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Florida International notches win, taking the right steps forward

Darriet Perry

(Quick note: after previously being the butt of my jokes, bowl games named after food establishments have countered with the two of the better games this postseason. And, so, I thoroughly retract my insults … Pizza. Pizza.)

Moving on …

Just over a decade ago, Florida International University didn’t even have a football program.

In fact, the University itself wasn’t established until 1965 — an infant when compared to the likes of Harvard and Yale, whose inaugural years predated America as we know it today.

Yet, in their first ever bowl appearance, FIU scored a thrilling 34-32 victory in the Little Caesar’s Bowl over Toledo. It was a game that featured everything: outstanding special teams play, two-minute drills, critical fourth down conversions, a game-winning field goal, and even a hook-and-ladder.

It also means FIU finished with their first winning season in school history at 7-6.

Not bad for a program built from scratch in the late 1990’s.

Everyone knows about Florida’s Big Three — Florida, Florida State and Miami — but the state itself produces such a massive amount of talent that it seems nearly impossible that another Florida program couldn’t have some measurable success, provided they have the proper facilities and coaching staff to go along with that talent. After all, there have to be kids in Florida who aren’t getting looks from the Big Three, but want to stay in state and have a chance to play.

As far as off-the-field improvements go, FIU recently decided to expand their stadium to 45,000 seats, and the program looks to have found a suitable coach in Mario Cristobal.

FIU still has a long way to go in maintaining success all three of those departments, but they’re off to a tremendous start. Even if they had lost, a bowl appearance has to do wonders for the perception of that program.

But the Golden Panthers won — and dramatically, we might add.

And that, too, is a step in the right direction.

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2 Responses to “Florida International notches win, taking the right steps forward”
  1. edgy says: Dec 27, 2010 11:16 AM

    Hook and Ladder has always been a pet peeve. I can’t ever remember it being anything but hook and lateral until the late ’80s when some CFB analyst called it that and when his partner tried to correct him, he said that it’s called “ladder” because the player was climbing a ladder. Didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t now. :)

    Great game. Toledo tried to win the game like Idaho did last year in the Humanitarian but they left too much time on the clock for FIU. Got to give credit to FIU from coming back from 17 when they looked like they were going to get blown out.

    BTW, since you guys skipped it, I’d like to give a shout out to the Golden Hurricane for a fine performance and if anyone who never watched them before looked in, they got a chance to see one of the most exciting players in the last 3 years that the world has not seen, Damaris Johnson, who had over 300 all purpose yards and nearly had a triple-triple (98 yards rushing, 101 yards receiving and 109 yards in kick off returns) and set the NCAA record for all purpose yards. The bad news for Conference USA opponents: he still has a year of eligibility left and so does their QB. If they both come back, they could terrorize the conference even more next year.

  2. atxcane says: Dec 27, 2010 6:08 PM

    Always hated the “hook and ladder” misnomer too. It’s a HOOK route followed by a LATERAL.

    Exciting game to watch though, and Cristobal is a good coach. I’d be interested to see where he’s headed in a few years.

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