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All Hail Vanessa

Vanessa Happy New Year to all and happy new decade as well as we enter the 2010s.Hny

The coordinator interviews continue as your Panthers are in the process of finding new defensive and offensive coordinators. More on that in a second. But first, a nice start to the new year for Golden Dazzler Vanessa.

One of our GPP readers e-mailed me some links with a couple of features regarding Vanessa.

In mid-October, Vanessa was selected as Sports Illustrated's Cheerleader of the Week. As SI's Cheerleader of the Week, the magazine/website shot a photo gallery of Vanessa which ended up being one of the most visited pages on the Sports Illustrated website this past year. If you haven't visited her gallery on si.com, then click here: Vanessa's photo gallery

Vanessa was also selected by Coed Magazine as one of "66 Women Who Wowed 2009". You can check out Vanessa and the other 65 notable women of 2009 by clicking here: 66 Women Who Wowed 2009

Now to the potential coaches that hope to wow the FIU defense in 2010. The defensive coordinator interviews are still ongoing this week. With the offensive coordinator interviews expected to begin at some point next week.

Besides the coaches mentioned in the previous football post on the GPP: Illinois's Dan Disch, Kansas's Clint Bowen, Akron's Jim Fleming and Vince Okruch, there are a few other candidates joining the interview process for the open DC job: former Western Kentucky head coach David Elson, William & Mary defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and Central Florida linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Geoff Collins.

This is just a preliminary list of potential DCs. There might be several more to get into the mix, especially with some teams still preparing for bowl games. We'll have to wait and see.

You can check out each of the 7 coaches' bios and coaching experiences at their team's website or by typing the coach's name at google.com.

Read up on the first 7 DC candidates to emerge and vote in our poll:


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MC should get Shannon Dawson from Stephen F. Austin as the OC. THis guy is the real deal. Has turned that schools offense around dramatically. Him and Dana Holgerson (which UM should hire as OC) from Houston run the same offense as Texas Tech, but they add their own twist to it... He is a young coordinator on the rise, exactly what FIU needs. Plus an exciting offense puts fans butts in the seats.

c-UM, great spot on Shannon Dawson. Aside from a few sub-par performances, his team seemed quite good this year and last, and his offense posted some great numbers. I am very fond of FCS guys. They don't get to recruit the greatest talent, and there is an awful lot of parity in the FCS, so a team's success at that level has a lot more to do with coaching than it does with recruiting.

Well, I don't have much to say about the others. But, having covered the MAC this year (and Akron in particular)... Jim Fleming or Vince Okruch would be a pretty good get for FIU.

Akron had a terrible year, but it wasn't usually because of the defense. Those kids played inspired ball all season long; it reminded me at times of FIU's 2006 D that consistenly had to play crazy good because the O was so freakin' terrible. Akron's O wasn't that bad, but they had a lot of injuries and ended up starting 3 quarterbacks before the season was done. The D often kept them in the game well after they should've been out of it.

And, for those of you placing a premium on the new DC developing young talent... you should check out what LB Brian Wagner did this year for Akron: 132 total tackles, 7 of those for loss, a sack, two picks, two fumble recoveries. And that's coming from a true freshman who started from day one. He was also a freshman All-American and, to be totally honest, should've been first-team all-MAC. He got hosed big time there.

About the only real problem Akron's D has is that they got criticized for employing the 3-3-5 and for not making many adjustments at halftime. But, to be fair, JD Brookhart (the head coach) insisted on the 3-3-5 D the entire time he was in charge at Akron, so that might not be on Fleming or Okruch. Under a different coach with a different scheme, who knows?

Incidentally... Fleming's son, Will Fleming, is also at Akron and rumor there has that he'll be transferring to wherever his dad goes. Supposedly, he's a pretty good LB. He stands 6'4 220 and had 26 tackles in limited action as a true freshman. Rumor also has it that Wagner is thinking of transferring, but personally, I don't think that'll happen.

In any case, I think Fleming would be a solid choice. It's always nice to have a guy with solid out-of-state ties, and Ohio's not a bad area for recruiting. He's also a pretty intense dude, from what I've heard.

I guess Okruch would be good, too... he's got a lot of DC experience and some HC work. On a coaching staff that lacks a lot of gray hairs, he's a guy who's been around a long time and probably can provide that veteran influence. But he's also been sort of a nomad in his career, and I'm not sure that'd be a great fit for FIU in the long run. He can develop talent, though, as can Fleming.

If I had my way, though... I'd bring Tiger Clark back. I know that won't happen, though. Too bad. FIU could use the guy, I think.

CC, you're right on the money. Thanks for your in depth analysis of the MAC. I totally agree with you on Tiger coming back. He was the only defensive coach who has been successful everywhere he's coached. Also a mentor to the best linebacker corp in our history, Bouie, Bostic and Barnes.

It’s a shame MC ran him out of town in favor of Galiano, who every time he opens his mouth is to praise Rutgers' program and HIS INPUT in it.

My take is that MC would not bring anybody that could out stage him.

Thanks for your insight and comments on both of the Akron coaches, CC. Very interesting indeed. Seems like a variety of good options we are looking into, with advantages that each of them have to offer.

I think Geoff Collins from UCF is the guy...

He's definitely a dark horse candidate in the race, having less coordinator experience at the FBS level, but so far it looks as if he has excelled wherever he has gone, and he just might be what FIU's defense needs for a number of reasons. UCF's defense finished first in the C-USA in overall defense and was THIRD IN THE NATION when it came to stopping the run, allowing just 82.5 yards per game on the ground.

But one of the things that stood out about Coach Collins was his stint as defensive coordinator at the FCS level with Western Carolina from 2002-2005, where he took a team that was a mess defensively and turned it into one of the best defenses at the I-AA (now FCS) level. In his second year at the school, the West Carolina rush defense ranked 14th nationally and then in 2004, his defense allowed 301.91 yards per game, which was the 12th lowest in the country.

When he was the director of player personnel at Alabama before joining the UCF staff, he helped bring in arguably the best recruiting class in the country.

Nick Saban had this to say about Collins when UCF hired him as a linebackers coach: "Geoff did a fantastic job for us during his time at the University of Alabama. This is a great opportunity for him as well as a great hire for UCF. They are getting a guy who knows college football, works hard each and every day, and does it with a tremendous amount of entusiasm and positive energy."

He's young, he's hungry, he has experience at a number of different coaching positions and has had success at each stop. This is a guy that seems ready to be a defensive coordinator at the FBS level, and why not at FIU? He knows how to stop the run and he knows how to recruit. He has connections to Florida (UCF), has been involved at established programs (Alabama, Georgia Tech), and knows how to rebuild a defense (Western Carolina).

From what I've read, and take it for what it's worth, this guy seems to be a perfect fit for FIU.

PP wrote that the Athletic Office reads this column daily.

Hello Athletic Office,

The decision is simple for me - 25 years experience or don't apply for the OC or DC job. Each new Coordinator should be able to bring in 2 position coaches - with at least 5 years experience as a position coach at the FBS level. We have a young inexperienced HC. We need an OC and a DC with experience - and they should be given complete freedom to design the offense and design defense. They should also select the offense and defense play calling. If a coach doesn't understand something discuss it after the game, not on the sidelines. We are paying MC over $400,000 to learn how to be a head coach. PG should hire experienced teachers.

The only think we ask in exchange for our contribution to the football program is an Experienced, Profession, Coaching Staff.

Thank you,


Here's the forumula for success for FIU football:


1. RECRUIT - This is where MC should focus most of his time. That's his core competency and he can grow into being a great coach his career develops over time;

2. RETAIN - this is the part that has been missing so far to date in MC's tenure. We are NOT retaining our best recruits. This is both the job of MC and Pete Garcia. So far they get a D- for the job they've done in this important area. For example: Devin Parrish, Kambriel Willis, A.J. Grant, Ricky Booker, Bryan Mann, Edgar Theliar, etc. None of these guys have made an impact, and most never saw the field.

3. TRAIN - in other words, taking talented kids and coaching them UP. Being able to DEFEAT more talented teams by OUTCOACHING them. This should be the job of the OC and DC and all of the other assistant coaches. This has been where we have failed miserably do date. I can't think of a single game where we've outcoached our opponent and beat someone we weren't supposed to.

If we don't do all three, we won't ever get to our goals of being a consistent top 25 team and moving up in conferences when the opportunity arrives. That's why these next to coaching hires are so important and will essentially determine whether MC succeeds as a head coach or not. I hope he does.

I can't believe the "All Hail Vanessa" blog post had generated soo much quality analysis and input from the FIU blogging community.

FIU should put some of you guys on their staff to do recon and intel. I'm not being sarcastic. This is good stuff.

I'm not nearly as well read as many of you on the coordinator candidates and am excited about the current DC prospect list (haven't seen anything on the OC). In my simple mind, there's only one place for this defense to go and that's up. How far up will depend on the quality of the new hire.

College Football Gods, please smile down on FIU and bring us outstanding coordinators. Amen.


Thanks, gpantera. Nice to be appreciated. Wish I knew more about the other candidates, so I could give a better opinion on who FIU should get, but I figured I'd throw in my .02 on two guys I did know something about. For what it's worth, I guess I should also mention that the majority of Zips fans were hoping their new HC would retain both Fleming and Okruch... at least, that's going off what I read on their fan board. They were two of the few assistants on Brookhart's staff who weren't getting trashed left and right. I don't know if that's worth much, but it is what it is.

In any case, whoever FIU gets, they better be the right guys. I don't think MC will survive if he messes up either of these hires again. Also, like most of you, I definitely think he needs to get coordinators who have experience and let them do their thing on O and D. MC is a recruiter, and he's pretty good at that. There's nothing which says head coaches need to be good at everything. Getting guys who have the experience MC does not in running offenses and defenses would be a very prudent move on his part. In that sense, I'm sad to see Legg leave. I thought he did a damn good job this year with the O considering the injuries and the crap O-line play. I would've liked to see what he could do with Carroll under center, a healthy TY and (hopefully) some semblance of a O-line that can pass and run block.

I'm convinced the talent is there to win the SBC this year... except on the lines. If this latest recruiting class doesn't include a bunch of buffet-busters, I will be very disappointed. Which, by the way, is a good argument to get someone like Fleming or Okruch... they both have solid connections in Ohio and other parts of the midwest. Lots of good buffet-busters prowl those areas. It's one area they can arguably compete with Florida in.

With all the talk about a new DC, obviously some of us have our favorites and all candidates are very strong and bring a much greater wealth of experience than our last one, what are the thoughts on OC.

I know it might sound crazy, but take Leach away from a position of power and I think he could make an amazing OC, especially now that no program will touch him.

Not a bad idea JulesFIU007. I don't want to hear the "purists" nor the administration say Leach brings "baggage".

Isiah Thomas makes Mike Leach a choir boy and his hiring would bring more publicity to the university than anything before. Imagine ESPN 24/7 on Campus. Pete Garcia would be walking on air.

However I don't think MC would be able to handle it.

This could be the greatest hire ever at FIU. I even have a hiring campaign name.


Leach would be amazing!

Realistically I think UCF (Collins) would also be the best pickup. From what I have read he is not the most prestige's or even the most experienced coach, but he has THREE big things going his way:
1) He has proven that he can coach a Top 25 Defense in the nation in a school that is not a power house.
2) He can RECRUIT!
3) He young, and full of energy! He might even bring a little swagger to the team (like 2006 defense)..

Go Golden Panthers!

I tend to agree with CC a lot and he makes a good case for the Akron guys. The fact that there are two potential candidates from that team alone makes me guess that it's most likely going to be one of those guys to get the job.

In the end, I voted for the UCF guy. His resume probably does not have the same meat as some of the other names on the list, but you can't bet against someone who excels at their job.

Leach would be pretty cool, but MC would never go for that. In fact, a hire like Leach for OC could very well be the first step in replacing MC.

Oh, and Vanessa is gorgeous!!! It's impressive and somewhat surprising that she made that 66 Women that Wowed list. Those are mostly big name stars!

There is a 0% chance that leach comes to FIU. Leach is very arrogant and would never go for that. He would take a Div 1-AA(or whatever its called now) HC job before a D1 coordinator job.

Back to what i wrote about Dawson earlier and someone posting how they like how those type of guys get it done without the best players... This offense is also very successful due to the fact that it reduces the skill level needed by the position players. That is why Dawson went into a poor Milsaps team and turned their offense around ASAP and then did the same for a Stephen F Austin team that had not done well the previous few seasons. All this offense pretty much needs is receivers that can catch the ball, track stars are not required but are always a plus, and a QB that can throw the ball 50 yds (A+ arm strength is not required).

c-UM it is worth a shot, especially if we don't go 6-6 next season.

I know you guys are going to dislike this, but lets fire Marion and hire Leach.

We have the reputation of being the refugee school, from people who have to leave their countries to start a new life, etc.
Lets hire the refugee coaches, we already started with Isiah.
I know most people like the homeboy but Mario hasn't done much in 3 years with the program, he might be a nice guy and a good position coach and recruiter, but he is over his head as head coach.

So...the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced Vanessa should be my girlfriend!

Jim Zorn now available for the open OC position.

Baltimorepanther, I think once people get beyond the shock factor of it, the fact is that Leach is an offensive genius, a great recruiter, and a great coach. I am not saying bring him in as the head coach, but why not try and get someone that no one will touch as our OC? We need to use this scandal to our advantage.

can we hire Vanessa as our OC?

Regardless of who we get it will be an upgrade to what we had for the last 2 seasons.. I think all the canidates that Pete mentioned are pretty good at least on paper, but the Florida connection that Coach Collins has can become priceless. Remember Recruiting is 50% of the coaching.. Im assuming he has good connection not only in South Florida, but in Orlado as well..

Pete who are the OC Canidates and is there one that is a front runner?

Go FIU!!

Actually Roary, I think Vanessa should be both our offensive and defensive coordinator. She'd be quite the distraction on both sides of the ball.

FAU owns FIU on many levels and in many sports.

BUT when it comes to Dance teams, FIU blows us away HANDS down.

She is truly beautiful.

Have a safe and happy new year Kittys. See you on the Hardcourt!

There's Footbal in Paradise.

same to you, fan of the ugly little birds.

Not that it matters much, but....facts disprove the notion expressed above, as FIU actually "owns" FAU...well actually, "lead" is a better word, in most sports both teams compete...obviously not in football. In other "levels", I doubt FAU owns anything from FIU, other than being a bit older institution......

Lets just get Vanessa to do the recruiting. We'll be national champs next year.


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