April 30, 2015

Sand Off to Nationals

The sand women left FIU at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to catch a pre-dawn flight out of Fort Lauderdale in a journey to Gulf Shores, Alabama. They could return as national champions.

The last AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championships will be this Friday and Saturday. Sand volleyball becomes a full-fledged NCAA sport next season and that Four Letter Organization will take over the championship in 2016. Hopefully, the West Washington Street Wackos, whose rulings sound formed from the logic of a Lewis Carroll character, will stage it someplace with more cool than Gulf Shores, Alabama.

As for this year, No. 3 seeded FIU, 18-1, faces No. 6 Florida State Friday and the Panthers beat FSU 3-2 earlier this season. When I talked to players and coach Rita Buck-Crockett for a story about a month ago, one thing they made clear: winning only whetted their appetite to destroy. Beat a top opponent 3-2, make it 5-0 next time. And they ended the season giving opponents the Godzilla, including lone conqueror Stetson. A 3-2 early season loss got avenged 4-1 with the lone match loss coming via retirement because of injury.

A win Friday morning against FSU puts FIU in a second round match with No. 2 Hawaii. Even if the Panthers lose there, they've still got a shot at getting to the championship match through the losers bracket in the double elimination tournament.

IMG_0586 (2)

With freshman teammate Anja Licka clearly appreciating the effort, Maryna Samoday gets the ball over the net against FAU's Mandy McIntosh.IMG_1665 (2)
Senior Summer Nash serving against FAU. Take cover.

IMG_0591 (2)

 

As she descends from defending her net, senior Summer Nash turns to see what partner Kristine Monforte will do with the altered kill attempt.

 

April 29, 2015

MacLaren C-USA Player of the Year; Arias, Serrano All-C-USA

When you win four Player of the Week awards and finish as medalist in the conference tournament with a record score for the tournament and single round, getting conference Player of the Year seems a "Duh!"

So, no surprise that junior Meghan MacLaren received that award, along with First Team All-Conference and sharing Most Improved Player with FAU's Heather Netti. MacLaren swings her sticks under the FIU visor in the NCAA Regional next week.

Sophomores Coralia Arias and Camila Serrano got Second Team All-Conference nods.

April 27, 2015

MacLaren Makes NCAAs

FIU didn't get an invitation to the NCAA Regionals as a team. FIU's only invitation to the NCAA party went to Conference USA individual champion Meghan MacLaren.

MacLaren will go to the St. George Regional, played at Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club in St. George, Utah May 7-9.

 

April 24, 2015

Tennis Honors & Football Dollars

The tennis team lost in the Conference USA semi-final round to eventual champion Rice, but cleaned up nicely in the C-USA postseason awards.

Senior transfer from Clemson Yana Koroleva picked up Newcomer of the Year, Outstanding Singles Player at the Conference Championship, a First Team All-Conference singles and, with sophomore Nina Nagode, a First Team All-Conference doubles honor. Nagode received Second Team notice in singles while Carlotta Orlando joined Koroleva on the First Team. Nerma Caluk made the Third Team in singles.

FOOTBALL

You had to figure the dollars worked for FIU in their second two-year deal with Indiana similar to the way the first home-and-home deal put FIU $800,000 to the good.

And they did. An FIU spokesman said today that the Panthers will get $800,000 for playing Indiana near Disco Briscoe Hall while the Hoosiers will get $200,000 for facing FIU across the street from Parkview Hall in 2018. Net: +$600,000 on this deal, +$1.4 million on the whole four years.

The profit from the second deal, at least, will go to summer school and helping pay the total cost of attendance for each athlete. Conference USA stated last summer they would begin paying the total cost of attendance for each scholarship athlete in 2015-16.

April 22, 2015

MacLaren No. 1, FIU No. 2; Kickoff time on Sept. 3

Can't blame junior Meghan MacLaren that FIU finished second, eight shots back of winner Middle Tennessee State in t Conference USA championship at Fort Myers' Verandah Club

Needing to lead FIU back from an eight-shot deficit on the final day, MacLaren handled the course with the flawless daring that recalled McLarens driven by Ayrton Senna at Silverstone (yeah, I know, she's British, the race cars are named after New Zealander Bruce McLaren, but go with me on this...).

An eagle on the 488-yard, par-5 5th started a six-hole, 6-under run that continued with a par, then four consecutive birdies. In the process, MacLaren hit the nine-hole turn with a scorching 5-under 31 that caught, passed and dusted Middle Tennessee State sophomore Samantha Gotcher. When Gotcher woke up Wednesday morning, she had a six-shot lead. By the time she woke up on the golf course, MacLaren held a two-shot lead. Gotcher recovered late, but MacLaren played the final nine at 2-under to finish with a 7-under 65 and a 10-under 206, both Conference USA records. She took medalist honors by one shot over Gotcher.

Aside from MacLaren, however, the back nine devoured FIU Wednesday almost as messily as it did Monday.

The Panthers got within one shot of Middle at one point and the Raiders' choke muscles seemed to be in spasm. But, subtracting Gotcher and MacLaren, Middle played the final seven holes at a collective 2-over and FIU played it at a collective 9-over. The closing holes proved to be the championship holes. Monday, FIU shot 13-over on Nos. 14-18 while Middle's five golfers shot 2-under.

Sophomore Coralia Arias came in tied for ninth at even par 216. Sophomore Camila Serrano fell from sixth to 13th on the final day with a 3-over 75 that brought her to 2-over 218. Freshman Katerina Krasnova's 6-over 78 final round dropped her 15 spots to 35th, 10-over 226. And junior Carla Jane's 5-over 77 Wednesday left her 14-over, 230, tied for 40th.

 

FOOTBALL

CBS Sports Network decrees that FIU's football season opener at Central Florida will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3. 

April 21, 2015

Solidly Second

FIU's on an island in the Conference USA golf championship -- Second Place Sandbar

Above the Panthers on the leaderboard by eight shots you find Middle Tennessee State (8-under overall), the other school that blew through Tuesday's 18 holes at a conference-record 7-under 281 for the day. Eight shots below FIU you'll find third place North Texas (8-over overall).

A 3-under 69 second round by junior Meghan MacLaren boosted the Panthers and got MacLaren up to second and 3-under after two days. That's still a fat six shots behind Middle's Samantha Gotcher. FIU's Camila Serrano played at 2-under 70 and is tied for sixth. Sophomore Coralia Arias' 3-under round brought her back to even  and a ninth place tie.

FIU got better Tuesday, not from start to finish, but at start and finish. The Panthers five golfers played the first five holes at 6 under par and the last five holes at 1 over instead of the 12 over Monday disaster that cost FIU the lead and, possibly, the championship.

 

 

April 20, 2015

Small Ball Drop

Well, that descended quickly.

Most of Day 1 of the Conference USA women's golf championships, FIU maintained a gap on the field that would do Annika Sorenstam proud. The Panthers' team lead fluctuated between three and five strokes. Their team score held within a similar range, 3-under to 5-under. Junior Meghan MacLaren and sophomore Camila Serrano joined a gaggle atop the leaderboard.

Cruising along as if enjoying their new ACME Bat-Man outfits, when...

 

So why will FIU wake up tomorrow for Day 2 at Fort Myers Verandah Club tied for fifth with Southern Mississippi at 7-over 295, eight shots behind leader Middle Tennessee State? A five-hole collapse that ended with a THUD on the 18th.

With the golfers playing at different times, it's hard to pinpoint when FIU started to imitate Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft. Serrano owned a share of the lead when she triple-bogeyed the par-4, 382-yard 16th hole. That hole turned into the second of back-to-back bogeys for Katarina Krasnova, who bogeyed three Nos. 15, 16 and 18.

MacLaren bogeyed Nos. 15 and 18. FIU''s No. 2, sophomore Coralia Arias, got down to 1-over with a birdie on the par-5 13th. But she gave that back and then some with a double bogey on the par-4, 361-yard No. 14. A birdie on No. 16 was matched by a bogey on the par-4, 380-yard 18th (of FIU's five Round 1 golfers, only Serrano escaped a bogey on No. 18.).

FIU's five golfers played the last five holes at 12-over. Fortunately, two days remain for the Panthers to get revenge on the course and climb the leaderboard in the process. 

To see a collapse like that by an FIU team, you have to go all the way back to...Sunday. The 17-2 battering FIU took from Western Kentucky cost them the series with a team around them in the standings. It also dropped them to 2-4 on Sundays in Conference USA play, a big reason they're 8-10 in the conference with little room for error to make the conference tournament.

Head coach Turtle Thomas played off the tonnage of the beating, noting how many times the 1927 New York Yankees got slaughtered. But the team meeting after the game lasted a very long time. Senior shortstop Julius Gaines, who went three for four, theorized after the game and before the meeting that maybe the chemistry on the team still isn't right. Also, Thomas said sophomore Chris Mourelle, FIU's most reliable pitcher all season, threw only in the 81-82 mph range Sunday. Hopefully, there's not a problem there.

Truly, nothing went right for FIU.  Western got a run out of a pair of choppers to Gaines that hopped higher than Denver today. With two outs in the fourth, FIU third baseman Josh Anderson fielded a grounder from Danny Hudzina that looked fair to the top row of the press box. It was ruled foul, putting Hudzina back in the box.

BAM -- home run. Next batter, Ryan Church, ZOOM -- home run. Western scored two more that inning.

Church went six for six for the day, but a spectacular defensive play of his would've ended the game if umpires could stop a game the way boxing referees can stop a fight. First and second, one out in the fourth, FIU's Zack Soria blasted a missile down the first base line, a sure double for the half-second before first baseman Church snapped his arm out for the snag and stepped on first to double the stunned runner.

FIU trailed 8-1 at that point. If you're in Vegas, that's when you get up from the table, call it a night.

Bizarre game. FIU pitcher Garrett Cave's natural hat trick of hit batters, which loaded the bases and brought in two runs, then a walk that brought in a run. Dillon Maya hitting the first batter he faced to bring in another run. Third baseman Hudzina trucking his longtime pal Church as Church tried to settle under an infield fly ball (that actually put the first runner on before Church played Laser Snag in the fourth).

Also, FIU wasted its opportunities. First and second, no outs in the second? One run and that because Josh Anderson slid to break up a double play relay and keep the inning alive. Bases loaded, one out in the third? Bupkes. Anderson lined out hard to the shortstop and JC Escarra flied out to center field to end the inning.

Meanwhile, the softball team made the most of two hits against Western's superthrower Miranda Kramer and eked out a 2-1 win as Corinne Jenkins pitched a four-hitter. Freshman Jessica Hallett ruined Kramer's no-hitter and shutout with one swing that tied the game in the fifth. An RBI single by Gabby Spallone brought in Rebekah Sanchez. Jenkins finished the job from there. 

The win kept alive FIU's slim chances for making the Conference USA tournament, which will be at Felsberg Field May 7-9. To make the tournament, the Panthers probably will need to sweep Charlotte May 2-3 in the season-ending three-game series at Charlotte.

April 16, 2015

Conference Titles in Tennis (Maybe) & Golf (More Likely) In One Week?

To start, give junior golfer Meghan MacLaren a slap on the back for being named to Conference USA's golf All-Academic team again. MacLaren, an English major, owns a 3.68 grade point average and four Golfer of the Week awards (should've been five) from this year.

MacLaren's once again the No. 1 player on an FIU team ranked No. 56 nationally by Golfstat.com and favored to win its second conference title in three years. You'd say FIU also gets the home course advantage as host of next week's Conference USA event, but this will all go down over in Fort Myers.

The 2013 Sun Belt champions finished fourth of 13 at the C-USA event last year and MacLaren was 12th overall. This year, she's had three medalist performances and eight of FIU's 11 individual top 10s. 

A great No. 1 can get you to the podium, but it's Nos. 2 through 5 that'll put you on the top step. For FIU to get it done next week at The Verandah Club, sophomore Coralia Arias, Camila Serrano (who tied MacLaren for 12th), Katerina Krasnova and Carla Jane can't spend the week arguing with their clubs.

Despite an undefeated conference record, 5-0, FIU's seeded fifth in the conference tennis tournament that begins today and has already been moved inside to dodge rain. A win against No. 12 Southern Mississippi, which FIU spanked 5-2 last month, puts them into the quarterfinal against the Middle Tennessee State/Western Kentucky winner. A win there likely runs the Panthers into No. 1 seed, two-time defending champion and host Rice.

By the way, the Panthers took down No. 2 seed Marshall, 4-3, at Camp Mitch on Mar. 28 with wins at Nos. 1-4 singles by senior Yana Koroleva, freshman Nerma Caluk, sophomore Nina Nagode and junior Kaitlin Brozovich.

Funky note: two teams in sports identified with Florida and the number of players from Florida on the two rosters? Two -- Miami Country Day graduate Ashley Shimmel and Palm Harbor University School graduate Jasmine Wade, both golfers.

 

April 10, 2015

172 FIU Athletes Make C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

(Thought I posted this last night. Apparently, I only saved it. A face-down-on-the-keyboard mistake.)

A 3.0 GPA gets you on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, which 172 FIU athletes have done this year. FIU ranks eighth most among Conference USA's full membership schools. That's an improvement after 154 and tied for 12th last year.

The names are submitted to the conference by the schools.

Baseball (16): Brandon Cody, Charles Cormier, Cody Crouse, Ian Exposito, Julius Gaines, Evan Holland, David Lee, Spencer Levine, Dominic LoBrutto, Carlos Lopez, Andres Nunez, Mitchell Robinson, Austin Rodriguez, Jack Schaaf, Eduardo Silva, Zack Soria.

Men's Basketball (3): Larry Dennis (Huh? He transferred to a junior college at midseason), Kris Gulley, Hassan Hussein.

Women's Basketball (13): Jade Cheek, Jerica Coley (Say what? Everybody's happy she's still around campus doing graduate work, but how is she counting for this year? Was somebody just throwing names in there to see if C-USA was paying attemtion?), Marita Davydova, Arielle Durant (Uh, director of basketball oerations this year, not a player), Katrina Epnere, Aajah Hawkins, Amari Hawkins, Zsofia Labady, Tynia McKinzie (dismissed from the team at midseason), Taylor Shade, Nikolina Todorovic, Ciera Wheatley, Brianna Wright. 

Football (17): Chris Ayers, Richard Burrows, Christopher Cummins, Akil Dan-Fodio, Ricky Fernandez, Chris Flaig, Adrian Francois, Cody Hodgens, Yousif Khoury, Jose Laphitzondo, Fred Porter, Anthon Samuel, Donald Senat, Yohan Soares, Delmar Taylor, Scott Wade, Cory White.

Golf (8 -- the entire team): Coralia Arias, Sophie Godley, Carla Jane, Katerina Krasnova, Meghan MacLaren, Camila Serrano, Ashley Shimmel, Jasmine Wade.

Sand Volleyball (9): Marina Boulanger, Anna Budinska, Morgan Crawley, Aren Cupp, Alexa Diaz, Alexandria Johnson, Giovanna Pasos, Darija Sataric, Tina Toghiyani.

Men's Soccer (10): Quentin Albrecht, Roberto Alterio, Luca Giovine, Marvin Hezel, Nicholas Midttun, Deshawon Nembhard, Nico Pasquariello, Adam Sibiski, Robin Spiegel, Jesse Wear.

Women's soccer (16): Shelby Bowden, Ellen Crist, Marie Egan, Cyan Jean-Baptiste, Talia McMurtrie, Ryann Ramirez, Nikki Rios, Alyssa Robinson, Ashleigh Shim, Marlena Stablein, Sara Stewart, Nevana Stojakovic, Pat Tomanon, Johanna Volz, Madlen Weinhardt, Ashley Westberry.

Softball 10): Isabelle Barnes, Rachel Dwyer, Krystal Garcia, Samantha Green, Dominique Grossman, Jessica Hallett, Corinne Jenkins, Marisa McGregor, Michaela Mills, Rebekah Sanchez.

Swimming & Diving (20): Klara Andersson, Sabrina Beaupre (she's been off the eligibility clock since the 2014 NCAA's), Jessica Chadwick, Jenny Deist, Nadia Farrugia, Valerie Inghels, Anna Jonsson, Lily Kaufmann, Maria Lopez, Jean Madison, Alex Mayhew, Melissa Moreno, Sonia Perez-Arau (oh, come on! the only C-USA swimmer to score at the 2014 NCAAs. Lazy times in ), Valeriia Popova, Rebecca Quensel, Silvia Scalia, Alaina Smith, Kayley Tepe, Courtney VanderSchaaf, Becky Wilde. 

Tennis (6): Giulietta Boha, Valentina Briceno, Nerma Caluk, Yana Koroleva, Nina Nagode, Carlotta Orlando.

Men's cross country (7): Brandon Ballard, Ronny Greenup, Andres Magliano, Eli Monzon, Leonel Pozo, Daniel Puentes, Orlando Rodriquez.

Women's cross country (4): Adrienne Gerzeny, Katarina Rodriguez, Brittany Wasserbeck, Desmika White.

Men's track (10): Dylan Cook, Pablo Espitia, Garry Louima, Tyshawn Lytle, Desmond McGill, Luka Mustafic, Daniel Neptune, Wisdom Offor, Julian Santiago, Traivon Smith.

Women's track 12): Brittany Corbett, Phillicia Fluellen, Chandra Fulwood, Adrienne Gerzeny, Chelsea Gobourne, Anesha Gordon, Anna Heinzman, Tiffani Hernandez, Sharniece King, Symone Lindsay, Celine Murton, Lexis Shields.

Volleyball: Lucia Castro, Tia Clay, Maria Coukolis, Briana Gogins, Gloria Levorin, Anja Licka, Natalie Martinez, Kristine Monforte, Kari Peterson, Jovanna Santamaria, Anabela Sataric, Tina Toghiyani (wait, she already got counted back at sand volleyball...)

 

 

 

April 07, 2015

Panther Gets C-USA Player of the Week

Playing in the No. 1 slot for FIU, senior Yana Koraleva won both her singles matches last week in Navratilova/Serena fashion, 6-1, 6-1 over Central Florida's Caroline Eberhart and 6-2, 6-0 over Alabama-Birmingham's Rachel Daniell. The transfer from Clemson (where she was a two-time ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year and an All-America selection) also rolled in doubles with sophomore Nina Nagode.

For this, Koraleva received Conference USA's Women's Tennis Player of the Week.

By the way, Koraleva's got her own blog, which you might want to give the once over.

FIU's 5-0 in conference play going into next week's conference championship. It would be ironic (and appropriate?) if FIU won conference titles this year in swimming, golf and tennis, sports often associated with Florida, with rosters flavored International.

 

March 18, 2015

MacLaren Gets Golfer of the Week

Junior Meghan MacLaren led FIU to the Sun Belt Conference title as a freshman. Looks like she's ready to do the same in Conference USA this season.

MacLaren won her third conference Golfer of the Week award of the season off a tie for 10th in the Notre Dame Clover Cup with an 8-over 224. FIU finished fifth as a team behind No. 22 Arizona State, Notre Dame, Texas Christian and Oklahoma.

 

 

March 17, 2015

Rosenberg on Garcia

FIU President Mark Rosenberg did the most recent evaluation of Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia in January.

Rosenberg complimented Garcia on improvements in several administrative areas and student-athlete academic performance. Rosenberg showed displeasure with fund-raising, attendance and some other areas.

Here's the full evaluation, done in the same two-page letter form as the previous evaluation.

Download Pete Garcia 13-14 Manager Evaluation

March 03, 2015

Building Stuff

Funny what you can learn sitting around the arena on a Friday afternoon.

Executive director for sports and entertainment Pete Garcia passed with Senior Associate ADs Julie Berg and Heath Glick and invited me along to look at the choice of new chairs for FIU Arena.

IMG_20150227_133226

At least all the lower bowl chairs in the arena will be replaced. That's the "Bleacher Project" referred to in the pre-Miss Universe e-mail to Glick as "likely scrapped." 

The other project mentioned as "likely scrapped" in that e-mail, the softball/golf locker room, should be started after FIU hosts Conference USA softball championships, according to Garcia and Berg. The new practice area for the track and field throwers, also part of the Women's Sports Initiative, should be done before the year's out. Garcia said a major upgrading of the baseball stadium will be coming in the next year or two. 

A major donation should be announced soon that'll pay for the baseball stadium and arena seat replacement. The other projects should be covered under what's been collected for the Women's Sports Initiative.

Recently, I heard again from someone close to the situation, as I did last fall, that the long-awaited soccer/track stadium will become a reality once FIU takes over the Youth Fair land. Don't confuse this with any drive to get Major League Soccer as a temporary FIU tenant. This pitch would be for FIU and youth teams.

Considering the amount of time we've been waiting on this project, all skepticism until dirt gets disturbed is warranted.

 

February 27, 2015

New Football Spring Practice Schedule & a Caveat for Athletes

The spring football practice schedule got modified. This matters to those who wish to take advantage of this year's practices being open to the public instead of conducted under a giant Cone of Silence.

FIU reminds everybody attending that photos, video or live reporting is a no-no inside La Cage (because, hey, it's not like there's two years of FIU film and nine years of Chicago Bears film to clue you in on what FIU's going to do offensively).

Anyway, here's the schedule:

Mar. 19, 21, 24, 28, 31, Apr. 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Mar. 26: 10 a.m.

Apr. 3: 7 p.m.

Apr. 17: Spring Game, 7 p.m.

WORDS OF CAUTION

Repeat of a message to current and future student-athletes: you are representing your school, your family and yourself in your communication that's going out to your followers (and, perhaps, their followers). And while your current coach might not care, future employers could have limited appreciation for words and photos demonstrating sexist or racist attitudes. And your commentary on, say, oral sex, while entertaining to some, could be construed as showing yourself deficient in discretion (or good sense).

By the way, I'm cool with being blocked (I know FIU requested it of some teams). It doesn't change the above one bit. Nor does it change how I cover you or your sport. 

 

February 24, 2015

Alumni Association statement on Athletics

The FIU Alumni Association put a message on its Facebook page today in semi-reaction to the statement from Alumni Association President Frank Pena calling for a change in FIU Athletic Department leadership:

"The FIU Alumni Association would like to clarify that recent statements made by Alumni Association President Frank Peña do not necessarily represent the views of the Alumni Association's Board of Directors or its members. Peña himself has said that he was expressing personal views regarding the Athletics Department leadership.

The FIU Alumni Association unequivocally support our student athletes, our coaches and President Mark B. Rosenberg, and strive to continue our mission of serving and supporting FIU's alumni by providing lifelong connections to the University. The Alumni Association is focused on furthering key University priorities such as the expansion project and FIU's Next Horizon Capital Campaign."

Conspicuous by its absence on the Alumni Association support list: Athletic Department leadership.

That's not an accident.

 

February 17, 2015

Getting Dressed

You can skip this unless you're an athletics business wonk. Or just curious.

A few things about the deal with adidas, announced by FIU in January as a five-year deal worth around $2.6 million:

*FIU gets adidas footwear, clothes, equipment and accessories, but not for free. They get sort of a Costco deal on stuff -- shoes at 45 percent off retail price; clothes, equipment and accessories 50 percent off retail for everyone but baseball/softball, which gets only 37.5 percent off The Price is Right price. But baseball/softball gets theirs elsewhere, as you’ll soon see.  FIU must spend at least $300,000 each year, which is air hockey money for a properly-funded Division I athletic program.

*If FIU does spend $300,000 each year, it gets an additional $260,000 retail value of adidas product (stuff) in 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, $285,000 in 2018-19 and $310,000 in 2019-2020.

*For the football team using adidas footballs in practices and games, FIU gets $10,000 retail value of product each year.

*Under “Athletic Department Fund Raising”, adidas gives FIU $15,000 of retail product value each year.

*There’s various bonuses for team achievement and Coach of the Year. The largest realistically attainable one is $20,000 retail value product for a football team bowl appearance.

*Baseball gets the most extra stuff. Softball will get the same stuff in “an amount to be agreed upon when Adidas introduced these hardgoods” according to the contract. (Yes, I think it should be “introduces” but I’m quoting directly from the contract, so…)

Each year, FIU Baseball gets:

Up to 48 wood bats, up to 42 non-wood bats, 6 aluminum fungo bats, up to 36 fielder’s gloves, up to 40 wheeled locker equipment bags, up to 40 individual duffel bags, 6 coach’s briefcases, 5 wheeled catcher bags (two to be used for equipment), up to 96 pairs of batting gloves (replaced by wear and tear), up to 96 pairs of wristbands, up to 25 batting helmets, up to 6 sets of catching gear.

432 fitted baseball hats

$34,000 retail value of free product.

$4,000 retail value of free product for the head coach

The only other individual in the athletic department who gets free product is the athletic director, who gets $10,000 retail value of free product each year.

  

February 10, 2015

Coaching Changes

As I Tweeted about an hour ago while sitting in Boat Show drawbridge traffic, FIU running backs coach Kerry Dixon II is moving on up to Gainesville as the University of Florida's new wide receivers coach.

Dixon was FIU's best recruiter in the 305, which he also worked while on FAU's staff. I don't think Dixon's solely responsible for the vastly improved relationships with Dade's inner city schools, but he definitely played a significant role.

Defensive line coach Randy Melvin is reported to be the favorite for the open defensive line coach job over in Coral Gables. The connection: Melvin was on Hurricanes coach Al Golden's 2009 staff at Temple.

The 2012 Tampa Bay staff included Melvin and FIU head coach Ron Turner. That's the connection Turner tapped when the NFL door reopened with the Vikings for 2013 defensive line coach Andrae Patterson. The front seven, particularly the defensive line, topped the worry list going into 2014. Aside from power backs such as Pitt's James Conner and Marshall's Devon Johnson, the defensive line held up far better than expected against the run and got after quarterbacks.

So, Turner could be looking at replacing a defensive line coach as well as a running backs coach, a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach (Cam Turner's going to Carolina as assistant wide receivers coach). Turner himself could take over the quarterbacks, although that might put a lot on his plate in addition to being offensive coordinator and head coach.

ADMINISTRATION

President Mark Rosenberg cancelled a Monday meeting with a group that included Alumni Association president Frank Pena. I'm not sure if the meeting concerned Athletics or the many other things about which the Alumni Association heads and President Rosenberg speak.

Either way, Pena's open request for change at the top of Athletics surely would've been on the conversational playlist.

  

February 06, 2015

FIU Alumni Association Prez: Athletics needs "a major leadership change."

FIU Alumni Association President Frank Pena read into the minutes of the Jan. 26 Alumni Association Board meeting a statement that recommends "a major change happens in the leadership of the Department of Athletics. The sooner these changes would happen, the better."

http://www.CollegeAD.com published the statement first this morning.

When I reached Pena Monday morning, I asked him if he wrote the statement as Frank Pena, FIU graduate, or Frank Pena, head of a 20,000 member alumni association.

"As both," he replied. "I did it as an alumnus, but I also did it to represent views of countless alumni. Whether it's at church, at the dentist's office, you run into FIU alums wherever you go. One of the first things they bring up should not be the poor state of Athletics. They should bring up some of the victories we have in Athletics or they should bring up some of the great things we're doing.

"That's why I'm saying what's been happening with Athletics over the last several years has been a distraction. It shouldn't be the conversation we have. People know I bleed the Blue and the Gold and they always want to have an FIU conversation. I'm finding more times, the conversation is 'What is going on in Athletics?'"

Pena emphasized the statistics-filled statement wasn't inspired by personal issues with FIU executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia but was about Athletics' "leadership and the results."

"I've been involved with FIU as a student since 1994. I've stayed involved as an alumnus. The love I have toe the institution is immense," Pena said. "I think FIU is the engine of the South Florida community and Dade County. We're doing so many good things. I feel Athletics, instead of being a partner in the University, has become a distraction. And something needs to be done.

"As alumni, it's our responsibility to support our university. Sometimes, by bringing up something that might be construed as a negative, it is supporting the university. And it is taking a stand. I felt that, as alumni, we need to take a stand when something's not working right. By the metrics we laid out -- academics, fundraising, wins & losses and fan support -- we're not doing our job."

I asked the Office of External Relations Monday if President Rosenberg had any response to the Alumni Association president's recommendation.

FIU External Relations Director Maydel Santana-Bravo sent an e-mail Monday afternoon that read, "President Rosenberg has spoken with Frank Pena multiple times. The feelings and concerns of all of our alumni are very important to us. We want to thank them for their support.

"Building an athletics program takes years and we are moving in a positive direction."

There was no comment from Garcia through FIU Athletics.

Pena's statement, in full:

Download FIUAthleticsStatementfromAlumniAssociationPrez

February 03, 2015

Beckham's People: We'll Think About It

Miami-Dade County approved the measure telling Mayor Carlos Gimenez or associates of Carlos Gimenez to go talk to FIU about using FIU Stadium as a temporary home for International Soccer Sex Symbol FC or whatever the David Beckham group's Major League Soccer franchise will be named. Beckham's been having problems finding a spot on which to build a privately-funded soccer joint for Miami's second swing at an MLS franchise.

This could be a most convenient and profitable occurrence for FIU Athletics. The official Twitter feed for Miami Beckham United (proves he's a neophyte to Miami, where NOTHING is united) says over four Tweets, posted this morning:

"Things are progressing in Miami & we are very much on track in our plans. Beckham is very positive about the future of the club & he continues to enjoy incredible support from the people in Miami. Right now, our focus is on identifying the location for a purpose built stadium that will be the team's permanent home. Careful consideration will be given to FIU when we address the opportunities for a temporary facility."

When Beckham toured FIU back in 2013, he smiled, said nice, non-committal things then didn't mention FIU again while pursuing sites in or around downtown. Aside from size, FIU Stadium's almost everything MLS says it doesn't want. But FIU athletic director Pete Garcia possesses a Squidward's worth of tentacles in local government. Don't be surprised if the county tries to horse Beckham's group into a deal with FIU with some light political blackmail around the building of a permanent site.

That would be government teamwork worthy of the name "Miami Beckham United."

FOOTBALL

Tem Lukabu is the new linebackers coach. Lukabu coached Colgate's outside linebackers last season. The two seasons before that, he was an defensive assistant with Tampa Bay's linebackers in 2013 and defensive line in 2012. That's when Lukabu shared a staff with FIU head coach Ron Turner.

 

 

January 30, 2015

History Tomorrow? History Tomorrow.

Conquering those who call the Florida Atlantic pool home leaves FIU's swimming & diving team just one win from the first undefeated dual meet season in FIU history.

That win can come when they meet the University of Miami, Saturday, at high noon.

 

Excuse me! Read again! It reads, "HIGH NOON!"

 

That's better.

Anyway, near as I can see, this is the first meeting in any sport between Dade County's two Division I/FBS schools since Sept. 11, 2010 when FIU lost a volleyball match 3-0.

Last fall, of course, came the announcement that the schools reached an agreement to play again in football in 2018 and 2019 with the rivalry resuming in other sports, also.


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