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Stand Your Ground

Why this week's FAU recruiting bonanza, which included several players from Dade and Broward Counties including a couple of former FIU commits, could hurt FIU beyond 2014:

Before John Madden became a broadcaster, a video game and a cartoon, he was the youngest coach to win 100 NFL games and did so in 10 seasons of coaching Oakland. Whenever he was asked the key to being a great coach, Madden would usually start his response with, "First, have great players."

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson had a merchandising company that wanted to do work with the pro sports leagues. That's a tough market to crack, double tough for minority-owned businesses in the 1980s. Through some opportunism, the company eventually got a deal with the NFL -- the low-end hat market. Pearson's company developed that perceived small market, developed that as the ground they owned and became members of an exclusive club of rightsholders that made $1 milllion in royalties for NFL Properties three consecutive years.

Being good starts with your players, even more so in college than the NFL. And when you're trying to build your company amidst larger, more established competitors, you have to grab some patch of space and declare it as yours on which you'll contruct your foundation of success.

Howard Schnellenberger's "State of Miami" philosophy that stocked those legendary University of Miami teams of the 1980s is well-stated. When SMU rose from ashes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ron Meyer decided they would own Dallas, Houston, the rest of East Texas and Western Louisiana. They were the smaller brands trying to break into a tight club, like Drew Pearson Enterprises.

If FIU's ever going to be more than what it is now in football, if it's ever going to be, say, where Central Florida is now (three 10-win seasons in the last four), the ground needs to be grabbed and held. It doesn't need to be Dade or Broward County's upper crust recruits nor is it realistic think it would be in the next few years. But, they need to establish themselves as a first line possibility for the next rung down and the rung after that.

Last fall, I talked to UCF's George O'Leary about the turnaround there.

“When I first got here, we needed players,” O’Leary said. “Our goal was to get hold of kids who were thinking of leaving the state. Once we accomplished that, we’re able to go after the same kids as (the Big Three). More so than not, we don’t get them. But we get some.”

That's what stalled some at FIU with the last coaching change. Some ground had been claimed in South Florida --T.Y. Hilton, Wesley Carroll, Johnathan Cyprien, Winston Fraser, etc. -- and in Louisiana, where Mario Cristobal developed a thin pipeline of defensive linemen. Just using that as an example, not wanting to rehash the firing or anything. It's done. Moving on, time for FIU to reestablish its ground under the current staff.

Except it's FAU doing the establishing in Dade and Broward while going after the same echelon of players as FIU. The Owls are doing it with a campus just far enough away to be not home yet close enough for quick visits, emergencies, family to make games; a debt-ridden but beautiful stadium; a campus that's nice and ever-growing, just like FIU's. They've got relationships locally. FIU's got some relationships and several acquaintances.

Meanwhile, what's FIU's ground? California quarterbacks?

Watching this recruiting week play out, somebody said to me it reminded him of Fillmore Slim's story in the documentary American Pimp. Other pimps took Fillmore's women from him hours after he set up in Los Angeles the first time. Fillmore went to the phone and called out seven more women, his first string. The LA pimps realized when they only got from Fillmore what he let them have. They gave him his respect and his space. The difference, the guy said to me, is that FIU's getting its first string taken.

I'm not saying FIU won't get any good players out of Dade or Broward in years to come if they don't get their act together now. Just out of talent overload, they'll get some. By the way, their top recruit this year, Orlando Timber Creek wide receiver Javonte Seabury, isn't going anywhere. I'm convinced the issue with his visit being cancelled this weekend was grades, not getting poached.

What I am saying is big changes often start with small, decisive moves. FAU is making them. FIU needs to make some that lets folks know that, on some small level, this is FIU's area.


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Agreed! Sad that Turner is playing the role of the cheetah by racing out of the gate and luring 20+ commits early. And then at the last minute, FAU comes in playing the role of the lion to steal the recruiting prize.

We picked up an OT this weekend. Keep it going Coach Turner and staff! Seabury is our best recruit, he is ready to be our next star. Hopefully we can add Turner(athlete).

FAU has picked up good players. There was yr when FIU had 19 3 -stars. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't...I'm excited to see our final 25 commits.

Amen, Mr. Neal. When FIU can't out recruit FAU in its own backyard, it's time to clean house. I wouldn't want Ron Turner coaching my sons Pop Warner team.

Dave, thank you. And that’s all I gotta say about that.

20 of FIU's commits only have 1 D1 offer, guess from who ? The majority are all FCS programs chasing those kids. No offense to the recruits, but that program is doomed for many years to come.

@ Cleveland Browns Fanbase: Can there be someone else who roots for both the Browns and the Panthers? Boy do we have misery squared.

DJN, you and I have been going back and forth on this since the weekend... let me add some more to my point.

BUT first hop on the hot tub time machine.... last week you wrote an opinion piece that challenged the "State of Miami" and those imaginary fences... Urging Coral Gables fans to be realistic... but I guess that doesn't apply to FIU? Well what separates FIU from all the other mid majors... Specially the mid majors that have made a living in this area before MC, during MC, and will after MC... The reality is not much but the opportunity to start right away.

Lets look at the best recruiting class in the previous regime. The 19 3-star guys of 2012. Funny, thing comes to mind, of that 29 guy class, only 6 were from the tri-county area. HOWS THAT FOR A MYTHICAL FENCE.
Ayers (K) sucked, Durante (Krop) not on team, Jasper (Jackson), EJ (about to be Gumped out), McKinnon (TheRidge) and Edence (Wellington)...

Lets look further of those 19 3-star guys, the best players so far are Colimon, Fadol Brown (good enough to leave to SEC), Wakefield, Caldwell, Jasper, and Dyson... of these 6 only ONE was a 3-Star.

Lets look at 2011, Lorenzo "Freaking" Hammonds as MC let Cato (FIU COMMIT) walk away to Marshall... Great fence.

This years class has 8 guys from Tri-County...

Time will tell how this class will end. Time is telling how that 2012 class is going. Time TOLD how good MC was without TY Hilton and Carrol.

BUt hey, don't look up.. cause the sky is falling.


Chia, your continued optimism for every move FIU makes is as grand as both your ability to compare apples to oranges and to miss my point.

What I said for UM fans holds. They're not going to own the county that way again. I'm not saying FIU should get every South Florida kid not on the UM, UF, FSU (and UCF?) radar. They lost Cato to high school teammate Tommy Shuler and Holliday, who knows how to recruit down here. Nor is every kid you get that looks good on paper from your area of strength going to work out (ask Texas).

But I am saying those programs that grow into consistent successes do so out of making the most of a recruiting base and it's usually close to the school, Boise State-California notwithstanding. Note the O'Leary quote. You don't have to have a monopoly, put up houses and get rich. But getting a railroad, utility and two of three properties of each color group on one side can make you some money and improve your standing. If you let a similar-sized competitor do that within a month after that competitor has a new staff, well, that's something you've got to nip in the bud.

To forecast the sky falling for a program coming off 1-11 with quarterback issues (as of now) and at least another transition year ahead seems a bit...late, no? But, yeah, I'm doom and gloom because I don't always have the utmost faith in this program or department to get things right.


I don't have the utmost faith in the Athletic Departnent. You brought up the previous staff, you brought up fences. Yet FIU has more local talent in this class than each of the previous two classes. No response from you there?

Others will make the stars argument, but as I pointed out the biggest contributors from those classes have been the 2* guys. Weird?. But I put the faith on the recruit evaluation or evaluators. Cause for a class of two star guys there seems to be a lot of interests from others.

Yes, I am hopeful. Its January 2014. Haven't seen these guys play and don't know if they'll be eligible. But I've seen the old guys play and yes I think these guys will help.

Continued optimism of every move...no way, you know me better than that. Yes, glad to see MC was sent packing. Hopeful Turner is the answer. Will give him the same chance we gave the former biggest guy in the room.

Biggest difference I guess besides the obvious ( height and me beign better looking) between you and I are:
1. You think every move will fail, simply becuase its FIU
2. I think every move may work out, until it fails.

First off, I don't think every move will fail because it's FIU. I look at each situation uniquely, but it's impossible to not factor in a person or program's track record. For example, I liked the hiring of Evans, especially after talking to him about his role in and how he dealt with, similar NCAA issues at Norfolk that he's facing now at FIU. I loved the basketball court.

As to last year's class, you really want to use that as any measuring stick? With all that went on, to include that is flawed on the face of it. And the 2012 class didn't have high volume locally, but did have well-rated quality. They got what they wanted. Some players didn't work out. I repeat, not every class, every prospect is going to develop as you'd hoped.

Even after Killian's Anthony Brown decommit, FIU has right now 11 commitments from Miami and Broward counties. BTW, FAU only has 5 currently from South Florida. I don't think the sky is falling either. Sure, the Bussey decommitment hurts, given his talent and him flipping to FAU, but it happens every year.

BTW, FIU has again 25 or 26 commitments, by my count, (even with the decommitments of Cheren, Soroh, Brown, McBeath, Todd, and Bussey, all of whom initially chose FIU over an FAU offer) at least 10 or 11 chose FIU over offer from FAU.

Thanks Fanatic

DJN, the only issue I'm disputing is this Idea of Mythical fences. . 6 guys in 2012, 7 guys in 2011, & so on...compared to 11 today 1/21/14 and 2 weeks from NSD.

I never brought up 2014 just like I don't hold MC rezponsible for the 2007 year.

Yes it would be great to of hired GuzMalzhan, Cocker, Freeze who could win with some one else's players. Not that anyone would gave won with the team that suited up on 9/1/2013.

Decommittments happen. It sucks it was to FAU, but it does help to build that Rivalry.

FAU has five guys from Dade, one from Broward, most of whom FIU would've liked, and five of whom committed in the short time this staff has been together. And that's with a coaching situation in as bad or worse flux as FIU's was last year. Meanwhile, for this year's recruiting season, FIU's had the same head coach and changed three assistants.

There's no sky to fall. It's about building for the future. And if you don't think FAU's set themselves up as a threat that FIU needs to head off, OK...I'm sure fans of UM, FSU and UF thought of UCF the same way about 7 years ago.

FAU's new coaching staff is definitely bringing in the heat recruiting wise for sure. But, the facts state FIU is recruiting very, very well in South Florida, both in numbers and quality. Facts also state that FIU has, currently, more South Florida commitments (10 or 11 for FIU to 7 for FAU) than FAU, so good for them, but FIU is doing very well too.

Need to put in perspective, once again, that of FIU's current commitment list (very much in flux lately...LOL), at least 10 of them chose FIU over offers that included from the old and new FAU coaching staff. FIU has 25 commitments and FAU has 18 now.

Go Panthers!

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