Not long ago, FIU won a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship under one of the nation’s hottest young coaches, Mario Cristobal. Cristobal was fired after last season and replaced with Ron Turner, and FIU has since regressed into something resembling a high school program.
That’s not said with derision. Really, FIU requested a rule often designated for high school football Saturday when it invoked the running clock against Louisville. Per ESPN:
FIU and Louisville agreed to have a running clock for the rest of the game. It's actually the 2nd time it's happened this year (Elon vs GT).
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 21, 2013
Turner denies it was him who requested the running block.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) September 21, 2013
Criticized for not posting gaudy enough numbers last week against Kentucky, Louisville Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes against a hapless Golden Panther secondary before Charlie Strong mercifully removed him from the lineup.
However, it was on the defensive side of the ball where the Cardinals really punished FIU. With a little over five minutes remaining in regulation, FIU registered one first down and 22 yards of total offense. The loss drops FIU to 0-4 with little relief in sight.
The immediate regression of an FIU program that looked so promising two years ago is shocking, and really rather sad. In 2011, FIU actually beat Louisville on a national television broadcast.
At the controls of this staggering nosedive is athletic director Pete Garcia. After the Golden Panthers’ first-ever bowl appearance and Sun Belt championship, Garcia signed a contract extension through 2016.
The program is currently a dumpster fire, and Ron Turner’s public criticism of players earlier this week does nothing to help. As for Cristobal? He’s currently the offensive line coach for the defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.