Senior cornerback Sam Miller walked stiffly with a brace on his left leg after practice Wednesday. FIU coach Ron Turner said, as of now, Miller's 50-50 to go Saturday.
Talking with sophomore quarterback E.J. Hilliard after Wednesday's practice, we learned that Hilliard got nicknamed "Freeway" by current Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when they were both at Northwestern High because Hilliard sported sideburns similar to Freeway Rick Ross. Hilliard also said another former Northwestern quarterback, former FIU wide receiver Wayne Times, nicknamed current FIU center Donald Senat "Hario." No reason was given.
The line on Saturday's game, which opened with FIU as 20-point underdogs, rose to 23 1/2 in some places, 24 in one. The over/under's down to 52.
They're doing some serious stacking out at Camp Mitch concerning this Saturday's game against East Carolina.
Not just the psychological stacking, whereby you "stack" stressful situation atop stressful situation until the ones on the bottom cause you ulcers or to yell at MickeyD's workers who put cheese when you clearly said sin queso. In adidution to that, the athletic deparment or marketing department or whatever department got called into the emergency meeting stacked promotion atop promotion to get a more-than-laughable crowd in the house Saturday against East Carolina.
And, if they don't, to paraphrase Richard Pryor's Mudbone character, there will be less laughing than at a funeral on Sunday, Christmas Day.
FBS schools must "average 15,000 in acutal or paid attendance for home football games over a rolling two-year period" according to last year's NCAA manual. FIU averaged 13,634 in 2012, according to the NCAA.
This year, the average official attendance is 14,966. The team is 1-6. The remaining home games are against East Carolina and Marshall, two nightmare guests: neither brings caravans of fans like an Ohio State or Dale Earnhardt Jr., they're non-entities to the casual fan while the cognescenti knows they're threats to blast FIU halfway to Naples.
Through Sept. 9, FIU claimed it had sold 10,045 season tickets. If true (ahem), they still need another 5,000 pay for tickets or show up. They certainly can't afford a rerun of Saturday when maybe, maybe 2,000 attended. The Four Letter People can be relied upon to overlook many things if you make them stacks of money. But FIU doesn't bring home the NCAA's bacon. So, the NCAA's a little quicker to fry FIU in the pan.
That's why FIU has stacked Military Appreciation Day (military personnel with ID or in uniform can get in free or with four other people) with FIU Faculty, Staff & Retiree Appreciation Night ($7 for a reserved seat, hot dog, bag of chips, 16-ounce drink) and FIU Football Free-4-All for students (each student automatically entered into a raffle for these prizes four scholarships, four textbook vouchers, four Panther Dining vouchers, four $100 gift cards to Cadillac Ranch, techonology vouchers for a 50-inch TV, an iPad, iPod Shuffle, iTunes gift card). Also, each student gets a free hot dog, drink, all that and a bag of chips.
Seem like a lot? Imagine what attendance probation or the ensuing drop from FBS would cost FIU in conference money. Or, matchup money from the big schools looking for an FBS team to beat up. Or, athletic department credibility.
FIU football coach Ron Turner said after Tuesday's practice that sophopmore EJ Hilliard will replace redshirt junior Jake Medlock at quarterback Saturday against East Carolina.
Turner wanted to make clear that the 1-6 record falls on the team, not just on Medlock, and he just hopes this will give the team a spark.
Hilliard gets no easy assignments. East Carolina (5-2, 3-1 in conference) was the preseason Conference USA favorite. The Pirates only losses were 15-10 against Virginia Tech and 36-33 to Tulane in overtime. Hilliard also started against Louisville this season and got hancuffed by an offensive game plan so run-based -- after FIU failed to run effectively against even Bethune-Cookman -- that the television announcers made fun of it.
Last season, Medlock injuries sent Hilliard into the second half against Louisville; made his first start on the road against Louisiana-Lafayette (bowl team); second start five days later against Arkansas State (bowl team); came in for the final play against Western Kentucky (bowl team) and started the season finale against Louisiana-Monroe (bowl team).
Also, Turner made clear that sophomore outside linebacker Davison Colimon has not quit the team, but has been dealing with some family issues. Fifth-year senior Derrick Jones Jr. will start in his place again this week. Markeith Russell should be fine also for Saturday's game.
Now, let's say you were in the marketing or business part of FIU's athletic department and you got called into an emergency Sunday meeting (as actually might've happened) to discuss how to get enough people into FIU Stadium so that the actual attendance exceeds the nearest quinceanera party. And FIU doesn't get completely embarrassed during the nationally televised game against Marshall.
What would you say? Here's my thoughts, just off the top of my head...
Bus to the Beach: Park buses outside one of the gates. Only those coming out of the stadium after the game can board the buses, which will take the occupants to South Beach for a night of whatever wackiness they desire, then back to campus. Now that Bryant McKinnie's in town, get him involved and you could have a serious party bus, handy for entertaining visiting recruits (no Twitter allowed during or after, of course).
Busing School Children: OK, I know I'm on a mass transit kick here. But a few buses down to Florida City, over to Liberty City and to the Miami Gardens/Norland area, bringing kids and their parents to FIU Stadium wouldn't be a bad idea. Give them FIU hats and shirts, a coupon for food and drink, remind them that some of their neighbors are on the field (such as freshman linebacker from Norland High Treyvon Williams, who could be starting this week in place of injured fifth-year senior Markeith Russell).
Free Beer for Dads, Free Cosmo for Moms: Parents who bring their kids receive coupons entitling them to two free beers (for fathers) or two free Cosmopolitans or rum-and-Cokes (for moms) with the other parent getting unlimited water or Coke. It's sort of like a Date Night...or might be later after a few drinks.
FIU opened a 20-point underdog for Saturday's 6 p.m. home football game against East Carolina. The line's up to 21.5 points.
Considering the Pirates have ravaged three opponents for more than 50 points, it's worth asking if the number of fans on the south side of the stadium at kickoff will exceed the over/under points line when that gets posted.
Also, sophomore starting outside linebacker Davison Colimon, who played against Alabama-Birmingham, might've left the team. Colimon didn't play Saturday and wasn't among the injured at practice last week.
The College Football Performance Awards embraced redshirt junior safety Justin Halley for his two interceptions and freshman tight end Jonnu Smith for his two catches for 54 yards with honorable mention nods this week.
Actually, Smith got the notice for his 38-yard touchdown slalom through failed tackles and nice downfield blocks.
It's one thing when fans Tweet "Dear Medlock, transfer" and "Every deep ball thrown by Jake Medlock is underthrown, including last week. Pretty bad" (the latter from noted blog follower/message board poster ChiaPanther).
It's another thing when players retweet that, whether they're playing or not.
Goals by junior Roberto Altiero (two), junior Quentin Albrecht and freshman Marvin Hezel gave FIU a 4-1 win against Kentucky. They're 6-8, 2-4 in Conference USA, planting them sixth among C-USA's 10.
Altiero, a transfer from South Florida, and Albrecht account for 13 of FIU's 27 goals this season.
A weekend split of 1-0 games -- win at FAU and loss at Middle Tennessee -- left the women's soccer team at 7-10, 5-4 in Conference USA (leading the East Division) going into Thursday's season finale at home against Marshall.
By the way, FIU's overall record on the Conference USA website is wrong. Then again, these are the same folks who had North Texas as the Sun Belt champion in 2012 (yes) and 2011 (nope -- FIU beat Western Kentucky for the conference title) in their season preview release.
Another weekend split -- 3-1 loss to East Carolina, 3-0 rout of Louisiana Tech -- and FIU's 10-13, 4-6 in conference. They have two home matches left: Sunday against Rice, Nov. 17 against North Texas.
You likely weren't in FIU Stadium, where fans were as scattered and sparse as FIU offensive competency. I counted about 50 people -- it was tough seeing all the way down to the southwest corner -- in the south stands between anthem and game. I'm sure there were Saturday classes with more students than the student section at kickoff or late in the second quarter. Go check the photos on my Twitter feed.
Apathy's worse than anger. I've heard alumni with anger over the football program. But, now, many have donned the attitude of apathy so prevalent among the students. That's a problem.
Not that Saturday's game counted as entertaining on anything more than a "Well, it's football" level. In one stretch of five plays, there were three fumbles, each more comical than the one before it. I half expected to see one side whip out seltzer bottles and spray the other with it, Tom & Jerry style. First and goal from the 4 turned into a 35-yard field goal attempt.
Saturday's offensive slippage (like on a banana peel) isn't on one person. It was a team effort. The line neither gave Jake Medlock time consistently nor did it pry open holes for either Silas Spearman or Lamarq Caldwell. When Medlock had time, he often threw badly or hesitated until the trigger moment passed -- on the fourth down play in the third quarter, tight end Ya'keem Griner came open on a rollout and Medlock held for just long enough to get hit as he threw. That play notwithstanding, receivers rarely extricated themselves from coverage to give Medlock something he could confidently fire toward. The offense lacks developed playmakers, which turns every drive into a march to Moscow. It's not just about speed. Hey, the wide receiver nicknamed "The Playmaker," Michael Irvin, didn't possess blazing speed even at the college level.
(By the way, talked to a guy with blazing speed, T.Y. Hilton, during the third quarter. He said even before the Colts lost Reggie Wayne to the season, he was getting double coverage. When he complained about it on the sidelines, he said his teammates told him it was his own fault for scoring in every preseason game, thus drawing attention to himself).
Ron Turner admitted there was thought of replacing Medlock with sophomore E.J. Hilliard. I don't know what that would've done, but after 69 yards of offense in the first half and 3 of 9 for 34 yards and one interception in the air, I wondered if Hilliard would make a third quarter appearance.
FIU's blitz recognition as far as protection didn't exist. The offense accounted for three fumbles, only one of which came from contact. That's two too many non-contact flubs coming out of a bye week. That points to ill focus and, lackluster coaching.
FIU's punt team continued to be excruciating. In addition to averaging only 35.6 yards per Chris Ayers punt, the unit got a delay of game penalty, a penalty for lining up illegally and another penalty for clocking the returner before he had a chance to field the punt. That's half of FIU's six penalties on bad mental errors. Again, an indictment of the players' focus and the staff's coaching.
Defensively, FIU allowed five field goals and a touchdown. Also, they should've had a touchdown of their own. Denzell Perine and Markeith Russell reprised the Mike Hegman-Thomas Henderson hug 'em-strip 'em play that gave Dallas a brief 14-7 lead in Super Bowl XIII against Pittsburgh. The play was whistled dead with the ball on its way to Russell's hands. The score at that point was 9-0, Louisiana Tech, in the second quarter. It changes the game if FIU's up 14-9 in the third quarter or down only 20-12 in the fourth.
But you can't complain about a bad call -- and FIU didn't afterwards -- when you don't play well.
Oh, Pet Peeve Time...Am I the only one who wonders what the heck coaches are doing when, instead of taking a knee at the end of the first half, they run a line plunge as FIU did Saturday night and has done before? LaTech was out of timeouts. A kneel down would've done the job. Instead, FIU pounds its workman grinder back for one more play.
This is a violent game involving many guys whose bulk threatens to overwhelm their skeletal structure, especially at this age. If you run a play in that situation, you're either trying to score or you're engaging in coaching onanism.
Inconsistency is characteristic of young teams so maybe this dump wasn't surprising after two games moving forward. Another week of this, though, could see true humiliation visited upon the Panthers.
East Carolina, which has put up 50 points or more three times this season, comes to La Cage next.
Here’s what worries FIU about Louisiana Tech: the LaTech defense, especially defensive end IK Enemkpali, and big sophomore running back Kenneth Dixon.
So, essentially, FIU’s recycled concerns from 2011 Western Kentucky. Maybe that saves money...
Before the season, I had this as a close win for FIU. Both teams returned few starters under new coaches, FIU’s Ron Turner and LaTech’s Skip Holtz. Lou’s son isn’t Lou (for those who remember before Lou Holtz became a cartoon, he was one of the best coaches from the 1970s-early 1990s). And LaTech did its 2012 damage in the WAC, which didn’t stack up to the Sun Belt last year (actually, last year, Conference USA didn’t stack up to The Belt, but anyway…). I wasn’t impressed. Then again, I underestimated how unimpressive FIU would be six games into the season.
Nationally, only FIU (four) returns fewer starters than LaTech’s six. Ron Turner quickly points out that Tech’s new starters come with more game experience than FIU’s. Wacky statistical coincidence: each team’s returning starters average 30.5 starts per player.
Vegas sees less scoring than at a ComiCon, putting the over/under at 50, a low number. I’d take the under. Each team’s best players live on the defensive side of the ball.
In conference games, FIU redshirt junior quarterback Jake Medlock’s passer efficiency rating comes in at a pedestrian 125.8 with only a 50.0 percent completion rate.Tech redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Higgins brings a Kawaun Jakes-esque 105.8 rating after his three conference games and looked like a freshman against Conference USA’s buffet pass defense, UTEP.
Even if LaTech saw Alabama-Birmingham target FIU junior corner Randy Harvey in the Roc Alexander way two weeks ago, does Higgins have the ability to do that? Unlikely, especially if FIU hurriedly gets him in a hurry. LaTech’s given up three sacks in each conference game. Besides, Higgins’ longest completion of the year is 39 yards. Not much worry about him hitting a guy deep.
Seven receivers have 10 or more receptions but leading receiver Andrew Guillot’s mundane 12.6 yards per catch tops the seven in that department.
In the aforementioned UTEP game, Dixon ran for 200 yards. That exceeds by a factor of 10 his production against the top two C-USA run defenses, Tulane and North Texas, 20 yards on 16 carries. Tulane allows 2.6 per carry in conference and North Texas allows 3.0. FIU allows 4.4 after getting trampled underfoot by UAB’s 217 yards, particularly Jordan Howard’s 150 yards on 20 carries.
Perhaps the site of a team from their home state with some very familiar faces – Isame Faciane’s cousin Malcolm Pinchon plays defensive line for LaTech, LaTech running backs coach Jabbar Juluke coached FIU sophomore defensive linemen Darrian Dyson and Leonard Washington at New Orleans Edna Karr High – will motivate them to a particularly dominating performance. By the way, Pinchon won’t be hard to spot. He’ll be the other No. 99 on the field over 300 pounds.
Louisiana Tech’s not the Publix bakery of turnovers as Southern Mississippi was, the key to FIU’s lone win this season. Still, the Bulldogs have 16 turnovers in seven games, most stunningly and interestingly losing each of their 11 fumbles. That’s either some incredibly bad juju inflicting itself on LaTech or terribly bad effort being put forth when the ball’s wobbling on the ground.
FIU’s turned the ball over 10 times this year, five up, five down and I can see another interception coming from Medlock. The Panthers suffer more virtual turnovers, though. That’s what I call the change of possession caused by FIU’s numerous third down failures -- six of 28 (21.4 percent) in two C-USA games and 17 of 85 (20.0 percent) for the season – followed by a flabby punt.
LaTech can’t return punts worth a dag-gummit. FIU can’t punt even that well. The latter’s a bigger problem in what could turn into a low, scoring field position game.
Tech allows 3.7 yards per rush in Conference USA games. That’s helped by 5.5 sacks from Enemkpali, who got honored by FIU this week when the scout teamer essaying Enemkpali wore a green jersey with his number. That’s when they want to make sure everybody gets used to looking for you every play. IK might leave redshirt junior tackle David Delsoin thinking “IDK” by midway through the game.
USC athletic director Pat Haden once was an above average NFL quarterback. After retiring, he wrote in Sports Illustrated that when he faced Hall of Fame pass rusher Fred Dean, after which LaTech’s Fred Dean Defensive Player of the Year is named, he’d call a trap to Dean’s side at first opportunity. FIU might throw a trap or a screen at Enemkpali, last year’s winner of LaTech’s Fred Dean award. Forget the draw. FIU’s draws define “predictable” and “clunky.”
It’s tough get a handle on FIU’s offense. The Panthers lived by the big play against UAB. But, as LaTech gives up 193 yards rushing per game, you’d figure FIU would try to outwork the LaTechies in the first half, then let the physical pounding and heat take over. Alas, that’s not the way it’s likely to work.
I don’t feel rooted in opinion on this game. Neither team gives you much consistently. So, I’ll stay with FIU, coming off a bye, but only 24-21. I wouldn’t be surprised by a 17-12 score or some such.
But that’s one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.
Few remember that before John Wooden closed his coaching career with a ridiculous run of national championships at UCLA, he was a great high school player at Martinsville High and Purdue University, gaining two hat tricks of All-State high school honors and All-America college honors. Wooden went into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1961, three years before he coached his first national championship team at UCLA.
When Wooden was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1972, he shared the honor with pioneering tennis star Billie Jean King. The story on the two, often a conversation between them on sports, college sports and the future of each, is fascinating to look at 41 years later. I'll bet it makes Billie Jean smile that there's a Men's and Women's Wooden Award, for the best player in college of each gender.
The top 30 watch list, announced by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, includes FIU senior guard Jerica Coley, last year's national scoring leader, Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year and all-around good person.
Coley surely will be among those signing autographs at the men's team's open intrasquad scrimmage on Oct. 31 at U.S. Century Bank Arena. In trying to draw students from their prep for Halloween festivities, the team's offering free grub, drinks, halftime contests, autographs from the women's team and free stuff. After halftime, men's coach Anthony Evans will announce the name of the FIU basketball student section, as voted on by the students.
(I vote for "Time Out" because most of the students I've seen sitting there look like they probably did when they were put in time out by their parents).
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.
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.
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.
Dennis Marroquin, Florida Fire 7-on-7 head coach, Tweeted tonight that Fire member and Hialeah High running back Henry Bussey has committed to FIU. That Bussey himself didn't tweet it causes the caveat at the end of the headline.
The 5-8, 170-pound running back is rated at three stars by 247sports.com's composite rating of several services, two stars by Rivals.com and is unrated by ESPN, Scout.com and 247sports.com itself.
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.
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.
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.
FIU leads the golf tournament that began Sunday at Sarasota's Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. Approrpriate that, seeing as how the tournament is the 36th annual Pat Bradley Invitational, the tournament named after the World Golf Hall of Fame member and first great sports figure to attend FIU.
A 287 has FIU four strokes up on Maryland and the second best first round in the tournament's history, beaten only by FIU's 284 four years ago.
Freshman Coralia Arias led FIU with a 3-under 69 and is second overall to Missouri's Taylor Gohn's 5-under 72 and tied with Southern Mississippi's Brandi Rodriguez. Sophomores Sophie Godley (fourth, 2-under 70) and Meghan MacLaren (seventh, 1-under 71) are also in the top 10 for FIU.
The tournament continues Monday and Tuesday.
After a third straight overtime game resulted in a 2-1 loss to East Carolina (6-8-2, 3-4) Friday, FIU (6-9, 4-3) waxed Rice (5-7-2, 3-4) 5-2. Alyssa Robinson had three assists, Marie Egan had two assists, junior Ashleigh Shim had two goals. Talia McMurtrie, Kim Lopez and Nicole DiPerna also scored for FIU, which has 15 goals in their four conference wins and one in their three conference losses.
FIU still leads Conference USA's East Division by one point over Charlotte, 12 points to 11 (three points for a win, one for a tie, zero for a loss).
Sometimes, you get the broom (Friday's 3-0 win against FAU) and sometimes the broom gets you (Sunday's 3-0 loss at Tulane).
Louisiana Tech (2-5, 1-2) lost 28-13 to North Texas Saturday. But they're 5 1/2-point favorites over FIU for next Saturday's game at La Cage. No odds have been placed on the scoreboard or, for that matter, all the necessary electronic equipment in FIU Stadium being up to snuff for 60 minutes.
I forgot to add these to Wednesday's post-football practice blog post.
Safety Demarkus Perkins and defensive tackle Greg Hickman both wore the Home Depot jerseys. Hickman was being held out as a precaution with an ankle. As for Perkins, FIU coach Ron Turner said he'll play when he tells Turner he can go.
"When he comes back, we'll see who's playing better," Turner said. "Eighteen (Jordan Davis) played really well (against UAB). Eighteen had a very good game."
Turner also said as for freshman quarterback Travis Wright, sophomore cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon and junior cornerback Richard Leonard, there was no change in where they were as far as being outside the team. With Wright, there was a question about the validity of his qualifying test. McKinnon and Leonard are serving suspensions for an unstated violation.
I asked Turner if he anticipated a change in any of the three: "In some cases, we're waiting. In other cases, possibly."
Translation: they're waiting to hear from the NCAA about Wright and he really isn't sure about letting Leonard and McKinnon back into the fold.
The football team's on a bye weekend. So, perhaps the focus should turn to the most consistently successful team of the last few years, women's soccer.
At 3-2 in Conference USA (5-8 overall, though the C-USA website says 7-6), FIU leads the conference's East Division going into the Alumnae Weekend games with East Carolina (4-8-2, 1-4) tonight and Rice (5-5-2, 3-2) Sunday. The most recent of junior Ashleigh Shim's team-high six goals came in overtime of a 3-2 win against UAB last Sunday, the second consecutive 3-2 overtime win by FIU. Junior Johanna Volz got the game-winner against Louisiana Tech the week before.
FIU has pumped in 10 goals in their five conference games, ranking third in offense for intraconference play.
These will be the Panthers' last home games before the home and season finale Oct. 31 vs. Marshall (7-4-2, 2-2-1). They'd need to run the table, the home games plus games at FAU and Middle Tennessee State, for another 10-win season. But with the injuries they've had -- leading scorers Chelsea Leiva, Scarlett Montoya, top backliner Nikki Rios -- anything near or at .500 going into the Conference USA tournament would count as a valiant effort.
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.
Sheesh, come back from pseudo-vacation and the news showers down...
That men's soccer goalie Robin Spiegel, last year's Conference USA All-Freshman goalie after starting every game for FIU, was even available to do some kicking for the football team after Tuesday's practice might say more about his status with his first sport. After all, men's soccer is on a road trip now, which means a Spiegel healthy enough to kick for FIU coach Ron Turner was left home.
Turner said neither Spiegel or the FIU student who kicked with him, would join the team this year but might in the spring. Longtime FIU folks will recall that Karl Kremser, who built the FIU soccer program into a national power, also was a German native who did football placekicking.
As for this year, Turner said he wasn't happy that FIU was the only team in Conference USA without a touchback on kickoffs but he did have confidence in freshman Austin Taylor on field goals. FIU averages 52.6 yards of length per kickoff, exactly five yards fewer than opponents and 32.4 yards net kicking average, 7.9 yards less than opponents.
Turner said FIU's punting frustrated him more than the kicking because that's killing FIU in field position. Redshirt freshman Chris Ayers averages 35.0 yards per punt with one punt over 50 yards. FIU's 12th in net punting among the 14 C-USA schools and 14th in gross punting.
Also, about that scoreboard going Superdome lights late in Saturday's game, FIU assistant athletic director for facilities and operations Wes Hardin e-mailed me, "the transmitter that wirelessly sends signal from the controller to the board malfunctioned on Saturday night. It was unrelated to the issues we experienced during the UCF game and is something that we have been able to remedy."
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said $150,000 to $200,000 of new equipment is coming for the four-year-old scoreboard.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Fred Porter is now on scholarship.
The new bowl at Marlins Park will be the Miami Beach Bowl. was
There wasn't a postgame blog off Saturday's loss to UAB because I've been at a headstone unveiling out of town. But before I left, FIU posted on the NCAA Job Market site an opening for Director of the Student Athlete Academic Center (SAAC), though Dr. Phil Moses is still listed by the school as the occupant of that job.
The academic production of FIU's athletes outstrips their athletic production except for football and men's basketball.