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A True "Golden" Panther

It's a bye week for FIU football. FIU hoops does not play again until the weekend and the FIU volleyball ladies are back on the court Saturday against Florida A&M. On Sunday, the volleyball team learns when and where it would play its first and second round games of the NCAA Tournament -- likely at either Florida State or at FIU.

So with a short break in FIU sports, I wanted to use this post to salute FIU media relations maven RichKelch Kelch, who after 31 years at the helm of FIU media relations, worked his last FIU home game on Monday night as the Panthers hoopsters played Murray State.

Rich started as a student-intern in early 1978 and was hired by FIU in July 1978 and has not stopped since making life a lot easier for the media.

Whether it was getting a player or coach on the phone at the last minute, printing out a football media guide when no media guides were going to be printed or handing out hot dogs at halftime, Rich was a tireless and outstanding asset for those who cover or covered FIU.

And even when he was understaffed at games and he was handing out food or doing stuff that many media relations heads should not be doing, Rich always did it with a smile. I would always say to him, "Rich, you shouldn't be doing that, get someone else to hand out the in-game box scores." His response was: "Pete, I'm getting my exercise in."

Rich has won 6 CoSIDA awards -- which is sort of the media relations version of the Heisman Trophy -- during his 31 years. It should have been a whole lot more, but FIU is not in a BCS conference and Rich's 40-yard dash time was a 6.3, which is 2 whole seconds slower than T.Y. Hilton -- so that probably worked against Rich's favor.

Rich also won FIU's Co-Employee of the Year in 1998. Just one question for those in charge of handing out that award at FIU........Where the hell are Rich's other Employee of the Year awards? 31 years and just one EOY award. C'mon!!

FIU should name all the press boxes at all FIU playing venues: the Rich Kelch Press Box and at the Bank name it Rich Kelch Press Row.

Like a lot of athletes, Rich will tell you it's not about the awards. But unlike a lot of athletes, Rich means what he says.

Many of you good people might not know Rich, because he works behind the scenes at the FIU games and does not diagram plays, throw a curveball or set a volleyball, but if you see him at FIU football's final home game on Dec. 5 at the Don Shula Bowl at FIU Stadium, then stand up and give Rich an ovation or a pat on the back, because he certainly deserves that and much more. 

Last year, FIU came out with its very popular "I Am FIU" campaign, but the university should re-work it for Rich,, because "FIU is Rich Kelch".

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw You good people got a 2-for-1 deal blog-wise yesterday and I was not able to get your pulse on the new FIU/Pitt football series. Tell us what you think and cast your vote below in the poll.

Q&A

FIU010: Pete, Please explain to me a few things.
1. Why is it that when I look to the sidelines at the FIU-UF game in Gainesville, I see our impressive coaching staff wearing the colors of the following schools (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Army, Central Florida, Cinci, Georgia, Houston, Iowa, Louisville, Missouri...) You get my point *BLACK* It is embarrassing that our coaching staff wears black and not Blue or Gold. Who makes these wardrobe decisions?
2. What was up with the play calling on two fourth and short attempts. An option...on the short side of the field...against one of the is not the fastest defense in the country!!!???
A Daunte Owens run up the gut with a defensive line that engulfs our sunbelt caliber O-line!!??
3. Lastly, Who does Antoine Walker think he is...I'm sorry wrong Antoine, I meant Antoine Watson. Does he realize that he maybe shouldn't shoot everytime he touches the ball? He is not 3-point sharp shooter like Antoine Walker haha but tried to be. .235 FG% & .200 3P% is unacceptable!.

PP: First of all, good job stomping on the floor at the Bank and leading the cheers at the basketball game on Monday night. Somebody had to get the wine & cheese crowd going. As for your questions:

1) The coaching staff makes wardrobe decisions. I'm sure if FIU was 8-3 instead of 3-8, then you'd be thinking black is the new blue & gold in fashion talk.

2) Not sure about that will ask after practice this week.

3) This basketball team has more issues than Watson's shooting. Without any height or depth this season, it could be a long season. It certainly does not help when you have to rely on the 3-pointer so much offensively, because when the team goes cold so does the opportunity for a W.

PANTERA NATION: Pete I don't know what do u think? Maybe we can have a little survey on this...With changing the nickname to PANTERAS, we wont have to change the logo plus we get to distinguish ourselves from all the other Panthers around.

PP: I don't like the PANTERAS nickname, but it's Thanksgiving and I'm thankful for your readership so I will put a poll question below the Pitt poll question to see what the rest of GPP Nation thinks.

Concerned B-Ball Fan: Pete this hiring is looking more and more like media hype for IT and FIU then it does about building the program. I was not expecting us to be this bad. Were you?

PP: Let's see no height, no depth, IT hired on Signing Day when all of the best recruits were already signed somewhere else and not much inherited talent, yeah, I was and am expecting a bad season from FIU hoops. IT has a 5-year deal. If it is a Marsh-like FIU team 3 or 4 years from now, then you may be right. But FIU was not going to compete for the Sun Belt this season.

Were you the same guy who told me in Gainesville that FIU should be embarrassed losing to Florida? Might be time for a reality check for you.

Aaapaw With 1 game left in the season, Fomenter has clinched the Win A GPP Blog extravaganza. There are 6 contestants left competing for the 2009 Sun Belt Football Media Guide. 

WIN A GPP BLOG WEEK 11 STANDINGS (Florida Atlantic/FIU scores due by Dec. 5 at 6:59 p.m. Eastern GPP Time)

11-0

Fomenter (155)

9-2

FIU0406 (177), NYCFIUFan (201)

8-3

CJ (194), BaltimorePanther (201), theINTERNATIONAL (210), Joel (213)

7-4

TheChampionUnderdog (194), FIU Fanatic (199), CrazyCane (259) 

5-6

SouthPaw (238)

4-7

FIUer (408)

GPP: 9-2, (171)


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Thank you for everything, Mr. Kelch! Awesome guy!

Golly... Rich is finally leaving. It truly is the end of an era at FIU.

I have to second Mr. Pelegrin here. Rich, besides being one of its nicest guys, is truly one of the unsung heroes at FIU Athletics. I can't think of another person there who put in the hours he did to make sure things ran smooth on game days or for the media crew, and who did it for as many years as he did. Unfortunately, most of you don't really get to see the behind-the-scenes stuff, but as someone who also saw some of it, I gotta agree with everything Pete said. Frankly, it's a wonder to me how Rich managed to get so much done on his own. Personally, I always thought he had a cloning machine stashed away somewhere. :)

The two coolest thing about Rich, though, had nothing to do with the work he did. At least, not to me. The first was all the help he gave me when I started calling games at WRGP. Frankly, I didn't know jack crap about calling games then; I never even thought of sports broadcasting until I was thrown into the Sports Director job. Anyway, Rich helped guide me through all the options available to me as a media member, occassionally gave me some advice on how to call games and, most importantly, did whatever he could do to get me and the other guys to call games, especially on the road. For those of you who heard (and still hear) WRGP doing FIU games on the road, you can thank Rich for that. He was the guy who did a lot of the leg work for us to get us on the air.

As for the second thing... he has the most extensive collection of FIU gear I've ever seen. And I mean old stuff, too, not just new. It's mind-boggling. I'm so jealous of all the stuff he has, it's not even funny.

Finally, Rich helped me out a lot once I left WRGP with landing a job in sports broadcasting, including giving me recommendation letters and, eventually, hiring me to do the PA for FIU games once Don Jackson left (the one year I did it). I wouldn't be where I'm at today without the guy. I'm sure there's lots of others who would say the same. And he never asked for anything in return.

Whoever's replacing him has big shoes to fill. Shaq-sized shoes.

Nice piece. I don't know Mr. Kelch, no reason to know him really, but from what I've read here I sure am thankful for good people like Rich Kelch and the many others that exceed expectations everyday outside of the spotlight. Just know you've likely contributed far more to our athletic programs over the years than many of our other "heralded" public figures who have come and gone.

Great post, Pete.

Rich is one of the nice guys out there for sure, and he'll be missed for sure. Sure wish he could stick around. I've gotta make sure I wish him good luck next time I see him.

Rich sounds like a great guy, wish there were more like him at the university. Quite a shame that hes leaving but hes been with us for more than 3 decades, its hard to ask for me than that. Great article Pete

Though I don't know Rich, I would like to thank him for all the work and the dedication he had for FIU.

Rich is a great guy who I worked closely with in the late 80's early 90's while I interned at FIU. I remember many road trips to TAAC schools with Rich as well as shooting the $%*^ with him in Dick Youngs office. We will miss him!

Wayne Rustad is the last of the SunBlazers left!!!!!

Enjoy your life Rich!

Wow...where to begin...I've been dreading this day since I found out the date of Rich leaving FIU.

I first met Rich when I worked for the Miami Herald in the late 90s when I would cover games here and there (when they would let me out of the office). Rich and I became friends and later he hired me as the Baseball SID in 2000 (I believe) the year that the baseball stadium was under construction and the games were being played in Homestead. (Fun times....wink wink).

After that season I was hired full time at the Herald and had to leave the baseball SID gig behind, but he got me to understand how hard that job really is...never an easy job for sure.

I would continue to cover FIU for the Herald whenever Pete couldn't get out there and always maintained a good or I would call it a great friendship with Rich.

About 3-4 years ago, I got a call from him asking if I would be interested in doing PA for the baseball team. (Since I had a friendship with Danny Price, I accepted on the spot). It was a fun first year and then that summer (I think after Clawing Cancer moved away) I got offered to do Football (final year of the OB) and Basketball.

Been there ever since and loving every moment.

Rich...wow I still can't believe it but it has been a great run and you will be missed. Still going to be weird not seeing you on Dec. 5 for the Shula Bowl or the next home basketball game on Dec. 31 for the men's team. Going to miss those talks we have and we still need to do lunch.

You deserve every accolade you have earned and much more than that like Pete mentioned. 31 years is an amazing accomplishment.

Have fun in your new life whereever it leads you and don't ever forget if you need anything at all my phone is always on.

Cheers to Rich....for everything you have done.

I remember Rich from when I worked at the Beacon in the early 90's. Very nice guy, very helpful.

Great volleyball article too.

Don't know Rich but if he's a friend of FIU, then he's a friend of mine.

Thank you for your service and dedication Mr. Kelch.

As always, Go Panthers!!

Sounds like Rich had a big impact on a lot of lives. Thanks Rich, for your great service.

The "Pantera" nickname gets two thumbs down. I could not imagine the amount of people ridiculing the fact that our mascot is actually a heavy metal band from the 90's.

Pantera = no way. If there was no heavy metal band named Pantera (as LonePanther mentioned), I'd like think it might be an OK idea, considering the heritage/ethnicity of the student and alumni base. But being that there's a band named Pantera, I would be pissed. And I personally don't mind their music. Would you want a school mascot named Metallicas or Coldplays or Lilwaynes? Extreme example, I know, but still.

I don't mind not being unique as the FIU Panthers. Unlike most schools with an animal mascot, we used to have that mascot roaming our campus (when it was the Everglades).

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving, even CC and Fomenter.

Thanks for the well wishes, same out to you. Everyone enjoy your Holiday (and the short week) and keep in mind our men and women overseas sacrificing so much for us to continue to be able to enjoy this wonderful country.

Rich a true friend and INCREDIBLE employee. My first EVER sporting event at FIU was in the mid 80's. I was a junior and said HELL, I'm paying for my student activities fee so I'm going to watch FIU play basketball. Drove to the arena and saw this man (Rich Kelch) putting fliers on cars promoting an up coming game. Got out, introduced myself and he gave me a flier and rest is HISTORY. I quickly became an FIU fan and saw this "Rich Kelch" guy ALWAYS working every game! I went with the team to Boise (FIU men's hoops in the Dance '95), Rich was there, Gainesville to follow the women’s team in the Dance, Rich was there, etc...

Rich, you are a true gentleman and friend. You will be greatly missed!

GO FIU!!!

Very true Fomenter, let us be thankful for the courageous men and women keeping our country safe. By the way, congratulations on winning the contest, looking forward to your blog.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving as well, including our good friend CC.

I'm with Pantera, I never saw him but if he's a friend of FIU and such an influence then he's got my vote as a class act. That and I really do respect the job Pete does with this blog. It's very accurate and he knows his stuff, I know it's tough since most people are still UM fans but those of us who are true panthers understand Pete's hard work. Thanks Pete for keeping me informed on FIU Athletics since I moved back home to NY.

Well, if there's someone I truly have admired and seen working hard and as a consumate professional over all the years I've been at FIU, it's Rich. No matter who the school president was, and who was one of the many AD's he's worked under, he has persevered and represented FIU as a beacon of class through all those years. I say this without fully knowing the intricacies of his job, , but by getting to meet and know Rich over the years, as a "customer" of FIU Ahtletics.

I remember when I moved into the new FIU dorms back in 1985, Kelch had a "phone-interview-info" with then D-II coach Rich Walker where he would set up a phone number with such info for (the very, very few) FIU basketball fans at the moment to call in and listen to the audio. I first saw him early on when FIU basketball played their games at Miami Christian HS (yes, believe it or not), and and MCCC-South as well. Always doing his job and working. I even had the pleasure of seeing him on several road trips I took with the men's hoops team, and must say his manners and professionalism were always present and prevalent.

I hope we had 1,000 more people like Rich at FIU as it would make us all feel special. Rich, thank you for all your work over all these years, and for your passion for what you do with such a professional attitude. Congrats on your retirement!!

Now, like some of the above mentioned, very happy thanksgiving to all, and dedicate a moment or two for those that have sacrificed..and still are...for the lifestyle and liberties we enjoy. That includes your parents, brothers, and those you don't even know.....God bless...

Trier of seeing all these cry baby fans. FIU offense has been pretty good with the fact that all 3 starting WR and starting QB and with about half of our RBs have been hurt and our O-line isn't there. The Whole defensive line is gone from last year and you wonder why we can't stop the run. If any of you so called fans have been to a game you would also see that MANY of our losses where winnable games. I would say that’s much better than 07 when we were getting blown out every other week. This program is young I mean my baby sister who is 10 is older than the FIU football program. So be patient if you want a winning program just wait. This team has talent yes but you would be a fool to think that our talent Level is so great that we should be just come out on Saturday and blow people out. To add to the fact that FIU you is weakest where you want to be the strongest at on a football team (O and D – lines) should add a little understanding. Hate Miami fans such band wagon fans.

I know FIU football has lost some games that they had and should have won, however answer this…. Before last season 5-7 record would this year been a disappointment or an improvement over 2007 one win season. This team can finish 4-4 in Sunbelt play this year, you know that is better than last year; better yet it will be the first time FIU has ever finish that high. Next time you go on a Rant about how much this team sucks think about the facts plus not like any of you are out there busting your rumps to put this program on the map, hell half of you don’t even support us.

tell em whats on your mind SOD! let the ppl know!

here is a question with the season windingin down.....

Are Troy/MTSU pulling away from the conference?

#1: I didnt know who Rich Kelch was prior to this blog article. But he sounds like he has done some magnificent stuff for FIU. Pete thanks for letting us know and I hope he sees the GPP thanking him for all he's done.

#2: Great article on our Volleyball team. It was very dobro. Its not football, but its FIU sports and it's great to see our ladies having such a great season.

#3: Maybe SOD is right. We have to understand that most of our starters have been injured throughout the season. But what I dont understand is why our "reserves" arent better prepared. Are the coaches not coaching them well? We have a deep receiving corps that do have talent. Guys like Marquis Rolle and Wayne Times can make plays. When TY and Ellingson went down those two guys should have stepped up. Times did to an extent. Of course he is a freshman so we cant expect much. Thats what makes a team good, when they can play well in spite of injuries.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! I am thankful that Joey #86 gets to come home tomorrow and spend thanksgiving w/us!!! GO Golden Panthers!

Great article on the Volleyball team Pete!
Mr. Kelch thanks for your work, Go FIU!!

Petey boy... I got some burning questions that I think some of the faithful want answered.

1) Is FIU planning on/doing anything special for Rich's retirement? I don't know about you guys, but I've seen long-time SID's at other schools get things named after them (usually press boxes and such). Any chance we see something similar for Rich? I think he deserves it, frankly. I'm not talking about a stadium or court, folks, for the record... personally, I'd name the press box at the football stadium after him. God knows, he's spent enough time in them.

2) I've heard that Akron and FIU have scheduled a home-and-home series in football. From what I understand, FIU goes to Akron in 2011 and the return trip for the Zips is TBD. Do you know anything about this, good sir?

Pete, I like to read the blog to keep up with the pulse of FIU programs, so I can talk about it in my Radio show, but I never post. However I have to this time.

Rich Kelch is one of the finest individuals I have met in my life. Always smiling, always positive, ALWAYS trying to do the best for FIU sports.

I've had the pleasure of dealing with Rich well over 25 years and never has his attitude changed. He is the real deal.

Since the days of the basketball team in the old barn, to the old baseball stadium (home plate was where right field is located now), Rich was the guy running (literally) the show.

If FIU would have had coaches and athletic directors with the same qualities of Rich I have no doubts our success rate would have been extremely different.

I have witnessed his work throughout the years. I presided over a couple of fundraising arms for the baseball program, (The Diamond Club), and basketball, (The Fast Break Club), and later on was the color commentator for all three major sports in Spanish.

For the readers of this blog, if you ever met Mr. Kelch you understand what I'm saying. For those that never did, you missed the opportunity to meet a great person.

Rich, go home, relax, you deserve it.

Chamby

Rich Kelch is FIU

I agree with all the glowing things that have been said about Rich Kelch. He's is quite possibly one of the most gracious and personable people I have ever met. He helped out my family tremendously after my father, an FIU photographer, passed away back in 2006. Whoever succeeds him has huge shoes to fill.

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