Sorry, been in the car from Coral Springs to Miami Shores with a McDonald's drive-thru stop...
Former FIU wide receivers coach Frank Ponce will head to Appalachian State, where former FIU offensvie coordinator Scott Satterfield is offensive coordinator, to be quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.
Ponce is the second former coach off the last staff to land elsewhere in the college ranks in the last week. Former offensvie line coach Alex Mirabal, set to go back to high school coaching at Columbus High, got the offensive line job at Marshall. Marshall's also where former FIU offensive coordinator Bill Legg earns his bread in the same role.
Of the coaches on the last staff, Mirabal and Ponce generally were the most widely liked. They're also Dade County guys.
CLASSROOM ZEROES AND Fs
All college football coaching staffs recruit some players who probably would need a broom and a job to get on a college campus if they didn't have a fast 40 or a big bench. Everyone would like to be Stanford, packing athletic teams with muscular Mensa candidates, but, alas, few fan bases would support that. Fans don't care about APR. They care about wins.
Academic support staffs and football support staffs spend far too high a percentage of their time holding the hands -- ahem -- of the athlete-students brought to campus to win football games. Sometimes, academic progress is the goal. Sometimes, it's eligibility.
Ultimately, however, whether you should or shouldn't be there, whether you've got someone telling you every few months what classes to take, whether you've got someone constantly asking if you went to class or not, success or failure in the classroom lies with the young man.
A person old enough to vote, fight for our country and have a Heineken (in some states) should be beyond whining about someone else if he fails all his classes or signs up for the exact same class two semesters in a row (and gets a worse grade the second time). Especially if he was already kicked out of school and only allowed back in only through the generosity of the institution.
As I say at the end of my pregame blogs, that's one black man's opinion. I could be wrong.
Freshman Danielle Albright won the 500 freestyle and the 200 free Saturday against FAU and Indian River College Saturday. Good enough to win her first Sun Belt Swimmer of the Week award.
Basketball's junior guard Jerica Coley got her Sun Belt Player of the Week award Monday. And, because the sun rose and junior Sabrina Beaupre dived last week with a season high in the 3-meter, we knew FIU's other most consistent athlete would get her fourth Diver of the Week award this season and 14th of her career.
Sandley Jean-Felix, OT, Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson
Shug Oyegunle, WR, Tampa Gaither
Jonathan Pavlov, TE, North Palm Beach Benjamin
Alphonso Randolph, RB, Ocala West Port
Jonnu Smith, TE, Ocala West Port
Willie Smith, DB, Bradenton Manatee
Vontarius West, CB, Bartow
Treyvon Williams, LB, Norland
BANNED BY BOOKS?
As of right now, one of FIU's most talented offensive skill position players will be academically ineligble for the first four games next season. According to NCAA rules, it'll take passing 27 hours of classes this semester and during the summer sessions for him to regain eligibility. Considering his past academic record that got him in this mess, this is sort of like Nigel Mansell being 28 seconds down to Nelson Piquet with 29 laps to go in the 1987 British Grand Prix, both in Williams-Hondas.
WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: another skill position player FIU hoped to rely is in a similar position. Around seven players, six who have been or are expected to be starters, are in academic trouble. I mentioned this was a possibility in a past blog post.
And, no, I'm not naming names yet. I'm not embarrassing the young men while they still have time to get epiphanies about the opportunities they have.
FIU's promotion of Jerica Coley, the nation's leading scorer, went online with the launch of http://www.holycoley.com. If you come across the ever-modest Coley and want to watch her blush, mention the website.
The site, designed by FIU media relations Maegan Azpiazu, is one-stop shopping for all things Jerica Coley as FIU tries to get her All-America recognition.
Recruiting sites and a couple of local recruiting hawks make their living analyzing players they've seen by spending Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at high school football games, talking to coaches and poring over film. No. 1, I haven't spent my Thursday-Saturday nights that way since several current high school coaches were high school players. No. 2, I see highlight films, where everyone looks like the next Jerry Rice or Joe Greene.
I will tell you how these sites have these kids rated or ranked. I'll post their highlight video. If they're from an area known for exceptional talent, I'll note that. But that's it. I'm not giving my own analysis of how good a player is or will be because I don't know the young man as a person and don't know him well enough as a player. Players have gone from walk-on to All-American. Some five-star recruits have never played a down.
And, as I've often said, if the sites that specialize in recruiting analysis were that accurate, Texas and Notre Dame would have more than two national titles in the last 30 years.
BASEBALL & SOFTBALL
FIU baseball and softball's main fundraiser, the Feb. 9 Diamond Dinner at the Graham Center Ballroom, still has tickets available.
Cocktails at 6 p.m. There will be silent and live auctions. This year's special guest speaker will be Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. Cocktails at 6 p.m. For tickets contact the Panther Club at 305-348-4697.
Junior guard Jerica Coley poured in 34 points in an FIU win at Louisiana-Lafayette and 31 in a win at South Alabama, boosting her nation-leading scoring average to 24.7 points per game. Coley's prolific week came on 64.3 percent shooting from the field.
For filling the nets so well, Coley received her third Sun Belt Player of the Week award this season.
This season, the weekly honor has bounced evenly among Coley, Middle Tennessee State junior forward Ebony Rowe and Western Kentucky sophomore guard Alexis Govan. Each has three POW awards.
Former FIU coach Mario Cristobal's associate coach, offensive line coach and best friend Alex Mirabal will be coming back to FIU next year...on Marshall's sideline. He'll be their offensive line coach.
Good for him. I liked dealing with him and his players seemed to really like him.
Some people wondered why Ron Turner didn't keep Mirabal around as he could use someone with local ties, having little of his own. That was never going to happen. Mirabal chose Cristobal to be the best man at his wedding -- over his five brothers. That's how tight those two are. After the bad feelings created by Cristobal's firing, there was no way Mirabal would stay at FIU.
As for Signing Day, I think FIU's trying to put something together to be done in the lobby of U.S. Century Bank Arena.
As for my previous post...this is from the FIU Student Host Form from the packet of forms that accompanies each official visit by an athlete:
You may not entertain the prospective student-athlete by attending a gentleman’s club or providing an opportunity for a sexual encounter (e.g., strip club, escort service, etc.).
There's a few other warnings, policies, etc. that could apply here, but that's the most direct one.
Busy Sunday after a weekend of visits. Slot wide receiver Shug Oyegunle, 5-11, 170 out of Tampa Gaither announced his decommitment from Ball State and commitment to FIU. Saw that coming from, oh, about the distance from my South Beach home to Muncie.
Ball State's got a nice campus and Muncie's an all right town. But if you're FIU and you can't get a Tampa kid you want out of Ball State's clutches, brush up the resume and hope Starbucks is hiring.
That gives FIU 15 commits by my count. Turner said this year he'd have the full complement of 25 scholarrships. And he also said he had no transfer requests pending from last year's players.
Class, today we're going to cover some basics of college athletics.
1. When in the process of recruiting for a Division I school and the other D1/FBS school in town is under NCAA investigation for improper recruiting practices, among other things, DO NOT TAKE THE RECRUIT TO THE STRIP CLUB!
Show the recruit the strip club. Point out that if he chooses to attend your university, he can visit the strip club. If you're in South Florida, show the recruit the many places where he can see just as many attractive women showing skin and behaving in a flirtatious manner as the strip club, including your own campus. But DO NOT TAKE THE RECRUIT TO THE STRIP CLUB!
The only money you're allowed to spend on the recruit cannot be used in the strip club. Diamond or the Twerk Twins might not care what money you contribute to their hairstylist. The NCAA or the state of Florida might.
2. Now, we move to Twitter, that wonderful connection of servers that lets everybody let everybody else in on their business.
If you post something on Twitter, it's public. Whatever you write is the equivalent of getting up with a microphone in front of all your followers and saying it. This remains the case even if you have a "private" account with protected tweets. Take, FIU defensive tackle Isame Faciane, @ICEem_down in one of the above tweets. Mr. Faciane has a private account with protected tweets...and 540 followers.
To believe that you'll post something off the chain and one of those 540 folks -- and you know you don't know all of them -- won't e-mail, text, screen grab, whatever to some authority figure or the media indulges in the hopefulness of the losing gamblers who built Las Vegas.
Stay with me as we move to No. 3...
3. IF you choose to violate No. 1 -- which, I understand, goes on many places and I'm not judging you -- then DO NOT go on Twitter and brag about violating rule No. 1, as defensive back Demarkus Perkins did above and in a later Twitter conversation with Mr. Faciane.
The conversation included the two above tweets as well as Mr. Faciane answering Mr. Perkins with "@ICEem_down: @DPerk_15 buddy had this😁 look on his face all might."
Class dismissed. Time for a little Ray...
IN OTHER RECRUITING NEWS...
Palm Beach Gardens offensive lineman James Cruise, one of the recruits on an official visit this weekend, committed to FIU today. Cruise, not rated by ESPN, Rivals or Scout, was a Second Team Class 8A-7A All-State player this season.
University School's Jordan Budwig, rated at two stars by ESPN and Rivals, also has committed to FIU after visiting this week.
The FIU swim team closed the dual meet portion of its season by routing FAU (178-120) and Indian River (182-98) College Saturday at the North Campus.
Freshman Danielle Albright won the 500 freestyle (5:00.52) and the 200 free (1:52.84). Sophomore Johanna Gustafsdottir won the 200 backstroke (2:04.83) and the 200 Individual Medley (2:04.94). Senior Marina Ribi won the 200 butterfly (2:02.69). Sophomore Klara Andersson won the 50 free (24.58). The list of winners doesn't include a usual name, Sonia Perez, who got sidelined by illness.
Up on the board, junior diver Sabrina Beaupre continued her good week (the Montreal Canadiens started the NHL season 2-1) with wins in the 1-meter and 3-meter, setting a season-high in the 3-meter (321.60)
Their next competitive appearance will be the Sun Belt Championships, Feb. 27-Mar. 2.
In talking to football coach Ron Turner about other stuff, I asked about the Friday departure of offensive line coach Luke Butkus after two weeks for a similar job with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I'm happy for him," Turner said. "Luke's like family to me. I recruited him at Illinois. He's got to do what's best for him and his family. If an offer came, you've got to go."
Turner said he just went to the top of the pile of O-line coach candidates he'd interviewed and called Steve Shankweiler. Next man up...
Just throwing out contract comparison numbers for the present and past football coaches. Ron Turner's not costing FIU much more money than Mario Cristobal would have this year. Of course, Turner's most recent track record as a head coach ended when Michael Vick still could hum "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?" without drawing sidelong glances.
The pool of money for assistant coaches is supposed to remain the same as last year, then rise thereafter
Turner: Five years, running out in January, 2018.
Cristibal Endng in June, 2017
Turner: $50,000 each mar. 1
Cristobal: $25,000 each June 30
Turner: $25,000 for over 940
Cristobal: $15,000 for over 940 (raised from $10,000 by the extension)
Turner: $25,000 for over 2.5
Cristobal: $15,000 for over 2.5 (raised from $10,000 by the extension)
Wins Conference Outright or Conference Championship Game
Cristobal: $20,000 (added by extension)
Bowl Game Participation
Cristobal: $20,000 (raised from $10,000 by the extension)
Wins Bowl Game
Conference Coach of the Year
Hey, I don’t have that!
Turner: $10,000 for participating in a conference championship game. Of course, there was no conference title game in the Sun Belt.
Cristobal: $15,000 for being ranked in the final USA Today/Coaches Top 25 poll. Added at the last extension.
WILLIAMS CLEANSING HIMSELF
You can bet the official FIU bio for linebackers coach Tom Williams holds to the facts as closely as his resume did this time. Williams might still be Yale's head coach had both been the case there.
Instead, Williams resigned in 2011 after three seasons. The New York Times found that his resume claim of being a Rhodes Scholar candidate, repeated on his official Yale biography on the web site and presumably the media guide, was false. Also false was a claim on his Yale biography that he spent a season as a free agent San Francisco 49ers linebacker.
Williams spent last season at UTEP coaching the secondary. Now, after a mass staff change there following the 2011 season, he comes to FIU. Before being head coach for the Yalies he had been a defensive coordinator at Stanford, Hawaii and San Jose State, associate head coach at Stanfod and linebackers assistant with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.
But now Williams is at FIU putting time and distance between the Fibs and Now. He's doing the same thing Bobby Petrino's doing at Western Kentucky on a smaller scale. Williams just got caught fibbing. Petrino got caught fibbing in a bouillabaisse of motorcycle, ex-volleyball player legs and a state university job (thus, state university money).
The sad thing is Williams has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from Stanford. He played there. He went on to some all right coaching gigs. He has a wife, kids and two degrees from the school with the most envied athletic-academic combination in the country. Impressive enough. Why try sprucing that up?
Embellishing on top of Williams actual accomplishments is the equivalent of going for a fake punt on fourth and 22 from your own 25 with a couple of minutes and change left in a game you're leading 10-7. Oh, wait, Williams did that, too. At Yale. Against Harvard. Harvard stopped the fake short, then won 14-10.
Wish I were out at Camp Mitch, stationed at The Fieldhouse today. But, alas, I'm up in Coral Springs dealing with the Panthers sur la glace this morning and afternoon.
FIU offensive line coach Luke Butkus is headed for an offensive line assistant's job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, in more ways than one, Butkus would be going south (Illinois-Big Ten to FIU-Conference USA) then going north (FIU to Jacksonville-NFL). Nice career bounce without coaching a single game.
Butkus' replacement as offensive line coach/run game coordinator will be Steve Shankweiler, South Florida's offensive line coach the last three seasons. Shankweiler's lived the nomadic coaching life, 30 years at the college level for five different schools, including three turns at East Carolina
Also on staff now as linebackers coach is Tom Williams, former Yale head coach who was at UTEP last season with FIU defensive line coach Andre Patterson, then UTEP's defensive coordinator.
FIU senior guard Jerica Coley's scoring average, now at 24.4 points per game, ranks No. 1 in the nation. Coley, an Honorable Mention All-America last year, has been at No. 3 most of the season.
At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien's been grabbing notice of the NFL Draftniks who hang around such events and do some non-professional professional scouting for their draft intensive sites and publications. But Cyprien's also caught the eyes of enough NFL scouts and executives for them to vote him Outstanding Defensive Back for the week of practices.
The game is Saturday, which is probably why FIU's basketball games in Mobile against South Alabama will be Sunday afernoon at 3:05 and 5:05. The men go in having won seven of their last eight after outlasting Louisiana-Lafayette, 80-75 Thursday night. The women are 10-3 in their last 13 or 4-2 since the schedule became Sun Belt exclusive.
Massive 6-0, 295-pound Jason Rae, a center out of Cypress Bay High rated at two stars by Scout.com and Rivals.com said Thursday night he decommitted from FIU because the current coaching staff rescinded the offer made by the previous coaching staff.
"I didn't meet their requirements of what they needed as an offensive lineman," Rae said by phone. "They didn't tell me, they told my coach (Cypress Bay head coach Mike Guandolo)."
This late in the process, that's a surprising move by FIU, which needs offensive linemen in this class. Rae knows it could be tough to find another school he likes to offer him a scholarship. Rae's brother, Jordan Rae, centered the Central Florida line this past season with aplomb.
"Maybe I'll have to walk on to a school and prove myself," he said.
This weekend's visitors include Louisville Trinity quarterback Travis Wright, rated at two stars by Rivals.com and three stars by ESPN.com, and who'll be given a long, hard look by FIU. The school needs quarterbacks. It's not that sophomore E.J. Hilliard won't be up to snuff if (when?) quarterback Jake Meclock's injury sidelines him for a game or two. The Panthers need more depth.
Wright's not committed anywhere. Tampa Gaither High wide receiver Shug Oyegunle, also visiting FIU this weekend, is committed to Ball State. That's in Muncie, Indiana. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Minutes before FIU left for its Louisiana-Lafayette-South Alabama trip Wednesday and hours before the University of Miami treated No. 1 Duke like the Blue Devils were Marcellus Wallace in the wrong pawn shop, I asked FIU coach Richard Pitino about the effect FIU and UM's surprisingly good seasons had on college basketball in a city that usually treats college basketball little better than curling.
"Most of the schools in the state of Florida besides Miami, Florida and Florida State are young universities that don't have a lot of great basketball tradition," Pitino said. "Miami could even be said to be that as well. Miami doesn't have a great basketball tradition. So, they go through what we go through (in a) relative (way) -- they're going against Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State. They're trying to build their own tradituion. And, they've got to do it one game at a time and build their fan base that sees basketball. It's not just about football. We're doing the same thing. We're going through it just like they are."
A pair of wins on this trip would push FIU (10-8, 5-4 in The Belt) into second in the Sun Belt's East Divsion behind Middle Tennessee State (16-4, 8-1). A split, particularly a win tonight at Lou-La and a loss to South Alabama, probably leaves FIU in the pack with Western Kentucky and FAU behind second-place South Alabama.
FIU's women's basketball team got a 64-63 overtime win at Louisiana-Lafayette tonight -- Jerica Coley 34 points -- that contained about as much drama as Signing Day will for FIU football recruiting.
OK, cheap way to shove the women's hoop result in with this recruiting mess, but it's true that you should remember when you read what follows that nobody knows nothin'. Or, if you get up to here with figuring out the maybes, visits, offers, commits, take this attitude until Signing Day: forget it Jake. It's...recruiting.
FIU got a commitment from Third Team All-State 5A Norland linebacker Treyvon Williams Tuesday and have been hot on another Third Team All-State 5A defensive player, Tampa Robinson defensive end Justin Madison, rated at three stars by Scout.com. FIU swung by Madison's school Wednesday.
FIU also dropped by Riviera Beach Suncoast to talk with defensive tackle Ke'Tyrus Marks, 6-2, 280 pounds, rated at two stars by Rivals.com. The Panthers got converted linebacker Davison Colimon from Suncoast last year, but were on Colimon early. And Arkansas likes Marks,too. Recruiting and Mountain Dew consumption are the two areas where Fayetteville usually trumps Miami-Dade.
Up in Kentucky, FIU had an in-home visit with Louisville Trinity quarterback Travis Wright, who'll be visiting here this weekend. Wright's ranked at two stars by Rivals.com, which has him as the No. 19 dual-threat quarterback in the country, and three stars by ESPN.com. FIU needs another viable quarterback, especially after losing Collins Hill (Ga.) Suwanee's Brett Sheridan.
Also visiting next weekend will be Palm Beach Gardens wide receiver Frank Brown, a 6-0, 180-pound deep threat who caught 34 passes for 706 yards (20.8 per catch) and four touchdowns for Gardens. Bethune-Cookman's been on Brown for a while, but if FIU can't buffalo Bethune aside, "fall" will describe the next few autumns in more than one way.
As previously posted, Vero Beach offensive lineman Chris Flaig re-committed Wednesday. Another reason FIU coach Ron Turner was at Vero Beach Wednesday was to visit kicker Karson Dietrich. According to FIU athletic director Pete Garcia at Turner's introduction, Turner's staff is supposed to have a dedicated special teams coordinator and that phase of the game will be emphasized. To me, FIU should always have an ace kicker, even if they have to drag one over from the soccer team (yes, you can do both in college -- future Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich kicked for the first two college teams I covered while also being a starter on the No. 1-ranked soccer team.)
In an answer to quarterback E.J. Hilliard's Twitter call to hear from all who's with FIU, Vero Beach offensive lineman Chris Flaig responded that he'd just committed.
This is a recommitment for the 6-5, 275-pound Flaig, who originally gave his verbal pledge to FIU last July, then reopened his recruiting after Mario Cristobal's firing.
And though he's been in the building since father Ron Turner took the FIU head coaching job, only today was it announced that one of the head coach's sons, Cameron Turner, will be the quarterbacks and wide receivers assistant coach. Turner played those positions at The Citadel, then coached receivers and special teams there in 2010. He's spent the last two seasons as assistant to Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, doing off-the-field grunt work and, on game days, keeping Frazier apprised of clock management, timeouts, challenges and rules.
FIU will be in the East Divivion of Conference USA with East Carolina, FAU (natch), Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, Southern Mississippi and Alabama-Birmingham. Old Dominion will join the East in 2014. For football, FIU plays everyone else in the East and two teams from the West (North Texas, Rice, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, Texas-El Paso, Texas-San Antonio).
The Panthers conference home games this season will be against East Carolina, Marshall, Louisiana Tech and UAB. FIU's road conference games will be against Middle, FAU, Southern Miss and UTEP. Or, in my language, "Nashville, a nice drive, Favreville and Border Town (Not Packing Heat, But Might Pack Kevlar)."
Joey Corey hasn't officially been named director of football operations yet, though he's begun to function in that capacity. Corey's still listed as Director of Athletic Operations on the FIU sports website.
Now, new directors of football operations, being among the support staff who handles the grunt work behind the scenes, aren't always announced. But it's also possible FIU is keeping Corey's position with the football program on the down low until the NCAA whip finishes coming down over in Coral Gables. Convicted ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro named Corey, a University of Miami assistant equipment manager at the time, as being present and a witness to the alleged fun, fun, funny business between Shapiro and UM players.
FIU's extended offers to Davie University School offensive lineman Jordan Budwig, a 6-4, 310-pounder rated at two stars by Scout.com, ESPN and Rivals, and to Killian linebacker Jordan Gibbs, 6-2, 210, who wasn't rated by any of the services.
Now that FAU and Middle Tennessee are hopping out of the Sun Belt and into Conference USA in 2013 instead of 2014, the football scheduling process can actually resume. Expect a finished schedule in a few weeks.
According to FIU athletic director Pete Garcia, that schedule for FIU will include games against FAU and Middle. So, the Shula Bowl which has gone from "Off Indefinitely" to "Off For At Least 2013" is now back to "Same Time, Next Year." Though the game was in Boca Raton last year, it's undecided who gets the home date this season.