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Already Rolling Toward The Tide

Turns out you good people of GPP Nation aren't the only ones already thinking Alabama and the 2009 FIU Rolltide Football season. Your Golden Panthers are ready for 2009. More on that in a second.

Congratulations to our WIN A GPP Blog and 2008 FIU Football Media Guide winners: Baltimore Panther (1st place) start writing your own GPP Blog and e-mail it to me with photo requests as well. Ultimate FIU Fan stop by the press table during the next FIU hoops game on Dec. 20 at the FIU Arena to claim your 2008 FIU Football Media Guide. Full results of our blog contest are at the end of the post.

Tywk After Saturday's win over Western Kentucky (thanks to Sam Lewis for the FIU pics), your Golden Panthers were already talking about the Crimson Tide in the locker room. Guess, FIU didn't want the season to end either. Winning will do that. Click here for FIU Ready For Next Season

Heck, even a trip to Detroit on Christmas Eve would have been welcomed. That's where the team, FIU let get away with two 14-point 4th quarter leads is going. Florida Atlantic will play Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26. Detroit (right) never looked like such a paradise.Det

But anyways, it was a very successful season for FIU after a ton of media predicted a 1 to maybe even 2-win season for the Golden Panthers. For the record, yours truly had FIU at 4-8 back in August.

To say the future is bright for FIU football is an understatement. It's sunblazing -- to borrow the former FIU mascot. If this season is an example of what the Golden Panthers and the new FIU football coaching staff can do in just 2 years after NCAA sanctions, average recruiting and a lack of discipline program-wide, then what will FIU football look like in 4 years? Multiple Sun Belt titles, anyone?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, there are still plenty of holes to fill with recruiting on this team and will cover those in an upcoming blog.

This season we saw the emergence of a freshman superstar "Goodbye", stability at quarterback, a dangerous receiving corps, a glimpse of the everydown running back FIU has been searching for 7 years Grace_2 now. We also saw an offensive line get better as the season wore on.

We also saw sparks from a young opportunistic defense that finished 22nd in the nation in tackles for loss and that was with most of the defensive speed still needing to pack on some pounds or redshirted. We also saw some of that defensive freshman talent like Chuck Grace (left), Franklin Brown, Jonathan Jackson, Kambriel Willis and James Jones, who unfortunately tore a knee on Saturday.

And as you may have read in my Monday FIU story above, the FIU coaching staff is already knocking on doors recruiting one day after the season ended.

We'll have a more in-depth review of the season later this week and we'll also have our GPP Football Awards Show.

It might have gotten lost in the Panther Pawse, so I'll post on HERE the poll to choose a nickname for Greg Ellingson. The sophomore receiver became PM's go-to-guy along with Goodbye this season. Please click the HERE above and give GE your vote. Also vote on the 2008 FIU football season below the WIN A GPP Blog leaderboard. Thanks.

Here's the final leaderboard:

WIN A GPP BLOG or (2nd place -- 2008 FIU football media guide) FINAL Leaderboard:

10-2: Baltimore Panther (259) [GPP BLOG WINNER]

9-3: Ultimate FIU Fan (259) [2008 FIU Football Media Guide WINNER]; FIUChris (290); FIU Fanatic (299).

8-4: Puma (244); FIU Voice (252); Clawing Cancer (257); NYCFIUFan (267), outofthecage88 (267); fiufan751 (276); MIA/NY Josh (323).

7-5: Fomenter (259); FIUJM (279); FIU 0406 (283); TheChampionUnderdog (286); SouthPaw (311).

6-6: Max (282); gpantera (332). 

GPP: 9-3, (251).


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Mario and company did a fantastic job turning this program around in one season. From 1-11 to 5-7 and minutes away from a possible win against FAU (last year's Sun Belt champions). We have a long way to go, but I think the success is closer than I previously thought. There's no reason we shouldn't be competing for a Sun Belt title next year.

Great coverage all year Pete.


Your are the primary factor in providing the GPC (Golden Panther Community) with consistent, reliable and enjoyable information. You've also played the role of psuedo counselor when many of us went on suicide watch after the ULM and FAU games. You're words of wisdom provided the GPC a much needed calming factor.

Anyhow, this year did wonders in helping us shed our lackluster past and place us in a position to view the future with legit optimism.

Now let's keep stock pililing recruiting gems at every position and make 2009 the most memorable, successful FIU football year yet!

I think PP needs to tone down the rhetoric...please. What do you think that Troy, a super-young FAU, the boys from Louisiana, ASU and everyone else are just going to sit around and let FIU go streaking by?

And as far as a great receiving corp, geez..I can count on one hand how many passes the TE caught this year. The backs out of the backfield were not stellar and other than Ellingson coming around late in the season T.Y. was alone out there. And don't even get me started on the running game; suffice it to say that we ran out of the Shot-Gun on forth and inches twice this year and failed!

The defense and special teams get 'better than expected' grades from me. The coaching staff also gets better than expected (other than letting a couple of very winnable games slip through their fingers, the ULM game was very disappointing from a coaching perspective).

All in all, much better than expected (thanks to T.Y., the Defense and MC) but we don't play this game in a vacuum. Everybody else is going to get better too. The question is, who is going to emerge from the Belt as the next Boise/Utah/TCU. I hope it's us but the jury is still way out.

Go Panthers !!!

I see everyone is excited for next season. I agree with you FIUFan, we need to tone it down a bit, but the team really improved and it SHOULD've been 7-5 at least (ULM, FAU) but we also gave it away to Troy.

What we need is have a strong showing at Bama and UF, and get the W against the bulls which will put us in the national spotlight and help recruiting.

PP, can we expect quite a bit of turnover from this staff? they had two year contracts that expire, so I would think just by resume and connections Cassano, Galiano, Legg, Clark, may leave? I think Leggs exp, was a huge factor in developing the offense this year... his loss would be felt and raises the question 3 offenses in three years? I know it is speculation but I do not think it is out of the realm of possibilty..... Continuity is important for this young squad

I think that our improvement, both on W-L and on the field performance, was stellar and better than expected. I expected around 2-3 wins...maayybe 4. Of course, there are many holes to fill, and a lot of improvement...at EVERY position, for FIU to reach what our coaches and we want. However, I do think Year 2 of MC to be ahead of my expectations...perhaps as much as almost one year "ahead" of time.

The way T.Y. played, and yes Ellingson as well, gives you a very solid 1-2 punch coming back next year. Mertile was ok for a freshman, and Frierson had a very good last couple of games, thus giving us glimpses of how good they could become. Obviuosly, Rolle was a major disappointment, and we still need some more firepower at the WR position, especially due to our spread offense system which lines up 3 and 4 WR's in almost every down....

All in all, we can expect "on the field" improvement, since our talent base should be improved, as well as our depth talent. I expect us to go .500 or above next season, which means I'm actually expecting FIU to win at least 5 conference games. Given this past season's success, it's the least improvement in terms of W-L you could expect.

Of course, every other team in the SBC is improving..and/or looking for ways to do so, as we don't live in a vacuum...however, given FIU's past season, there's no reason not to expect at least a one game improvement. And you guys know I'm very conservative in my expectations.

However, the improvement evident this season puts us in another level in terms of expectations. No...I'm not going to expect (at least publicly) FIU to win or play for the SBC crown next season, but at least a 6-6 overall record, and a 5-3 SBC record at least....

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