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Kenny Dillard: My Name On The Side Of The Stadium

The FIU hoops team is on a nice little run having won 3 of its last 4 games with North Texas visiting The Bank on Thursday. The Golden Panthers are aiming for a top 8 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament, because the SBC's Nos. 4-8 teams would host a first round tournament game.

Should FIU have a scorching finish to the season and end up one of the SBC's top 3 teams, it would get Kd a first round bye and not play until the second round in Arkansas.

Hoops is doing well now and so is FIU football recruiting. Had a chance to talk with future Panther linebacker Kenny Dillard (middle No. 44 forcing a fumble) the other day and the current Northwestern linebacker had plenty to say....

GPP: So what did you know about FIU before committing and what did you like about the school and program?

KD: I watched some of the Panthers games last season and no matter whether they were up or down what I noticed was that they were always fired up to play football. They played good football especially after not having a good season the year before. FIU is a nice school, big school. The coaches know what they are doing and they're easy to talk to. The stadium is great. I played my high school playoff games there. It can get loud there.

GPP: When did FIU offer you a scholarship? 

KD: It was right after the Central game in which I had 13 tackles. I think that was the game that got me a scholarship to FIU. We had lost to Central earlier in the season and this time the rematch was a playoff game at FIU. The Central players were talking a lot of trash. I was fired up before the game, but the trash talking fired me up even more. I like it when the other team talks trash.

GPP: Are you a talker on the field?

KD: Yeah, I talk, but I bring it on every play just like the rest of my teammates. We held 2 of the best running backs in the county to less than 100 yards this year. Lamar Miller of Killian got like 50 yards on us in the first half, but our defense said he wasn't going to get any more in the second half and we held Ag him to 76 total yards. Same goes with Jakahri Gore of Columbus he got 43 yards in the first half against us and he only got 10 yards in the second half.

GPP: Besides opponents talking trash, what else motivates you?

KD: You know what I liked the most when I went to FIU is seeing Gaitor (left) and T.Y.'s banners hanging from the side of FIU Stadium. I would like to see my name and picture on one of those banners on the side of FIU Tywk Stadium right next to Gaitor and T.Y. (right) That motivates me and that should motivate every player that becomes a Panther.

GPP: Can the experience of all that winning at Northwestern help you at FIU?

KD: Winning championships taught me a lot at Northwestern. It taught me how hard it is to win one and I want to bring that same winning attitude and work ethic to FIU.

GPP: You know FIU already has the Booker T. 4 in Jonathan Jackson, Kambriel Willis, Franklin Brown and Winston Fraser. FIU could have the Northwestern 4 in Anthony Gaitor, yourself, Wayne Times and Daquan Hargrett if he joins you guys at FIU. These 8 players would make for a pretty good pick-up football game in a sandlot somewhere. Who would win?

KD: We beat Booker T. earlier this year 31-29 and we would have blown them out 38-0 if it was the 5th or 6th game of the season. So we'd probably do the same if we played 4 on 4.


blkpanther: Hey Pete, I have a suggestion Since off season conditioning has started, and spring ball is a few months away can you have an interview with the strength coach so we can get an idea of how the redshirt freshmen are coming along and how he plans to try and get guys that come in the summer acclimated to his program.

GPP: Sure will see if Rod Moore wants to visit the GPP and talk weight room.

Ultimate FIU Fan: Pete, C. Cancer is a clever soul; however it was I who thought up the exorcism idea (lol!).  I know in 2006-07 we were bad, however 1-20? We had more victories, maybe Pete can answer that one. How about it Pete, what was our real and official record on 2006-07?

GPP: Missed that one UFF, here's your Linda Blair (right). In 2006-07, FIU hoops was 12-17 and a solid 9-4 atLbex Lb home.

Quijote: Did anyone read Pete's article in the Herald about our baseball team having the nation's 16th best recruiting class, ahead of UM's class which was ranked 19th?!

GPP: Actually, it was FIU No. 15 and across town was No. 17. Will have TT on the GPP next week.

CJ: Pete you have any updates on how this past weekends recruiting visits went?

GPP: I've left messages with the recruits and their high school coaches and I'm waiting to hear back.


Although FIU is some time away from making a move to another conference, Gooch7 posed an interesting question in the last blog regarding the future conference for your Panthers. The thought here is that the ideal move for FIU would be to the Big East.

But FIU would first need to win some Sun Belt championships in several sports and draw consistenly solid crowds to make a case for such a move. Because of FIU being situated in Miami, it would not surprise to see FIU football and baseball get to BE levels the quickest of the 3 major sports. With the BE being such a traditional hoops conference, it might be the most difficult for the hoops teams. The volleyball and tennis programs are on their way.

Keeping in mind this will take some time, what are your thoughts about this:



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Nice blog....Since they put up those banners, I always thought that was a great recruiting tool for potential Panthers, going to The Cage to watch an FIU game, or playing High School ball there...Great to see Dillard got some motivation to attend FIU and perform from those...

Welcome home to FIU, Kenneth!!

Welcome aboard, Kenny!! September just can't come soon enough!! And men's basketball is definetly playing good basketball right now, hopefully they can keep it going on Thursday at 'The Bank' haha I like that!

The Big East should be the end game for us; it's a BCS conference, it'll get us more national exposure, a rivalry with USF could develop, and I truly believe we can win there! The only thing that worries me is basketball. For now, we should focus on dominating the Sun Belt. And who knows? Maybe we can help pull the conference out of the depths and into the national spotlight in football!

Plus, our rivalry with FAU just got kicked up several notches this past season... I wouldn't mind having some fun and beating them up from here on out and having them watch us win consecutive Sun Belt Championships. I could definetly live with that!!

Lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Yes FIU had a remarkable turnaround from 1-11 to 5-7 but besides those three non-conference losses, the Golden Panthers fell to Troy, ULM, Louisiana and FAU.
Before even getting into a Big East Conference move discussion, FIU needs to establish themselves and it starts by beating those teams next year. A Sun Belt conference championship certainly is in the realm of possibility with the returning letterman and another impressive recruiting class.
But putting that aside, if FIU continues it progression the ideal move would be to the Big East and a great newfound rivalry with USF would be intriguing considering that the Golden Panthers seem to always find a way to play them tough.

Kenneth - looking fwd to seeing you work in a G-Panther uniform. Welcome.

Pete, thank you for feeding us. We were starvin' for info. Always looking fwd to your latest blog.

Go G-Panthers!

a move to the ACC would be AWESOME, but god knows thats never going to happen. but it would be awesome to play FSU, Va Tech and MIAMI every year. to play NC and Duke in basketball every year. Awesome!!!

but realistically the big east is our best shot at a BCS conference. i guess a rivalry with USF and Pitt wouldnt be too bad....

Why would FIU want to move to the Big East Conference for baseball? The Sun Belt is consistently ranked ahead of the Big East in Conference RPI ratings in baseball. This past season, in fact, was the only season in which the two conferences have been close - due mainly to the down year for some of the programs.

I agree with the most of us that the Big East is the most logical move. But I don't think this move will/should happen for another 4 years. As LMessina said we need to start winning championships first.

Mario keep up the good work recruiting!! And someone PLEASE give us some information.

I have a different take on it. Remember, this is WAY DOWN THE LINE, as in MANY, MANY YEARS from today. I know the Big East is a BCS conference, however it has lost some of its luster since they lost Miami & VA Tech. So would the Big East be an upgrade, yes, just like going from Single A ball to Triple A ball. The Major Leagues of conferences are the SEC & ACC.

Since dreaming is free, I would prefer the SEC because there is only ONE SEC school in Florida, while my second option is the ACC because of the natural rivalry with Miami and eventually FSU.

Pete is it true that Souto is starting Thur.? Please say yes!


welcome aboard Kenny.

cant wait to see you bust some heads for years to come!

Kenny... great to hear you are enthusiastic i cant wait to see you in the blue and gold.. (minimal gold as some would say) lol as for the Move... me personally w/ the way things are headed the BCS will soon be taken down and a tourney will soon arise so we can crown a real national champion.... so i say .. maybe not the most popular but i say we concentrate on getting the Sunbelt to become a stronger conference as a whole in all its athletic sports...

I think a move to the Big East for Football only is our best/only shot. We play C-USA for futbol and would keep Baseball, Hoops and V-ball in the Sun Belt; those are very competitve conferences for those sports.

If the Big East ever decides to expand, we would still face heavy competition from C-USA teams like UCF (though I don't think USF likes them too much) as well as FAU and some other Belt schools.

I think a football only invite is the most we could hope for. Check out Big East hoops, they've got 16 teams and 1/2 of them are in the top-25.

IF and only IF it is a Football only Move down the road 3 or 4 yrs from now.. ill be for it.. but i do not think it will be allowed ... i mean i dont know all the rules but .. i think you would have to shift in a few sports right?

Schedules seem to be set until 2013 for SBC and out of conference play. I think 2014 is the soonest FIU could move out the SBC.

I can guarantee that all the BIG EAST football coaches would be up for playing an away game in Miami, Florida. Gives them a chance to showcase their program and meet with recruits.

Remember it's not all about the sports played on the field. Behind the scenes, any conference officials would be foolish not to explore the inclusion of an institution of the likes...eg FIU.

The issue of our attendance even if sub-par is corrected almost immediately if we were to move to the BIG EAST, with homes games against Rutgers, Cincy, WVU, Louisville, USF, Pitt and UConn.

The BIG EAST would need to add 2 teams for this to happen. If FAU is consistent and gets that stadium built, don't count them out. Big East could bascially OWN the tri-county area.

As someone mentioned earlier, they could give UCG the virtual finger.

CAUTION!! Dumb question ahead, I know UCG has to do something with UM but what does it mean, and how it came about?

UCG means University of Coral Gables. Coral Gables is where the University of Miami. PP came up with it because FIU is also in Miami and many consider it THE university of the city of Miami as 1 out of 2 graduates have a degree from FIU.

hey i just found out that FIU is pulling the Marching band!!! WTF what the hell are we suppose to do at halftime

Gotta disagree on a couple of points being made here.

1) If a conference move were to happen, it could happen a lot sooner than 2013. Things like "the schedule being set" are not set in cases like this. Remember when Miami moved out of the BE to the ACC? They basically left all of their scheduling in the dust, as did VaTech and Boston College. If FIU grows very quickly in both program stature and attendance, they could get past problems like that a lot faster than you'd think.

2) Attendance is a VERY big deal in any conference move. FIU has to prove they can draw before serious consideration will be given. No conference will automatically assume you will start drawing once you're in because you're in their conference, and I would think that applies most of all to the Big East in FIU's case. This is the same conference where Miami used to be, and the Canes had issues selling out home games against conference opponents, even when the opponents and Miami were ranked and on national TV. And Miami, at the time, was the only real game in town for college football. FIU will have to battle the 'Canes for fans and media interest. Unless they can prove they can hold a significant fan base (or at least have consistent home sell-outs for a number of years), no way does FIU move to the BE or any other BCS conference.

3) It's possible FIU could do Big East for football only, but they'd probably have to find another conference for the rest of their sports. I don't see the Sun Belt allowing FIU (or any other school) to stay if they take their football team out of the conference. The SBC is trying to establish themselves in football. That's the reason why FAU was invited in and why they pressured FIU and WKU to move their programs up from I-AA. Allowing a school to move their football team somewhere else is going to totally undermine the rest of the SBC football schools, and I don't think they'll allow that to happen.

That's one of the biggest reasons why I see FIU in C-USA rather than the Big East. I think they'd be more willing to accept FIU as they stand. I kind of doubt the Big East would allow such a weak sister with such poor facilities into their basketball league, especially since they are arguably the best college basketball conference in the NCAA. That conference is basketball-first and probably always will be. FIU has to at least have suitable facilities and not completely suck at hoops for the BE to consider taking them in like they did with Miami.

Personally, I'd love to see the BE expand in football to 12 and take FIU, FAU and UCF. That'd give them a very strong presence in Florida and would give all the other schools even more inroads into the state's recruiting base. But FAU and FIU have to get remarkably better as programs, in attendance and with their facilities before that's even remotely possible.

FIU is the new improved U.

thank you for the response.

CJ where did you hear about them pulling the marching band?? That's horrible!!

We can rotate local high school bands to play at our home games. Another way to draw "new" fans from within the community to examine our football program.

Book 2 or 3 bands for each home game, have 'em sit together, learn our fight song and add some of their unique flavor.

The Dade/Broward game "Dade band" I assume may have been a compilation of kids from different schools was "awesome" they battled their Broward counterparts from across Traz Powell and mannnnnn it was loud.

Just an idea to explore. Bands are a part of college football. This must be another casualty of the on-going budget crisis.

i heard this from a friend of mine.. he works w/ the athletic dept if im not mistaken

Losing the band would be absolutely horrible, you are not big time college football without a band! Please say it isn't so!

Please just shut the heck up regarding ANY "da U" references...for the love of God.

Let's keep this an FIU only blog.

Is anyone intersted in winning the Sunbelt, say at least ONCE, before we fuel the unfounded Big East talk?

I agree with gpantera, drop the conference talk. We need to win the Sun Belt a few times before we get any type of invite.

If the news of the band is true, that truly is horrible news. I always thought that they should make it mandatory for all music majors to at least be a part of the band for 2 years. Pete, can you confirm the band rumor?

KEN!!!!!! Welcome!!! You just made this class of recruits more exciting

First thing is first, we are prime real estate for the BIG EAST. The BIG EAST would benefit so much from FIU, cause its in miami. I think joining the BIG EAST would also bring back our rivals 6 miles to the east or UCG and make an annual "dade bowl". As for basketball it would be awesome!! To see FIU get on ESPN going against PITT or Syracuse. As for baseball we will have to move down cause the sunbelt is better in baseball but you have to keep in mind, football and basketball are the sports you see on sports center. I would also like to pitch a "Golden rivalry jersey" or something to pump up specific games. It would be awesome to see a new tradition. Pete and Mario, you guys are working wonders and really happy with your work! GO!! PANTHERS!!!

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I'm all about the Golden Panther rah rah rah, but please, let's be just a little realistic. gpantera summed it up excellently when he pointed out that we haven't even won the Sun Belt, what makes us think we can compete in the Big East? Furthermore, as has been mentioned, the Big East hangs its hat on basketball and that alone would be enough to keep FIU out of the discussion. I've been to FIU basketball games and I've been to Big East basketball games (beyond USF, their bball team is horrendous). They're not even in the same league; the atmosphere and facilites at an FIU game make it seem like high school when compared to the 16-team mega-conference which hosts its tourney at Madison Square Gardens.

Furthermore, no one can disagree that one of FIU's most succesful sports is baseball. No league (read: the Sun Belt) is going to let us stay part of their conference while we go flirt with some other league for football. As far as I know, there's only one school that can pull that off and don't let the colors fool you, we're no Notre Dame. Instead of fantasizing about getting walloped in the Big East or CUSA we should be focused on winning in the Sun Belt and bringing the level of play in that conference up to a respectable level.

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