February 24, 2014

Ramble On

While the stick and ball teams take a break from using their bats on visiting teams like they owe FIU money, swimming and diving prepares to leave for Atlanta and the Conference USA meet.

(They won't need to do any Internet panhandling, but the volleyball team is still at http://www.gofundme.com/FIUVolleyball, $195 toward their goal of $6,000. While you're on the site, you can contribute to the Oswego State Synchronized Skating Team's trip travel to nationals. Or the Coppin Academy Girls Basketball team trying to raise $6,000 to attend a summer camp.)

Lack of diver depth hurt FIU in the Sun Belt meet and could do the same here after senior Sabrina Beaupre takes the 10-meter platform and at least one of the two springboards. She's favored in all three.

In the pool, C-USA's tougher than The Belt and FIU no longer has Madame Butterfly, Marina Ribi, to pick up points in that dastardly stroke. Still, junior Johanna Gustafsdottir ranks first in the 200 backstroke and second in the 100 back. Senior Sonia Perez Arau comes in with the best 400 IM time in the conference. Klara Andersson is a close third in the 50 freestyle, which she won at last year's Sun Belt meet.

And FIU will bring home a relay win or two. I'm thinking 400 medley and 800 free. Just noticed -- the common thread in every school record relay is Gustafsdottir swimming the first leg. That makes sense. She's strongest in back, the first stroke of a medley relay. Her next strongest stroke is free. Classic relay set up uses the second fastest to lead off with the fastest anchoring.

I'd be shocked if the water women can give the athletic department its first Conference USA title. Defending champion Rice is still strong and East Carolina looks like a possible problem. That leaves baseball and softball -- track? Name the last conference champion without a coach -- and both of them get blocked. Rice owns baseball while UAB and Tulsa tussle over softball.

No, the baseball team isn't outscoring the football team after eight games. They were after three games (25-23) and four games (30-23). But if you just count scoring against Division I/FBS opponents, it's closer than you think after eight games: 78-63 for football.

When I saw FIU football coach Ron Turner at FIU Baseball Stadium with his family Saturday on the concourse on the first base line. I thought, "Boy, he'll go anywhere to see some offense." The Sunday juxtaposition couldn't have been more ripe -- FIU sports and centertainment head Pete Garcia attending hte baseball game with Butch Davis, the currently unemployed former coach at the Universty of Miami.

Now, if Davis wants back in coaching, he's got to cleanse himself by working somewhere else for a year or two. Obviously, FIU would be a fine place for that. Maybe Davis has changed his mind about FIU. He certainly could've joined his buddy Garcia a year ago and a few candidates (or their representatives) said they were told, "don't bother, this is Butch's job." Garcia's fits of temper and rash decisions would do Lewis Carroll's Queen of Hearts proud -- thus why some in the department call the second floor area housing Garcia's office "The Tower of Terror" -- but firing Mario Cristobal without a card like Davis to play exceeds Garcia's Yosemite Sam quotient.

 

North Carolina was on the hook for Davis' money, so nothing about that green affected Davis taking FIU's green. A theory I formed while writing about Saturday's 10-0 baseball thumping of Stony Brook: Davis learned the horrible academic situation facing FIU football in 2013 and decided to let someone else deal with that academic barf. If I knew about it in December, 2012, why wouldn't Davis?

This weekend's baseball stories were easy to write. FIU won three blowouts, scored early in each one and I didn't have to spend any time waiting to talk to coaches or players or transcribing their quotes. I did talk to Stony Brook Friday night starter Frankie Vanderka, one of the better pitchers FIU will see in non-conference play, about what pitch Julius Gaines drove for a home run and what he thought of FIU's lineup. On Saturday and Sunday, I wasn't going to waste the Stony Brook coach's time asking him his opinion of a team that just waxed him by 10 runs.

I'd have liked to talk to Aramis Garcia, hitting .500 over the first eight games; or freshman JC Escarra, with a team-leading .577 on-base percentage; or Josh Anderson, last year's team leader in doubles with 22, already with five this year and 14 RBI.

Alas, FIU coaches and players were unavailable for comment to the media. I'd been told before Friday's game that would be the case. Officially, it was Turtle Thomas' decision so everyone could remain focused on baseball without any distractions. Logically, that dog didn't hunt. Postgame interviews are, you know, postgame and about 18 hours before the next game. They take less than 10 minutes total time, two or three players and Thomas combined, once they start. There wasn't media, only a medium -- me -- for three of the first five games (as well as Friday and Saturday). And the Panthers looked none too distracted in winning their first five games. Also, Thomas does answer questions from FIU media relations after the game.

Of course, this came from above Thomas. Thomas' bosses are Garcia and Senior Associate AD Bobby Staub. This was a predictable reaction to the Dennis Wiseman story, but mostly because I'd long ago heard that neither was too pleased about a series of public records requests I've been making since December on a broad range of things. Sometimes, I just feel there's information I should have. Sometimes, I'm curious. Sometimes, I smell something.

Marketing's now Staub's thing, by the way. He's now the most motivated salesman in FIU athletics. In addition to his $110,000 salary, Staub gets $1,000 bonuses for football season student attendance being above $20,000, then another grand if over $30,000; basketball season student attendance over 5,000, then 10,000; basketball season tickets over 500 and over 750; baseball ticket revenue over $15,000 and $20,000; football ticket and sponsorship revenue (excluding Pepsi) over $1 million and over $1.5 million; sells the naming rights to FIU Baseball Stadium or five other new athletics assets; and sells all the suites for one season for football and basketball.

By the way, the victory song for FIU during the Turtle Thomas era used to be "New York, New York." Not sure why, but it's become custom since 2008. Now, under directions from marketing, it's Kool and the Gang's "Celebration," both the highest charting and worst Kool and the Gang single ever. Feel the cliche.

Oh, I forgot, The Master Plan Development for Camp Mitch from Feb. 14 still shows a soccer field surrounded by a track as a Future Development. Not even Funded or Likely Funded. Future Development.

To let you know how far into the future that might be, also in that category is Stadium Upper Bowl Expansion. That'll be about as useful as a weave store for skinheads until Ron Turner turns into Dr. Alchemy followed by Staub turning into P.T. Barnum.

That would be something completely different.

 

 

 

February 20, 2014

Coley Academic All-American; Compliance moves

The day after tying her career high with 47 points in a loss to Southern Mississippi, senior guard Jerica Coley was named a Third Team Capital One Academic All-American.

You know the numbers: 3.41 GPA, 29.4 points per game, an amazing (or ridiculous) 42.7 percent of FIU's offense this season. The only home games remaining for Coley, assuming FIU doesn't make a postseason tournament of any kind, are Saturday against Marshall and a week from Saturday against Old Dominion, both 6 p.m. games.

COMPLIANCE

Val Sheley was the Director of Compliance until last fall. Back then, Compliance didn't fall under Athletics.

Now, comes Hank Harrawood. Harrawood's title? Associate Athletic Director of Compliance, indicating that office has been moved under the Athletics roof or is about to be.

FAU, USF and UCF each have both an an Assistant AD of Compliance and a Director of Compliance. FAU doesn't list staff beyond their top two. In addition to the assistant AD and director, UCF has a director in charge of rules, another for financial aid, an assistant director in charge of monitoring rules and one monitoring eligibility. USF has three additional assistant directors of compliance and a "compliance extern."

FIU has the Harrawood position, three assistant director positions (one open, the one in charge of APR) and a compliance intern (also open). Not sure what Harrawood's making, but Sheley was making $100,000. The two assistant directors in place now make around $110,000, combined. Considering FIU's Compliance troubles and possible fines incurred to the NCAA for those troubles, the school might want to drop a little coin on the department. At least that'll keep the money in town.

The same could be said of the SAAC. Former director Phil Moses wrote in his 2012 evaluation, "The needs of the student-athletes we serve and the needs of the SAAC staff members are diverse. The financial constraints of a budget that does not match the needs of the students we serve necessitates decision-making that is consistently efficient, but very challenging. The same goes for the professional development of the SAAC staff. Much development is needed for staff, but critical priorities have severely hampered funding such development."

In one of her performance evaluations, Sheley wrote that "our staff is not big enough to be doing all things at all times for all people" and that Compliance at FIU had responsibilities "for certain areas not usually housed in the Compliance office." Then again, I've heard some athletic department staffers in an area that should have nothing to do with Compliance were having to handle Compliance work.

Or, to paraphrase Biggie, "No money, mo' problems."

(Yes, I have made a public records request for the budgets of Compliance and the SAAC.) 

Let's see if FIU puts the new guy, Harrawood (undergrad at East Carolina, law school at Elon) and whoever takes over the SAAC in a better situation. Harrawood most recently was an assistant AD for nine months at Louisiana-Monroe, where Senior Associate AD Bobby Staub was athletic director before coming to FIU. Before that, Harrawood was the Compliance Coordinator at Gardner-Webb University.

 

 

February 19, 2014

Serrano C-USA Golfer of the Week

For medalist honors at the Amelia Island Collegiate with an 8-under 208, freshman Camila Serrano is Conference USA's Golfer of the Week. 

With Serrano, sophomores Sophie Godley and Meghan MacLaren, FIU stands a decent shot of winning the Conference USA title the year after winning the Sun Belt title. 

February 18, 2014

Golf, gold, decisions

Frehsman Camila Serrano took medalist honors with an 8-under 208 and FIU's 859 team score gave them a 12-stroke win over Kennesaw State in the Amelia Island Collegiate.

Sophmores Meghan MacLaren and Sophie Godley swapped spots (third and fourth) after McLaren shot a 3-over 75 to close and Godley put forth a 6-over 78 in the final round. Serrano held on for the win only after beating Daytona State's Tiffany Chan in an 18th hole playoff (literally an 18th hole playoff -- they played the 18th four times).

FUNDING VOLLEYBALL

http://www.gofundme.com/FIUVolleyball. They're up to $195 as of right now. Their goal is $6,000.

WISEMAN

As several of you hasve asked, from my end, here's what went into deciding to do today's story on Dennis Wiseman.

A young woman sent Tweets to several different people about Wiseman, his past and Saturday. I don't know Wiseman. His last year at FIU ended the academic year before I started my first run covering FIU. I might have had occasion to write his name in 1990 as a key departure from the baseball team from the previous year. I didn't know about what happened at North Miami High. When it happened, I was a Panthers/NHL reporter enjoying the time off between the Panthers getting knocked out of the playoffs that spring and the Stanley Cup Final. If I did read it in our Local section back then, I long ago dumped it from my memory banks.

Anyway, after seeing the woman's Tweet, I searched several public records on Wiseman. I found the progression of the case through the court system and his registration among several other facts. I also found what was written on the case after Wiseman's arrest. With information from these places, I called my immediate superior and laid everything out with "Here's what we have. What do we do with it?"

After all, this isn't some coaching change, schedule change or a recruiting commit. That's stuff you get out with all necessary haste, if you can. Blog post, hit it, it's out. I can make those decisions on my own. For stories like this, I can have my opinion, but it better be expressed in discussions with editors before that opinion is acted on one way or the other.

That editor told me to wait while he went up the chain of command. It's obviously a sensitive topic, on at least two levels. He came back with, "Write it." I called the FIU media relations department, asked who was in charge of selecting Wiseman and said I would like to speak with that person. Soon after, I was told he'd been on the football team plane several times so I also asked to speak to Pete Garcia. The answers to these requests are in today's paper.

I got Wiseman's cell phone number Monday night, called and left a message with my cell phone number. We waited until 10 p.m. before moving ahead with the story, sans comment from Wiseman. My cell phone stayed on until 1:30 a.m. He didn't call. (Wiseman called me this morning. As he wished the conversation to stay private, that'll all I'll say about it.)

I had nothing to do with the headline or story placement. Aside from blog posts and a few stories posted directly online, I haven't written a headline or picked the page/space for a story since the Indiana Daily Student.

February 17, 2014

Golf clubbing Amelia Island competition; FIU athletics kickstarter

FIU's got three of the top four indivduals, shot a team record 11-under 277 in the first round and head into the final day of the Amelia Island Collegiate with an obese 13-stroke lead on second place Kennesaw State.

Freshman Camila Serrano sits atop the team and tournament leaderboard with an 11-under 133 after two rounds. Sitting in third and fourth overall, five and seven shots back respectively, are sophomores Sophie Godley and Meghan MacLaren.

The tournament, at Fernandina Beach's Amelia National Golf Club, ends with a third round Tuesday. 

FUNDRAISING

Over on http://www.gofundme.com, you can find the volleyball team $5 into a campaign to drum up $6,000 in donations with a 10/20 drive -- each athlete asks 10 friends to donate $20. Track and field took to the site last July to raise $15,000 to help pay for "the new upgrades to our facilities," specifically the soccer field/track renovation that was to start in November. Track has raised $2,200 of a $15,000 goal. 

I'm all for the Kickstarters of the world. I think they're brilliant uses of the Internet. But there's a difference between a director with a unique concept or an inventor with a new bobrick and the athletic team of a large, public university.

That two of FIU's teams have to resort to this electronic panhandling says the school needs to get better at tapping some moneyed pockets. By comparison, the groups from UCF I found on the site were club teams, pure extracurricular activites without scholarships.

 

February 16, 2014

Bits & pieces

I'll have a wrap up of this first baseball weekend after today's season closer. But here's some FIU athletics Snacky Cakes for the morning:

FOOTBALL: FIU will play UMass home-and-home in 2015 and 2018. UMass just went FBS in 2012 and has had back-to-back 1-11 seasons since then.

And this year's deal with FCS Wagner is a one-shot deal.

BASKETBALL: I figured with men's basketball attendance up and not having to travel to a conference tournament, this might be a better year financially for basketball than usual. Hey, there can be an upside to academic failure!

Alas, FIU could be facing a series of fines. I'd heard months ago that the program could be fined for Marita Davydova playing all of last year as an ineligible player. Fines instead of forfeits could be the penalty for the Ray Taylor fiasco, too. Frankly, if it's an either/or thing, I'd hope for forfeits if I were FIU. You never know what the Hypocrisy Hounds of the Nattering Nabobs of the NCAA will decide.

TRACK: Don't look for the soccer stadium renovation/reconfiguration into a soccer-and-track facility any time soon. The $3 million project was talked about for years and supposed to be started after this soccer season finished. 

February 12, 2014

Coley and CLASS; Snow day; 2015 Diamond Dinner

Another pile of points from senior guard Jerica Coley, 29 of them, couldn't lead FIU to an upset of Middle Tennessee State Wednesday night at The Branch. But Coley did get two pieces of individual good news lately: she's one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award (http://www.seniorCLASSaward.com) and one of the 30 finalists for the Naismith Women's Player of the Year Award.

The former award takes into account Coley's excellence in the classroom as well as on the court and fans can go to the website to vote for their favorite student-athlete. 

TENNIS

The women's tennis match against Winthrop got snowed out. They can't clear off the courts and play? Nobody's got a shovel up there? Sheesh...

BASEBALL & SOFTBALL

Arrangements for the 2015 Diamond Dinner, Feb. 7, 2015, already are underway. And FIU's in talks with another excellent keynote speaker. I'm not sure he's a better speaker than this year's Jim Kaat, current broadcaster and former longtime major league pitcher, but he's one of the biggest names in baseball from the 1960s and 1970s.

January 30, 2014

Coffee, Coley & TV

 The biggest weeps over senior guard Jerica Coley graduating FIU might not be heard in the women's basketball offices, but the marketing and media relations offices. They'll be crying like it's the end of Love Story. For those arms of FIU media, Coley's the gift that never stops giving, the cornucopia of FIU goodness.

This week, it's being named a Capital One Academic All-District athlete by College Sports Information Directors of America. This district covers colleges in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Coley carries a 3.41 GPA and majors in dietetics and nutrition.

Coley and the entire women's basketball team will be signing autographs Saturday after FIU faces FAU at 6 p.m. on National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Female FIU employees with their FIU card get in free. Girls under 12 receive a free t-shirt.

TELEVISION

The Apr. 5 FIU vs. FAU softball game will be televised on Fox Sports Network as will the May 3 FIU at East Carolina baseball game. Conference USA announced its spring television schedule today.

 

 

 

January 17, 2014

Cold Night at The Branch; MLK breakfast

Thursday night's basketball presentation at The Branch could be likened to walking in on your octogenarian mother or mother-in-law in the midst of an undies change: an unsightly ragged surprise that shrinks your appetite for anything similar.

Upon returning to South Beach, I didn't want to see even one attempted jump shot, dunk or entry pass. What Old Dominion and FIU did to basketball put it almost in a state from which not even sure the Jackson Five could save it.

 

Most annoying in the 36-point performance, an FIU-record for offensive futility, was the lack of movement. Too much statue basketball -- get the pass, stand, observe, pass to another person to do the same -- where there's not much movement of the ball or off the ball. That led to forced drives, which leads to bad shots and turnovers.

"Combination," assented FIU coach Anthony Evans about the stagnant nature of the offense. "I think the ball is stoopping too much. Going to one person and sticking instead of crisp ball movement so we can get open shots."

And, FIU saw some inside shots dance around the rim before falling away, inevitably to an Old Dominion rebound. Evans said practice today would be devoted to defense, reasoning if your offense is slumping, get the defense together to create offense from defense.

I apologize for the lateness of the blog. After dinner, dessert, Daddywork (melted cough drops in the backpack...c'mon, kid), I banged out some of the postgame blog then went face down on the keyboard. Then, this morning, after dropping the kid off, I skedaddled over to the 23rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Breakfast at the Graham Center ballroom.

I saw Senior Associate AD Bobby Staub at the breakfast. I was told the athletics table across the rom included several coaches including, predictably, swimming coach Randy Horner (the swim program defines "ubiquitous"). Not in the house full of successful, affluent Miamians and FIU-connected folks? Ron Turner. I know a pile of recruiting visits are this weekend, but that's exactly the kind of event at which an athletic department living student fees-to-student fees needs the coach of its most visible program.

The keyote speaker was Dr. Clarence Jones, a speechwriter for and close friend of Dr. King, a copyright lawyer and professor at Stanford. I really wish I'd gotten down verbatim his quoting of Dr. King on striving for personal excellence and taking responsibility for your personal behavior.

RECRUITING

Another thing about football recruiting: that other schools are sweating some FIU recruits speaks well of them. You want players other schools want. That also means, however, you've got to make them love you enough to keep their affection through the wooing of others.

Just a thought as FAU's making a run at Hialeah running back Henry Bussey, an FIU commit.

 

December 04, 2013

Williams out; Davydova, too (for now); Trifunovic Player of the Month

Greetings from Camp Mitch, where December 5 must be on the calendar as Firing Day.

A year less a day after a much larger sacking in the football program, FIU has fired linebackers coach Tom Williams. 

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Don't expect to see 6-3 center Marita Davydova on the court this season. Word out of Camp Mitch is last year's Third Team All-Sun Belt center is ineligible this year after a Compliance screw up, but should be able to come back next season. If she was also ineligible last year, FIU could face school fines or forfeits.

TENNIS

Sophomore Aleksandra Trifunovic shares November's Conference USA Player of the Month Award with Tulsa senior Samantha Vickers.

Trifunovic went 3-0 in November without losing a set.

 

December 02, 2013

A few things for you readers

1. I do check IP addresses and e-mail accounts. One poster who recently claimed "This is my first post" under a name "Roberto" had the same e-mail and IP address as a previous post "Bob." I deleted the "Roberto" post. I don't like to block people, but I will do it. Pick a screen name and stick with it or get your posts deleted.

2. There's only so many posts you can make referring to a particular athlete without admitting that athlete is your son or daughter. I'll put up with it once, twice, maybe three times, but after that, you're getting called out as XY's or XX's parent, just so everybody knows where you're coming from.

3. This blog finished 13th among Herald blogs in November with 16,660 page views. Next highest was the Florida Panthers blog, 20,602. Top college sports blog: Eye on The U, 253,406. Top blog: Dolphins in Depth, 833,199.

That's about where it normally finishes as far as page views. Except for January, 2013. Signing Day excitement? Nah. Strip club Tweeting.

4. As for the football players a reader requested status updates on: After eligibility questions early in the season, DeAndre Jasper played several games. Yousif Khoury was injured half the season, then played at least the final game. Dieugot Joseph and Deonte Wilson both played in the last game. Imarjaye Albury was sitting out under NCAA transfer rules. Of the rest, some I knew were in academic trouble, some I strongly suspect were discipline issues and a couple just weren't well-liked by the staff.

 

 

November 24, 2013

November 09, 2013

Blowout Friday (not a sale)

Everybody got some. The football team hopes it doesn't continue Saturday.

Men's basketball started first. Or, rather, started slowly first. Two first half statistics say it all: four of 13, 28.6 percent, from the free throw line and 11 turnovers. Unless you're playing the Southwest High JV, the second half's just to make everything official. FIU was playing Eastern Kentucky and the men from EK didn't play. FIU got down 45-24 and eventually lost 83-61 despite double doubles from Rakeem Buckles (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Tymell Murphy (14 and 10).

A half-hour into the men's basketball game, up at Middle Tennesee State, where the football team plays Saturday, the volleyball team charged into Middle. Or, maybe, more Charge of the Light Brigade. FIU got swept 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-21) to the team that was the Sun Belt's best or second best with Western Kentucky over the last few years. Redshirt junior Jessica Egan had 22 assists for FIU.

As the men's game slogged through the second half and Middle drove spikes into the volleyball team, the women's basketball season opener against Florida Gulf Coast tipped off. I got the idea afterwards that FIU coach Cindy Russo was ticked off. Marita Davydova, expected to be perhaps the second most important player on the team behind senior guard Jerica Coley, was in FIU warmup pants and a polo shirt the whole game. Russo just called it a "coach's decision" and didn't say definitively whether or not Davydova would be back in the lineup for the next game.

Sophomore point guard Taylor Shade darted around Gulf Coast and created her own shot long enough to keep FIU in it while Coley stayed cold enough to keep Quarter Pounder meat frozen in the first half. Shade finished with a team-high 18 points, but Russo said her 36 minutes were about 10 minutes too long. Eventually, Gulf Coast pulled away with a 15-0 run to end the first half and continued in the second half as FIU seemed to fade. I don't know if fatigue makes cowards of us all, but, in the second half, the Panthers looked just fatigued enough to foul. Some truly bad defense was played.

Those filing out of The Branch could've stopped by FIU Soccer Stadium ("stadium"...heh heh) where Charlotte was spanking FIU 3-0.

 

October 24, 2013

The Miami Beach Bowl

Quick hits from the news conference announcing The Miami Beach Bowl:

A formal rotation opposite the American Athletic Conference, the owner and operator of the bowl, hasn't been decided upon yet, but it'll include Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the Mid-American Conference. However, I was told, if FIU is bowl eligible to this level and it isn't Conference USA's turn, FIU likely would get chosen while the other team gets lateraled elsewhere.

Also, the AAC champion could wind up in the game. Just using logic, if Central Florida or South Florida winds up eligible or the AAC champion, look for them here.

Sheesh, there are a lot of FIU folks here. FIU athletic director Pete Garcia is on the dais. The program said he'll do the translating for the Spanish language media.

"FIU president Mark Rosenberg and Pete Garcia have been invaluable in connecting us with the right people in Miami-Dade County," said AAC senior associate commissioner Nick Carparelli.

Carparelli claiming $34 million economic impact for the county. We all know such things are more inflated than a carnival bouncy house, but there it is.

Miami Beach mayor Matti Bower's a born politician. Just because I happened to be standing net to her, having no idea who I was or where I lived (South Beach for 23 years), she introduced herself and took the time to have a conversation on Miami Beach flooding. Then, when she had to slide away to greet other folks, made sure to give the conversation a proper benediction.

Check out my Twitter feed, http://twitter.com/DavidJNeal for a photo of the football configuration of Marlins Park. Capacity of about 34,000.

The game is contracted for six years. Television and title sponsorship are yet to be determined. The date isn't set, but they'll hope for Dec. 22 or 23.

The roof is planned to be open.

 

October 23, 2013

Today's Paella of Sports

Before heading for The Cat House up north Wednesday I swung by FIU Stadium.

The only Home Depot jersey sat on the shoulders of freshman running back Alonso Randolph, still on crutches. Cornerbacks Richard Leonard and Jeremiah McKinnon were back at practice. Off the roster and the program for now are redshirt junior wide receiver James Louis; sophomore safety Adrian Jenkins; transfer running back Anthon Samuel; and sophomore wide receiver Raymond Jackson. Some might return for spring football.

I wouldn't expect many lineup changes this week. If you know one player from Louisiana Tech, it should be IK Enemkpali. That's not an architectural firm, but a 6-1, 272-pound defensive end with 5.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and -- love this -- a team-high two interceptions.

With the Indianapolis Colts having a bye this week, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will serve as honorary captain for Saturday's FIU game.

IN THE OFFICE

I heard there's been a firing among the athletic department directors. Still checking to confirm.

SWIMMING & DIVING

Hey, FIU's got another diver besides senior Sabrina Beaupre! Freshman Lily Kaufman took home Conference USA Diver of the Week honors after FIU's trounced North Florida and senior Sonia Perez took the C-USA Swimmer of the Week award. 

One of FIU's weaknesses in the Sun Belt Conference meets was volume of swimmers and divers, especially the latter. Beaupre won the last couple of years with the ease of FDR, but other schools still piled up points behind her. Beaupre and Kaufman have the top two scores in C-USA this season.

Perez, the 2013 Sun Belt 400 individual medley champion and FIU school record holder, won the 400 IM at North Florida in 4:20.93 and the 100 backstroke in 58.70.

GOLF

Freshman Coralia Arias became the third consecutive FIU player and second consecutive FIU freshman to take medalist honors at the FIU Pat Bradley Invitational. Arias' 6-under 210 led FIU's third place team effort and put her a stroke up on Daytona State's So Young Hwang. As a team, FIU finished 12-over 876, behind Maryland's 9-over 873 and Daytona State's 10-over 874. 

Last year's medalist, sophomore Meghan MacLaren slumped over the final two rounds to a 9-over 225, 28th. Sophomore Sophie Godley finished sixth at 2-under 214.

 

 

 

 

October 21, 2013

Stuff like this and that...

Sophomore linebacker Patrick Jean, who has spent the season working with the second and third string, has quit the team for personal reasons. According to sources close to FIU, Jean has a family situation that'll be taking up a fat chunk of his time. He's staying in school, however.

Jean appeared in five games this season, compiling 1.5 tackles for loss and sacks among his 12 tackles.

BOWLING

Thursday at 11 a.m. is the Marlins Park press conference to officially announce The Miami Beach Bowl, owned and operated by the American Athletic Conference. Conference USA will be in the rotation for the other tie-in with the AAC. Expect several elements of FIU to be as involved in this bowl. FIU athletic director Pete Garcia was among the folks who helped fill this date for Marlins Park.

GOLF

Freshman Coralia Arias held close to her first round score Monday in the FIU Pat Bradley Invitational. Her even par 72 left her at 3-under 141, one shot off the lead shared by Daytona State's So Young Hwang and Missouri's Taylor Gohn.

As for the rest of FIU...oh, baby, they weren't hot today. Sophomore Sophie Godley shot a 2-over 74 to fall to 11th. Sophomore Meghan MacLaren plunged from seventh to 26th, pulled down by a 6-over 78. And now you see part of the reason FIU dropped from the lead to third, one stroke beyind Maryland and five behind leader Daytona State going into today's final round at Sarasota's Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.

October 16, 2013

Scoreboard!

Here's some clarification on the scoreboard issue from the FIU athletic department:

The retrofit for the four-year-old scoreboard will cost $132,000. While an uncommunicative transmitter caused Saturday's snafu, the UCF problems (showing "87-0" and "4-0" as the score, black line down the middle of the scoreboard) came from a short in the scoreboard that showed an incorrect score whenever there was a change of possession.

 

October 06, 2013

A Two-Loss Weekend

Junior Johanna Volz's overtime goal gave the women's soccer team a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon against Louisiana Tech to get 4-8 and 2-2 in Conference USA. The men's soccer team crushed Marshall 4-0 Sunday to even the overall record at 5-5 and the Conference USA record at 1-1. The swim team gave FAU the what for Saturday.

OK, volleyball went zero for Texas, losing 3-0 each to Texas-San Antonio and UTEP.

In the NFL, T.Y. Hilton blazed to five catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns for Indianapolis. Jacksonville lost again, but safety Johnathan Cyprien had a team-high 12 tackles, all solo.

The opening line on Saturday's Homecoming game against Alabama-Birmingham is "pick 'em."

October 05, 2013

Gameday V, 2013: A philosophical question...

If two objects fail to move toward each other, can they actually clash? It's a worthy question given the offenses involved in today's contest, which isn't Loser Leaves Town, but would be Loser Leaves FBS if we were playing by English soccer league rules.

To what can we compare FIU, which hasn't scored a point on an FBS foe in over a month, vs. Southern Mississippi, whose last win came 16 games ago or sometime around the time Brett Favre's eligibility expired?

1981 Patriots-Colts? No Tom Brady-Peyton Manning era-defining showdowns in those days. The Patriots won only two games that season. So did their AFC East rivals, the Baltimore Colts -- the two games against New England.

1983 Houston Oilers vs. Tampa Bay? Dubbed "The Repus Bowl" by Sports Illustrated, fodder for the brilliant sports comic strip Tank McNamara, at least both teams came in with 1-11 records. Tampa Bay won 33-24.

Is this like some mythical match of William Jennings Bryan vs. Bob Dole? Hamilton Burger vs. George Costanza? The Coyote (Eatibus Anythingus) vs. Tom?

This game does match the No. 123 (out of 123) FIU offense against the No. 118th ranked offense of Southern Mississippi. At least with Tropical Storm Karen idling in the Gulf of Mexico like your grandmother insisting on parking finding a spot no farther than six spots from the mall door, the weather looks like it won't add to each team's scoring troubles. The forecast is for a high of 89 degrees, isolated thunderstorms, 30 percent chance of rain. Otherwise, we'd be looking at a game decided when one quarterback sees his pass blown back into his hands and he's tackled for a safety: 2-0.

I asked a couple of players what the team leaders have done to keep the team from crashing over the last two weeks. That's a long time to have the zero size of 72-0 at the top of your team resume.

"Energy in practice. Having fun," quarterback Jake Medlock said. "We were thinking way too much. You can see the first four weeks, we were thinking too much. Last week, we came out and had fun. Today, you could tell we're having fun again and we're executing. Instead of stressing, worrying about making a mistake -- if you make a mistake, you make a mistake, it's part of the game. You come back and learn from it. This was one of our better practices we've had all year."

As for Southern Miss, "We've both had long losing streaks, but we look at it as we're 0-0. It doesn't matter what the record is, right now we're 0-0 going into conference."

(Medlock and Southern Mississippi middle linebacker Alan Howze are practically related -- Howze dates Medlock's fiancee's best friend.)

Defensive lineman Greg Hickman said, "Most of the team leaders live together in the dorms and we had our own leader meetings lately. We've just been relaying the message of how important it is to finish these last eight games as strong as possible. We've been trying to make practice more fun so everybody can be into it."

Elaborating on it, Hickman said, "You get in a stretch of the season, your body's getting tired. We're just coming out, talking trash to each other, trying to bring enthusiasm back so everybody can get their mind off their soreness and on preparation."

I asked him how much they looked at the Louisville game film. Hickman said he'd just watched it again to remind himself how it felt and that he never wanted to feel that way again.

Southern Miss is no Louisville. The Golden Eagles turn the ball over -- a lot. They committed three turnovers at Boise State and improved their turnovers per game average to 3.75. They fumble the ball -- a lot. The Golden Butterfingers have 10 fumbles this season and lost five, although four were in one game against Texas State. They throw interceptions -- with alarming frequency. And the Golden Eagles' 10 interceptions are spread evenly, with no game featuring less than two. When they hear "something's got to give," they apparently believe it's implied that "something" is "Southern Miss."

I don't like either team's ability to run the ball, although FIU likely will insist on trying right into the fourth quarter because this game will be close. I follow the old W.C. Fields line "If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Then, quit -- there's no point in being a damned fool about it."

Southern Miss has players banged up while FIU's getting healthier coming off its first of two bye weeks this season. And those turnovers...feels like there's a pick six or a scoop-and-score in there for FIU somewhere.

I'll stay with my preseason pick of FIU. But I'm saying 17-10.

But that's just one black man's opinion. I could be wrong.

SWIMMING & DIVING

The first swim meet of the season -- and the last home swim meet until Dec. 19 -- is today, noon, at the Biscayne Bay campus against FAU. They show up for everybody else's meets and games. They deserve a few folks schelpping over to show up for theirs.

October 03, 2013

First C-USA Player of the Week; on suspensions

FIU's first Conference USA Player of the Week of the year is a Golfer of the Week, sophomore Meghan MacLaren.

MacLaren's 6-over 222 put her fifth in last week's Golfweek Conference Challenge. This week, freshman Coralia Arias led FIU to a fourth place (out of 11) at the Old Waverly Invitational. Her 2-under 214 landed Arias sixth individually.

FOOTBALL

Without hearing more than I already have, I won't speculate about the cause of the suspensions of cornerback cousins Richard Leonard and Jeremiah McKinnon. The "texting former coaches" cause put forth in the comments section of this blog doesn't jibe with either logic -- players text and gripe about current coaches to former teammates and coaches all over the nation, it's part of our kvetchy culture -- or with what I heard happened involving Leonard or McKinnon two weeks ago.

 

 


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