Orlando Timber Creek Wide receiver Javonte Seabury, whom each recruiting site had as FIU's highest rated recruit, announced via Twitter that he's decommitted from FIU. Seabury flipped to FIU from Florida State late last summer. He had an official visit scheduled for this past weekend, but it was cancelled.
Meanwhile, FIU threw an offer at Coconut Creek Monarch cornerback Ronnie Hoggins, Class of 2015, rated at three stars by Rivals.com and 247sports.com.
To answer the question asked on Twitter, yes, this is what I mean by standing your ground. Also, making use of local contacts.
The Herald's Manny Navarro reported that Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis told him that Dillard wide receiver Dennis Turner, who decommitted from the University of Miami in December, committed Sunday to FIU. Already at FIU -- Turner's high school quarterback Bud Martin.
Turner, 5-11, 175, is rated at three stars by ESPN.com, 247sports.com and Scout.com and two stars by Rivals.com.
Making a bit of a comeback on the long MLK Day weekend, FIU went north to get some linemen, which aren't always plentiful down here.
According to Rivals.com, FIU has flipped Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County High offensive guard Trayvon Williams, who had been committed to Marshall. FIU also got a commitment from offensive lineman Daquane Wilkie out of Orlando Oak Ridge.
Williams, 6-3, 315, is rated at three stars by ESPN.com, 247sports.com, two stars by Rivals.com and unrated by Scout.com. Wilkie, 6-4, 250, is unrated by any of the recruiting services.
Why this week's FAU recruiting bonanza, which included several players from Dade and Broward Counties including a couple of former FIU commits, could hurt FIU beyond 2014:
Before John Madden became a broadcaster, a video game and a cartoon, he was the youngest coach to win 100 NFL games and did so in 10 seasons of coaching Oakland. Whenever he was asked the key to being a great coach, Madden would usually start his response with, "First, have great players."
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson had a merchandising company that wanted to do work with the pro sports leagues. That's a tough market to crack, double tough for minority-owned businesses in the 1980s. Through some opportunism, the company eventually got a deal with the NFL -- the low-end hat market. Pearson's company developed that perceived small market, developed that as the ground they owned and became members of an exclusive club of rightsholders that made $1 milllion in royalties for NFL Properties three consecutive years.
Being good starts with your players, even more so in college than the NFL. And when you're trying to build your company amidst larger, more established competitors, you have to grab some patch of space and declare it as yours on which you'll contruct your foundation of success.
Howard Schnellenberger's "State of Miami" philosophy that stocked those legendary University of Miami teams of the 1980s is well-stated. When SMU rose from ashes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ron Meyer decided they would own Dallas, Houston, the rest of East Texas and Western Louisiana. They were the smaller brands trying to break into a tight club, like Drew Pearson Enterprises.
If FIU's ever going to be more than what it is now in football, if it's ever going to be, say, where Central Florida is now (three 10-win seasons in the last four), the ground needs to be grabbed and held. It doesn't need to be Dade or Broward County's upper crust recruits nor is it realistic think it would be in the next few years. But, they need to establish themselves as a first line possibility for the next rung down and the rung after that.
Last fall, I talked to UCF's George O'Leary about the turnaround there.
“When I first got here, we needed players,” O’Leary said. “Our goal was to get hold of kids who were thinking of leaving the state. Once we accomplished that, we’re able to go after the same kids as (the Big Three). More so than not, we don’t get them. But we get some.”
That's what stalled some at FIU with the last coaching change. Some ground had been claimed in South Florida --T.Y. Hilton, Wesley Carroll, Johnathan Cyprien, Winston Fraser, etc. -- and in Louisiana, where Mario Cristobal developed a thin pipeline of defensive linemen. Just using that as an example, not wanting to rehash the firing or anything. It's done. Moving on, time for FIU to reestablish its ground under the current staff.
Except it's FAU doing the establishing in Dade and Broward while going after the same echelon of players as FIU. The Owls are doing it with a campus just far enough away to be not home yet close enough for quick visits, emergencies, family to make games; a debt-ridden but beautiful stadium; a campus that's nice and ever-growing, just like FIU's. They've got relationships locally. FIU's got some relationships and several acquaintances.
Meanwhile, what's FIU's ground? California quarterbacks?
Watching this recruiting week play out, somebody said to me it reminded him of Fillmore Slim's story in the documentary American Pimp. Other pimps took Fillmore's women from him hours after he set up in Los Angeles the first time. Fillmore went to the phone and called out seven more women, his first string. The LA pimps realized when they only got from Fillmore what he let them have. They gave him his respect and his space. The difference, the guy said to me, is that FIU's getting its first string taken.
I'm not saying FIU won't get any good players out of Dade or Broward in years to come if they don't get their act together now. Just out of talent overload, they'll get some. By the way, their top recruit this year, Orlando Timber Creek wide receiver Javonte Seabury, isn't going anywhere. I'm convinced the issue with his visit being cancelled this weekend was grades, not getting poached.
What I am saying is big changes often start with small, decisive moves. FAU is making them. FIU needs to make some that lets folks know that, on some small level, this is FIU's area.
Junior college running back Donavan Williams announced his commitment to FIU via Twitter. Williams brings 225 pounds at 6-1, an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than sophomore Lamarq Caldwell. the biggest back on FIU's roster, with much more giddyup.
Williams, an 2013 National Junior Colllege Athletic Association Honorable Mention All-America for ASA College, ran for 1,024 yards and 12 touchdowns on 145 carries, 7.1 yards per carry. Perhaps even more impressive: one fumble. Williams came out of Belton (Tx.) High School after running for over 1,300 yards as a senior, but came out without a test score. He went to Blinn Junior College, where he played three games and ran for 117 yards, 3.7 yards per carry.
I hear FIU coach Ron Turner wants to pull a quarterback from the junior college pool. That's not terribly surprising. Turner's got junior E.J. Hilliard plus two early-enrolled freshmen quarterbacks and, according to one source, is telling potential quarterback recruits that all the above doesn't equal one starter.
Add a Williams, subtract a Bussey. FAU's been on Hialeah running back Henry Bussey, a roadrunner who averaged over 10 yards per carry in the regular season this year. Bussey Tweeted in the wee hours while on his FAU visit, "I know where I will be going to college for the next 3-4 years" and confirmed Sunday morning he's now heaeded for FAU. The Owls also got Coral Gables running back Gregory Howell.
Tonight, visiting FIU recruits were taken to Texas de Brazil on South Beach. Thank goodness Club Madonna is on a forced hiatus. It seems that place has trouble carding anyone. Of course, this year, it seems the hosts did the smart thing: took the visiting young men to an FIU party.
If you're going to be a college student, you better learn to be a bargain shopper.
Tulsa's Donald W. Reynolds Center opened in December 1998. In the 15 years plus one month since, nobody of either gender has scored more points in game there than the 43 FIU senior guard Jerica Coley put up Saturday afternoon in FIU's 78-73 loss to Tulsa.
The efficiency of Coley's performance sets it apart from many of her high scoring efforts: 17 of 31 (54.8 percent) from the field, seven of seven from the line with 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, two steals and only one turnover. She averaged 6.25 rebounds per game and 2.8 turnovers per game before Saturday. She came into the game shooting 42.8 percent from the field and shot 50.0 from the field in only three previous games -- Wednesday's win against Florida Atlantic, the 47-point game against Wake Forest and on Nov. 29 against Valparaiso.
As the only consistent scorer, Coley's often double teamed and often winds up with the ball late in the shot clock. Then, she's got to force up a shot the same way she does on too many possessions during those games the rest of the Panthers can't hit the broad side of a Klump.
If you want to know whether or not FIU won, don't look at Coley's shooting or scoring. Look at guard Taylor Shade, forward Brianna Wright and center Tynia McKenzie. Saturday, they went a combined three for 20 from the field for 10 points. McKenzie pulled down seven offensive rebounds and scored only two points.
What a weird, exciting game Saturday at The Branch, the Shankweiler Shootout by FIU 66-62 against East Carolina.
Whereas Thursday's officials acted like calling a guy for traveling sentenced him to 10 years at hard labor, Saturday's officials called that and anything that looked like it might involve contact, like a pair of Bob Jones University chaperones. Both teams got in the double bonus in the first half, which would've had those playing the Over buying drinks by halftime if either team could shoot free throws as well as New Castle High.
Both East Carolina point guards got into early foul trouble. Soon after, FIU began trapping just after half court, forced some turnovers and got the kind of easy baskets they didn't get Thursday against Old Dominion. But FIU coach Anthony Evans said it wasn't the Pirates personnel situation that brought the pressure from the Panthers. Evans said FIU's lack of depth doesn't allow for game-long pressuring so they do it in spurts. It was just time for a spurt.
Also, FIU's lack of depth seemed to come up in the second half when providing help on defense. The Panthers were a step slow on many possessions. Layups and short flips resulted for East Carolina. Fatigue? Maybe. On the other hand, when the Pirates missed, the Panthers crashed the boards with authority (or as much authority as this officiating crew allowed). That's effort they summoned.
FIU's poor free throw shooting almost caught them again. Their defense, lot of determination and a ridiculously panicky final possession for East Carolina got them to the finish line. Good for them.
Martinsville, Indiana's John Wooden eschewed the superior basketball school about 20 minutes away in Bloomington and went on to become an All-America at Purdue and, some years later, a pretty fair hoops coach at UCLA. The Wooden Award recognizes the best college player of each gender who also is moving toward a degree at a 2.0 GPA or better clip.
No surprise then that FIU senior guard Jerica Coley has made the midseason final 20 list for the women's Wooden Award. The FIU women face Tulsa Saturday.
Texas-San Antonio snagged a commitment out of two-star Orange Park Oakleaf linebacker Justin Todd, who had been committed to FIU.
FIU is making a run at Dillard wide receiver Dennis Turner, a former UM commit. Of assistance in that pursuit should be Dillard quarterback Bud Martin, who has enrolled early.
One commenter mentioned Marquese Dudley-Gordon, a three-star defensive back from Cypress Bay who spurned several more prominent schools to commit to FAU. One school not playing France Joli and singing "Come to Me" to Dudley-Gordon was FIU, but I think that had more to do with frigid feelings on the other end. Remember last year, when FIU yanked the offer of Cypress Bay defensive lineman Jason Rae during the two weeks of Luke Butkus and about a week before Signing Day? Rae was stunned. Some folks were left angry and hurt. Rae wound up at Central Florida, where his older brother played.
Javonte Seabury's cancelled visit could be just screwed up paperwork in Compliance, which still isn't fully staffed. Or, there could be a problem with his grades. You do have to wonder when Seabury, rated at three to four stars and a former Florida State commit, isn't getting dive bombed with offers. That can mean something's up (or not up enough) in the grade department. I hope whatever the problem is, it gets cleared up.
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.
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.
Perhaps the most interesting part of FIU's release announcing the hirings of running backs coach Kerry Dixon II, linebackers coach Rob Harley and special teams coach Shannon Moore -- a Nebraska native fresh off eight years at FCS school South Dakota State -- was that offensive line coach/run game coordinator Steve Shankweiler got promoted to offensive coordinator.
Last year, Turner served as his own offensive coordinator. This year, it'll be Shankweiler, who applied for but didn't get the head coaching position at Elon in his native North Carolina, who'll do double duty.
So the staff recruiting South Florida has nobody with any South Florida ties beyond Texas native Dixon's one year at FAU recruiting Dade county and three coaches of color out of 10. Not sure how often fishermen bag cheetahs, but let's see how it all works.
FIU's highest-ranked 2014 commit, Orlando Timber Creek wide receiver Javonte Seabury, just Tweeted that his official visit this weekend has been cancelled.
I truly believe, as I wrote in an opinion column today in The Herald, that there's no way the Univrsity of Miami can dominate football recruting in South Florida as it did during the glory days. That's not inconsistent with my feeling that FIU needs to recruit Palm Beach, Broward, and, especially Dade with Klingon aggression.
To that end, FIU might want to fill the special teams coordinator position with someone who knows his way around a palomilla steak or Pork 'n' Beans (the project, not the canned dinner). As of now, there's nobody with local roots or background on FIU's staff. Running backs coach-to-be Kerry Dixon, a Texas guy assigned to recruit Dade when FAU hired him in 2012, is as close as it gets.
Meanwhile, FAU's Charlie Partridge just finished his coaching family, a bus that includes Corey Bell (Edison High graduate and coach, American High coach), Roger Harriott (Davie University School coach for eight years) and Dan Shula (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas graduate).
Just an observation.
FIU's lookng for a date. The Panthers dance card already has Bethune, Louisville and Pittsburgh as home games. With the four Conference USA home games, that's seven home games, six against FBS opponents. FIU could add a home game against an FCS opponent without violating the NCAA scheduling rules.
They might need to go win hunting. Louisville, Pittsburgh and Bethune-Cookman adds up to 1-2 at best. Maybe 0-3, as we saw this year when Bethune battered FIU at La Cage. For interest, anything better than a trickle of attendance later in the season and any program momentum, FIU needs all the wins it can get.
Junor Courtney VanderSchaaf won the 50 freestyle (24.67) and 100 free (53.57) at Saturday's dual meet against Central Connecticut.
Senior diver Sabrina Beaupre did what she does, sweeping both the 1-meter and 3-meter events, but added the bonus of a school record 335.85 in the 1-meter win. Beating her own school record, of course.
And that's why they are, respectively Conference USA's Swimmer of the Week and Diver of the Week. It's already Beaupre's fourth Conference USA Diver of the Week honor. Last week, Beaupre and freshman Jenny Alfani snagged both for FIU.
If FAU running backs coach Kerry Dixon is on his way south to FIU, as CoachingSearch.com suggests, that would be a guy with experience in recruiting Dade County and with ties in Texas. Neither exactly hurts in recruiting raw talent.
American High safety Andrew Soroh, rated at two or three stars depending on the site, switched his committment from FIU to FAU today, announced via Twitter. As commenter FIU Fanatic pointed out, American High coach Corey Bell has just joined FAU's coaching staff. Bell will be the defensive backs coach at FAU.
Wonder if somebody ever suggested, as Ron Turner was putting together his first staff, that it include Bell or Telly Lockette, now running backs coach at South Florida...
Of course, all this is just conversation until Signing Day.
According to a Tweet from former Northwestern coach Stephen Field, now the coach at Citra North Marion High, Northwestern defensive back Shermarke Spence has committed to FIU. Spence wasn't rated by 247sports, ESPN.com (but that site lists him erroneously at only 5-6and at two stars by Rivals.com, which has done the opposite of some recruiting sites and boosted a recruit's rating after he commits to FIU.
He's the younger brother of former University of Miami player Sean Spence.
Today's 146-90 crushing of Central Connecticut came on Senior Day over at the Biscayne Bay Campus pool, the fourth of four home swim meets this year. Too bad the most successful team, if you combine academics and athletics, at FIU has so few chances to be seen by their peers. Plus, the water women do their thing across town from the main campus.
But at least they've got their own venue, unlike the track team.
Anyway, enough with the re-yammering of what I've yammered before. Here's the senior class:
Sonia Perez Arau -- FIU's distance ace holds school records in the 500 freestyle, 1000 free, 1650 free, 400 individual medley and was part of the school record 800 free relay team. She set the Sun Belt Conference record, 4:10.54, in winning the 400 IM at the Sun Belt meet last year and has the best 400 IM time in Conference USA this year.
Perez Arau also made the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or better) in 2011-12.
Sabrina Beaupre -- The best diver in FIU history. The only record she doesn't hold is in a 10-dive 1-meter competition and 11-dive 3-meter. And she doesn't hold those records because the NCAA discontinued them. Three-time Sun Belt Diver of The Year, which makes sense because she won the 1-meter and 3-meter competitions at all three of the Sun Belt Conference meets and holds the Sun Belt records in each event. She could rack up a hat trick at the Conference USA meet because C-USA has Platform Diving. Beaupre's ranked first in Platform and 1-meter this year, second in 3-meter.
You know the line about "as useful as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest?" Well, One-Ankle Beaupre kicked butt in all those contests last year before missing the NCAAs for ankle surgery.
She also made the Sun Belt Commissioner's List (3.5 GPA or better) in 2012-13.
Mary Boucher -- Boucher would be FIU's Distance Queen, record-holder in the 1650 free and 100 free, if it weren't for Perez Arau. She's also got the fourth fastest time in the 500 free. She made the Sun Belt Commissioner's List in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Melissa Moreno -- Moreno has the third fastest time in the 200 butterfly in FIU history. Just writing "200 butterfly" makes me want to call a masseuse for my shoulders and lats. Moreno made the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Sarah D'Antoni -- D'Antoni scored points for FIU in the 100 fly and 200 fly at the 2013 Sun Belt Championships, her 200 fly time being second all-time at FIU behind the Panthers all time Fly Girl, Marina Ribi. D'Antoni made the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll last year, her first at FIU since coming from Indian River College.
Valeriia Popova -- Popova swam the breaststroke leg of the school-record 200 medley relay team and has the seventh-fastest FIU times in the 50 free and 100 back. She made the Sun Belt Honor Roll in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Note to those advocating the necessity of babysitting academically deficient athletes in certain other sports: the swim team often is finishing its first workout of the day when other athletes are hitting the snooze bar for the first time and they don't seem to need an army of coaches hounding them about going to class.
In the above story, I made reference that T.Y. Hilton's mother, Cora Hilton, played college basketball. She didn't make any reference to her high school days other than to say she played.
One of the community folks I've known down here since my earliest days at The Herald texted me early this morning that the former Cora Burnett "was one of the best point guards in Miami Central history" as well as "A school leader in our class...everybody had respect in school for CB."
Indeed, some research determines she was a star point guard on strong Central teams before graduating in 1981.
The Knicks won; 15 rebounds; 22 points, 20 of them in the second half; a 71-60 FIU win over Rice in the Panthers' first ever Conference USA game.
Yeah, Thursday was a happy day for senior forward Tymell Murphy.
Freshman Jason Boswell set a school record as he went five for five from the line, stretching his streak to 27 consecutive free throws. Cameron Bell held the previous record, 24 in 2011-12. Dennis Mavin put in 16 points with nine boards.
FIU had only 10 turnovers against Florida A&M and six against Rice. They'll need to keep up that improvement Saturday at Louisiana Tech.
When I got this e-mail, I thought I was the only person who received it. I forwarded it with a shake of the head to the FIU athletics media relations department.
Then, I found out this comes from a company, JTS Communications, hired by the school (which already has an under resourced athletic media relations department that just got returned to full staff) and this e-mail went out to a busload of media members. This is an embarrasingly slipshod collection of bits and bytes concocted by a mass of misfiring synapses.
I eliminated the name of the employee, who clearly needed more supervision. Whatever has been paid to JTS Communications by FIU -- which has so much money to throw around -- should be refunded to the school like five-day-old grouper.
Happy New Year!
I wanted to introduce you to FIU's new head football coach, Ron Turner.
I thought you might be interested in speaking with Coach Turner as he embarks on a very important recruiting season. He is looking to revamp FIU’s football program for a better 2014 season.
After a disappointing 1-11 season, there is only room for improvement. Turner is hoping to turn the program around with fresh recruits and new coaching tactics. 2014 should prove to be an exciting season for FIU!
This will be Turner's 36th season coaching football, including nine as head coach of Illinois and San Jose State, along with appearances in eight bowl games throughout his 24 seasons at the collegiate level. He previously spent 12 seasons coaching in the NHL.
Click here to download Turner's full bio with additional information and stats.
Please let me know if you are interested in booking an interview with Coach Turner. I look forward to hearing back from you soon!
The real opening of 2014 baseball season is the Diamond Dinner on Feb. 8 in the Graham Center Ballroom. Former longtime major league pitching good Jim Kaat will be the featured speaker. Also, 15 items will be auctioned off live, another 100 items will be in a silent auction. Tickets are $120 per person, $1,200 for a group of 10. For tickets, call Alyssa Meyer at 305-348-7297 or e-mail her at [email protected] and ask about the group discount. Really, ask about it because there doesn't appear to be one.
Now, for actual action, the baseball team opens up Valentine's Day at University Park with the first of a three-game series against Rutgers. I mean action on the field. As far as other action, your honey's love of baseball and FIU will determine that if you attend.
FIU's first 11 games will be at home against Rutgers, Stetson, Stony Brook, Florida Memorial and Dartmouth along with a Mar. 27 exhibition against the Marlins up at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. The first home Conference USA opponent will be always-tough Rice on Mar. 14. The FAU games are at Camp Mitch April 18-20 and a non-conference game in Boca May 13.
The Conference USA tournament will be May 21-25 in picturesque Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where there's a Waffle House a half-mile in either direction off the exit near the Southern Mississippi campus
Both CoachingSearch.com and FootballScoop.com, citing unnamed sources, are reporting what I heard yesterday and couldn't confirm -- FIU running backs coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker will join Lovie Smith's Tampa Bay staff as the wide receivers coach.
Coaching staffs remain in flux for the next month or so and FIU is where FIU is on the coaching scale, so more exits could be imminent.