FIU coach Mario Cristobal addressed a small group of reporters, Tuesday afternoon, in FIU's last home news conference before leaving to frigid Detroit on Thursday. Cristobal was all business, taking the podium a few minutes before the scheduled 2 p.m. start time.
Cristobal started off speaking about how excited the team is about playing in it's first bowl game ever and about all the preparations the Panthers have had to make before leaving. The weather in Detroit was a mild (by Detroit standards) 27 degrees on Tuesday night, so there is no doubt in my mind there have been many trips to buy coats.
"They are going to see snow. It's going to be colder than the North Pole,'' Cristobal said, about the weather. "We intend on spending most of our time either practicing or watching film. There are a couple of events we have to go to. I think the senior leadership we've had this year will shine through as well. This is a business trip."
Luckily for both teams, the game will be played at Ford Field, were game time temps should be in the mid 60-70's (but you should already know that part).
Cristobal touched on many different topics during his 14-minute interview, including recruiting and injuries.
On the injury front, Cristobal expects running back Jeremiah Harden to be play against Toledo."He looked good. Looks just as explosive as before. His legs are more fresh than they were before."
OL Kevin Van Kirk is healthy, but will not play against Toledo.
"We are doing OK on the injury front, everybody is banged up this time of year."
I took some heat from coach for asking him how he felt about Sporting News Magazine predicting Toledo to win the game.
"That might be stuff you focus on, buddy. That's not part of a college regiment or a college football players daily regiment to prepare for a game,'' Cristobal said. "Quite frankly, I've been in games as a player and coach and I've never seen a game won on paper the day before. Our guys are excited about a great challenge. They are a great football team. They were one game away from winning the MAC Championship. And that's what we know. And that's what we focus on. Everything else is and will always be irrelevant."
On the recruiting, "Doors have opened to a higher level student athlete. We expect to have by far the best recruiting class we've ever had," Cristobal said.
I went on to ask coach if the coaching change at Miami has affected FIU on the local stage.
"I don't think that effects it. South Florida and the state of Florida in general is always going to be saturated with recruiters. We are one of the states that has spring ball. The opportunity to play football almost year around. We have good weather. Football players develop here maybe at a faster rate than maybe in other places. I don't think that job changes, staff continuity here and there really affects too much the big picture. I think if you take care of your business..Recruiting these guys from the time you are allowed to recruit them, it pretty much takes care of itself. Now that being said...there is always some spill over...It doesn't only apply to what happening down the street. It applies to other universities that typically recruit down here and that there may be some changes taking place."