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Saturday Morning Fever & Saturday Evening Live (w/UM thoughts)

The football team did its 8 a.m. thing again Saturday. Storms herded them under the bleachers for a good chunk of practice, during which time practice turned into WalkThrough Fest '11. In the No Touchee jerseys, but accessorized with pads were running back Torrence Seymour and defensive back Sam Gervais. Wearing No Touchees and no pads were wide receivers Rockey Vann and Mike Jean-Louis; defensive linemen Jason Fitch and Andrew Mattox, offensive linemen Ceedrick Davis and James Wiggins; and safety Cain Eliot. 

Once the Michael Schumacher weather cleared, the men's soccer team won its preseason game with Barry, 2-1, Saturday morning.

Friday night, former FIU wide receiver Greg Ellingson caught both passes thrown his way Friday night for Jacksonville against Atlanta, for a 3-yard gain and a 20-yard gain. The latter, from Luke McCown, converted a third and 16 from the Jaguars' 4 with 2:34 left and allowed Jacksonville to run out the clock on a 15-13 win. Yeah, big deal on the W -- heck, it's preseason, so, it's not even a W, but a w -- but preseason's the one time coaches like to see the parts and construction more than the final building. But if Ellingson's catching passes from the third-string quarterback, he's going to need some injuries or special teams flashes to make the Jags' roster.

OK, settling in with some coffee (Senseo, 10% Kona Blend, double pod), Coca-Cola, Publix Popcorn Shrimp and the Jazz channel on the dish to discuss "What Does Nevin Shapiro Mean to FIU?"

1. Will it help FIU if the University of Miami football program gets an NCAA death penalty? -- Would it help Winn-Dixie if Publix went out of business for two years? That's about as likely to happen, however, as the NCAA Wormer's dropping the big one. The damage of the punishment at SMU in the 1980s exceeded the damage of the violations (and those violations ran deep, wide and high). Beyond ruining SMU's program until the roster was filled with players born when the penalties were handed down, it started the funeral march for the Southwest Conference. Nobody's too keen on seeing anything close to that collateral damage again.

The NCAA, in a bizarre way, actually knows Miami’s good for business. I know high schools that bring more fans on the road. The University of Miami alumni base? Relatively puny.   

But UM draws a national, visceral reaction. The rest of the Pac-10 hates USC. Michigan and those of us who grew up in other parts of Big Ten country during the Big Two, Little Eight era despise Ohio State. Even in the early 2000s, with a team of solid citizens who destroyed with style but without swagger, college football fans around the nation loved or loved to hate UM. That 1983-94 era still rings loudly to Generation X and older. The NCAA and member schools don’t care whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em as long as you’re watchin’ ‘em. Neutrality sucks when it comes to TV ratings.

So, no death penalty is coming, no matter how the NCAA puffs and postures.

2. Will FIU benefit after the NCAA levies whatever sanctions it does on UM?  DUH!

3. Well, how much will FIU benefit? Much less if they don’t build on last year’s momentum.

Most college-affiliated football games get won in recruiting. Some kids aren’t coming to Camp Mitch unless it’s the only scholarship offer they get. And many five-star prospects get starry-eyed only over programs that get annual visits from College Football GameDay and make annual visits to BCS bowls. Just because the alpha male letterman gets his car and allowance taken away doesn’t automatically mean the Chess Club president’s next in line for the homeroom hottie they both want.

But this is South Florida, home of the most parochial kids I’ve seen outside of New York (most worldly people in America…as long as they don’t cross the Hudson). I don’t know what it is. It used to be cultural, especially among Cuban-Americans and the black community. But whether it’s weather, comfort with community mindset or lack of educational preparation, too many South Florida kids don’t travel well. So many boomeranged back home over the years, it prompted activist Wesley Frater to start programs to teach our young men how to hack it in schools outside this tip of the country. Frater’s still doing those programs, 21 years later.

Anyway, there are going to be good recruits from down here who have no desire to venture more than a bus transfer from their neighborhood. And if “The U” runs out of scholarships and those young men see FIU sending players to the NFL, suddenly FIU’s looking like a viable option. Even more so if FIU stays a winner, doubly so if they stay a winner and move to a better conference.

As for recruiting outside South Florida, the Shapiro tales don’t necessarily help FIU across the board. They fit our national image -- glamorous, sexy, shady -- but parents tend to look askance at those kinds of parties and those kinds of slimy characters. It’s one thing to envision your son Edwin doing Red Bull and vodka shots at a frat party in Tuscaloosa. It’s another to envision Edwin being treated like the pole by a stripper during a boat party on the Intercoastal. “Hey, Edwin, I hear Iowa City can be a happening place…”

Unless a parent realizes most big time programs have at least one Nevin Shapiro hanging around, this is a minus for FIU.

More than one FIU sports coach has lamented over the years, sometimes, it’s easier to recruit outside South Florida than here. UM’s not the only school that can use South Beach and The Grove for recruiting. Again, all it takes is a few more NFL products from FIU. Coaches talk education and good citizenship to the media and some parents. To the recruits and the parents who can be seduced by dreams, they talk NFL. It’s why the college-affiliated football talent now is as spread as the offensive schemes. Kids have started to realize the NFL can find you anywhere, but you have to be on the field to get their notice.

Once your recruiting improves for a few years, it becomes cyclical. The same goes for recruiting on the slide.

UM’s already got a recruiting problem that’s also been faced by despised rival Notre Dame: fading tradition. The last cool UM superteam was the 2002 bunch that won the national championship against Ohio State. Or, rather, they did for the several seconds between that incomplete fourth down Ohio State pass and that iffy, incredibly late pass interference flag. To someone turning 18 or 19 in 2012, that’s the dark ages, back when people still bought CDs. And names like Craig Erickson, Melvin Bratton, Michael Barrow, the Blades Brothers, Jerome Brown, Randall Hill? Nevermind. Prehistoric.

The days the Orange Bowl rocked and roared recede into the past with increasing speed. The Orange Bowl’s not even there anymore to bring a see-and-remember as a kid drives by with his parents. UM plays in the Dolphins home, a place increasingly associated with football disappointment for South Florida. As it is, the Hurricanes fill their rented home only if Florida State or Florida visits. Otherwise, the crowd count is “blah.” Imagine what the crowds will be like with another year outside the national elite, then probably probation spinning them out for another few years.

What’ll be the difference in atmosphere between 25,000 in a 75,000-seat stadium and 18,000 in a 20,000-seat stadium? Neither is 88,000 in The Swamp, but only one of them looks pathetic.

As far as media attention, it takes even longer for media mindsets to change than fan mindsets. That won’t change while UM’s on probation.

I’m sure by focusing on recruiting I’ve forgotten some of the other aspects of this case that’ll touch FIU. Remind me and perhaps we’ll discuss. To quote Weekend Update, good night and have a pleasant tomorrow…




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Interesting stuff... but like you said, the biggest key to capitalizing on any of this stuff if continuing to win.

JUICIN for sept 1!

Wow, with the great analysis DJN has been doing on this blog I figured he had some basic knowledge of college football - guess he's just good at his job.

#1 - UM recruiting is hurting and has been since 2002? In 2004 they had 6 players taken in the FIRST ROUND. Since 2002 they've put Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Roscoe Parrish, Devin Hester, Sinorice Moss, Vernon Carey, Chris Meyers, Rashad Butler, Eric WInston, Jason Fox, Baraka Atkins, Calais Campbell, Vince Wilfork, Orien Harris, Kareem Brown, Jon Vilma, D.J. WIlliams, Rocky McIntosh, Leon WIlliams, Jon Beason, Tavares Gooden, Darryl Sharpton, Sean Taylor, Antrel Rolle, Kelly Jennings, Marcus Maxey, Brandon Meriweather, Kenny Phillips, and Sam Shields in the NFL.

#2 - Last year UM had 8 players drafted - 8!

#3 -On this year's team Ray Ray Armstrong, Vaughn Telemaque, Seantrel Henderson, Lamar Miller, Travis Benjamin, Sean Spence, and Marcus Forston are all going to be drafted highly.

#4 - UM has the #6 ranked recruiting class in the country - better than Auburn, better than Oklahoma, better than LSU.

You really think FIU could get ANY of these players just because it's in Miami? What "academics" does FIU have to offer over any major sports school where potential employers will have heard of your degree? What planet are you living on where elite talent plays for FIU instead of FSU or UF because FIU sent Antwan Barnes to the NFL six years ago?

So much hate it isn't even funny.

#1 - how many national or conference championship did that get you?

#2 - how many national or conference championship did that get you?

#3 - which one of these guys are to be suspended?

#4 - for how much longer?

Thanks for thinking about FIU though. Surely anything is better than the continuous stream of scUMmy articles documenting scUM's impending ruin.

We need to keep the program clean and keep winning. Believe me, Miami is going to get the DP, after all the media circus they won't get away so easy.. UM is facing the worst violations in college history. Players, coaches and administration are involved.

Just keep winning!

You really think FIU could get ANY of these players just because it's in Miami?

Yup, TY Hilton is an elite talent. Having the largest alumni base in Miami it's merely a matter of time before FIU becomes a major player in college football. They just need to consistently win.

What "academics" does FIU have to offer over any major sports school where potential employers will have heard of your degree?

Accounting, International Business just to name a few.

"UM plays in the Dolphins home, a place increasingly associated with football disappointment for South Florida."

Couldn't help but chuckle at that one. As the Mad Dog would say. " a stench of cow manure hovers over Pro Players Stadium today"

Great analysis, DJN, and agree with you in pretty much everything. However, I would think that pretty much every FIU recruit for the past 2 years (maybe a couple would be an exception) that were recruited and made the team were actually offered by other schools. Not necessarily from AQ conferences, although many were. But I agree with the overall tone of the post and thought process.

Good stuff.

Go FIU!!

Do you have any comments on why Cedric Walker is not with the team?

FIU needs to independently establish themselves respectably and little by little. We shouldn't even be thinking about that other school in Coral Gables. It won't be easy to win over South Florida but we can definitely do it, seeing how the majority of UM fans are actually FIU alumni. We just need to WIN..... That being said, I have a special feeling about this season. :)

Buc Nasty, you don't know me.
I cheered when UM beat then-No. 1 Penn State in 1981 and "Greatest Team Ever" Nebraska in the Jan. 2, 1984 Orange Bowl. I laughed when Howard called for a run-it-up-on-obnoxious-UF-fans field goal in 1980, loved the Fiesta Bowl fatiques, trash talking, touchdown dancing, everything. Those teams were a pleasure to watch as a fan and cover as a young Herald intern, then staff reporter. I argue with Pete Prisco when we get together over best college team ever: 1986-87 UM, 2001 UM (my picks) or 1978 USC (his pick).
I've got no hate for UM. But they've got a problem. They're in the place the established leagues were when the AFL, ABA and WHA started to show some juice. But they're about to go there with handcuffs.
You missed the point when I brought up the distance from the 2002 team. To a kid, that's a ways back. Alaos, how many of those guys you named, especially the 2004 draft kids, were recruited by Butch as UM was on the rise, their elite days not a distant memory and they were the only D-I game in town?

What if none of those three facts were the case? Do they get all those guys? Is there a possibility that one or two would've wound up at another program in town? That's all I'm saying. And that's the current situation for UM. Could that start a roll? It did for UM back in the early 1980s. Besides, recruiting's far from an exact science. You have fewer bullets in your gun, you have a lot less chance of hitting. And the misses cost more.

Don't talk to me about recruiting rankings. I'll note them when they come out, but if those actually meant anything, Texas and Notre Dame would've shared every national title in the 1990s. Wasn't this group of UM seniors supposed to be an awesome recruiting class? Weren't they supposed to be the guys who brought back the good ol' days of opponents left gasping after 30-point blowouts?

We're talking college-affiliated football recruiting of decent talent and you try to bring up academics? Really? Aside from the irrelevance to most recruits, it's a foolish subject to raise on your part. UM's academic standing during its glory days wasn't what it is now, i.e., Michael Irvin didn't wind up at UM (or St. Thomas for that matter) because he was a great student.
Bottom line: fewer scholarships, longer distance from elite era, and in an area where some kids want to play but also stay close to mommy and daddy means some of the recruits UM would've gotten will wind up elsewhere. FIU might be down the list behind FSU, Florida, South Florida, UCF and that's just among the in-state schools. But it'll be one of those elsewheres.

FIU's focus must be Winning at FIU. We cannot ignore UM b/c although we don't compete on the field, we do compete, to some extent, for attention, dollars, recruits, etc.

FIU partners with UM in other areas in pursuit of mutually beneficial academic research funding and the like, but when it comes to football, we're in competition on some level (We all know the two schools don't play in the same conference, FIU doesn't play in a AQ conf. yet, etc.)

So again, just focus on racking up W's within the rules and FIU will turn the impossible into the inevitable, as Pres. Rosenberg often reminds us. Go Panthers!

Good point by DJN and a good effort by Buck Nasty, this is a discussion and you cannot help Buck Nasty thinking.

FIU is getting much better in academics, the Law School, Medical School, and our continued success in Accounting is proof of that.

We are a bit far away before we can be compared with the big boys, like it was mentioned in the past post, we need to keep winning. The most important part though is we need to fill the stadium up, and the FIU Alumni need to sack up and donate money to football team. I bought four tickets in the Club section area, even though I could have gotten those $42 season tickets.

In my opinion, UM has a black eye that will never go away. If the death penalty does not hit them, they will have sanctions for at least 5 years. In that time the ACC will be without FSU and the conference will diminish, college football is going to be totally different. Kids that are growing up will not have any loyal following to UM. When you think of UM, you dont think about 5 National Championships or all those NFL players, when you think about UM you think about "Uncle Luke", Pell Grant, and now Nevin Shapiro. When you think "UM" you think dirty. If I were an alumni, I would be extremly dissapointed. I dont care how good your academics are, UM=DIRTY.

The current UM scandal may result in a net positive for FIU. Time will tell. However, I believe that FIU should keep moving forward and stay out of this mess. Let's not even comment on it, as it makes us look vindictive (?).

FIU has many positives going for it. Let's focus on those. I had UM season tickets for 4 years before I stopped going 3 years ago. Let's get other FIU alumni to swap tickets. Maybe FIU can offer an exchange for UM tickets plan (won't work but will get the message out that FIU wants these alumni fans back).

In response to Buc Nasty, I can only say that UM fans are taking note that FIU keeps getting closer and closer as the years go by. If not, they would not be on this site. UM does not have a loyal base, and certainly lacks a large base. Similarly, FIU does not have a large following but DOES have a larger south Florida base. As the years go by, FIU will inch its way closer and closer to UM. DJN has noticed this trend (and chosen to come back to FIU -- the man is a genius). It will take years (but not decades) before we are on par with UM in sports. This UM mess has only accelerated the process - - substantially.

Let's leave the UM story alone and focus on getting bodies to FIU football games. Heck, tell them to wear their UM jerseys for all I care. Its about slowly building the product. In this sense we have the best in the business. . . one Pete Garcia (hope no UM fallout for him). And a great journalist in DJN.

DJN - not questioning your fanhood, just your understanding of talent in the NCAA. You're not giving UM credit for recruiting and matriculating elite NFL-caliber talent just because the Hurricanes as a team haven't been winning.

All those players I mentioned from this year's team (which likely won't be a successful campaign) are going to be starters and beyond in the NFL.

You're the one who said all it would take is "a few more NFL products from FIU" and for the coaches to "talk education and good citizenship to the media and some parents". Well any state school can offer the education FIU can and every other state school in the south has put more players in the NFL.

FIU can get lucky with two star studs like T.Y. Hilton but UM's football team closing up shop for a few years does not open any avenues for FIU to steal elite recruits from real state schools - those players are going north.

JP1990FIU - FIU won't win the recruiting battle by default and they can't win over south Florida bandwagoners by default. They churn out alumni but football fans are not going to follow FIU until they join a real conference and start competing for national championships. That'll happen in 9 years?

Ask the two time world champion Marlins how easy it is to win over south Florida fans.

And Buc Nasty, if these athletes were interested in an education, they would be heading to Duke, Virginia, Cal, Michigan, Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Stanford. With the exception of Stanford and Michigan, these programs are not getting the top talent.

Seriously, no one other than UM grads think much of a UM education (except for a good medical school and well known law school). You seriously don't think UM is a top school, do you??????? You may be top 5 in the State, though. And, why spend lots of money at UM when you can go to a State school for less. UF is perceived by just about everyone to be a better school than UM. Just give FIU some time. it is a young school and needs time. But don't forget that those footsteps you hear in the background will someday be running next to you or even running past U. Good luck with this mess. And I mean it since I don't hate, or even dislike the U.


TY was a two star recruit, but has become a five star player. In fact, ESPN (or one of those sport outlets) ranked TY as the 9th best WR in the nation. Anthony Gaitor was also a relatively unknown recruit, but arguably has a five star career at FIU as well. Anthony is currently cementing a spot on the Tampa Bay Bucs roster with a very impressive preseason. Anthony would not be FIU's first NFL talent, but 5th. TY will be a high round pick. All of this NFL traction has taken place practically within the last two or three years. At this pace, you'll see plenty of FIU muscle in the NFL, especially when the rumored move to CUSA or Big East takes place in 2013 when the Sunbelt television contract runs out.

The redundancy we're all witnessing where FIU consistently finds unknown talents in "haystacks..." is a testament to FIU's coaching staff. UM's recruiting success is especially ironic considering how lousy your success has been. For five straight years, you'd had top 20 recruiting classes. In fact, you had the #1 recruiting class in the country under Randy Shannon, yet your relative success has been incredibly disappointing. How can you have such a rich recruiting pedigree, yet have five straight embarrassing seasons and go 1-4 in your last five relatively meaningless bowl games. Laughably, your only win was a one point miracle against... wait for it... NEVADA.

The U is able to recruit on history alone, but their continued bad press will tarnish the brand that U football is all about. The scope of these allegations, even if a 1/4 true, are significantly more severe than anything we've seen since the SMU days. UM is going to get hammered, anyone who thinks otherwise like your boy Dan LeBatard is either a homer or deliriously ignorant.

Which one are you?

"JP1990FIU - FIU won't win the recruiting battle by default and they can't win over south Florida bandwagoners by default. They churn out alumni but football fans are not going to follow FIU until they join a real conference and start competing for national championships. That'll happen in 9 years?"

It may very well happen in 9 years- even less. No one thought FIU would win their first bowl in their 6th year of Div 1 (a non-BCS bowl but a bowl nonetheless). No one in 2001 would have thought that FIU would win a bowl in 2010 and not UM. FIU didn't even have a team back then.

It is an FIU trend to do things ahead of our time. The time is now. This season will get the ball rolling, and I am a firm believer that there is enough space in South Florida to have 2 college football teams. Unfortunately for UM the majority of supporters/fans/season ticket holders/etc. are either FIU alumni who grew up when the "Sunblazers" had no football or local bandwagon fans.

I agree we need to win consistently and join a bigger conference, grow as a university, etc., before that happens. But it will definitely happen, and it will happen sooner than you think.

Mr Neal,

I enjoyed your blog and your responding comment as well. Its very refreshing that the Herald has someone with your pedigree, both in journalistic talent and FIU knowledge, assigned to FIU athletics.

I too love jazz... played piano for almost a decade when I was young (can't say "younger" anymore as I'm over the hill at 31). I stopped playing when my piano teachers would not allow me to start studying Thelonious Monk.

JP1990FIU - I'm not saying a degree from UM is better than a degree from FIU, just that I disagree with DJN that it matters in the least to elite recruits.

Quijote - I don't think UM will be spared from the NCAA. I also don't think that it will help FIU in the least to break through the low ceiling on their program. It won't steer elite recruits to them, it won't help them build their fanbase of non-alumni south Florida fans.

However, the facts are that FIU's alumni base living in South Florida is near at or above 120,000 now, while our overall numbers are about 160,000 and growing every year by around 8,000-10,000. If you believe that the only market for FIU fans are just that, alumni members, the numbers are there to create a strong fan base and affinity. By themselves.

Some people may want to do like ostrichs do and hide their heads under the ground not to see what's going on around them. It behooves everyone not just to see at the past (which I believe is always important as well), but to look at the future based on current trends and facts.

for those that think Miami gets the death penalty, do me a favor. Look up why SMU got the death penalty, look up the NCAA rule of the death penalty and then look at Miami's allegations against, not in the same ballpark. All this shock media has everyone screaming for the death penalty, it won't happen. Too many powerhouse schools will also get it once they are exposed (SEC your on the clock). The majority of info on this matter isn't accurate and is twisted in every way imaginable. It will take months for things to get sorted out. On that note, FIU will benefit and the program will only get better regardless of what happens. Gotta keep MC here for the long run

UM's fan base has always been superficial. The majority of their fans have no connection to the school with the exception of the football team. That superficial relationship is not a tight bond. Now that superficial relationship where the haves (UM school) is loved by the have nots (the normal, hard working people of Miami) has now bitten UM in their elitist butt. There is a deeper story here, UM loves the money that the average Miamian gives to the school, as long it is at a distance. "You can go to the games, cheer for us, buy our apparel. But unless you are an elitist, no need to apply." Well, the chickens have come home.

Inferiority complex much NYCFIUFan?

The more this case goes on the less it seems that the death penalty will be given, most likely UM will be punished more heavily than USC but less than the 80's SMU team. The thing that makes this case stand out is that there are deep connections to the president of the school. Chances are that the NCAA will not give Miami the death penalty because it could hurt the Seminoles. It won't hurt the ACC as a whole because UM has become irrelavent.

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