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Former ‘Canes QB Ken Dorsey reunites with Butch Davis as FIU assistant AD

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Butch Davis rode Ken Dorsey to a lot of wins in the early years of this century, and now FIU is hoping the magic can happen again. The Golden Panthers on Monday announced the hiring of Dorsey as an assistant athletics director.

“We are very fortunate to be able to add Ken Dorsey to both the football program and the athletic department staff,” FIU AD Pete Garcia said. “He will work closely with both Butch Davis and myself.”

Dorsey played quarterback at Miami from 1999-02, where in three years as a starter he led the Hurricanes to a 35-2 record with 76 touchdown passes against 26 picks. Dorsey won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top offensive player in 2001, was a two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, earned nods on three All-Big East teams, helped the ‘Canes win their fifth national title in 2001, played for another in 2002, and recorded three consecutive seasons in which Miami ranked first or second in the year-end polls.

Davis, however, left Miami after the 2000 season to take over as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Dorsey was a seventh-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers and later played for the Browns (after Davis’s departure) and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. Dorsey’s final season as a player came in 2010, and he immediately moved into coaching as a pro scout for the Carolina Panthers in 2011-12 before a promotion to quarterbacks coach from 2013-17.

“I think extremely highly of Ken Dorsey,’ Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said. “He is an extremely hard and efficient worker. My challenge was also to beat him to work. He made my life as easy as possible. He’ll bring a newness and spark to FIU. Not only is he a hard worker, but he has a vibrant killer instinct. He’s a known proven winner over the years. I credit a lot of my success to Ken Dorsey.”

Dorsey will start with FIU next month. His specific duties were not revealed.

Mario Cristobal reportedly reuniting with former assistant in Eugene

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The Oregon coaching staff is going to have a specific South Florida flavor to it. Head coach Mario Cristobal is a Miami native, a former Hurricanes player and assistant, and the former head coach at Florida International. On Tuesday, Cristobal moved to bring a fellow South Floridian with him to the Pacific Northwest.

According to Grant Traylor of the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Dispatch, Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal is leaving the staff to reunite with Cristobal in Eugene.

Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman added Mirabal will work under Cristobal, who will handle the offensive line.

Mirabal is also a native of Miami and a Florida International graduate. He spent the first decade-plus of his career working in Miami’s high school ranks before joining Cristobal’s FIU staff as tight ends and later offensive line coach from 2007-12. He landed at Marshall in 2013 after Cristobal was forced out at FIU, where he remained until Tuesday.

Under Mirabal’s guidance, Marshall finished fourth nationally in sacks allowed at just 0.85 per game. Oregon finished 54th nationally in that same metric.

Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.

Temple mows over Florida International to win Gasparilla Bowl

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Head coaches — at least publicly — won’t complain about winning ugly when it comes to securing a victory in college football. If you gave some truth serum or a few adult beverages to Geoff Collins though, the first year head coach would have to admit that Thursday night’s game at Tropicana Field was about as ugly as it comes in the sport.

Not that it mattered in the end, as his Temple team (7-6) managed to mow down Florida International (8-5) for a 28-3 win in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

The formula was a familiar one for the Owls: salty defense, a methodical offense and wait for a few big plays out of quarterback Frank Nutile. The signal-caller didn’t have the sharpest outing down in St. Petersburg, Fla. but was solid enough to lead his team to the win column by throwing for 254 yards and a touchdown without an interception. He scored the game’s first points as well on a keeper in the second quarter and setup the team’s second score on a big pass play down the field that tailback David Hood (76 yards rushing) eventually punched in for a touchdown.

Adonis Jennings (51 yards), Keith Kirkwood (96 yards) and Isaiah Wright (73 yards, one touchdown) were the big play threats in the passing game and balanced out things given how difficult it was to run the football. The offense did just enough to take advantage of a quality performance from the Temple defense, which recorded seven sacks, two fourth downs stops, and kept their opponent out of the end zone despite having one of the more productive units in the country coming in.

Most of those struggles for FIU can be traced back to their opening drive of the game when senior starting quarterback and Tampa native Alex McGough went down with what officials later said was a broken collarbone. That seemed to chuck the game plan right out the window for the Panthers, which never seemed to get any consistency on that side of the ball out of backup Maurice Alexander once he threw two early interceptions and was generally running around to avoid pressure on every drop back. Running backs Napoleon Maxwell and Alex Gardner failed to find much space on the ground without much of a passing threat as neither came close to hitting the century mark.

Despite the loss though, it was still a heck of a year for FIU and first year coach Butch Davis as they made just the third ever bowl appearance for the program and tied the school record for wins in a season.

Temple knows all about turnarounds themselves as the bowl victory on Thursday, just the third postseason win in program history, caps off a remarkable second half surge that included four wins in their final five games. Given how bad the Owls looked in September, that’s a nice little springboard into the offseason for Collins and his staff as they send the winningest senior class in school history off with a nice, if ugly, victory.

Temple out front in Gasparilla Bowl at halftime after FIU QB injured

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The first half of the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl was — fittingly for a game sponsored by a lawn care company — about as interesting to watch as it is to watch grass grow.

Not that it mattered to Temple head coach Geoff Collins, as the Owls took a 7-0 lead into halftime over Florida International in a meeting of two coaches in their first year with their respective programs.

A lot of that score line had to do with FIU starting quarterback Alex McGough, who left the game with what the ESPN broadcast said was a broken collarbone injury he suffered on the very first drive of the game. Backup Maurice Alexander entered in his place and did not do well throwing the ball, tossing two interceptions in the half on 4-of-11 passing while also taking a pair of sacks.

Running back Alex Gardner chipped in with 17 yards on the ground but saw a stacked box pretty much from the moment that McGough left the game.

The Panthers did well on defense to pick up the slack with two fourth down stops but still allowed Temple quarterback Frank Nutile to find some openings on his way to 97 yards passing in the half. The dual-threat signal-caller was also responsible for the game’s first points when he ran it in off a keeper and added 19 yards rushing to go with tailback David Hood‘s 31.

Needless to say, offensive adjustments will be a priority for both sides in this one as things were quite rough on that side of the ball through two quarters. The Owls were a little ahead of the sticks in that department (and hold the lead) but both sides are still in this one and looking to capture that rare postseason win at Tropicana Field once the second half rolls around.