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Two kinds of coachspeak

On the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference conference call, I asked Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins if he interviewed for the FIU job Turner now holds and how far along in the process he got. Jenkins said he would only answer questions about this week, to do otherwise would be a disservice to the players, both coaching staffs, etc.

I really hate when football coaches give the long-winded "no comment" in situations like this. You're heading up a football team, not running the NSA. If you didn't interview, say so and it looks good to your current bosses. If you did interview (and most sources say he did), say so and that you're happy you decided to stay where they just gave you a contract extension.

From an opaque window to blunt clarity...

I asked FIU coach Ron Turner about redshirt sophomore wide receiver Fred Porter, who made the only big offensive play in FIU's loss to Maryland and a fourth down catch against UCF. Turner said Porter earned himself a day with the first team today, but had an average day and would need to pick it up Wednesday and Thursday.

I asked about sophmore cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon's benching last week after starting against Maryland. Turner said it was based entirely on performance. There was no disciplinary element.

Bethune's speed worries Turner. Apparently, so does the long snapping on placekicks -- redshirt freshman wide receiver Ricky Fernandez, redshirt sophomore tight end Akil Dan-Fodio, freshman center Danny Nunez and redshirt sophomore Aaron Neilson all were practicing placekick snaps after practice. 

Bethune's up to No. 23 in The Sports Nation FCS Top 25 poll.

The Nov. 23 home game against Marshall is now set for 6 p.m.

The Herald's David Ovalle (http://twitter.com/DavidOvalle305) is covering the trial of Quentin Wyche, the accused in the stabbing death of FIU football player Kendall Berry.



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David some days your just looking for something to start *&%+@. Turner is the coach. It seems you've been reading your "Gold Sheet" and have a hot tip for this weeks games.
TCU-4 at Texas Tech
Bama-8.5 at AM
If it bleeds it leads and if it's not bleeding......well let just try and make it

@insider46: Why is that an unfair question for him to ask on the call? He's a journalist - part of his job is PRECISELY to shake the tree and see what unreported stuff falls out. And with the clusterf*ck that is the FIU athletics department, he should shake it for all it's worth.

Insider46, here's how it goes, whether covering colleges or pros: if a coach interviews for a head coaching job with another team or is reported to have interviewed for that job, looks like a viable option, doesn't wind up with the job and faces that team/school soon after, he/she gets asked about it. Especially if the eventual hire came out of left field (left field? Try Waveland Avenue). This has nothing to do with Turner being a good hire or not. It's simple common sense reporting. Sometimes, you get nothing, sometimes, you get a funny story, sometimes, you get information. That's why you ask.

Legit question David. I would been surprised if you DID NOT ask.

First let me start by saying that I am aware that you have some rules regarding responding to your blog. However, I am going to take a chance a hope this gets posted because it needs to be said and heard by all that follow your work. Please understand that I understand your profession as a journalist and that is to write meaningful stories that attract readership, I get it. I have been following your blog for several years as I have family that has ties to the FIU football program. Anyone that has an interest in this school or athletic program, whether it is family, alumni or friends should be appalled as to how your reporting of this years team has taken a drastic turn and no journalist or reader should be proud of you or your writing. I don't have a problem with you reporting the academic problems, injuries, coaching issues, whose eligible and whose not, that is why we follow from far and near to stay connected with the team through the good or bad. Clearly there has been far too many negatives this year, but you have to understand that for the most part we are all still fans of the FIU Panther football team. What you have taken on this year Mr. Neal is not journalism it seems as though you are waging war on a "Team" a group of young men that are trying to rebuild something that was lost and something that we are not too far remooved from and that is "winning." Your current style of reporting this year has come from left field for no apparent reason. In most cases the school spoerts writer has some passion for the school sport that he or she is covering. Why is that the others that cover the team are not taking on this style or reporting and are just as effective at providing relevant information regarding the team? It is clear that you have absolutely no passion for this football team, other than cashing a check and again, I get it's how you feed your family. But don't forget that maybe, just maybe playing this sport we all love so dear will also put food on the table for 2 or 3 of these young men, and just maybe 2 or 3 will be coaching this game one day, and just maybe and this is the ultimate goal is that they will all leave FIU with a degree. This won't happen my friend with people like you using your platform for destruction. Why do I say destruction, let me open your eyes. If you didn't have malice in your heart when you wrote the story today "Two Kinds of coachspeak" where you spoke about two players from this team, and then turned around and tweeted your article posting to both of them persoanlly, clearly trying to create some sort of reaction from them, so you would have more fuel to add to your fire. And sir, please let your faithful FIU fans and followers know why you would retweet a young man tweet when he is clearly dealing with a difficult situation. Granted it was completely his fault, Mr. Neal what if this kids next text was that he couldn't take anymore and did some sort of harm to himself, is that worth the next story? Or perhaps the kid that tweet how difficult it was without football in his life and you immediately retweeted and had the adacity to make him a focal point to your story today and adding his performance issue per the coach, and then you had the nerve to tweet him personally your story, and that Mr is part of your vendetta. My guess is that with your total disrespect for this team, the school, its alumni, and not to mention your followers, yes the ones that think you are doing this program a favor by asking the tough questions or writing what others would not write, you my friend has crossed the line. Let me ask you this question? Were you that guy that never got picked for the team as a youth and now you are have this anger built up or you promised yourself that would get back at the athletes by any means necessary? I certainly hope that you are not that guy. As a fan of this team, and as someone that has followed your work in the past, I would ask that you not make whatever grudge you have, that it not be about these kids, they have not done anything to you personally, my God one of the kids that you retweeted did not even know who you were? Yes, its social media and its open for everyone to see, but surely you have more integrity that what is being shown in the past few months. Don't be the guy that is responsible for pushing a kid over his limit for a mere story! If your agenda is with the university then write about the university and not turn everything that is reportable into something negative. This is a young team and they really don't need anymore distractions. Especially from a reporter that has a hidden agenda. I respect your freedom of speech, Hell I fought for them, but I truly hope you understand that what you are doing is flat out wrong both morally and ethically !!!! GO FIU!

A cigar store Indian would have turned in a better performance at corner than we had last Friday night. RT must be kidding you, DJN.

FIUBLUE1, I have being saying this for a while. The Herald and DJN have an axe to grind with FIU. This has been proven over and over.

FIUBLUE1, where do I start? Let's start with today.
I asked about Fred Porter because a kid who spent last season unable to get on the field has been one of the few bright spots and was running with the first team. Turner responded as I reported. I didn't make up Turner's answer. I asked, he answered, I wrote it.

If you've been following me on Twitter, you'll note that, often, when I mention an athlete in a blog, I'll put the athlete's sign-on in my Tweet announcing the blog. I did it (twice) when I Tweeted the blog about the 58 athletes who made the Sun Belt Commissioner's List. I've done it when I've written about each sport at FIU. I did it the other day in Tweeting about women's soccer.

I asked Turner about Jeremiah McKinnon because, gee, a guy goes from starter one week to being told BEFORE THE GAME he won't play the next. It's my job to ask why. I did so. I put Turner's answer, including his assurance that it had nothing to do with discipline because he has done that already. Yep, I ought to be ashamed for that.

Now, let's get to my job. I cover FIU sports, the good and the bad. You want media cheerleaders, check out The Beacon or Rivals.com, the only other media entities that cover FIU sports with any regularity. If you think they provide as much relevant information as thoroughly and as quickly, read them and not me. I was battling at The Herald for FIU coverage before any current FIU athlete was a zygote. I blog from vacation, on campus gathering information and interviews on days off, covering more sports than most of FIU people care about so you guess what I think you can do with your "passion for the school..." and "total disrespect" comments.

Now, let me let you in on some reality, as it relates to football. Players are available to the media after practice twice a week. We have time to get, maybe, three or four players per day. After games, selected players are brought into a room for pack interviews. There's not the chance to do what would be done in the NFL or what could've been done back when I first covered college football in the 1980s -- go into the locker room, spend 30 to 45 minutes talking to several players, building relationships, getting their views on things. Also, nowadays, anybody covering any team at any level follows those athletes on Twitter and retweets anything interesting. But when you cover a college team these days, heck, sometimes their tweets are the first time you hear them express their feelings about something. Take the McKinnon case. I didn't have a chance to talk to him after Friday's game and wouldn't have a chance until today, at earliest. In the interim, he tweets he knew before the game he wasn't playing and how much he cares about football. Easy retweet and I dare you to find a reporter worth my cat's snot who says differently. Same thing when a guy who could've been a cornerstone for this team and has had several shots to get his stuff together tweets nothing has gone right for him at this school. Besides, when it comes to social media, you're asking me why I'm retweeting how somebody feels about his play, fans or the quarterback situation. But have you said jack to anybody about some of the vulgar terms for women commonly used by athletes with FIU in their sign-ons or the variations on "the N-word" that are far more damaging to the image of FIU and, indeed, the young man's future than anything I've retweeted?

If you're worried about a kid's mental health, go talk to him, talk to his parents, his coaches, his teammates, his friends, his girlfriend, but don't try to concoct some drama queen, Apocalyptic Annie scenario that lays blame on a relative outsider.

To satisfy your curiosity: I ran cross country and track in high school, like every sport to some extent (love hockey and football), never had any reason to hold a grudge against any athlete or coach and have had way too rich a life to hold any grudges against anyone I've covered. And, my last two years have been my happiest professionally since my days covering the other Panthers in town.

As another longtime South Florida writer said to me with envy last week, "I love your beat." I smiled, nodded and headed for the GC.

DJ thanks for the reply, to be honest I didn't think it would see daylight and I respect your reply, Don't agree with it, but we are both entitled to that. My opinion has not changed. If you really understood what I wrote it was not about your coverage of the team, it was the manner in which it is done. Surely there is more positives surrounding this team than what you have reported this year. I didn't say that all these kids are saints, but all of them are not bad either. As a fan, and the way this team is clearly struggling on and off the field. I am just asking for coverage that is not full of negative information all the time I don't even know if the players follow your work? Well is guess they do since you tweet them after your stories post? Maybe a positive story on one of the players might give this team a needed spark!

And as a society we are all responsible for the mental health of any young man or woman that could use a lift in life and not a constant knock down. Thanks for your time.

You do a good job, DJN. Admirable of you to take the time to explain things. But back to football: Achilles heel of teams at our level is often at corner and safety. Guess why Brian Hartline had a great day Sunday: Buster Skrine. Guess why Dollars Wallace had a virtual bagel: Joe Haden. We must be about out of options in the coaches' minds, else why would James Louis show up as a DB. Then again, maybe he will blossom there. Hope springs eternal in the Panther fan's heart.

Diagodog, though I originally tweeted that was James Louis at safety, I found out late in the game that it was Jordan Davis, formerly No. 36. The number change came too late for the media relations folks to put it on the flip cards they give to the media with rosters, numbers, etc. I think all three losses -- Demarkus Perkins, Richard Leonard, Davison Colimon -- really hurt this defense in the last 3 quarters against Maryland and the first half against UCF.

Don't understand the criticism of DJN. Compared to the writers that cover other teams, his reporting is as unbiased and objective as there is. It's not that his writing is negative towards the program. He's just writing what he sees and hears based on observation. You can't blame the writers who cover the Canes for being passionate about what's going on over there. There is a lot of positive things happening at the "U" right now and it's going to rub off on those that are covering that program. If I remember correctly DJN did show some excitement, optimism and dare I say "passion" for this team during the 2010 season. But then again, a winning season, a conference championship, and a bowl win may bring that out of a writer. That's not the case now. This team is rebuilding. It's starting from scratch. He's not being negative, he's just stating the obvious. Don't fall into that Miami way of thinking of "your either with us or against us". This city is passionate about winners, ignores the mediocre and flat out despises the losers. You are either the best or you suck. There is no middle ground. Its the Miami way. DJN is neither with us nor against us. He is simply doing what he gets paid to do. That is to cover FIU sports. The good along with the bad.

Agreed with System_out_println, and DJN's response was nothing but professional (and valid). The Miami Herald isn't a PR flack for the program, they're there to report the news. Nobody wants DJN to ignore the bad in favor of the good - and he does post feel-good stories when they come up. It's a tough balancing line, but when you start ignoring bad things that happen, your credibility as a journalist is lost. Start the change in the program from within, not from the sports section.

Exactly miacane86! I'd rather a journalist who tells it like it is over someone just feeding me what I want to hear.

Man, DJ Neal is one of the best beat reporters at the Herald, FIU fans should be thanking their lucky stars he's covering their school!

I don't say this to insult FIU but strictly as a by-the-numbers fact - there is no interest in Florida International. None.

That will obviously change if FIU starts winning but FIU was only of interest to FIU alums in the first place, there are no FIU fans that didn't go to that school.

The problem with FIU alums is that they're Miami sports fans and therefore terrible sports fans. You can see how the interest in this team dropped off a cliff when Cristobal was fired, there are very few comments on this blog anymore, they only got 15,000 fans to their "marquee" game against UCF.

Again, not trying to insult FIU, just providing some perspective. I'm always amazed to see how much work DJ Neal puts into coverage of other FIU sports that quite literally no one except those athletes parents and Gooch will read.

Respect to DJ Neal, if he ever decides to move on the guy who replaces him won't give you a fraction of this coverage.

Oh, and not for nothin', but Joseph Goodman is absolutely horrible covering the Heat.

Those numbers have to be getting back to the higher-ups by now...

Leave it to Buc Nasty to realize what escapes a lot of so-called FIU fans. Pretty spot on. Love FIU, love my Panthers, but we don't deserve DJN on this beat.

Team DJN

FIU Fans (all 100 of them) always complain about how the Herald Reports on FIU. Why no channel that energy and attend a game or better yet write a letter to Dr. Rosenberg and ask him to Fire Pete Garcia and then Step down himself.

You have to grant trash his steady focus. And Buc his trusty deprecating stance. What I'm wondering about, however, is who is on injury status for Bethune the Mighty? The game is played on the field and all these opinions about who stands up for whom don't really mean very much. I'm glad we have DJN so why don't we let that be the end of it?

Thanks for the compliments, Buc and Panther. Actually, this beat and I deserve each other -- we're both pretty idiosyncratic.

Buc Nasty has it entirely right. I remember the FIU-UM brawl, when easily 99% of the FIU STUDENT SECTION was wearing Canes colors. DJN does one of the best jobs I've seen with what he's given, which isn't much happy news. If I didn't respect his skills as a journalist, I sure as hell wouldn't be reading the FIU blog.

I feel like we've come across this topic on so many of DJN's posts. Do you guys not remember when Adam Beasley was covering FIU sports?? Again, if we want the rah-rah coverage, read fiusports and Pelegrin, who I enjoy as well. We haven't had a positive story come out of our athletic program since we hired mini-Pitino, and that was short lived, as expected a big fish would come in and scoop him up. Athletic program has been in disarray for over two years now, not calling for the AD's head as many other alumni are but some sort of change is warranted. DJN's coverage is more than solid, and not being in Miami or close to campus anymore, I definitely appreciate the extent of the coverage that was non-extistent beforehand. If there are positive stories to write about, Neal with cover them, but don't kid yourself when almost every top returning player has been kicked off the team for being academically ineligible or for being a moron off the field. As always, Go FIU, and hopefully we start turning things around in the next couple of years.

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