Jacksonville Atlantic Coast running back Terry Bennett, class of 2015, pledged his body and mind to FIU Thursday.
Bennett's a load, 6-0, 205, and seems to run like it. According to MaxPreps, Bennett ran for 639 yards and 5.1 yards per carry as a junior. He's got three yards and a cloud of dust written all over him at the college level, which means he's perfect for Ron Turner's offense. He's a good enough baseball player to be on Perfect Game's Honorable Mention list for preseason 2014 high school All-Americas.
None of the main sites -- Rivals, 247Sports, Scout.com, ESPN -- have rated Bennett yet.
The College Football Performance Awards put Leonard, a redshirt junior cornerback and possibly the fastest FIU player, on its kickoff returners watch list. Leonard averaged 29.5 yards per kickoff return in 2012 and had a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown that proved the most crucial score in defeating FAU. He spent last year academically ineligible.
Good news for FIU football fans who want to enjoy games in the privacy of someone else's living room or your hotel room! Conference USA and Sinclair Broadcast Group have an agreement that'll put 30 C-USA games, including six FIU games, on Sinclair stations around the country.
Sinclair owns no stations in Miami-Dade or Broward. The closest one is WPEC-CBS12 in West Palm Beach.
But if you happen to be high up in Colorado Springs or toddling in Toledo during these FIU games, you'll be back in business on Bluestar:
Aug. 30, vs. Bethune-Cookman, 7 p.m. at La Cage
Sept. 27, at Alabama-Birmingham, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 1, vs. Rice, noon at La Cage
Nov. 8, at Old Dominion, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 15, vs. Middle Tennessee State, 3:30 p.m., at La Cage
Conference USA announced the results of its preaseason football coaches poll Wednesday. No surprises -- no FIU players on the preseason all-conference team, FIU picked solidly seventh in the seven-team East Division.
Coaches unanimously predicted Marshall to win the East. No surprise there, either, with the Thundering Herd having seven preseason all-conference selections, the preseason Offensive Player of the Year (quarterback Rakeem Cato) and preseason Defensive Player of the Year (defensive lineman James Rouse). Any other result would match the bizarreness of the 1976 Academy Awards when Rocky somehow beat Taxi Driver,All the President's Men and Network despite Network winning Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay with landmark artistic displays by each winner.
The College Football Performance Awards, which loves it some FIU, put sophomore tight end Jonnu Smith on its preseason watch list for being among the nation's best tight ends.
SWIMMING & DIVING
Having a GPA over 3.5 and competing at the NCAA Championships got FIU's Sonia Perez named a Scholar All-America by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. FIU's 3.13 team GPA for the spring semsester earned the team Scholar All-America designation.
Looks like Maurice Alexander's pretty acclimated to Booker T. Washington.
The transfer from Homestead High quarterbacked Booker T.'s 7-on-7 team to the South Florida title earlier this year and, representing the Miami Dolphins, the National Football League High School Player Development national championship in Indianapolis.
Each of the 32 teams at nationals took the names of the team whose regional tournament it won. So, Booker T. or "the Miami Dolphins" beat the "Houston Texans" (Channelview) 37-21 for the "AFC" title Tuesday and routed the "Carolina Panthers" (Mallard Creek) 34-14 in the "Super Bowl" later Tuesday.
Having saved head track and field coach money by assistant coach Ryan Heberling spending the 2013-14 indoor and outdoor track season as de facto head coach, FIU gave Heberling the actual title last week. Presumably, that means a bump from around $33,000 Heberling was making as an assistant. Former track coach Eric Campbell was making around $53,000.
Heberling, a former FIU javelin thrower, handled the throwers the last five years as an assistant and it's the women's throwers who have accomplished the most over the last few years.
The Women's Golf Coaches Association named senior Shelby Coyle, sophomore Meghan MacLaren and freshman Coralia Arias as All-American Scholars. That's four golfers whose academic prowesss received notice last season -- Ashley Shimmel earned the Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Medal.
Conference USA awarded junior catcher Aramis Garcia its Player of the Year honor. Tuesday, Garcia completed a sweet sweep, being named Conference USA's Scholar Athlete of the Year for Baseball. C-USA names one for each sport.
In the spring, Garcia also received the Conference USA Spirit of Service Award and was on the conference's All-Academic baseball team.
Here's two different ways to rank athletic programs' on the field/court performances.
The first is the National Association of College Directors of Athletics Director's Cup, which takes into account 20 different sports. It's sort of like The Herald's All-Sports Award we do for high schools, except no greater significance is given to the more promiment sports. It's designed for the broadest-based athletic programs to reach the standings' penthouse.
In that ranking, 2013-14 FIU came in 257th out of 298 schools.
The other way is the CBSSports.com way, in which you consider only the marquee sports -- football, men's and women's basketballs, baseball and the most successful that season among the other sports at the school (for FIU in 2013-14, that probably would be swimming & diving -- second in Conference USA, scoring a few points at the NCAA meet). Heaviest weight given to football, second heaviest to men's basketball. nly schools with FBS football programs were considered.
Looking at things this way, FIU finished tied with Miami of Ohio, Nevada and Temple for 123rd. Or, last.
Stanford finished first, no matter which ranking was used.
Yeah, I know the Ask Rosenberg Twitter chat was last week. Here's the highlights from President Mark Rosenberg's answers in case you were busy composing songs about Tim Howard or working on getting darker.
To "Will there ever be an outdoor rubber track on campus?": "Hoping this happens soon, having major conversations about additional space on this campus to continue building."
To "A lot of us in the FIU alum community lost confidence in our current AD. Will FIU do anything to remedy this?": "All of us are under continuous review. Nobody is exempt from being accountable."
To "Are we gonna have a chance to beat UM in the near future?": "Our objective is to be competitive and to win regardless of who we play."
Fifth-year senior center on the field -- graduate student off of it -- Donald Senat has been named to the 64-man Rimington Award Watch List. The Rimington Award, named after 1980s Nebraska center Dave Rimington, goes to the best center in college football.
FIU has hired former FAU athletic director Craig Angelos as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Revenue. Between FAU and FIU, Angelos held an also-long title, Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director, at the University of South Florida.
Now, you might say FIU having a Senior Associate Athletic Director for Revenue would parallel BYU having a Senior Associate Athletic Director for African-American Student-Athletes. According to FIU's 2012-13 NCAA Financials Report, the latest one available, the athletic department received 68.9 percent of its total operating revenue from $19,519,332 in student fees. As far as contributions, the department brought in $2,830,915.
So, the department doesn't raise money so much as collects it.
Anyway, FIU's athletic department already has an Associate AD in charge of Development, Chris Bultinick. Bultinick's responsible for "all fund-raising efforts in the athletic department," according to his bio on the FIU website.
Senior Associate AD Bobby Staub oversees the marketing and ticket sales to the point he's got bonuses in his contract for attendance. So that shouldn't be on Angelos' plate, either.
Anyway, according to this 2012 story in The Palm Beach Post, poor fund-raising and marketing contributed to FAU not renewing Angelos' contract. The story by veteran reporter Tom DeAngelo also points out that Angelos got FAU's impressive $70 million stadium built. He had to raise money for that and the rest of the athletic department during a national economic valley. OK, so by that time that stadium's paid off, the rising coastal waters will have turned it into a beachfront stadium, but it's there.
We'll check after the holiday on what entry that's usually on an athletic director's To Do list is now on Angelos' for at least $141,000 per year. That's what Angelos pulled in at USF according to Florida Has a Right to Know.
So, there's been no track coach for the entire indoor and outdoor seasons. There's no softball coach because they wouldn't give him a big enough bump from $59,000. Various departments in the athletic department have been understaffed.
According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas Tech dismissed Nigel Bethel II, a three-star freshman-to-be cornerback out of Booker T. Washington, for what's believed to be punching a women's basketball player.
Bethel drew an Electra 225 trunkload of offers, including one from FIU. He was a hot recruit. He's a radioactive recruit at the moment. He'll find a place in an FBS program. Talent gets many chances. One out of the way, probably, with a small fan base that's too small or apathetic to raise too much of a fuss in comparison with his potential contributions to the team.
Sound like any school you know?
Not saying Ron Turner would pursue Bethel -- in fact, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't -- but should he? I'm not saying he should or shouldn't. I'm not saying Bethel would land at FIU if they were interested. I want to know your opinion on whether or not they should be interested. Should they talk to Bethel, "kick the tires" on him, if you will?
Yeah, OK, cliche. But "Eye of the Tiger" remains summer music to me. Also, this clip, the best line from the cartoon that was Rocky III, sums up the preseason magazines' projections for this year's football campaign.
Got to my semi-local Barnes & Noble Wednesday to collect the rest of the prognastications after getting Lindy's and Phil Steele earlier.
Athlon's: 2-10, 0-8 in Conference USA, so they're predicting wins in the first two games over FCS foes Wagner and Bethune-Cookman. Ranked 127th out of 128 nationally, ahead of only New Mexico State. In the unit rankings, puts FIU 13th out of 13 in C-USA at quarteraback and wideouts/tight ends, 12th in running bask and linebackers, 11th in offensive line, defensive line and secondary. Incongruently, considering the wide receiver/tight end rankings, sophomore tight end Jonnu Smith is their preseason First Team All-C-USA tight end.
The quote from an opposing assistant says "Their offense is pretty basic, a pro-style offense. They will huddle and do what Ron Turner did somewhere in the NFL."
Kind of what I said when I found out they were closing spring practices.
The Sporting News: 7th in Conference USA East. Nobody made TSN's preseason all-conference team, although they went with three wide receivers instead of two and a tight end.
USA Today: 1-11, 0-8 in Conference USA, so they must like FIU over the male half of Hart to Hart but under everybody else. 125th out of 128 nationally. Smith as the preseason all-conference tight end. They rank this year's recruiting class tied for eighth in C-USA, even with FAU.
It's hard for me to see FIU going winless in Conference USA or losing to Wagner. That's at least two wins right there. Bethune's predicted to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference again despite losing a kitchen table full of starters. Still, could be win No. 3. That would be progress.
Wide receiver Mark Hutchinson, Class of 2015 out of Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch High, announced Tuesday via Twitter that he's verbally committed to FIU. Last season, Hutchinson, 6-2, 200, caught seven passes for 113 yards.
He's unrated by 247sports.com, ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Lakeland Christian's Christian Alexander completed 61.7 percent of his passes (127 of 206) in 2013 for 1,865 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. Alexander's 6-3, 210, the kind of size that speaks more of a pro-style quarterback FIU coach Ron Turner covets than the dual threat quarterbacks in vogue around college football.
So, count it as a plus for FIU that Alexander, rated at three stars by 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com, unrated by ESPN.com, announced his commitment to FIU Sunday via Twitter.
Jake Schumann is 40 years old with a wife and two kids. He made $59,721 per year according to Florida Has a Right to Know. That wasn't enough to support his family in South Florida, even in Pembroke Pines. and put away any money for college.
Which is why Schumann has left FIU at the end of his contract. The rest of the softball staff -- assistant coaches Gator Rebhan, Sharon Palma, Kelly Kretsshman -- have left with him. They've resigned after a 33-20 season, with a roster losing only two players and elite freshmen in Stephanie Texeira and Gabby Spallone. FIU has posted the job already.
He said he'll move to being the associate head coach at Ole Miss, but insisted that's not about SEC but about $$$ -- more money, Oxford, Miss., college town cost of living.
Schumann said if that hadn't come up in the last two weeks, he'd still be leaving FIU for a more affordable job/area combination.
"I loved working there," Schumann said. "(senior associate athletic director) Julie Berg was one of the best bosses I've ever had."
He also talked up the building of new facilities for softball, the current players and the recruiting classes coming into FIU.
I'd heard the Diamond Dinner, the main fundraiser for the baseball and softball programs, will end after next year. All over FIU's athletic department, money's already tighter than security at Langley. Despite going into Conference USA, baseball's operating budget dropped $5,480. Subtracting the lucrative Diamond Dinner would put both baseball and softball programs below the economic Mendoza line.
But Schumann didn't mention any of that. He just talked about the basic economic reality facing him.
This is the third head coach to leave FIU in the last 12 months and don't be surprised if baseball's Turtle Thomas is applying elsewhere.
Men's soccer coach Kenny Arena left for a better opportunity with the LA Galaxy, where father and U.S. soccer coaching icon Bruce Arena coaches. Those who knew the situation figured Arena would be done with FIU in a year anyway, new soccer field or not.
FIU's mothballed the plan to turn the soccer field so that it's an east-west field and put a track in around it. But track coach Eric Campbell's resignation has to do with something nobody wants to discuss directly ("I really like him, but you can't allow that," one of Campbell's peers said) and is suspiciously absent from Campbell's personnel file. Whatever it was, count it as a last straw. A year earlier, Campbell was arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly intoxication at the 2012 Louisville-FIU football game.
FIU's going to have turnover just by nature of being where it is as an athletic department. Until it evolves further, it's a stepping stone or penance for most coaches, a longtime home for a few. You don't live in a Mercedes neighborhood on a Hyundai budget.
Did you do a double take that FIU got a quarterback commit out of Booker T. Washington, considering A) they barely took a look at national championship quarterback Treon Harris and B) the Booker T. and FIU staffs don't exactly hit the same Dunkin Donuts.
Maybe this will help explain: Maurice Alexander just transferred to Booker T. from Homstead High, where The Herald picked him Second Team 5A-Independent All-Dade. Last year, Alexander threw for 2,111 yards on 115 of 204 passing and ran for 90 yards on 63 carries (remember, sacks come off rushing totals in high school and college). He quarterbacked Booker T. to the championship of the Dolphins Academy 7-on-7 last weekend and will be leading them into the Nationals at Indianapolis.
Alexander's rated at two stars by 247sports.com, unrated by Rivals and Scout.com.
Track sprinter La'Shae White got some scratch toward her graduate degree tuition when she received one of the 15 Jim Castaneda Postgraduate Scholarship Awards from Conference USA, the league announced Tuesday.
White, who made the Dean's List seven times in her eight FIU semesters, graduated in April with a degree in physical education-sports and fitness and is going for her master's at the University of Tampa in exercise and nutrition science. The award is a $4,000 scholarship.
The mantle in Casa Garcia might need an addition. In addition to the honors he's already received, including Conference USA Player of the Year, FIU catcher Aramis Garcia received the Conference USA Spirit of Service Award for combining community service with excellent academics and athletic performance.
Garcia volunteered at the 9/11 Day of Service, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Arthritis Walk and during the MLK Day of Service.
As I put in a recent post, Garcia, like women's basketball star Jerica Coley, is a billboard/brochure athlete, the kind schools thrust out front as an ideal example.