Former University of Illinois coach Ron Turner will be announced as FIU's coach Friday afternoon.
"I'm excited about everything Pete Garcia and the president (Mark Rosenberg) have been doing to get this thing going," Turner said Thursday night. "Not that it hasn't been successful if you look at the strides made in a short amount of time."
I asked Turner why the return to college coaching when 12 of his last 20 seasons have been in the NFL.
"I love being a head coach," Turner said. "I love the college game. People would ask me which I liked more and I'd tell them, 'Whichever one is where I am.' I love working with young guys as 18 years olds, watcing them grow and leave four years later as men. I've got guys I recruited my first year at Illinois that I still keep in contact with."
Turner was 35-57 in his eight seasons at Illinois, 1997-2004, peaking in 2001 with a 10-1 team that won the Big Ten, then lost the Sugar Bowl. (The Rose Bowl, traditionally Big 10 vs. Pac 12, hosted the Bowl Alliance national championship game with the University of Miami and Nebraska). He said he thought Illinois was on the verge of bouncing back after the 2004 season because of the good young players they had. Ron Zook took over there and after a pair of two-win seasons, went 9-4 in 2007.
Turner said he didnt' have a great amount of experience recruiting South Florida, though they got some players out to go to Illinois, but "we will make every effort to keep local guys here."
Turner, brother of longtime NFL assistant and head coach Norv Turner, spent last season with the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers as quarterbacks coach on the same staff with special assistant Butch Davis, long the presumed favorite for the FIU job. According to Ron Turner, this was the only college job he interviewed for this year.
He said though his offensive background tended to be more the so-called West Coast Offense "I believe in pushing the ball down the field and playing up tempo." He said there would be some spread and spread option in his offense, but it wouldn't be exclusively spread. So, yes, FIU fans, you'll be seeing your quarterback under center. Turner said he thought after playing college football in his offense, which incorporates a lot of NFL offensive elements, players would be able to adjust more quickly from college to the NFL. He didn't say this, but that could be a selling point in recruiting, which he has to get hopping on after the American Football Coaches Association convention.