Finally grabbed Phil Steele's 2013 College Football Preview. Steele and his staff do the most exhaustive statistical analysis -- some might say overanalysis -- of college football.
They've got FIU at No. 118 overall. By Steele's Stock Market Indicator, which takes into account close losses after a pattern of winning seasons, he gives the Panthers approximately an 88 percent chance of improving their 3-9 record. But, their lack of experience plus what he sees as an overall step up in competition going to Conference USA mitigates the SMI measurement and he expects FIU to have a hard time winning three games.
Only defensive lineman Greg Hickman (second team) makes Steele's preseason all-conference team.
An ESPN report says Kansas State's 6-10 Adrian Diaz, a Hialeah Miami Lakes graduate, will be transferring to FIU. I'm on vacation, but working to confirm this.
Diaz played in 26 of K-State's 35 games, averaged 7.7 minutes per game, 2.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 2012-13. He wouldn't be eligible for this season, which doesn't matter as NCAA postseason ban penalties make this year a rebuilding year anyway.
Baker County wide receiver Mike Boone gave a verbal commitment to FIU Saturday, according to his Twitter feed. With Baker's offense based around 2,000-yard rusher Falon Lee, Boone had room for some big play scores.
In addition to football, Boone does the triple jump and finished fifth in the Class 2A State Championships in the triple.
A year ago, FIU prepared for the football season as the consensus Sun Belt favorite. That won't be a problem this year.
I haven't seen Phil Steele's exhaustive analysis. But, I doubt it's that far off this consensus:
USA Today: 118th in the nation, one ahead of fellow Conference USA team Texas-San Antonio, but last in C-USA East.
Lindy's: 119th overall, again, one ahead of Texas-San Antonio. But Lindy's credibility takes a hit. In one article, Lindy's didn't list T.Y. Hilton among the state of Florida players taken in the 2012 draft and, in another, said FIU fired Mario Cristobal and hired Butch Davis. Both were by the same writer.
Athlon: 118th overall, 2-10, 1-7 in C-USA, last in the East.
The Sporting News: Last in the East, 13th of 14 in recruiting.
Tampa Bay Tech linebacker Fred Russ verbally committed to FIU Wednesday. He's rated at two stars by Rivals, not rated by Scout, 24/7Sports or ESPN.
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia confirmed what tormer Louisiana-Monroe athletic director Bobby Staub told the Monroe News-Star Tuesday: Staub will be FIU's new Senior Associate Athletic Director, a job recently vacated by Alex Duque. Staub and ULM parted ways in April.
Garcia said Staub's responsibilities will be broader than Duque's were. Staub will oversee sponsorships, marketing, the ticket office, sports information and advancement.
According to Garcia, FIU's overall operating budget for 2013-14 projects total expenditures of $28,711,000 and total revenues of $29,258,000.
As for the recent team GPAs, I obviously need a stronger prescription in my glasses. The information I had in previous posts came from what I thought I saw on the screen during the Board of Trustees Athletics Committee meeting from Student-Athlete Academic Center Director Dr. Phil Moses. But, here's the correct numbers from Dr. Moses, who forwarded to me the chart he projected on the screen for the committee.
Men's basketball the last four semesters, starting from 2011-12: 2.16, 2.48, 2.18, 2.00.
Football the last four semesters, starting from 2011-12: 2.28, 2.46, 2.06, 2.14.
The most consistently strong team, as far as GPA, is swimming & diving followed closely by women's basketball. Both the Aquawomen and hoopsters femme have seven of the last eight semesters over 3.0. Swimming's one exception, fall 2010, was a 2.97. Women's basketball's one exception, fall 2011, was 2.91.
Atlanta Sports Academy wide receiver Jaron Locke, 6-2, 188, gave FIU his verbal (or electronic -- Twitter) commitment Monday night. Locke's not rated by ESPN, rated at two stars by Rivals and three stars by 247sports.com. He caught 52 passes for 1,152 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
In a life-imitating-TV way, lately, I've been running into people shortly after thinking about them. And so did this trend continue when I ran into sand volleyball coach Rita Buck-Crockett just before sitting down to blog post that she's now also the indoor volleyball coach.
This wasn't on the drawing board when Buck-Crockett took the sand volleyball job, but the job also included being assistant athletic director in charge of all things volleyball. I don't think anybody expected indoor volleyball's season to start breaking down from the opener's prematch warmups, when Jovana Bjelica suffered a broken hand. They finished 10-19 and barely made the Sun Belt tournament.
Athletic director Pete Garcia said it was Buck-Crockett's call on whether or not to replace indoor volleyball coach Trevor Theroulde. Buck-Crockett figures with former Maryland and University of Miami assistant Felix Hou coming on staff as associate head coach for indoor and daughter Marrita Royster-Crockett as a year-round assistant for sand this year (she wasn't year-round last year), she'll be able to do both jobs smoothly.
Her standards don't describe "modest:" she wants a national title in sand volleyball, which lost only one player (All-American Kate Stepanova), and a Conference USA title and Top 25 ranking for the indoor game.
After seven seasons as an FIU assistant, Desma Thomas Bateast will take over the St. Thomas University women's basketball program. Seeing as how Miami no longer has a WNBA team, Thomas Bateast hit for the 305 cycle in women's basketball -- tremendous high school player at American High, school Hall of Fame player at the University of Miami, assistant coach at FIU and now head coach at St. Thomas.
Tampa Gaither quarterback Alex McGough announced his commitment to FIU Sunday evening via Twitter. Earlier in the day, the verbal commitment of quarterback Luke Medlock, brother of current FIU first-string quarterback Jake Medlock, was announced via Jake's Twitter.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the 6-3 McGough completed 98 of 171 for 1541 yards, 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He ran 43 times for 213 yards, but I don't know how many of those 43 were sacks (taken off the rush yardage in high school and college, a ridiculous way to apply it). He was rated at two stars by 247sports.com and not rated by Scout.com, Rivals.com or ESPN.com.
Former FIU coach Isiah Thomas used a Huffington Post column to fire back at accusations from media and FIU (particularly athletic director Pete Garcia) that he's responsible for FIU's men's basketball's postseason ban for under-the-basement APR.
Some of what Thomas says in the column has been seen here in the April 5 post on this blog. He's right about the post-firing transfers damaging FIU's APR, although they weren't all in protest of his firing. That APR effect is one reason, I believe, some football transfer requests have been denied. Football could be in enough APR trouble next year without that.
Anyway, also note what I put in last week's post on the Board of Trustees Athletic Committee: the men's basketball team's GPA for the two semesters of 2011-12 were 2.18 and 2.16. Not exactly a trend of academic achievement there.
CORRECTION ON JUNE 18: The 2011-12 team GPAs were 2.16 and 2.48.
One member of the committee asked Dr. Phil Moses, director of the Student-Athlete Academic Center, if the problems in football and men's basketball were the academic abilities of the athletes recruited or the support system after they're here.
Look, let's be real about this: the four-star guy with the Stanford-level SAT or ACT isn't coming to FIU. He's going ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10. Maybe he gets a wild idea he'd like to be part of the group running the country and go to Harvard or Yale. But he isn't coming to Camp Mitch.
And we all know football and men's basketball coaches at any level get more job security from guys who can do 4.4 on the field or court than guys who can make a 4.4 in the classroom. Coaches at FIU and elsewhere at the "mid-major" level are trying to steal the best players they can from more prominent schools. They usually fail. They must scavange the remains -- a lot of guys who inspire "yeah, but he..." qualifiers. Sometimes, those cautions concern the academic end. But what's a coach to do?
You know: bring the kid on campus. Maybe that support could compensate for any shortcomings in teaching or academic acuity. At least, that's what the coach hopes while running the extracurricular activity that pays for the student-athlete's formal education while perhaps also hindering it.
The 21st century version of the North American Soccer League's Fort Lauderdale Strikers acquired Jahbari Willis, FIU forward from 2008-11, from Atlanta in a trade for Andy Herron. Willis signed with Atlanta last year. This seaosn, he's had two assists in 11 games.
The NCAA sanctions of men's basketball for low APR would allow Tymell Murphy or Ray Taylor to be immediately eligible should either choose to transfer. Of course, both have known that and that the sanctions were coming for a while.
So, it's no surprise that Taylor Tweeted Wednesday night a confirmation that he was staying in response to an online column saying he might transfer. Murphy declared he was staying last month. Not saying minds can't change, but there you go.
I don't know what happened to this post. Somehow, inserting the Alice Cooper video eliminated the rest of the copy. I apologize.
In summary, the men's basketball team got the NCAA punishment expected for almost a year -- no postseason play in 2013-14, activity time limited to five days and 16 hours -- when the 2011-12 Academic Progress Rate came in at an abysmal 750. That pulled the four-year rate down to 858. The reasons behind the 833 for the 2010-11 school year, one of the factors in Isiah Thomas' firing, was discussed in an April 5 post on this blog. I'd heard stories of players willfully crashing their acadmics after Thomas' firing. Such a comically low APR score all but confirms that happened. Between that and transfers from the program post-firing, there's your 750.
The football team's single-season APR was 932 and four-year was 930. The leading programs on the four-year APR were tennis, 992, and swimming, 986. Women's basketball and golf both put up single-year APRs of 1000.
Football had the lowest four APR aside from basketball. Baseball had the lowest single season APR aside from basketball, 867.
The Major League Baseball draft didn't tap the FIU roster until Saturday, when lefthanded pitcher Tyler Alexander got taken in the 27th round by Milwaukee.
In what probably will be his only season at FIU after time at Hillsborough Community College, Alexander went 4-6 with a 4.28 ERA and .255 opponent batting average in 15 starts. He struck out 101 batters and walked 62 in 90 1/3 innings. Alexander took over the No. 1 starter role after Mike Ellis' season-ending injury.
This year's women's basketball class, announced Friday morning:
Karrah Johnson -- 6-0, forward, from Lake Highland Prep. Johnson averaged 11.0 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game during her senior year.
Kiandre'a Pound -- 6-0 forward, from Sebastian River High, and was on Sebastian's 2012 Class 7A state titleists. She averaged 18.7 points and 10.8 rebounds in high school. She also did triple jump and high jump on the track team.
She's the sister of former FIU defensive tackle Andre Pound. According to TCPalm.com, she fell for FIU when she accompanied her older brother on his visit. Looking at their names, it's no shock that their father is Andre Pound, Sr.
Janka Hegedus -- 6-1, forward, out of Budapest Eotvos Jozsef High School. She's played for the Under 16 Hungarian National Team. FIU's had good fortune with players from Hungary (Andrea Nagy, Delma Ivanyi, more recently Fanni Hutlassa and Finda Mansare)
Nikolina Todorovic -- 5-6, guard from Bosnia Gymnasium Banja Luka, averaged 25.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 steals per game .
After two seasons, Drew French is out as FIU's pitching coach.
French came from Alabama after the 2011 season. FIU's 2012 staff put up a 4.34 ERA and allowed a .254 opponent batting average. In 2013, with ace Mike Ellis and top closer Mike Gomez taken out early by injuries, those numbers rose to 4.97 and .282, respectively as FIU went 25-30, the first losing season since 2008.
Wednesday morning, the Board of Trustees' Athletics Committee heard regularly scheduled reports from the athletic department on various goings on and issues.
It's still early on the possibility of a love connection between David Beckham's future Major League Soccer franchise and FIU Stadium. Beckham and the school are still at the fast dance stage. FIU athletic director Pete Garcia told the board last weekend's tour came about quickly and there's hot competition from seven other cities. Should Beckham choose Miami, expect the Miami Beckhams to have offices at FIU and use all the training facilities already there. I woudn't be surprised if there was an upgrade.
Garcia also said FIU has a hand in trying to bring a bowl game involving the American Athletic Conference (the former Big East's football schools that hadn't jumped elsewhere) to Marlins Park. Garcia didn't say this, but it doesn't take a cyclotron operator to figure out that if that happens, don't be surprised if the other conference that gets a tie-in is Conference USA.
Football's season opener will be at Maryland, Aug. 31, at 12:30 on the ACC Network (you know how much those announcers love South Florida...). The home opener against Central Florida has been moved to Friday night, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m. and will be on the CBS Sports Network. The home game against Bethune-Cookman, it was announced later in the day, will be 6 p.m.
Slides of the court at The Branch were shown. Garcia described the whole beach feel, including cabanas and sections of the stands named after South Florida beach geography, that he had planned for the court. He said he already had $280,000 worth of commitments from businesses that wanted their names on the court.
Women's basketball Jerica Coley is exalted as the department's gold standard, golden child, golden nugget, golden calf, you name it.
Coley got brought in to speak to the committee in the November meeting on her experience as an FIU student-athlete. No Coley in person this time. Instead, Garcia showed the CBS 4 report on her from late in the regular season. And, of course, mentioning that Coley's this year's Sun Belt Student-Athlete of the Year.
Garcia also showed off a crystal-looking vase-like thing from FIU got from the Sun Belt for having a student-athlete graduation rate higher than the general student body graduation rate. Garcia said the count was 51 percent to 43 percent.
Which brings us to academics. In general, FIU's student athletes get it done in the classroom. As far as individual teams, the football and men's basketball teams don't. Garcia said men's basketball definitely will be prohibited from playing in any postseason action in 2013-14 and, if football doesn't get it turned around, faces bowl bans and $300,000 fines from the NCAA in the future.
Student-Athlete Academic Center director Phil Moses had the unenviable task of presenting the numbers. Overall, they weren't bad. The 414 athletes had a 2.76 grade point average this past semeester, a tick below the 21,897 full-time students' 2.81.
But for the two highest profile sports...from what I could read from the big screen, football had a 2.06 grade point average in the fall and 2.14 in the spring. Men's basketball came in with a 2.18 and 2.00. That's actually under the 2.18 and 2.16 from the 2011-12 school year for basketball.
CORRECTION FROM JUNE 18: The 2011-12 GPAs for men's basketball were 2.16 and 2.48. Lousy glasses...
Also, Moses said, a breakdown of the most recent Academic Progress Rates for those sports showed a reversal from every normal trend. More APR points were being lost by FIU's elders, juniors and up, than by freshmen and sophomores.
Both new coaches, football's Ron Turner and men's basketball's Anthony Evans, vowed change from their athletes. Moses said improved technology and staffing would help on his end, along with a multi-point approach he detailed for the committee. Trustee Robert Barlick Jr. said he wanted to see more reporting on student-athlete progress, both more often and more data. Committee chair Jorge Arrizurieta said while Moses inherited a mess and his position has been hampered with instability -- Moses was the fourth director in five years when he took over in January 2012 -- it's time to start fixing it before it starts being a blight on FIU's name.
Later in the day, the NCAA announced its Public Recognition Awards for teams with multiyear APRs in the top 10 percent of their sport. Last year, FIU's women's tennis team got recognized. This year, no FIU team made the cut.