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More Turner stuff; Hauptmann invited to all-star game

What look like Turner’s Pluses and Minuses.

Plus:

In-game coaching experience: Turner’s greatest strength hits at the previous staff’s greatest weakness. He’s called plays and/or handled a sideline in the Super Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, Ohio Stadium, Michigan’s Big House, etc. There should be fewer wasted timeouts, bad challenges and general “doh!” moments, such as being flagged for having 12 men on the field the play after getting flagged for having 13 men on the field.

Also, conservatism could infect FIU offensively once the Panthers got up big in games. That’s fine when the defense played as well as it did in 2010 and 2011. This past year, getting the squeaky sphincter in such situations cost them. Again, Turner’s been there and done that.

Used to working with limited talent: This could come into play early next year with a young offensive line, an injury-prone Jake Medlock, injury-prone Kedrick Rhodes, not much beyond sophomore E.J. Hilliard in the way of a viable backup quarterback and limited recruiting time. It’s said often enough to be cliché, but Charlie Weis looked like a much smarter coach when he had a quarterbacking Brady, Tom or Quinn, in New England or at Notre Dame than when he didn’t. The best NFL quarterback Turner worked with was Jeff Garcia…at San Jose State.

Who were those quarterbacks directing powerhouse Illinois offenses in 2001 and 2002, Kurt Kittner and John Kitna? Kurt Russell and John Ritter? Who were the dominating defensive linemen, the omnipresent linebackers on his defense? The cupboard’s hardly bare at FIU, but if Turner falters in recruiting or injuries hit, he’ll need similar sorcery.

Minus

A questionable recruiter: Going by recruiting rankings – and you know how I feel about what those are worth, but we have to use some measure -- FIU’s recruiting steadily improved under Mario Cristobal. With a still-weak football name (FIU) behind him and unimpressive facilities, Cristobal mined Palm Beach County to Homestead about as well as you could hope and even established a small presence in hypercompetitive Louisiana.

Meanwhile, Champaign’s a fun college town with a gorgeous campus, and a large, active alumni base. While the best of the Illini’s football history dates to Prohibition (Red Grange) or might as well date back that far (Dick Butkus), it’s still in the Big Ten. When Turner and his staff went out to recruit, they could put something on the table. And you should be strong in Illinois and metropolitan Chicago, competitive in the St. Louis metro area.

With that, Turner came back with one recruiting class that enabled him to win in the Big Ten. Then, down the Matterhorn as far as raw talent. Turner’s eight Illinois’ teams dressed zero future NFL first round picks and just three future second round picks. Just to pick out another Big Ten team I ran across in researching that, Iowa had three future first rounders on the same team in 2002 and 2003: Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders and Oakland offensive lineman Robert Gallery. From Illinois, defensive backs Eugene Wilson and Kelvin Hayden got drafted as second rounders. Defensive lineman Fred Evans, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and offensive guard David Diehl all are still playing in the NFL from Illinois.

Now, he’ll be going into a recruit’s house with much less in a much more heavily swarmed recruiting area. Think it was tough pulling kids away from Michigan and Ohio State’s tradition and Wisconsin’s parties? Welcome to a battle royal for every three-star kid south of Atlanta with a test score or a summer school schedule.

Also, there’s a skill to closing the deal on South Florida kids. Turner doesn’t have it. Until he learns it, he’ll need assistants who do.  

You’re not in Palo Alto or Champaign anymore: Since his mid-30s, Turner’s been a college coach at affluent Stanford, rivaled by few when combining academics and football; Big Ten Illinois; and with money-printing NFL teams.  

FIU ain’t them. Those places sneeze away FIU’s resources. More money, more support staff, fewer headaches for head football coaches.

Every coach goes through a Ramen-noodles-no-sleep-utility guy era as a young assistant. The FIU head coaching job isn’t as far removed from that as you might think. Turner’s 59. There’s only so much night patrol cop or fireman you feel like playing at that age, unless it’s with your wife.

FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said the money for assistant coaches remains the same as last year and will rise in succeeding years.

Pete Garcia said his sights got set on Turner with two weeks left in the NFL season. That puts it just over two weeks after Garcia fired Mario Cristobal. So, either Garcia sacked Cristobal without a clear plan in mind or he ran through his list like a pound of chitlins through my Uncle Dickie, then found Turner.

Turner’s respected enough to remain continuously employed, but has bounced among three NFL jobs in the last three seasons (and it’s not beyond belief that Garcia advisers Greg Schiano and Butch Davis, if Schiano had decided not to bring Turner back, helped lateral Turner south to FIU). The last three years of college head coaching on an overall erratic resume were nine years removed from the start of the 2013 season and show a 9-26 record.

And so does FIU go forward...

HAUPTMANN

Left tackle Caylin Hauptmann will be playing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, an all-star game for draft eligible seniors, on Jan. 19.

 

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Nice work DJN. I always like MC more as a recruiter than as a coach. Lets see if the trade-off works: a coach who knows the game but has little reputations on bringing in talents over a coach who can bring in talents but struggles at gameday.

Appreciate the updates DJN. I don’t think Turner’s recruiting experience will be much of a factor. For one, he won’t have to go very far to get quality kids with all the talent that we have down here. I'm curious, do you know if he has built good relationships with high school coaches in the other areas where he has coached previously, for example Illinois or Tampa area? Regardless if he has or not, we have the talent on this team right now to be competitive in Conference USA. Hopefully he can close out this recruiting season with another good class to compliment the kids that Mario was able to acquire in the previous years. Turner seems to have the experience and coaching skillset that this team needs in order to improve and correct the issues we had last year.

O.K., back out onto the ledge I go.

Great write up. Unfortunately, it only dampens my already negative demeanor on the hire. I hope I'm so so wrong.

I disagree that Pete Garcia had a plan but agree that Rod Turner should dress up like a fireman and thrill the missus.

Oh well, first off, let's see if he can hang onto any recruits or bring a few. Meantime, in other fiu sporting news, I saw the Panthers go up against the Bethune Cookman Out of Staters (maybe two kids from Florida on the roster). Our team plays competent perimeter defense but lacks a shot blocker inside to seal the deal. Even the BC kids who topped out at 6'6" had much better ups. We have a seven-footer from CC via Eastern Europe, but he has about the same mobility as a statue of Marshall Tito, and one of the supposed stars recruited by IT, Joey De La Rosa, looks great in his sweats now that he has lost 30 pounds. Trouble is, he never gets out of the sweats. I think he is averaging 3 minutes. Clear that Pitino has gone all in for up tempo in hopes he will steal a few, and lundering thunks who can't run will be reserved for garbage time. Malik Smith has a stroke and Tymell Murphy is an athlete. Jerome Frink, the only Freshman recruit, has potential at 6'6". If he grows a couple of inches and puts on some weight room bulk he could become a CUSA stud. Oh yeah, they won the game that last year would have gotten away down the stretch due to coaching catatonia. P-small was up and down courtside like a dervish, drawing a technical on a complaint for a missed call that you could hear even over the din of the 828 (or was it 288) in attendance. A heckuva a lot better game than the one in Joe Robbie last night.

@Diagodog,

The game at Rent-A-Center stadiun last night was great. I got me to bed early. Didn't have to stay up like when watching UF lay egg vs. UL OR FSU struggle for three qtrs against NIU.

Thank you AL for letting me sleep...lol

Good summary of yestersday afternoon game. And I agree with the bigs. I thought the days of Marvin Roberts 6'5" playing Center were over. Exit Marvin enter Frink. Pitino should either let the bigs play or just run the game small the whole game.

I don't like JDLR playing one minute at a time. Hey 7-7 looks like worlds ahead of the last two HC. Almost Shakey Like... ;-)

Rather rent a championship/NFL/Super Bowl/Pro Bowl caliber stadium than own an empty tin can.

It is too bad about JDLR...the only kid who sticks it out and now his butt is nailed to the bench. Life in the big city, I guess. And I agree that 7-7 is pretty darned glittery compared to what was accomplished the last few seasons. All of it pretty much with walk-ons and no-name JC transfers and people 6'6" or under. I believe that is what you might call "coaching." And by the way, Lt. Lois, I believe you may have dialed the wrong planet.

@Lt. Lois,

By the way, I here FAU is planning on celebrating the inaugural team during half-time of your game. Since you know, they rented the stadium first.

Don't worry if there is ever a double booking with the Monster Truck rally you could always rent FAU's old rental facility in Lockhart.

***hear

I here you loud and clear.

Speaking of sneezing away FIU resources; what are our resources? Where do we rank within our current conference? How 'bout C-USA? What kind of money are we talking about with the move from the Sun Belt to C-USA? Do you have any inside contacts at FIU? How 'bout some hard news instead of constant, and I mean constant, opinion and wise-cracks.

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