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FIU fans up in arms after latest loss

It's a reflex as old as sport itself: When things aren't going right, someone (most often the coach) is to blame, and heads must roll.

After FIU's lackluster 21-9 loss to Florida Atlantic Saturday, that boiling point was reached for many in the Golden Panther Nation.

Need proof? Look no further than the message boards at FIUGoldenPanthers.com, where as of Monday morning, a 43-post thread had exploded, with calls for Mario Cristobal's job.

These aren't your typical FIU bashers, but true-blue fans who have followed Cristobal's three and a half years on campus closely.

When it comes to these matters, I've always taken the long view. Let's get to the end of the season and reassess. A midseason change accomplishes next to nothing aside from a quick PR boost for the school. And the loss to FAU didn't change a whole lot for the Panthers (as I noted in today's Herald).

But if FIU continues down the road it's been on this year -- 2-5 overall, with losses to Rutgers, Texas A&M and FAU that could (and probably should) have been wins -- the question will at some point have to be asked to FIU President Mark Rosenberg, Athletic Director Pete Garcia and the Board of Trustees.

Before we get too crazy, however, here are a few points to keep in mind:

1. Cristobal is Garcia's guy, and given the deep hole they inherited (NCAA sanctions, 0-12, etc.), my guess is PG wants to give MC every chance to succeed.

2. MC has one more year on his contract, and given his relatively lucrative salary (in the neighborhood of $400K), FIU might not have the money to eat that, and hire someone else -- considering the athletic department's entire operating budget is $20 million this year.

3. The Panthers should be really, really good next year. They're losing just four or five starters, and should have even more depth and talent coming in with another year of full recruitment. And if FIU doesn't get it done (i.e. bowl game, winning record) then, a move would be likely.
Combine that with words from a reliable source (granted, which came before last Saturday's loss) that MC wasn't going anywhere, my guess is he'll be back in 2011.

That could all change, of course, if the team completely goes into the tank the rest of the way. Should be interesting to see how they respond Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.


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