Seymour Lieberman died Monday morning, having hung onto this plane of existence one more NFL Sunday and almost to the finish of the Major League Baseball regular season. Despite the Giants losing to Philly and the Jets getting skunked at home, I absolve them of all blame for Sy's Monday metamorphosis. I never saw him get upset when one of his New York teams or his school, Michigan, wasn't up to snuff. He loved the games, no matter the sport, for themselves. He was a pioneer in market research who, during my time covering the Panthers/NHL, loved to needle me that I covered the one major sports league that had never been his client and the one that was also the least successful.
In ways you don't know, he's affected what you see in sports, news media and advertising and how you see it. He's into the ground now having lived a very good life in most senses of that phrase. Salut, Sy.
Now to tonight's FIU-Arkansas State game, to be covered by Andre Fernandez.
ASU got plowed by Western Kentucky last week. That's what Western does. That's what FIU did reasonably well until last week, when Lou-La squashed FIU's run game and exposed the freshman parts of E.J. Hilliard's current game. Hilliard stared down receivers occasionally and took just a hair past deadline to make some decisions. He looked a little like Jake Medlock playing the RC's last year, which is to be expected. Well, he looked like Medlock against the RC's if Medlock worked without much help from receivers, offensive line, running game...
Ryan Aplin's name always reminds me of "apple pie." Because I love apple pie. And maybe also because Aplin treated FIU's defense last year the way I treat Epicure's apple pie the days after Thanksgiving. I don't see him scrambling the way he did last year. FIU's pass rush hasn't been strong enough to make anyone leave the pocket. But he could throw for 300 yards, the way FIU's been leaving receivers more uncovered than Rollergirl. Receivers have found the soft parts of FIU's zone this year as easily as I find McDonald's locations.
This game could show FIU's team maturity around Hilliard and mental toughness. They're 1-4, but still only 0-1 in the Sun Belt. Surprise wins have sprouted from plenty of teams not called "FIU." Still, this isn't the SEC.
I'm still not sure that'll be enough tonight. Arkansas State 38, FIU 24.
But that's just one black man's opinion. I could be wrong.
Those on the "Fire Cristobal" wagon need to stop whining like a bunch of Jag-driving, helicopter-parent-coddled wussies told they have to fly commercial instead of private.
This is a disappointing season for FIU, highlighted by the repeated failure of what everyone -- from inside and outside -- expected to be the team's bedrock. No question that questionable coaching, bad coaching and mistakes made by experienced players from whom you'd expect better mark this season thus far. Now, they're sallying forth with a true freshman (and don't bring up Teddy Bridgewater's freshman year by comparison. Same high school, good friends, not the same player as they started college. Period).
And this makes FIU school No. 103 in the history of Division I-FBS football to see an unexpected kink in an upward achievement curve. It's happened in every program with almost every coach who's enjoyed more than a shot glass of success, especially those trying to build or rebuild programs. If this sinks into a trend, that's when you start looking at the euphemistic "going in a different direction."
This is one season after two bowl seasons for an 11th season program. Get over it.
After winning medalist honors at the Wolverine Invitational and taking third at the Johnie Imes Invitational, FIU freshman Meghan MacLaren received the Sun Belt's Womens' Golfer of the Month award. The next tournament for MacLaren and the Panthers is the FIU-hosted 35th annual Pat Bradley Tournament.