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30 posts from December 2012

December 30, 2012

Moving forward...

Here's what I know or what I've heard and feel comfortable posting:

Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley's telling his recruits there's no truth to any rumors that he's in contention for the FIU job. Then again, that's what he better tell those recruits. There's no upside to him saying, "Yeah, I'm trying to build a bond with you and gain your trust to get you to come to Florida State, but I might not even be there next year." And there's no downside to telling them he's not in contention. If he winds up leaving for FIU, those aren't his recruits who feel deceived.

Folks acting as a go-between for Coley contacted FIU soon after Mario Cristobal's firing. That's a common practice. The coach can then say with honesty and a straight face that he hasn't talked to another school. Coley's wires and those representing an SEC assistant were told the same thing at that time: This is Butch Davis' job.

In addition to Manny Diaz and Brian Jenkins, fired Purdue coach Danny Hope and former longtime Florida State assistant and North Carolina State head coach Chuck Amato, now Akron's defensive coordinator, have interviewed for the job. Butch Davis' conversations with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia have been, allegedly, of a consultant variety.

There's been no meeting with the players or broad communication to let them know of transfer procedures. Defensive lineman Fadol Brown, who showed flashes of tremendous potential as a freshman, has asked for his release. It hasn't been granted yet.

One SEC assisstant and two former SEC head coaches have interest in the job and haven't been able to get callbacks from FIU.

T.Y. Hilton finished the season with 50 catches for 861 yards (17.2 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns receiving and 11.5 yards per punt return with one touchdown. Tight end Michael Egnew dressed for two Dolphins games. Zero catches. Zero yards. Average yards per catch: 0.0.



No Butch, says his lawyer

Jon Sasser, Butch Davis' lawyer, told me Sunday Davis "will not be taking the FIU job. He intends to remain a special assistant with the Buccaneers."

This confirmed an earlier Sunday report by the Tampa Tribune.

Sasser also told me Davis has no dispute with the University of North Carolina and "no reason to believe the University will not honor its commitments." The school said upon firing Davis it owed him $590,000 each January in 2013, 2014, 2015, amount to be reduced by money Davis earns elsewhere as a coach.

So, now what? Bethune-Cookman coach and Fort Lauderdale Dillard graduate Brian Jenkins, who just signed an extension after going 27-8 his three years at Bethune, is believed to have interviewed Saturday.


December 28, 2012

North Carolina, according to its own words, is on the hook.

Back when North Carolina decided to cut ties with Butch Davis amidst the NCAA starting to spend a fair amount of non-vacation time in Chapel Hill around the football program, this was what the university handed out to media as its financial obligation to Davis:

Coach Davis' Employment Agreement calls for the University to immediately pay him $270,417. Before the end of the calendar year 2011, the University will pay Coach Davis (a) an additional $13,083, which is the pro rata share of his retention bonus, plus (b) an additional $650,000 in supplemental compensation payments. That's a total 2011 payment of $933,500.

The University will owe Coach Davis an additional $590,000 each January 15, starting in 2013 and concluding in 2015.
These amounts would be reduced by any compensation that Coach Davis might earn for coaching in a college or professional program.

The maximum total that Coach Davis could receive is $2,703,500.

All payments to Coach Davis will be made by the Department of Athletics. No state funds will be involved.

The bold emphasis was mine. "Reduced" not eliminated. This should not be any barrier to Davis accepting the FIU job. In fact, as stated in blog posts and comments, it makes it easier for FIU to backload a four or five-year deal on spec in hopes that revenues will have greatly increased by the time FIU's paying the heavier chunk solo.

December 24, 2012

Pete says the Butch stories are "totally false."

FIU executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia said Monday afternoon when asked about the stories bouncing around the Internet that Butch Davis was in as FIU's next head football coach, "Butch Davis is not the FIU football coach. That story is totally false."

So, that's the official word from Camp Mitch for now. Still, I'd say expect an announcement Jan. 2-6.

Word on the street is Butch, officially. But...

Sunday night, I got a message from a Camp Mitch source that Butch Davis will be the next FIU coach, it'll be announced next week and Davis has been smoothing things over with former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal, a graduate assistant under Davis at the University of Miami from 1998-2000.

As I checked on this, sources close to Cristobal said the part about contact between he and Davis definitely wasn't true. As nobody else would confirm the first part, I shelved the entire thing.

Which is where I am today, still trying to get more confirmation of what's expected and stated as probable in a blog post last week.

UPDATE: Please see latest blog post in which FIU athletic director Pete Garcia calls the Davis-is-in stories "totally false."



December 22, 2012

Balls in the air...

During Furlough Friday, I heard a reiteration of what's long been suspected/murmured about the FIU coaching search: Butch Davis still the No. 1 choice, Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley No. 2 with the announcement to come after January 1 as the nation's college football media hits South Florida for the Notre Dame vs. Alabama Who Does South Florida Hate More? national championship game.

For what it's worth...


FIU's women took out preseason Sun Belt favorite Middle Tennessee State Thursday, 58-51, extending their winning streak to four and ending Middle's winning streaks at home (14 wins) and in The Belt (17 wins).

Jerica Coley got hers as usual, 23 points. But Finda Mansare, Zsofia Labady and Marita Davydova combined for 21 rebounds and FIU held Middle to 32.8 shooting from the field.

The men's team bounced back from the expected drubbing by Louisville to beat Texas Southern, 48-45. Last week, coach Richard Pitino qualified his compliment of FIU's offense by saying the defense wasn't good enough for those nights when the offense would get shut down. Saturday, FIU made up for shooting only 36.0 from the field by holding Texas Southern to 29.1 percent.

Freshman Jerome Frink put up 14 points and redshirt sophomore Marco Porcher Jimenez put up 12. After a couple of days for holiday break, FIU goes to Western Kentucky for a Thursday game.


Slogging through what FIU e-mailed me Friday from Pete Garcia's file and Mario Cristobal's file. Fun Saturday night reading...

December 20, 2012

The last signing class of 2012

Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA began giving thumbs up to FIU's recruiting class long ago. So, for what it's worth (stop, hey, what's that sound...), here's the 2013 baseball recruiting class as announced Thursdcay.

Juan Escarra, 6-3, 205, infielder, Mater Academy. 2012 5A-8A Herald All-Dade Honorable Mention.

Brandon Diaz, 5-11, 180, outfielder, Plantation American Heritage. 2012 ESPNHA All-State

Joe Jimenez, 6-3, 220, righthanded pitcher, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School. Perfect Game ranks him as the No. 1 righty out of Puerto Rico in this year's class.

Cody Crouse, 6-6, 165, righthanded pitcher, Valrico Bloomingdale.

Gunnar McNeill, 6-3, 205, righthanded pitcher and first baseman, Winter Garden West Orange High.

Derek Deler, 5-10, 165, infielder, Maitland Orangewood Christian. 2012 WWBA All-Tournament Team Hitter.


Michael Perez, 6-0, 170, infielder/pitcher, Killian High.


Christopher Mourelle, 6-2, 175, righthanded pitcher, Southwest High. Herald Third Team 5A-8A All-Dade.


Nestor Cortes, 5-11, 192, lefthanded pitcher, Hialeah High. Class 5A-8A Herald First Team All-Dade, 8-0, 69 strikeouts, 1.51 ERA; 2012 WWBA World All-Tournament Team.

Alex Pinero, 6-1, 195, infielder, Coral Gables High. Class 5A-8A Herald First Team All-Dade, .432 batting average.

Robby Kalaf, 6-0, 200, righthanded pitcher, State College of Florida.

Postgame extra stuff from Louisville 79, FIU 55

Total attendance for FIU's first 7 games: 9,586. Attendance Wednesday night in Louisville: 21,411.

"I've never played in front of that many people," said junior forward Tymell Murphy, who admitted to nervousness. "I just wanted to get a rebound, get a score to take my mind off the crowd. After that, it was just playing."

Louisville coach Rick Pitino likens Richard Pitino starting his first college head coaching job at FIU to his own early days as a head coach:

"I started at Boston University and the similarities are there. We didn't draw any people. I used to sit up in what was called the Eliberg Lounge and you could see the people walking in before the game. You cold count the people as they walked in the beginning. He's going to go through the same type of stuff, except they are going to go into Conference USA and, obvisouly, they can recruit a higher caliber basketball player. But, he has four or five really good basketball players. His bigs aren't where they need to be for the future, bu that is what he's working on. He's going to have a really good backetball player named Rakeem Buckles (a Louisville transfer) next year."

FIU head coach Richard Pitino, explaining how he and his father are different on the sideline (both Pitinos say Richard is more like University of Florida coach and Pitino favorite Billy Donovan), said, "We have different personalities. He's very very intense during the game. If I got that intense, I'd forget where I was. So, I'm trying to stay calm during the course of a game where he's really trying to fire the guys up."

Richard thought this year's Louisville team, compared to last year's Final Four team, is more physical overall.

December 19, 2012

Pregame on hoop big game; Sonia Perez Swimmer of the Week (again); lawyer time

Bigger dance hall, swankier dance partners, but the shoes are the only thing FIU coach Richard Pitino wants as a major change for tonight's game with No. 5 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center.

Pitino said he spotted the South Beach model adidas at a summer AAU game. The adidas rep at the game welcomed Pitino's request that FIU get some and Pitino decided they would make their FIU debut at the Louisville game. (Thanks to Joey de la Rosa for contributing his shoe and a steady prop-holding hand to the above shot).

Otherwise, he wants to keep everything the same as most games, despite the fact they'll be playing in front of 10 times the crowd they usually face and FIU's highest ranked opponent since No. 1 UCLA in the 1995 NCAA tournament.

"It's an opportunity for us to get better," Pitino said after Wednesday's morning shootaround. "Regardless of who we're playing, that's been the goal from Day One when I took this job. Let's get better every single day. This is another opportunity."

Louisville shouldn't be familiar just to Pitino. FIU players should recognize the Cardinals' high pressure style.

"It's funny because we play the same defense as they do," Pitino said. "When we're going over scouting, I'll tell them to get into Louisville's "White Press." All of a sudden, they're playing harder and it's more aggressive. I want to tell them, 'Guys, that's our defense, too! Play that hard every single time!' So we may switch the name of our press to "Louisville' instead of "White" to see if it'll work and carry over. It's good for them to see those guys playing the same style defensively, showing them that we can do it, we've just got to play a little bit harder."


I know I'm usually up on the swimming thing and I knew about this one yet it still slipped through the cracks. Sonia Perez broke the FIU record in the 1000 freestyle with a 10:11.36 at Nova Southeastern's Sharks Invitational, won the 200 Individual Medley, the 400 IM and the 1600 free.

So the Sun Belt awarded Perez her second consecutive Swimmer of the Week award and her third of the year.


Called in our lawyers this morning. What I've asked for doesn't take long and in an information age, should take a few minutes. Pop a colada and get it done.

That is, it shouldn't take that long if said records actually still exist...

December 18, 2012

Coley Sun Belt POW (again); where are those evals again?; Manny in, Manny out, whatever

Junior guard Jerica Coley received her sixth Sun Belt Player of the Week award, the most by an FIU women's basketball player.

Coley put up 39 points against Dartmouth Saturday and 22 against Central Florida, both wins. Perhaps most impressively, she hit 24 of 25 (96 percent) free throws. She's sixth in the nation with 22.1 points per game. 


Tuesday, I received an update that everything I wanted from athletic director Pete Garcia and former head football coach Mario Cristobal's files were being compiled.

Now, as I had specifically separated Garcia's evaluations as being more urgent than everything else -- they were first requested July 14 --I eagerly anticipated seeing them in my e-mail box yesterday. Hey, I'd been with The Herald about a decade when I asked for copies of all of my evaluations. It didn't take five months. It didn't take five hours. It took closer to five minutes. If they'd had to scan them, that would've been maybe 10 minutes.

My e-mail box remains light on Garcia's evaluations. So what reasonable conclusion can we reach about said evaluations and how much should I trust what I eventually will receive?


Camp Mitch sources confirm the Rivals.com report that Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz interviewed for the head football coach job Monday. CBSSports.com reports that Diaz removed his name from consideration Tuesday.

My thumbnail analysis of Diaz can be found a few posts ago. The opinion remains that if FIU wants to sell the next hire as a guaranteed upgrade on Cristobal, they'll want someone with head coaching experience who'll look good in front of the national college football media in early January when they're in town for Notre Dame vs. Alabama.

December 17, 2012

Can't a brotha have a weekend?...Answers to stuff

I indulged in a long planned vacation with wife and kid in New York. I skipped one full day blogging despite being on vacation. I checked back in today and it sounds like the lobby of Bailey Building & Loan.

To answer some questions that have been posed in the comments section:

1. NCAA transfer rules aren't waived because a coach is fired. A player would still have to sit out a year unless he could get a waiver. As I wrote previously, many players are taking a wait-and-see attitude because they'd like to see who the new coach is. It doesn't make much practical sense for most players to transfer.  

2. The list of people who know who the next football coach will be is short and, as of right this very second, doesn't include me. I've been around long enough to also know some folks, for their own benefit, will attempt to mislead me or lie to me. I will report what I know, what I'm told and, in this forum, sometimes analyze the information I get. I'm not going to say, "I think (some name here) will be the next FIU coach" until I have a more solid idea of that.

Sometimes, I'm told things way off the record -- as in, "please don't print or blog this, even using me as an unnamed source" -- and all I can tell you is what those tidbits might mean.

3. FIU would like to know Cristobal's next stop before talking money with the next coach, but it's not a red light. That's especially the case if FIU lands someone who doesn't need a ton of money in the early years of the deal (i.e. Houston Nutt, Butch Davis).

And FIU will find the money, if need be.

4. I made a public records request for athletic director Pete Garcia's evaluations back in July. This is what I received:Download PeteGarcia1 Download PeteGarcia2.

Obviously, those aren't yearly evaluations. I requested them again. The request was forwarded to Liz Marston, FIU's Associate General Counsel, who e-mailed that those were the only performance evaluations that could be found. I chuckled and knew I'd revisit this when the football season ended.

Last week, I re-requested those evaluations from Marston, pointing out that Garcia said he was evaluated each year as the coaches were. I also requested any official commendations, suspensions and censures in his file, as well as Mario Cristobal's performance evaluations, commendations, suspensions and censures.

Marston e-mailed back that they were in the process of gathering the documents and would respond in a reasonable time. I noted to her that Friday was five months from the original request, so "reasonable time" was in the past. I found it ridiculous, but interesting, that I was being told that something as basic as performance evaluations for an employee making over $350,000 a year in base salary didn't exist.

Why did I ask? Because I like to read.

December 15, 2012

Collins "no comment;" Hilliard, Freshman All-Sun Belt

Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, FIU's defensive coordinator in 2010, threw out a "No comment" to Matt Stevens of the Columbus (Ms.) Commercial Dispatch when asked about the FIU job. I'm thinking his name got leaked as a decoy.

Quarterback E.J. Hilliard got named to the unofficial Sun Belt All-Freshman Team, a unit picked by the beat writers covering the conference and completely independent of the conference (thus the "unofficial."). It's put together by Adam Sparks, who covers Middle Tennessee State. Hilliard was 49 of 68 for 441 yards, four touchdowns, one interception this season.

Of course, Hilliard's two fumbles, against Louisiana-Monroe, might've been the difference in that game and his one interception started the turnaround in the Arkansas State game. Still, he started three games against bowl teams and played the second half against Louisville, who's in the Sugar Bowl. And he didn't get much help in two of his starts from the defense, running game or receivers. Expecting much better than what FIU got from a three-star true freshman is foolhardy.



December 13, 2012

Money, money, money, money....

Bobby Petrino gets $850,000 a year base salary from Western Kentucky to replace Willie Taggart. Taggart got five years, $5.75 million from the University of South Florida. Obviously, the price of a coach with a good track record did what the price of cheese did in the past year.

What does that mean for FIU, who needs someone with a college head coaching track record to justify even partially the firing of Mario Cristobal?

I covered Butch Davis' financial situation in a previous post (never mind what he's told FIU). He's getting $590,000 from North Carolina each of the next three years. Whatever another school pays him to coach is subtracted from Carolina's end. If Davis does his friend Pete Garcia a solid, FIU can get Davis cheap and Davis still gets his $590,000. 

Houston Nutt's not eating government cheese either after a $6 million buyout from Ole Miss. Randy Shannon got only one year into a new four-year deal when UM sacked him. He sued to get his money.

In other words, guys who don't necessarily need the money. Bobby Petrino got fired with cause by Arkansas and Western needed somebody to replace Taggart. USF ponied up to get Taggart to leave a place where he had been successful and ignore his other opportunities.

And Cristobal, who was making $453,183 as a base, isn't one of the final two at Temple, so that payoff savings isn't coming to FIU yet or via Philadelphia.

Trying to find out if it was any of the above available three -- or if it was someone else -- who met with Pete Garcia and Board of Trustees head Albert Maury on campus this week.

Panama City Bozeman defensive end Chandler Burkett got a visit from Maryland recently, but he's staying with his FIU commitment for now. From what I hear, current FIU players also are playing from the Wait-and-See playbook, although junior defensive tackle Isame Faciane did Tweet that he was considering transferring.


December 12, 2012

A good day for Cyprien, Hobbs & Albrecht

The same day senior safety Johnathan Cyprien will turn his tassel at graduation (Hospitality Management), he was announced as FIU's second ever Senior Bowl invitee.

"I'm really excited. I can't wait," said Cyprien, who has signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus.

NFL scouts hung around FIU practices late in the season, usually checking out Cyprien, defensive end Tourek Williams and left tackle Caylin Hauptmann. Cyprien should be able to attend the Senior Bowl, unlike T.Y. Hilton, who had to miss it last year with a quad injury. He said he'll try to get in touch with NFL cornerback and fellow North Miami Beach High alumnus Louis Delmas to get the skinny on the Senior Bowl.

As for last week's firing of Mario Cristobal, Cyprien said, "It was a shock. He was my coach for four years. But I have no say-so in the athletic department. Whatever happens, I've got Coach Cristobal's back."

Cyprien is one of Cristobal's favorite people, both on and off the field. If Cristobal had a daughter, he'd have wanted her to marry Cyprien.


In more on and off the field (or pitch) news...

Senior defender Anthony Hobbs was named a Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American. Brown defender Ryan McDuff won the Senior CLASS Award, which takes into account performance on the field, citizenship and academic achievement. Hobbs was one of 10 finalists.

The 10 goals and 23 points this year by sophomore forward Quentin Albrecht not only were the most by an FIU player in a decade, but got him selected Third Team All-South Region.


Don't go looking up Shoat Cooper's college coaching record. Shoat was the New York Giants coach in Dan Jenkins' 1973 satirical classic, Semi-Tough, which was made into a Burt Reynolds-Kris Kristofferson-Jill Clayburgh movie in 1977 and followed by a few novel sequels.

Doing The Limbo; Extra JoGus stuff

There's not much going on over at the fooball offices. Assistant coaches have been told to skedaddle, take paid vacation while the hunt continues for the next coach, whether it's Butch Davis, Houston Nutt, Randy Shannon, James Coley or Shoat Cooper.

Usually a staff waiting for their official axe does the professional courtesy of prepping things for the next staff. Not so in this case. Everything's on stop. Including, of course, recruiting.

A slew of junior college recruits were set to visit last weekend. Bzzzt. That's where FIU wanted to perhaps garner some help along the lines, particularly the offensive line, next year. Iowa Western Community College Inside linebacker Steven Funderburk, wavering between Indiana and FIU, committed to Bloomington. FIU could've been reeling Northwest Mississippi Community College defensive tackle Jerome McClain. Now, no Zebco.

Miramar wide receiver Sean Avant, rated at two stars by Scout.com and three stars by Rivals.com, had committed to FIU shortly before the firing, so it'll be interesting to see what happens with him between now and signing day.


A quote from FIU swim coach Randy Horner on how out of shape Johanna Gustafsdottir was at the start of the 2011-12 season, her freshman year at FIU though she was 21, and how it affected the way Horner handled her got cut from the story for length. But, I really liked it so here it is.

“She was not obesely overweight. Probably a good 30 pounds overweight, very soft, not where she needed to be. Her specialty is 200 IM, 200 back, 200 free, up to 400 IM which we haven’t done with her here. We put her in the sprint grounp because we didn’t feel like, the condition she was in, she could handle the middle distance group on our team. We didn’t want to blow her away with too much yardage. She’s not a sprinter at all. It took the entire academic year last year just to get her into condition to go that fast.”

"That fast" being last year's Sun Belt Conference meet, when Gustafsdottir blew up the FIU record book. Though she failed to make Iceland's 2012 Olympic team, she wants to train here for a shot at the 2016 team she already sounded quite determined to make.


December 10, 2012

FIU trying to get a Nutt?

More than money, FIU's facilities and undersupported support staff could hamper a football coach search. Yeah, both are better than what Mario Cristobal walked into when he took the job six years ago, but FIU wants someone of greater stature. Obviously. They fired Cristobal with the stated reason they wanted someone better. So, you better have more bells, whistles and diapers around.

As one former FBS assistant with an eye and ear on FIU noted Monday night, a Butch Davis or a Houston Nutt is used to practice fields and platoons of a support staff.

And those were the two names he used -- Butch Davis and Houston Nutt, the former Arkansas and Ole Miss coach. Thought that was interesting. Nutt interviewed for the South Florida job that went to Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart, so he's willing to move to Florida and willing to step down from the stature of his last two jobs.

Then, I saw Charles Robinson's Yahoo report. Hmmm...I wondered if this might turn out to be one-stop shopping for FIU. Nutt and Davis both are represented by agent Jimmy Sexton, who now works out of Creative Artists Agency. 

Under the guidance of Mike Ovitz, CAA beacme one of the most powerful entertainment talent agencies. So, it's no surprise that when the agency got serious about sports, within a few years, CAA Football would be headlined by heavyweights Tom Condon and Ben Dogra. They added Sexton, who has a powerhouse client list himself, last year.

Condon and Dogra mainly represent players. Sexton has players, coaches (including Nick Saban) and some management. In fact, Sexton was Bill Parcells agent when Parcells joined the Dolphins as Vice President of Football Operations and the agent for the first Parcells second round pick, Phillip Merling. That's the kind of thing that started getting hockey agent Alan Eagleson into trouble, but, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more....


No interviews yet; men's hoop 3-3

Here's what I have after a day at Camp Mitch:

All my Christmas shopping done for the wife and the nugget that nobody's interviewed for the open FIU job yet. While this surely effects recruiting, I'm hearing the philosophy is they'd rather take the time to find the right coach for the next few years than snag the right recruits this year.

Meanwhile, as detailed in the previous post, other head coaching positions are being filled, both thinning the coaching talent pool for FIU and thinning the spots former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal might land that would ameliorate FIU's financial obligation to him. For what it's worth, according to Bowling Green Daily News' Chad Bishop, Western landed Bobby Petrino for $850,000 per year.


With Louisville coach Rick Pitino watching, his son's FIU team evened its record at 3-3 Sunday by taking out Stetson, 82-79. Indicative of what can happen against when you use a high-pressure defense, FIU allowed 50.9 percent from the field, but forced 16 turnovers.

They've got a chance to nudge over .500 with a Thursday trip to Florida Gulf Coast. Then, next Wednesday, Dec. 19, it's the Oedipal Shootout at Louisville.

Cristobal might go where Golden has gone before

Sources close to Mario Cristobal confirmed today's Philadelphia Inquirer report that he interviewed this weekend for the head coaching job at Temple, where current University of Miami coach Al Golden blew his whistle before coming down to South Florida. Steve Addazio, who went 9-4 with a New Mexico Bowl win in 2011 and 4-7 in 2012 in his two years at Temple, took the head coaching job at Boston College last week

The Denver Post is reporting Colorado has hired Mike MacIntyre from San Jose State for the head coaching job in Boulder. If correct, it removes one more possible landing spot for Cristobal, whom I'd heard drew some interest in Cristobal for that job. His next job and how soon it happens matters as far as how much money FIU will have to spend on its next coach for the next couple of years. If he gets another head coaching job for next year, FIU could be on the hook for as little as $453,183. If he doesn't, FIU's ponying up $906,366.

And for those who chuckled at the idea of Bobby Petrino taking his reputation bath at a school such as FIU...Chad Bishop of the Bowling Green Daily News was first among several to report that Petrino will be named Western Kentucky's new head coach today. Willie Taggart left his college home, Western, last week to go back to his native home, taking the University of South Florida job.

Congratulations to linebacker Winston Fraser, who just passed by in his cap and gown after going through his graduation ceremony, and all athletes who are getting their sheepskins this week. Hope the real world welcomes you with gainful employment. If not, don't sniff at grad school.


December 09, 2012

Smokescreens and Butch money

The leaking of Mississippi State Geoff Collins and Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz's names as the possible next football coach feels awfully convenient.

Collins, FIU's defensive coordinator in 2010, vaulted to the SEC after guiding a unit that was the Sun Belt's best across the board. Diaz fits the FIU suit.

He’s from Miami (Miami Country Day graduate), which might soothe the feathers of those angry over a loyal-to-the-305 guy getting blind side sacked. He just did two years as a coordinator in one of the two or three most massive programs in the nation, by any measure. He’s linked to the same Miami-Dade County power structure as FIU’s Board of Trustees and executive director for spoots and entertainment Pete Garcia, albeit by chromosomes (Manny Sr. is a former City of Miami mayor).

Also, on a purely football level, as a coordinator for seven seasons at Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State and Texas, Diaz’s in-game decision-making might be a bump on one of Mario Cristobal’s weaknesses as a coach.

And about Butch Davis and money (even though he's told FIU he's not interested...)

Davis is guaranteed $590,000 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 from his North Carolina contract. He's able to double dip his income chip now with Tampa Bay as a "special assistant" because he's technically not a coach. But if he gets back into college coaching -- and Butch wants to get back into college coaching -- that salary will decrease North Carolina's part of the $590,000. Let's say someone paid him $500,000. North Carolina's now on the hook for only $90,000.

Theoretically, FIU could pay Davis cheap for three years and give him a bump in the fourth and fifth years of a deal.


December 08, 2012

Would you want Petrino?

According to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman reports that Bobby Petrino's getting momentum for the Arkansas State job.  

No surprise there. As I noted, big names who get fired or resign under scandal often have to cleanse themselves or rehabilitate their coaching name by doing a few years penance at a lower rung school. Petrino, last seen falling off a motorcycle and a woman while Arkansas' head coach, certainly seems a natural fit for the 2011 and 2012 Sun Belt Champions.

But would you want Petrino at FIU if he could be drawn to Camp Mitch? There's two things nobody questions about Petrino: he doesn't exactly have the judgement of Earl Warren and he's one of the best college football coaches in this country. Louisville won with him. He got Arkansas going again. At FIU, he wouldn't just be the best coach in Conference USA. He might be the best coach in the state of Florida.

Of course, you might be cheering every win with trepidation over when the next scandal sandal will drop.

So, would you want him?

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