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FIU View From Around The Sun Belt

Nine writers that cover the 9 Sun Belt Conference football teams organized a conference preseason pollSbc with predictions for each team.

Here's the final SBC preseason poll and what each writer thinks of FIU's chances this coming season with each writer's predicted finish for FIU. My rankings are below all this:


Voted on by nine newspaper beat writers, one per school, and created independent of the Sun BeltHel Conference.

Team    Votes
1. Middle Tennessee (6) 78
2. Troy (3) 75
3. Louisiana  58
4. Florida Atlantic 48
5. FIU     44
6. ULM 38
7. Arkansas State    32
8. North Texas  22
9. Western Kentucky 10
* First-place votes in parenthesis.

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year — Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year — Jamari Lattimore, Middle Tennessee


MTSU beat writer
The Daily News Journal
(Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

5. FIU
With games against Rutgers, Texas A&M, Maryland and Pittsburgh to start the season, FIU could be pretty good but still be 0-4. I think FIU will be the most unpredictable team in the league, but I’ve still got a hunch that FAU is better.


Troy beat writer
Dothan Eagle
(Dothan, Ala.)

4. FIU
The Golden Panthers have recruited plenty of talent over the past few years. It’s time for that talent to talk the talk.


ASU beat writer
Jonesboro Sun
(Jonesboro, Ark.)

7. FIU
Same old Florida International.


FAU beat writer
South Florida SunSentinel
(Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)

6. FIU

Coach Mario Cristobal brought in new offensive and defensive coordinators to try and squeeze more out of the talent on the roster. If they don’t, he could be gone.


UNT beat writer
Denton Record Chronicle
(Denton, Texas)

5. FIU

It looked like FIU was ready for that breakout season last year, but finished 3-9. With T.Y. Hilton back and maybe the best recruiting class in the league coming in, this could be the year the Golden Panthers get to .500. FIU will have to improve defensively to get there.


ULL beat writer
The Daily Advertiser
(Lafayette, La.)

5. FIU

Good luck predicting how the Golden Panthers will do in 2010. Coach Mario Cristobal was poised for a breakout year but won only three games in '09. WR T.Y. Hilton is a stud but needs a quarterback to get him the ball.


ULM beat writer
The News Star
(Monroe, La.)

6. FIU

The Golden Panthers put up a lot of hype last preseason only to produce a mediocre season, therefore it is difficult to give too much optimism this season with the entire offense left to rebuild.


WKU beat writer
Daily News
(Bowling Green, Ky.)

5. FIU

Intense early schedule with a new quarterback could cause some early issues for FIU. Always one of the more athletic squads in the league, the Golden Panthers need to start turning athleticism into victories.


FIU beat writer
Miami Herald

Offensive Player of the Year — Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee
Defensive Player of the Year — Jamari Lattimore, Middle Tennessee

1. Middle Tennessee
Dwight Dasher is the most electrifying player in the conference and the key to a potent offense. Despite losing Chris McCoy, the Blue Raiders should be fine defensively led by Jamari Lattimore. Middle should unseat Troy for the conference crown.

2. Troy
The Trojans have plenty of offense to defend their Sun Belt crown. 2009 Sun Belt Player of the Year Levi Brown is a big loss, but DuJuan Harris and Shawn Southward returning at running back and Jerrel Jernigan at receiver will keep the Troy offense humming. Although, it won’t be enough to knock off the Blue Raiders.

3. FIU
The Panthers could be in the top 3 in the league or somewhere in the middle of the pack. A lot will depend on their offensive and defensive lines. FIU has plenty of talented skill players on offense and speed to burn. New defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has turned around defenses everywhere he’s coached.

4. Florida Atlantic
FAU will not have to break in a new quarterback despite the loss of Rusty Smith to the NFL. Jeff Van Camp filled in admirably last season. Explosive running back Alfred Morris is back and the Owls always seem to hang around the Sun Belt race.

5. ULM
Running back Frank Goodin should help new coach Todd Berry in his first season. Berry should bring a new look to the offense. Despite losing linebacker Cardia Jackson, the Warhawks should play gritty defense and are solid on both lines.

6. Louisiana
The Cajuns should be ranked higher up, but for some reason have underachieved recently. Plenty of starters return and sophomore running back Yobes Walker should have another strong season. Quarterback Chris Masson and the passing game need to step up and balance the offense.

7. Arkansas State
The Red Wolves lost a ton of talent, including defensive stalwart Alex Carrington and quarterback Corey Leonard. Someone else will have to emerge at running back with the departure of Reggie Arnold.

8. North Texas
North Texas’s big question mark is who will play quarterback after Riley Dodge moved to receiver. Coach Todd Dodge and new offensive coordinator Mike Canales have to find a reliable signal caller or the Mean Green will struggle moving the ball. Running back Lance Dunbar will help move the chains. If UNT doesn’t improve defensively it could be competing with Western Kentucky to stay out of the SBC basement.

9. Western Kentucky
The Hilltoppers will struggle again, but with a little luck and an improved defense they could be knocking on North Texas’s door to avoid last place



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ASU can kiss my ass...yes I own a donkey, kiss it Roberson. Your wife/sister can kiss it too.

FIU can finish anywhere between 1st and 4th its kind of a crapshot. Really dont know what to expect with all the new coordinators, new players, and transfers.

If we don't win the SunBelt this year, the season will be a disappointment. FIU is once "again" coming back with their best team ever, now its time to have our best season ever.

That guy from ASU is idiot...still better about HiltonHeave.

I agree with Quijote...time to win Sun Belt. Too much talent to go 3-9.

I wish I can agree with Quijote and FIUJM but I dont think we will be winning the SBC "this" year. Are we getting closer to a Championship team? Absolutely! I think if Football learns just a little from the Girls Volleyball team and our Baseball team then we might have a very good season. I love the underdog wins, and other then for 2 or 3 games we will always be the underdog.. Pete great idea and I can't wait!
Here is my little break down:

Start the season: 1-3 (non conference games)
Sunbelt: 5-3 (loses to Troy, Middle and Louisiana)
Finish: 6-6 (4th place)

Start the season 1-3 (non conference games)
Sunbelt: 6-2 (loses to Middle and Troy)
Finish: 7-5 (Bowl game!)

Start the season 0-4 (non conference games)
Sunbelt: 4-4 (loses to Middle, Troy, Louisiana, FAU)
Finish: 4-8 (7th place)

Go Golden Panthers!

We need to hold this team and coach cristobal to higher standards. Anything less than 2nd place is a complete bust for us.

6-6 is not acceptable in the SunBelt. Those days are over.

I like that we aren't getting much respect. I'd always choose to be under-hyped coming into a season, but in reality pre-season opinions are fun to read but worthless.

I'm exited to have two new coordinators on board and a very solid recruting class. Let's get these guys eligible and ready to play now! As Coach Collins would say, "let's get it!!!"

Gouch 7 nailed. Very balanced analysis.

Go FIU Panthers!

Until proven to me other wise, I say likely 4 wins hopefully but unrealistic 6 wins. Another sub par season, it is tough when you have no offensive or defensive lines.

anyone see articles about Zeke working for knick in recruiting lebron and stoudamire?

Dan (aka ridge), big fan, love that quick release, too bad you could never bring us a ring.

Zeke is helping his old friend and former employer James Dolan. He can do this because of his incredible influence in the world of basketball. By doing this, he is plastering his name all over ESPN and every national sports new organization. When they say Zeke is helping the knicks, they also put this lovely little nugget "Isiah Thomas, now THE HEAD COACH AT FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL IN MIAMI". Dear Dan, that is what we like to call "FREE PUBLICITY" that will help in this little thing called RECRUITING.

Every time Isiah is mentioned by the media, it brings more and more attention to FIU, and builds affinity to recruits, fans, donors and everybody associated with the program.

Dan, i know you have a lil pet-peeve with our AD, who knows maybe he stole your weathies back in the day. But to insinuate that Isiah being in the public light is anything but a positive for FIU is ludicrious. PG hiring Zeke has been one of many brilliant and implausible moves that he's pulled during his time at FIU.

And here's some cold hard facts for ya: Richaud Pack, Dominique Ferguson, Alex Legion, Chris Coleman et al. Do a quick google search on who was recruiting those guys (hint, look for past NCAA Basketball Championship Schools). And now google where they will be playing college ball... yep, good ol' FIU. Thanks to Zeke.

News on Summer Baseball anyone?

That was well said FIUloyal. I came across this quote:

“Isaiah (Thomas) said he can help me out a lot with things on the court and off that I need to focus on,” said Christmas when asked about the curious decision of putting FIU on the top of his list.

Recruits see IT as an insider and someone with some influence in the NBA. IT as the point man to talk to LeBron for the Knicks organization can only strengthen this perception.

What about the news regarding the president of the Knicks and his desire for IT to return as GM?

Should we be worried?

LP, do you think Knicks fans would allow Isiah anywhere near New York? Not going to happen.

This is just Jim Dolan talking up his good friend, him and Zeke have a great relationship.

I like gooch's assessment very much... this is a do or die year for the mario cristobal experiment

This the weirdest relationship I've ever seen, that one between IT and the Knick Organiztion. On the one hand IT is vilified by the Knick fans and their media and on the other he is out recruiting for them and is being mentioned as a possible GM candidate.

Can you really imagine IT going back to that town and running that organizaiton. Those Knicks have real, deep-seeded, issues.

wow, topic changed from Sunbelt Football to Isaih Thomas...
Ok.. Two cents on IT, it goes to show that maybe (just maybe) he took the bullet for the Knicks....
More importantly he's brought us the most talent we have ever had... and more hope than when Shaky was here... He's not like Clyde tanking at the University of Houston... Isaih is the Man!!
Hope RAJA signs with HEAT!!! Raja's the man! and a real team player....
On Football, FIUJM as we texted this morning, 5-3 in sunbelt and 6-6 overall (assuming a victory out of conference against Maryland.).... and unfortunately I do believe a 6-6 record will be enough for this coaching staff to keep their jobs. As 6-6 will be the best record in our short history.... Unless your name is the Marlins you don't fire your winniest coach after the teams best w-l record.
However, I do anticipate a big year for TY with WC as the starter, so TY will win one extra game for a shot at 7 wins.... so in MC's final year he wont' have the Services of Hilton as he'll be returning kicks for some lucky NFL team....

I'm with you, heard Raja was ignoring Lakers calls. Would be nice for Heat to re-sign Arroyo and pickup Raja Bell.

Most likely if we win 7 games in football next year, that would mean we would have gone 6-2 or better in Sunbelt. I believe changes off coordinators and O-line upgrades should make us top 2 team in Sunbelt. Middle Tennessee is good but we can match up with them and anybody in Sunbelt. No more excuses Mario!!! This is your 4th year, make it happen.

Section 112 out.

Ooh! I became very nostalgic when I wrote about hope and Marcos "Shaky" Rodriguez on the last post...
For some of you young ones, Shaky was the mEns Basketball coach at Miami High who won 5 state titles. He started at FIU when I was there so I was very familiar with his highschool and local success... Guess what I had big hopes for FIU when they hired a "LOCAL" great coaching talent...
As the older guys know that didn't work out too well... but hey he did have an Eye for talent... two NBA players in one team....RAJA/ARROYO...
Anyhow, attached is an article "BING" dug out from the new times....

Some points... Local successfull guys may not always be the right choice... hint!
and TWO, the NEW TIMES has hated us for a long time.... LOL... I remember the hub caps, and Arroyo punching the assistant.... Damm, we've had a run of bad coaches and Athletic Directors..... (Even funnier, I was in that basketball skills and coaching class...LOL)

This team is good. Its up to them to prove to everyone they can win and win big. The should be 6-6 or better. I watch these guys and they have so much energy this year. If anyone watch us last year they would know we went 3-9 due to SO MANY INJURIES and a thin d-line rotation. we underachieved and this team will not do the same. 7-5 and a bowl game. Def will be miles better Qb has to pick up where Paul left and improve on it. Play Calling should be fun OC did wonders with Toledo and a friend (Hans Batichon)from app state raved about him.


I understand what you're saying, my reaction was the same. But I never would have ever expected for IT to be recruiting LBJ for the Knicks either!

Stranger things have happened. I don't think Pete Garcia should sleep on this. Just to be on the safe side.

On another note, I definitely want Raja on this Miami Heat team!!!

D'haiti, wow great to hear from you....hope you post more often... former panthers need to be more vocal and when needed critical..... also hope you're right...i know you're close too all the guys cause you played with all of Them.. but if you can answer.... what should be our lb starting rotation.. plus, i beat up our dc last season (galiano) for lack of adjustments and inexperience..... but was it just a depth issue....?

Read the link to the King City Classic... and to add about IT... so, he goes on the knicks coin to talk to Lebron and gets a chance to meet and greet all the high school studs in the camp... including Christmas in July....

Not really a bad deal for us.

Totally random but still on the football topic: Does anyone know if the new EA Sports NCAA Football 11 game has the new FIU Stadium in it?

I've been waiting 2 years for them to update it...


I hope that we do see some aggressive defensive calls this year. We have the BEST LB's in the conference and you are telling me we can't do anything with them.. As for offensive calls I think we also need to get more creative. When the guy on section 115 knows the next play that can't be a good thing.. Plenty of speed how about we use it! There is really bad teams that will beat a better team just on better game calls. Should be a great 2010-2011 season..


lil slow on the response. Coach G had his moment when I feltr like he made mistake just as any cocah or player did. BUt his down fall was injuries by far. we lacked depth and size to many young players made mistakes (me inculded). For example the TD agasint FAU that made the score 28-14 late in the forth was partly my fault and coach had me in the right position. Its up to players to make plays. If you play Man-to-Man all day the team with the better players will win. Play calling helps yes but at the end of the day players win games not coachs.

Not sure about the LBs. to many new faces and I have not played in the defense. Seen it and know it a little but different players play better or worst in different schemes. Aaron Davis (AD) and Winston will be beasts in my mind. AD problem last year didn’t understand the D but, I feel like he has gotten a hang of the new defense faster and is more comfortable. Winston is just plain hunger. He just wants it VERY BAD, if he don't start then he will play. FIU will be better. Have to play smarter not harder something we lacked last year. This team is good enough to beat every Sunbelt team. Just have to play consistent football.

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