For comprehensively researched college football previews, Phil Steele's yearly production stands above others to the point of peerlessness. Here's Steele's rankings concerning FIU:
Within Conference USA, he ranks FIU 10th (out of 13) at quarterback; 13th at running back; 11th at receivers and tight end; ninth in offensive line; 11th in defensive line; 13th at linebackers; 13th at secondary; fourth in special teams; eighth in coaching.
On Steele's preseason All-CUSA teams, he's got sophomore Jonnu Smith as the third team tight end; sophomore Jordan Budwig as the fourth team offensive guard; Justin Halley as the fourth team safety; sophomore Austin Taylor as the fourth team kicker; and redshirt junior Richard Leonard as the fourth team punt returner (I think he's underestimating Leonard both as a kick returner and as a cornerback).
Overall? 7th out of 7 in the East Division, 13th out of 13 in the conference, 123rd out of 128 FBS teams.
"This is a much more experienced and stronger team that shoudl start out 2-0," Steele writes. "While they will be much more competitive (average loss last year 37-10), my most optimistic set of power ratings has them at 4 wins."
He ranked Conference USA as the ninth best conference last year, ahead of only the Sun Belt and the MAC. This year's he's got C-USA tied with the MAC, ahead of only the Sun Belt.
As for FIU, Steele's clearly not impressed with the shifts in titles and money.
FIU finished 123rd out of 123 FBS programs last year in total offense and third down conversions, 122nd in scoring offense...you know all the depressing numbers. Sure, the coaching staff wasn't given much to work with, but...
Offensive line coach/run game coordinator Steve Shankweiler (run game No. 120, No. 122 in sacks allowed) went for the head coaching job at Elon, didn't get it, but did get a $9,000 raise from FIU, $136,000 to $145,000, according to Florida Has a Right to Know. He also got a title promotion to offensive coordinator, as if former NFL offensive coordinator Ron Turner is going to give up the actual duties of that job.
Tight ends coach Kort Shankweiler ($93,000) and Cameron Turner ($106,000) each got $1,000 bumps. Turner got Quarterbacks Coach added to his Wide Receivers Coach title. For those of you who saw FIU's receivers last year and think Turner has his plate full just trying to handle that group, fear not -- the only Turner doing real coaching of the quarterbacks in practice is Ron Turner.
Here's another thing about Cam Turner's take: he made $105,000 last year in his second job as a college assistant.
Defensive line coach Andre Patterson, the current Minnesota Vikings defensive line coach, had 10 years of NFL coaching experience and nine years as a college defensive line coach. He made $110,000. Linebackers coach Tom Williams, with three years as an NFL assistant, 12 years as a college assistant, three as a college head coach, made $100,000. Running backs coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker had been an NFL assistant for three seasons and is in the NFL again with Tampa Bay. He made $99,000. Secondary coach Jason Brooks, off four years as a Baltimore Ravens assistant, during which he "worked first hand in the coaching of the wide receivers in 2009 and 2011 and running backs in 2010 and 2012" according to his FIU bio, made $92,000.
Brooks got the uniform $1,000 bump to $93,000 this year. Defensive coordinator Josh Conklin went from $100,000 to $200,000, according to the Right to Know website. Big bump.