth is FIU is the rightful University of Miami in all but title. If FIU becomes a power the wave of fans will be amazing. Bandwagoners? Probably. A 45,000 seat stadium won't hold it all.

But i agree with "Power and Light". If one day we are to reach this point that i speak of. They would pull us out of the Sunbelt like a hot tray out of an oven and stick us in the ACC. It's all about $$$$ and while our rivary is a good one. If we become "big time" it won't be FAU games that we would get excited about... it would be UM. FAU has done a great job... but FIU's potential far surpasses most schools.

Only Public University in Miami.

FAUfriend: actually, FIU has 3 campuses

esteban688: The big east was very bitter at UM when they left for the ACC. When FIU becomes a force, I think the Big East will snag them to relcaim the south florida TV ratings market very quickly.

Top paid coach in the Belt? You won't believe this...

> Posted by Ted Hutton at 4:11 PM
OK, with Howard getting a contract extension, I took a peek at what coaches in the Belt are making.

After falling to the floor, I got up, rubbed my eyes, and looked at the list again. This time I fainted and Connie The Wonder Woman splashed water on my face to revive me.

No. 1 – Mario Cristobal of the mighty Amber Kitties, at $381,076. Yikes. Double Yikes.

I guess I had heard that, but thought someone was joking and didn’t take it serious. But it’s true.

Wow, give FIU AD Pete Garcia credit for getting that one past his boss. I mean, you hire a guy with no head coaching experience and you make him the highest paid coach in the Belt? And he was coming from a program that was headed downhill.

Now, in Garcia’s defense, the Kitties did see some improvement under Cristobal, going from 0-12 to 1-11. Well, Mario is a winner at the bank if not yet on the field.

No. 2 is The Voice at $363,179. A bargain price, IMHO.

Then you have a pretty big drop. Here’s the list (thanks to USA TODAY, Click on the chart for salaries in all conferences).

No. 3 – Larry Blakeney, Troy, $288,038

No. 4 – Rick Stockstill, MTSU, $282,955

No. 5 -- Todd Dodge, North Texas, $261,000

No. 6 – Charlie Weatherbie, ULM, $205,000

No. 7 – Rickey Bustle, ULL, $195,750

No. 8 – David Elson, WKU, $179,000

No. 9 – Steve Roberts, Arkansas State, $171,042.

What do you think if that, ladies and gents?


So, what you are saying is that FIU is the largest because of the student body in south florida. Yes I know your campus is bigger than UM/Barry/St thomas/Lynn/NSU but it is NOT bigger than FAU's campus. Actually FAU's campus is the size of UM and FIU together.

Having a huge campus or more students does not make a school better than other. As far as I know, FIU is the youngest of all major schools in SoFL.

As I said before, FIU is a great school, but is the largest because it has 37,000 students and not for some other reasons.

Have a good day!
See you on November!


Well said, esteban688. The Sun Belt is only a temporary home for FIU.

And since when does size of campus or # of campuses determine how big a school is? I guess that makes Jacksonville the largest and most important city in the U.S. I always equate more campuses with commuter schools anyway.

FIU is the largest school in the Sun Belt by far (North Texas, I believe is a distant second) and we're located in the largest media market by far. We're also the highest rated academically. And now with schools of law and medicine, there is NOTHING that UM can offer that FIU doesn't have. It's just a matter of time.


FAU is an excellent school and has been lucky to start an uphill journey with their young football squad.

I know, personally, I would LOVE for FIU to have been the SunBelt Champs AND be bowl champions instead of just winning one game in the season in only 6 short years.

We all know the state of Florida is a football champion making machine.

It wont take more than a couple more years and some great seasons to have BOTH FIU and FAU making a jump to the Big East.


In my opinion, a school is strong because of the amount of money it generates. Money is then distributed through out the school via scholarships, classroom improvements, guest speakers, etc.

Classic example is the stronger universities in the state of Florida; the University of Florida and Florida State. And do you know what generates so much money for them... Alumni. Alumni via the boosters in addition to football and the college of medicine are the big money makers for Universities.

FIU just so happens to have one of the strongest Alumni association in the nations with 130,000 active members. And that is without a strong football program.

I would love to have this conversation again in a few years when FIU's football program begins to make noise and the boosters follow.

I am not taking anything away from a fantastic school such as FAU but if you are basing how big/strong your school is simply by the amount of land (mostly unused) a campus has, then you are sadly mistaken.

Considering the location of FIU and the alumni size with the football talent and new medical school on campus, I wouldn't be surprised to see FIU competing with UF within the next 15 years.

FIU Fan,
You seem to be a reasonable man that uses common sense in your writing.
I wish good luck to the FIU community.
We don't know if we will be jumping to the BIG EAST.
C-USA would be an option for now.


Yeah i knew that FAU's main campus is considerably larger than ours. That is something almost priceless to a college. If UM would have known how its was going to grow they would have bought more land. FIU for being in metropolitan Miami has a good sized campus. We can't complain... we still have space to build. Not as spacious as FAU. Big lots like that just are not found anymore...not in a city like ours.

If Boca someday becomes denser urban area that space you guys have will be of enormous values to FAU.

Thanks esteban688 and Gold:
Good comments and a lot of what you say makes a lot of sense.
Let's pretend all that we are considering here is valid. Why these 2 schools continue being ranked as 4th Tier schools?
Is it time and more recognition nation wide?

good luck!


Regarding your question:

"Why these 2 schools continue being ranked as 4th Tier schools?
Is it time and more recognition nation wide?"

Yes, FIU and FAU are ranked in the fourth tier but I would like to bring a great example to your attention.

In 2006, Boise State beat Oklahoma to win the Fiesta Bowl. Does anyone know what has happened to that school since then?

Their application for acceptance to their school went up 20 % +-, their athletic department generated over 20 million dollars in revenue, their book store alone generated over a million dollars that year and their alumni donated more money than any other year in that schools history.

Because they received more applicants, the school was allowed to be selective with who they enrolled picking only the best and brightest of the applicants making their school more prestigious.

Now, their football program can recruit better than any other WAC team and all because of that one big win.

My point is that, unfortunately, athletics has a lot to do with a schools success, more than most people give it credit for because it leads to big time revenue. This is one of the main reasons big power house teams invest so much money into athletics, because they generate even more of it back. Universities are and will always be a huge business.

Considering FIU’s and FAU’s strong academic accomplishments, now that we will begin to receive recognition for our academic success via our athletic success, expect us to both move up their tier scale soon.

Reason being is because this has been proven in the past with numerous institutions.

The comment above is great. There are very FEW schools that gain recognition solely through academics...such as MIT.

Most schools gain national recognition through some sort of dominance in athletics. Take UM for example, they have a top notch Medical School and good Law School. But their other programs are average, good but not top ranked.

Now look at FIU, top ranked Business programs and many good (but not top ranked) other programs. In other words very similar to UM. However, discrepancy between levels of national recognition is huge. This is based on the fact that everyone knows of the Hurricanes because of their dominance in football.

That leads to the average young boy/girl rooting for the local football powerhouse, which leads to them eventually wanting to be a part of such a prideful University. They therefore go to study some random major that the powerhouse University eventhough the program may be ranked lower than the same major at the other local, but nationally unknown, University .

Athletics is undeniably a strong recruiting tool for Universities. Athletic success produces name recognition. Name recognition breeds interest from top students and professors which leads stronger academics and so on.

FIU Florida Power & Light I would like to co sigh on your thought and reinforce the fact that a strong athletic program simply brings in more money to the respected University which leads to everything discussed ontop.

Look, everyone who is affiliated with FIU knows how amazing and competitive their academics are. When they begin to dominate on the firld, the rest of the nation will recognize our dominance on in the classroom as well.


Excellent comments:
It is really sad that the success of any school is measured by the athletics dept. The only schools in my belief that are not like that are maybe all the Ivy League schools and MIT.

I guess, this why FAU and FIU decided to do it because it could get the recognition they have been looking for so long. I totally believe that if FIU gets better in football; there is chance that UM might be pushed to the side.
I've heard so many people bragging of their top-notch education at UM. I wouldn't go there especially if you had to get a student loan, which, would leave you in debt for many years to come.

The new football era in Florida has started.
Watch for USF/FAU/FIU/UCF!!!

good comments !


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