According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas Tech dismissed Nigel Bethel II, a three-star freshman-to-be cornerback out of Booker T. Washington, for what's believed to be punching a women's basketball player.
Bethel drew an Electra 225 trunkload of offers, including one from FIU. He was a hot recruit. He's a radioactive recruit at the moment. He'll find a place in an FBS program. Talent gets many chances. One out of the way, probably, with a small fan base that's too small or apathetic to raise too much of a fuss in comparison with his potential contributions to the team.
Sound like any school you know?
Not saying Ron Turner would pursue Bethel -- in fact, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't -- but should he? I'm not saying he should or shouldn't. I'm not saying Bethel would land at FIU if they were interested. I want to know your opinion on whether or not they should be interested. Should they talk to Bethel, "kick the tires" on him, if you will?
Yeah, OK, cliche. But "Eye of the Tiger" remains summer music to me. Also, this clip, the best line from the cartoon that was Rocky III, sums up the preseason magazines' projections for this year's football campaign.
Got to my semi-local Barnes & Noble Wednesday to collect the rest of the prognastications after getting Lindy's and Phil Steele earlier.
Athlon's: 2-10, 0-8 in Conference USA, so they're predicting wins in the first two games over FCS foes Wagner and Bethune-Cookman. Ranked 127th out of 128 nationally, ahead of only New Mexico State. In the unit rankings, puts FIU 13th out of 13 in C-USA at quarteraback and wideouts/tight ends, 12th in running bask and linebackers, 11th in offensive line, defensive line and secondary. Incongruently, considering the wide receiver/tight end rankings, sophomore tight end Jonnu Smith is their preseason First Team All-C-USA tight end.
The quote from an opposing assistant says "Their offense is pretty basic, a pro-style offense. They will huddle and do what Ron Turner did somewhere in the NFL."
Kind of what I said when I found out they were closing spring practices.
The Sporting News: 7th in Conference USA East. Nobody made TSN's preseason all-conference team, although they went with three wide receivers instead of two and a tight end.
USA Today: 1-11, 0-8 in Conference USA, so they must like FIU over the male half of Hart to Hart but under everybody else. 125th out of 128 nationally. Smith as the preseason all-conference tight end. They rank this year's recruiting class tied for eighth in C-USA, even with FAU.
It's hard for me to see FIU going winless in Conference USA or losing to Wagner. That's at least two wins right there. Bethune's predicted to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference again despite losing a kitchen table full of starters. Still, could be win No. 3. That would be progress.
Wide receiver Mark Hutchinson, Class of 2015 out of Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch High, announced Tuesday via Twitter that he's verbally committed to FIU. Last season, Hutchinson, 6-2, 200, caught seven passes for 113 yards.
He's unrated by 247sports.com, ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Lakeland Christian's Christian Alexander completed 61.7 percent of his passes (127 of 206) in 2013 for 1,865 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. Alexander's 6-3, 210, the kind of size that speaks more of a pro-style quarterback FIU coach Ron Turner covets than the dual threat quarterbacks in vogue around college football.
So, count it as a plus for FIU that Alexander, rated at three stars by 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com, unrated by ESPN.com, announced his commitment to FIU Sunday via Twitter.
Jake Schumann is 40 years old with a wife and two kids. He made $59,721 per year according to Florida Has a Right to Know. That wasn't enough to support his family in South Florida, even in Pembroke Pines. and put away any money for college.
Which is why Schumann has left FIU at the end of his contract. The rest of the softball staff -- assistant coaches Gator Rebhan, Sharon Palma, Kelly Kretsshman -- have left with him. They've resigned after a 33-20 season, with a roster losing only two players and elite freshmen in Stephanie Texeira and Gabby Spallone. FIU has posted the job already.
He said he'll move to being the associate head coach at Ole Miss, but insisted that's not about SEC but about $$$ -- more money, Oxford, Miss., college town cost of living.
Schumann said if that hadn't come up in the last two weeks, he'd still be leaving FIU for a more affordable job/area combination.
"I loved working there," Schumann said. "(senior associate athletic director) Julie Berg was one of the best bosses I've ever had."
He also talked up the building of new facilities for softball, the current players and the recruiting classes coming into FIU.
I'd heard the Diamond Dinner, the main fundraiser for the baseball and softball programs, will end after next year. All over FIU's athletic department, money's already tighter than security at Langley. Despite going into Conference USA, baseball's operating budget dropped $5,480. Subtracting the lucrative Diamond Dinner would put both baseball and softball programs below the economic Mendoza line.
But Schumann didn't mention any of that. He just talked about the basic economic reality facing him.
This is the third head coach to leave FIU in the last 12 months and don't be surprised if baseball's Turtle Thomas is applying elsewhere.
Men's soccer coach Kenny Arena left for a better opportunity with the LA Galaxy, where father and U.S. soccer coaching icon Bruce Arena coaches. Those who knew the situation figured Arena would be done with FIU in a year anyway, new soccer field or not.
FIU's mothballed the plan to turn the soccer field so that it's an east-west field and put a track in around it. But track coach Eric Campbell's resignation has to do with something nobody wants to discuss directly ("I really like him, but you can't allow that," one of Campbell's peers said) and is suspiciously absent from Campbell's personnel file. Whatever it was, count it as a last straw. A year earlier, Campbell was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly intoxication at the 2012 Louisville-FIU football game.
FIU's going to have turnover just by nature of being where it is as an athletic department. Until it evolves further, it's a stepping stone or penance for most coaches, a longtime home for a few. You don't live in a Mercedes neighborhood on a Hyundai budget.
Did you do a double take that FIU got a quarterback commit out of Booker T. Washington, considering A) they barely took a look at national championship quarterback Treon Harris and B) the Booker T. and FIU staffs don't exactly hit the same Dunkin Donuts.
Maybe this will help explain: Maurice Alexander just transferred to Booker T. from Homstead High, where The Herald picked him Second Team 5A-Independent All-Dade. Last year, Alexander threw for 2,111 yards on 115 of 204 passing and ran for 90 yards on 63 carries (remember, sacks come off rushing totals in high school and college). He quarterbacked Booker T. to the championship of the Dolphins Academy 7-on-7 last weekend and will be leading them into the Nationals at Indianapolis.
Alexander's rated at two stars by 247sports.com, unrated by Rivals and Scout.com.
Track sprinter La'Shae White got some scratch toward her graduate degree tuition when she received one of the 15 Jim Castaneda Postgraduate Scholarship Awards from Conference USA, the league announced Tuesday.
White, who made the Dean's List seven times in her eight FIU semesters, graduated in April with a degree in physical education-sports and fitness and is going for her master's at the University of Tampa in exercise and nutrition science. The award is a $4,000 scholarship.
The mantle in Casa Garcia might need an addition. In addition to the honors he's already received, including Conference USA Player of the Year, FIU catcher Aramis Garcia received the Conference USA Spirit of Service Award for combining community service with excellent academics and athletic performance.
Garcia volunteered at the 9/11 Day of Service, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Arthritis Walk and during the MLK Day of Service.
As I put in a recent post, Garcia, like women's basketball star Jerica Coley, is a billboard/brochure athlete, the kind schools thrust out front as an ideal example.
Tweeted this Monday, but guess I didn't post it here.
FIU pitcher Chris Mourelle was named a Second Team Freshman All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, adding to a postseason awards list that includes Conference USA Freshman of the Year.
Former FIU soccer star player, assistant coach and head coach Munga Ekatebi will be the new head soccer coach at Broward Colletge. Ekatebi was in the house for the Ghana-South Korea friendly at Sun Life Stadium Monday.
Always wanted to use the old-time headline word "Chisox" in a headline.
Anyway, FIU's 2014 ace Mike Franco got selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball draft Friday. FIU's all-time saves leader Mike Gomez went in the 13th round to the Chicago White Sox.
Later Saturday, with pick No. 978, the White Sox took outfielder Louis Silverio.
With catcher Aramis Garcia's second round selection by San Francisco, that makes four FIU players gone so far in the draft.
I thought I did some nice breaking down of the way FIU coaching pay didn't seem to match up the experience or success of the coach involved. But reader Cory Jarrell, with a blog, some free time and the kind of pretty graphs modern media outlets encourage, really went to town.
The second of two Conference USA players selected in the first two rounds of the Major League Baseball draft, FIU catcher and Conference USA Player of the Year Aramis Garcia went No. 52 overall to San Francisco.
That's the second highest an FIU player has been drafted. Toronto took Josh Banks with the No. 50 pick in 2003.
More than just a player, FIU lost a showcase athlete, the kind of student-athlete schools like to put on billboards and put in front of the Athletics Committee as the epitome of what a student-athlete can be: well-comported, good on the field and the classroom. Garcia and Jerica Coley fit that role perfectly. Who's next?
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.
First, the Fifth Annual FIU Athletic Department Golf Tournament is June 27. $375 per person, $1,500 per foursome, which is no savings for a foursome so really just $375 per person. This fundraiser for the entire athletic department includes an auction boosted by over 100 items that were supposed to be sold at the Diamond Dinner, the big fund raiser for the baseball and softball programs.
The baseball program saw its operating budget cut by around $5,000 this year, one of several programs whose budget remained stagnant or got cut as FIU moved up in overall quality with the jump to Conference USA. They didn't fly to the Conference USA tournament in Hattiesburg, but bused what's 11 hours, 38 minutes if you go 70 mph with no stops. Clearly, this is a program that can use all the financial help it can get.
Instead, baseball and softball must throw a large amount of the goods and services donated for their event into an event that raises money for the entire athletic department. That's other programs, administration, facilities, etc. I'm all for sharing, but that doesn't seem quite fair.
Oh, in an answer to a question posed a while back in the Comments about the athletic director's salary and bonus: it comes out of the athletic department pocket.
Freshman right hander Chris Mourelle, Conference USA's Freshman of the Year, also was named to the Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America team. Conference USA accounted for three members of the team, the other two coming from FAU (second baseman Stephen Kerr) and Old Dominion (outfielder Nick Walker).