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Posts from January 2012

FAU news we'll be watching on Signing Day

We've been waiting for the craziness that is National Signing Day since the season ended almost two months ago, only to see the action start earlier than expected. We spent Tuesday afternoon/evening tracking down three new recruits who committed to FAU. There was also one recruit whose commitment was thrown into question.

Now the fun really starts. By our count, 24 players who are committed to FAU should sign on Wednesday. That doesn't count the three junior college players and one early high school graduate who are already enrolled. Colton Kane, a 2011 signee who enrolled at FAU this spring, isn't counted among those 24, either.

Owl Access Pass holders have been able to follow all the commitments and changes to The List. By the time you read this, our list will be published for all to see.

Will all 24 sign? Will more than 24 sign? We'll know in a few hours.  Here are some of the decisions we'll be watching closely throughout the day.

  • James Mathis DE Lowndes, (Ga.) - Mathis (photo) committed to Troy, but enjoyed last weekend's visit to FAU enough that he's seriously considering the Owls. Mathis thought he'd announce his decision at a banquet on Tuesday, but he told me he decided not to go. It doesn't sound like he's having too much fun with this decision. I'm betting the FAU coaches would really like to steal a signee from the Trojans.
  • Chris Gilchrist, WR, Charter Oak (Calif.) - Here's a late name into the signing day sweepstakes. Gilchrist received early interest from PAC 12 schools, but questions as to whether he would qualify academically made them shy away. He's 6-foot-5 with 4.5 speed, and still could go to Nevada. He received an offer from FAU earlier this week, but said on Tuesday he didn't want to sign without seeing the school first (He's never been to Boca Raton). Gilchrist re-took the SAT this weekend and feels good about his score. Will he decide FAU's sure thing is better than waiting for another offer? Will FAU hold a spot for him if he doesn't sign on Wednesday?
  • Roosevelt Donaldson, DL, Miami-Southridge – Some reports have Donaldson de-committing from FAU to sign with Western Michigan. I talked with Donaldson and his coach on Tuesday, and both put the odds of Donaldson signing with the Owls at 50/50. We still have him on the commitment list but, obviously, wouldn't be surprised if he became a Bronco. Another question: With defensive ends Isaac Edwards and Trevon Coley committing to FAU on Tuesday, does FAU still have room for Donaldson?
  • Mike Bullard, ATH, West Palm Beach-Forest Hill – Bullard was one of the first players to commit to the Carl Pelini regime. Bullard, though, received some bad advice early in his high school years and is going to come up tremendously short academically. Forest Hill coach Chris Kokell says Bullard may actually need to take high school classes into the fall before he can enroll at FAU. Kokell said the Owls are sticking with Bullard and helping through his troubles, and I believe him. However, don't be surprised if Bullard isn't technically part of the signing class. Why sign him and count him toward an overcrowded 2012 class when he can't enroll until the spring?
  • JUCO transfers – Three are already enrolled, seven more are expected to sign today. Double-digit JUCO's – who would have thought that would ever happen at FAU? Signing Day presents many challenges for FAU pertaining to these guys, none the least of which is that many of them are no longer at their schools. That means no Signing Day ceremonies and no urgency to sign the paper work. Will all of them get their NLIs faxed to the Oxley Center before FAU's scheduled 3 p.m. press conference or will there be some stragglers that come in later? Also, because there weren't coaches available to help them, at least a couple have been dealing with phone calls from larger schools since making their commitment. Adarius Glanton received so many calls from the likes of Florida St., Miami and Nebraska that he actually changed his phone number last week. Glanton says it's a done deal with FAU, but did one of the other seven find those calls to be more persuasive?
  • Outside chances – FAU has sent papers to Satellite Beach athlete J.T. Washington and Miami-Norland defensive back Feddie Davey, their high school coaches said. Washington will choose between West Virginia (where he is committed), Arizona and FAU, Satellite coach Andrew Disney said. Davey's coach, Darryle Heidelburg, said keeping the commitment to Washington St. is almost a certainty for Davey. ... If FAU was ready to take a chance on Gilchrist, would the Owls also take a shot with fellow Californian Blair Brown? The linebacker was ready to commit to FAU after his visit, but the Owls were wary because he'd yet to achieve his test scores. ...As far as the talk about West Palm Beach-Dwyer lineman Mike Minns, he told me weeks ago that FAU wasn't a consideration. Not so sure that FAU is even interested anymore. ...Royal Palm Beach's Tremane McCullough doesn't seem to even have an offer from FAU. ...The Owls are also no longer pursuing St. Petersburg-Gibbs defensive lineman Albert McCoy.


We'll be hitting the high schools early and the FAU press conference in the afternoon. Return to OwlAccess.com as often as possible for continuous updates, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @FAUOwlAccess. We'll be getting the Signing Day news out as fast as we can.

Today's Links....


 

FAU a day away from signing 2012 recruiting class

What's news on Tuesday...

There are officially less than 24 hours before the National Letters of Intent begin rolling in to the Oxley Center and FAU will officially sign its first class under new coach Carl Pelini.

At this point, it appears there would have to be a huge turn of events for anything but a solid class to come in Wednesday.

We will wait to see just who comes in and who doesn't before analyzing the class as a whole because there often is a surprise or two on National Signing Day.

While there certainly could be a player who changes his mind, it's difficult to predict what may happen.

However, we do have some structure to the day.

Here's a tentative schedule for Wednesday's events...

All Day: Coverage on Owl Access.com

8 a.m. Recruits may begin sending their National Letters of Intent

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Coverage of National Signing Day on ESPN760

3 p.m. FAU coach Carl Pelini press conference to announce Owls' signing class

6-7:30 p.m. Coverage of National Signing Day on ESPN760

7 p.m. National Signing Day Fundraising Dinner (6 p.m. Reception)

Today's Links...





 

 

 

FAU may have found its new strength coach

A leader has emerged in FAU's search for a new strength and conditioning coach.

FAU appears to be in the final stages of  negotiations with Chuck Lobe to take over the position that came open when Brian Remington resigned earlier this month.

Though Lobe and FAU have yet to formalize a deal, he was on campus this weekend. Sources said a contract could be finalized this week.

Lobe spent the past year at Denver University – a fellow Sun Belt school that doesn't have a football program. The three years prior to that he was the strength and conditioning coach for the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.

From 2004-08 Lobe ran the strength and conditioning program at Minnesota St. from 2004-08. Current FAU wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Jeff Sims was also a coach at Minnesota St. for two of those years.

Lobe also spent a couple years as an assistant strength coach at the University of Minnesota, his alma mater.

The strength and conditioning coach is the final major coaching position new football coach Carl Pelini needs to fill to complete his staff. It is also one of the most important positions. The strength coach is allowed to work with players during the offseason at intervals not afforded to other assistants.

Pelini has stated that upgrading the strength program at FAU is one of his main goals.

Today's Links...

FAU Stadium likely site of Major League Lacrosse All-Star game

The first major non-football event to be held in Florida Atlantic's new football stadium could well be the 2012 Major League Lacrosse All-Star game.

A source said the league is in the final stage of negotiating a contract with FAU, and a deal could be announced as early as this week.

The game is likely to be played on Saturday, June 30 and is expected to be televised nationally. The schedule on the MLL web site has the game time at 7:30 p.m., but doesn't yet give the location.

The trip to Florida may be somewhat of a trial outing for the league, which boasts eight teams located on the eastern seaboard. The Charlotte Hounds are the closest to the Sunshine State, but the league appears to be evaluating South Florida for a potential expansion team.

MLL also expects to have a youth lacrosse tournament in the days leading up to the game, but it is unclear whether any of those games will be played in the stadium.

Major League Lacrosse began play in 2001. ESPN2 televised the all star game last season. MLL recently signed a deal with CBS to broadcast some of their games.

The MLL season begins with three games on April 28.

Today's Links...

 

Pelini defends program's recruiting after area high school coaches complain

In the wake of criticism from two area high school football coaches who have blasted Florida Atlantic's recruiting practices, Florida Atlantic coach Carl Pelini took to the airwaves to explain the situation.


Or at least explain the situation the best he could without breaking NCAA rules prohibiting a college coach from commenting on a specific recruits.


And it's difficult to win an argument when you can't tell your side of the story.


So when Pelini said in his appearance that “he doesn't want to get into that” he isn't tipping his hat that he is guilty of anything. He means he can't  get into that because it would mean an NCAA violation.


In my opinion, the whole “pulling scholarship offers” happens every year under normal circumstances, but in a year where there is a new head coach, it's even more likely to happen. What has happened here is hardly surprising and the most unfortunate part may be that Pelini has to defend himself and his program during an important recruiting against some who are looking to create a forest fire of a controversy over what really is just smoldering embers.
 

Here's a few interesting excerpts from his apperance on ESPN 760's High School Hysteria on Friday...

On his relationship with Palm Beach County high school coaches...
“I think it's been great. It think we've been received very well. There's a few that are complaining, but it's been like that wherever I've been. You have a few guys who want to push their players on you, but in the end you have to evaluate guys for your system,. They have to have fit your vision and they have to have a spot or its not fair to you or its not fair to the kids themselves. At times I think it can be awfully selfish of a high school coach to try to force a guy on to a university. It's not good for anybody, it's not good for the high school, its not good for the university and it's certainly not good good for the kid, if the coaching staff themselves doesn't think they can't fit there.”

On how coaches look at FAU ...
“I also get the feeling, that the local coaches, to some extent, see FAU as “OK, if this doesn't work out and that doesn't work out we can fall-back on FAU.” My belief is we are playing to different competition now. We want to elevate this program to a different level so we don't want guys who are considered second-tier kids. We want to recruit the top kids in this area.”

You can listen to the entire interview that was conducted by Jason Pugh and Alex Petakas, both members of the FAU Radio Network broadcasting crew, on ESPN760's High School Hysteria Show.

Today's Links...







 

When a commitment may not be a commitment

The final week of the recruiting season can be confusing for all involved, but especially for the kids.

I'm hearing a couple of the more recent commitments may have considered themselves to be committed a little prematurely.

It turns out Jacksonville-Raines defensive back Charles Henry and Rancho Verde (Calif.) linebacker Blair Brown may not be signing with the Owls after all, for the simple reason that FAU hasn't officially offered them – not in writing anyway.

With Henry, it sounds like he might have jumped the gun, similar to the way Fort Myers running back Dalvin Battle did after his visit a few weeks ago. Upon further review, Henry may still get an offer provided the Owls had space for another defensive back – most likely a safety. There is a feeling that he may ultimately grow into that role.

As for Brown, our story mentioned that he still had some work to do on his SAT score. His current score is close enough to qualifying that it's reasonable to believe he'll achieve the needed score after  taking the test this weekend.

However, Brown and FAU won't know for sure until after Signing Day. I don't believe he will sign a Letter of Intent on Wednesday, but I do think FAU will have at least one or two scholarships available for late qualifiers. If Brown gets the expected test score, look for him to be in Boca Raton in the fall.

Since many of these recruiting stories become judgment calls – college coaches aren't allowed to talk about high school players until they sign – we are going to exercise our best judgment. We've taken Henry and Brown off out commitment list for now. I wouldn't be too surprised if they were back on there real soon. Our Recruiting Board is always a work in progress with frequent additions and deletions as we get the latest information.

A couple other notes about players FAU had been interested in:

  • Seffner-Armwood defensive end Allen Covington thought highly of the Owls, but he chose to commit to Toledo.
  • Island Coast lineman E.K. Binns also came close to selecting FAU, but instead chose Navy.
  • Sarasota-Booker wide receiver Ricky Jones had FAU in his final two, but committed to Indiana.
  • Battle never did get that offer from FAU. He committed to Bethune-Cookman.


That's the bad new for FAU fans. There is plenty of good news.

FAU appears to still be in the running for some pretty big names, including Miami-Norland's Feddie Davey, who sounds like his final decision between Washington St. (where he is committed) and the Owls might not be made until Signing Day. Davey also picked up offers from Illinois and Toldeo in the past couple days, but said he doesn't intend to visit either school.

A couple other names we'll be watching for after this weekend: Royal Palm Beach running back Tremane McCullough and St. Petersburg-Gibbs defensive lineman Albert McCoy.

There has been plenty of buzz around FAU these past couple of weeks. Expect some of these players to choose to play near home.

Today's Links:

More game coverage: Sun Sentinel / University Press / Bowling Green Daily News









 

Owls look like they may be getting on their roll

Don't look now, but Florida Atlantic could be heating up, just as it has done the last few Januarys.

With a thrilling 67-66 victory over Western Kentucky on Thursday night at The Burrow, the Owls have won their last three and four out of their last five games.

The only loss in that span is to Middle Tennessee, which is beating every one this season.

FAU isn't getting consistent play each night from its players but is still finding ways to win games. Just imagine if everyone would show up each night.

If that were to happen, and there is plenty of time, FAU might be able to be a factor in the Sun Belt race, although catching MTSU might be too tough to ask.

But with just a little bit of improvement, it's not out of the question to think the owls can make some noise at the conference tournament with an NCAA bid on the line.
 

Spring football game likely to be on April 14 in FAU Stadium

FAU football fans, get out your calendar and save the date.

The Owls are tentatively planning to hold their spring game on Saturday, April 14 in the new on-campus stadium.

If that date stands, and it sounds like it will, that means spring practice will begin on Monday, March 19. The Owls will practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, while holding meetings Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday, April 13, the day prior to the spring game, will also be reserved for meetings, but could become a make-up day should one of the earlier practices get canceled.

The time of the spring game has yet to be determined.

Even though I liked the cozy feeling of the scrimmages behind the Oxley Center, moving the game to the stadium is a no-brainer. Any chance FAU gets to put people in that stadium to watch football can't be passed up.

Personally, I will be looking forward to seeing the new offense in that stadium for the first time.

Also, I know we have plenty of local coaches, parents and young players who look at this blog, so here's more calendar material. FAU football coaches are hoping to hold at least three camps during the summer, all of which are tentatively scheduled to run consecutively in the middle of June.

They are planning for a youth camp, a high school individual camp and a high school team camp, all three of which are expected last three days apiece.

We'll update fans on these camps when more information, including schedules and availability, becomes available.

Football – it's a year-round sport.

Today's links...

Ragoo's size should help bolster FAU offensive line

The Big Ragoo is gargantuan.

Johnathan Ragoo stands 6-foot-8, and weighs close to 400 pounds. Beginning in the spring he will be bringing that bulk to FAU's offensive line.

Ragoo signed with Minnesota of out Miami-Pace in 2010, but only stayed there for a year.

He was back in South Florida by the summer of 2011, enrolling at FAU and paying his own way.

Ragoo had injured his foot while at Minnesota and spent the fall of 2011 rehabbing the injury.

“He's 100 percent healthy, it's just a matter of getting back into football shape,” FAU coach Carl Pelini said.

Pelini met Ragoo shortly after taking over as the Owls' coach in December. He researched Ragoo's history, including talking to his high school coach.

By January he'd learned enough to offer Ragoo a scholarship, and Ragoo will take part in spring practice. Since he was already attending FAU, the scholarship is counted toward the roster maximum of 85, but does not count against the max of 25 for this year's signing class.

“Honestly, I looked at it as, Is he a guy we would have signed coming out this year?” Pelini said. “The answer was an emphatic 'yes'. He has great potential as an offensive tackle. He's got some work to do conditioning wise, but he has great potential.”

Ragoo's addition, plus the enrollment of JUCO linemen Mustafa Johnson (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) and Stern Vile (6-5, 335), stands to add some serious size to FAU's offensive line.

Pelini wouldn't anoint the threesome starters, but it stands to figure he brought Johnson and Vile in to make an immediate impact. If Ragoo can live up to his potential, FAU's offensive line, which already improved significantly last season, should be a force in 2012.

FAU RB Alfred Morris headed to Senior Bowl

The Senior Bowl has made a roster move and it’s a big one for FAU running back Alfred Morris.

Morris has been invited to the play in Saturday’s Senior Bowl, the top post-season all-star game for seniors where the practices are watched by scouts and front office personnel from every NFL team.

The Senior Bowl announced the move on Twitter late Monday night and attempts to reach Morris, who is believed to be travelling to Mobile, Ala. were unsuccessful.

Morris is the first FAU player to be selected to play in the Senior Bowl.

Morris has also been invited to the NFL combine and led the East with 31 rushing yards on nine carries, averaging 3.4 yards per carry in Saturday’s East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg.

Morris broke multiple Florida Atlantic records this season. He leaves Boca Raton as the Owls' all-time leader in rushing yards, touchdowns, and rushing touchdowns.

The lone bright spot on FAU's offense this past season, Morris rushed for 1,186 yards and nine touchdowns. In his career Morris amassed 3,529 yards on the ground. Several scouts have also told me they are impressed with his blocking ability.

His high point in 2011 came in the Owls' lone victory, which saw Morris rush for 198 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries against UAB.

Morris replaces Chad Diehl of Clemson, who has a concussion for the South team.

Today's Links...

Recent commitments could prompt more top players to choose FAU

It could be the domino theory. Or it could be the snowball theory.

When applied to recruiting, the theories stipulate that once a program gets one or two big name recruits to take a leap of faith and commit to a non-traditional program, other recruits will follow.

In the past FAU has signed some strong recruits, but the snowball never really started rolling downhill, gathering more players as it gained speed.

After the events of the past few days, those at the bottom of the hill may want to look out.

FAU followed a weekend during which top JUCO quarterback, running back and prized high school wide receiver were among the five players who committed by adding two more coveted players.

On Monday Pompano-Ely cornerback Adrian Burton told Southern Methodist he changed his mind and was instead planning to sign with FAU. Right about that same time Miami-Southridge defensive end Roosevelt Donaldson (photo) told FAU coaches in a voice that was surely heard by some BCS schools that he'd rather play at FAU.

Click. Click. Are the dominoes starting to fall? Will the list of commitments start toppling more bigger name schools?

With a little more than a week remaining until Signing Day, we'll know quickly whether these commitments were isolated decisions or the start of a wave of players who think they can surf FAU football into a powerhouse.

Faithful readers of OwlAccess.com know that FAU is still in the mix for a handful of touted recruits, including a few who have committed to BCS schools.

Is the tide rising?

Well, I think I've reached the legal limit of bad metaphors that can be contained in one blog, so I'll give one final thought in a straight forward manner: 

These next nine days could prove to be a truly exciting time to be an Owl fan – or football player for that matter.

Today's Links



 

Battle of Florida helps recruits visualize themselves playing at FAU

The Battle of Florida wasn't an FAU event so it wasn't part of the official FAU recruiting activities this past weekend, but the Owls' recruits were able to take in the game as part of their free time on campus.

Most of them and their FAU hosts bought tickets and saw at least part of the game. Even though the game was a blowout, simply having it on campus seems to have aided FAU's recruiting efforts.

Quarterback Melvin German said watching a game in the new FAU stadium allowed him to better visualize what it would be like if he were under center for the Owls. German committed to FAU the next morning.

“I was just looking at it seeing how I could light the field up,” German said. “We are going to have FAU on the map.”

Miami-Central linebacker Josh Ballesteros says he had already decided to commit to FAU before he walked through the stadium gates.

“(Watching the game) just gave me a rush because I am going to be playing there in a few months,” he said.

The Battle of Florida also gave at least one player who is being recruited by the Owls a reason to return to campus.

Pompano-Ely cornerback A.J. Burton spent part of Saturday night watching the game. Burton, a SMU commit, took his official visit to FAU two weeks ago.

Having him back on campus, regardless of the reason, is likely a positive for FAU's efforts to get Burton to switch his commitment to the Owls.
 

FAU game at Hawaii a no-go, at least for now

Late Friday afternoon we broke the news that FAU expects to open it's 2012 football season at home against Wagner on Friday night, Aug. 31.

There are a couple more notes about next season's football schedule.

FAU and Hawaii have not come to an agreement to play next season, but that doesn't mean the deal is totally dead. The two schools will talk again in early February.

“It's probably a 30 percent chance, if I had to handicap it,” FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos said.

The sticking point as far as FAU is concerned is that the Owls don't want to have to play a Sun Belt game the Saturday after returning from Hawaii.

The deal that was being discussed made it likely that FAU would have needed to travel to Hawaii for a Thanksgiving weekend game, fly home on Sunday, then had to prepare to play the final Sun Belt game of the year the following Saturday.

FAU could ask the Sun Belt to use that final Saturday as the Owls' bye week, but that would mean FAU would play 13 consecutive weeks without a bye.

Ideally, the Owls would like to play the Warriors in the final week, using it like a bowl trip.

“If I could finish up my season and play Hawaii after the last game, I would do that for sure,” FAU coach Carl Pelini said. “It's probably off the table right now, but it could come back on the table if the schedule works out.”

In some other schedule news, Navy released its schedule for the upcoming season. We've known for several years that Owls are traveling to face the Midshipmen in 2012. Those interested in making that  trip should circle Nov. 3 on their calender.

Today's Links:


Absolutely huge weekend for FAU. First, the men's and women's basketball teams knocked off FIU. Then the Battle of Florida took place in FAU's stadium. The Owls capped the weekend with five recruiting commitments, including JUCO quarterback Melvin German. Owl fans could look back at this weekend as one of the most important weekends in the football program's history.

We spent the afternoon keeping Owl fans informed about the commitments. Here is the final story of the night, which contains information about all five of the latest verbals.

Other links




 

Battle Blog: Hopefully Battle of Florida stays around

What's making news on Sunday...

An announced crowd of 9,197 came to FAU Stadium on Saturday night to witness the first edition of something called The Battle of Florida.

What they saw was a 51-3 blowout by the North team (coached by former FSU coach Bobby Bowden) over the South (coached by former FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger). It was an absolute dreadful football game.

But those who came to FAU's new stadium also saw a fantastic showcase of talent (obviously mostly on the North team, of course) and hopefully the beginning of a wonderful event for FAU and Boca Raton.

Since it was the first game, there were rough spots, most notably when a crowd of several hundred people frustrated with long lines to pick up tickets formed an unruly mob (which was eventually let in even without a ticket)

But overall The Battle of Florida was a success in its first go-round and I certainly hope it sticks around - although a more competitive game wouldn't be such a bad thing. I've already seen my share of blow-outs at FAU Stadium this season.

Today's links

More coverage: Sun-Sentinel / Miami Herald

More coverage:  Miami Herald / Palm Beach Post






 

FAU continues dominance over rival FIU

Maybe FAU should schedule more games against its bretheren from Miami-Dade County.

The Owls haven't figured out how to beat Miami, but it did put quite a scare into the Hurricanes in a double-overtime loss earlier this season.

However, FAU has mastered how to beat FIU, which is more important since the Panthers and the Owls are in the same conference.

FAU defeated FIU for the fifth consecutive time 66-64 on Saturday, in dramatic fashion with Greg Gantt sinking two free throws with less than a second remaining.

Last year's games vs. FIU were instant classics, and this one in Miami was almost as good.

By the way, the Owls and the Panthers will meet on Feb. 4 at The Burrow.
 

Battle Blog: NFL scouts have interest in Battle of Florida

After the Battle of Florida all-star game tonight some will look at the size of the crowd and determine if the game was a success.

But, the attendance will only tell some of the story. The game could be considered a success judging by the number of scouts who have been out at practice this week watching players practice.

There may have been a few NFL teams that weren’t in attendance, but not many. Throw in scouts from the UFL and the Arena Football League and there were probably close to 150 scouts who were there at some point during the week.

South coach Howard Schnellenberger stressed how important it is to have scouts at the practices.

“It’s good for the players, good for this game and good for everyone,” Schnellenberger said.

For many players it’s one of the last chances to make an impression.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” said FAU defensive tackle Jarvis Givens, who is playing for the North team, “They are out here critiquing every thing you do. There’s a lot of money on the line. I just want to come out and have a good week of practice and raise my stock.”

Giving players from the state another chance is what the game is all about and, in that regard, is a roaring success, despite the glitches that are to be expected in the first year.

Should be a fun game at 8 p.m. at FAU Stadium and we’ll be there after travelling to Miami for the basketball game at FIU.

Today’s Links


 

FAU football expects to open 2012 against Wagner on a Friday night

Carl Pelini's opening Saturday as a head coach likely won't be a Saturday at all.

FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos said the Owls have an agreement with Wagner, an FCS school, that will have the teams opening the season on Friday night,  Aug. 31, in FAU's on-campus stadium. When FAU receives the contract the game will be official.

“We have sent them a contract. They have agreed to sign it and send it back and do it on Friday night,” Angelos said. “Assuming all goes according to plan, they will sign it and send it back, and we will announce it is going to be on a Friday night.”

The date is the Friday before Labor Day.

“They probably are going to (fly) commercial, so they wanted Saturday to be their travel day back,” Angelos said.

Playing Wagner will give the Pelini regime a strong chance to start with a victory. The Seahawks went 4-7 in 2011, but did win their final three games.

FAU last played an FCS (formerly Division I-AA) school in 2006, defeating Southern Utah 32-7.
 

FAU announces football coaching staff

It’s officially official.

FAU announced Carl Pelini's football coaching staff on Friday.

The names won't be a suprise to OwlAccess.com readers, but here’s the rundown of the new coaching staff. Officially.

  • Marvin Sanders – Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
  • Brian Wright – Offensive Coordinator/QBs
  • Brett Dierson – Defensive Line and Special Teams Coordinator
  • Jeff Sims – Recruiting Coordinator/WR
  • Jared Allen – Tight Ends
  • Jovan Dewitt – Linebackers
  • Kerry Dixon II – Running Backs
  • Luke Meadows – Offensive Line
  • Ross Watson – Secondary
Battle Blog: Bowden at practice on Friday morning

No need to worry. It will indeed be Bobby Bowden vs. Howard Schnellenberger in the battle of Florida on Saturday.

Bowden, the former FSU coach who has missed this week's practice due to the death of a close friend, was on the practice field Friday morning.

In fact, he was the first one on the practice field before the scheduled 8:30 a.m. practice began.

He wasn't alone long as former FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger soon joined him and the two coaches talked football for a few minutes.

I caught the moment with the camera as two of the most influential college football coaches around shot the breeze for a few minutes before people started showing up for the workout. It's a moment I won't forget.

Now, it seems like the Battle of Florida is on. And I can't wait.

Today's Links...

More game coverage: Dothan Eagle / Troy Messenger



 


 

Battle Blog: Bowden yet to arrive at Battle of Florida

Practices at The Battle of Florida this week have featured some quality players and plenty of NFL scouts watching their every move.

But there has been something missing.

The game has been billed as Howard Schnellenberger vs. Bobby Bowden, but Bowden still hasn't shown up to the practices.

Bowden had spent most of the week at the funeral of his good friend, Vince Gibson, who coached for Bowden at South Georgia College.

Sounds like a legitimate reason and it was announced that Bowden would join the events on Thursday.

When Thursday's practices began, Bowden had not arrived, but he is expected to arrive in Boca Raton later in the day.

In Bowden's place, Jacksonville coach Kerwin Bell has been running the North team's practices.

Today's Links...






 

 


 

FAU to add former Illinois grayshirt WR Stallings

Isaiah Stallings won't officially be counted among this FAU's 2012 recruiting class, but he stands to make as big an impact as those who sign on Feb. 1.

FAU recruited Stallings last year, but when the Owls pulled their offer the Jacksonville-Raines wide receiver chose to grayshirt at Illinois. That deal fell through when Illinois fired coach Ron Zook following a 6-6 season.

That started a strange month for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Stallings.

Stallings began talking with then Southern Miss defensive coordinator Dan Disch, who originally recruited him to Illinios. Stallings was ready to head to Hattiesburg, only to learn that Disch had taken the DC job at North Carolina.

That threw the process back into chaos again.

“I was open to a lot of schools, but a lot of schools didn't know that,” Stallings said.

Stallings finally received a phone call from FAU assistant Jeff Sims, who told him the Owls would be interested in his services.

“I met with coach Sims and he seems like a nice coach, and he kept it real with me,” Stallings said. “I appreciate that because I've been through so much with Illinois and all - I need that right now.”

Stallings plans to enroll at FAU in the summer as a walk-on taking advantage of his Bright Futures scholarship. He said FAU assured him a scholarship would be forthcoming.

“They said they were going to give me the first one that opens for a receiver spot,” Stallings said.

And if some other schools comes calling with a scholarship offer before Stallings enrolls at FAU, would he entertain the idea of switching again?

“No sir, I'm fully committed to FAU,” Stallings said. “I've made my decision. I'm going to stick in state.”

FAU airballing on air time

What's news on Wednesday...

FAU's game at FIU on Saturday will be televised by the Sun Belt Network, but there aren't going to be many more times to catch the Owls on TV this season. 

The Sun Belt Network only scheduled one Owls' apperance on TV this season, but many (including yours truly) assumed the Feb. 4 home game against FIU would land on ESPN2 since the conference had a slot reserved for that day.
 

However, the decision-makers at ESPN went with Middle Tennessee against Denver, which on first glance doesn't look so bad.
 

Yes, the Blue Raiders and the Pioneers might be the top teams in the conference right now. However, Denver is leaving the Sun Belt Conference after this season and any promotion of its program is a wasted effort.


Also, having Denver and its boring, deliberate style of play on televison is nothing but a cure for insomnia across the nation – at the Sun Belt Conference's expense.


I'm pretty sure a game featuring a coaching matchup of Mike Jarvis and Isiah Thomas – regardless of their team's records - would have garnered much higher ratings than a Denver-MTSU snoozer.


If you thought the Sun Belt's reputation was bad after the Louisiana-Lafayette sixth man fiasco, just wait until the Pioneers-Blue Raiders slog through two hours of basketball.

On his radio show this week, Jarvis said it might be time to start buying time on local sports networks just to get on TV, but that takes big bucks. However, it might be a necessary expense if FAU continues to be blacked out.

Today's links...



 

 

 

Battle Blog: Coaching staffs have some familiar names

What's news with the Battle of Florida on Tuesday...

Not only was it great to see FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger back on the practice field Monday, but there were a few other familiar faces as well.

Some of the former FAU assistant coaches will be on the coaching staff for the North and South teams getting ready for The Battle of Florida.

Kurt Van Valkenburgh, Johnny Frost and Richard Lage, who were FAU assistant coaches last season, will be coaching in the game and John Bock, who coached the FAU offensive line from 2003-04 will also be coaching in the game.

I talked with some of the assistant coaches who are looking to land with teams for next season. Several of the coaches were at the AFCA Convention in San Antonio last week to do some networking.

Other familiar names who are assistant coaches for the week include:

  • Kerwin Bell – Head coach at Jacksonville and former UF quarterback
  • Mike Kruczek – Former Central Florida head coach
  • Jessie Hester – Former Glades Central head coach
  • Oronde Gadsen – Former Dolphins WR
  • Mike Rumph – Played at UM and Atlantic High School before playing for the 49ers, Redskins and Rams
  • Leon Searcy – Played OL for Hurricanes before a 10-year NFL career
  • Devin Bush – DB for Florida State before drafted in the 1st round by Atlanta in 1996.
  • Donnell Bennett – Drafted I the 2nd round out of Miami in 1994 and current head coach at Oakland Park – Northeast

Also be advised that the practice times announced earlier this week are apparently merely suggestions. Today’s practice times have already been changed with the South team going at 1:45 p.m. and the North team at 2:45 p.m.

Also Battle of Florida officials say they expect Bobby Bowden to join the North team on Thursday due to the death of a close friend.

Today's Links...

 


 

Battle Blog: Schnellenberger arrives early, Bowden coming later in the week

Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger made his return to his old stomping grounds on Monday for the first day of practice for Saturday's Battle of Florida game.
 

In fact he was there probably an hour before the players he is supposed to be coaching were there due to a few glitches on getting players the necessary equipment.
 

Once the players arrived and took to the Oxley Practice Fields, it was business as usual for Schnellenberger, who will coach the South team.

“It was fine...It was the first day of no pads,” Schnellenberger joked of this five-day training camp before the game at FAU Stadium that held its first practice around sunset on a field with no lights. “Tomorrow we'll see what they look like in the daytime.”

Here's a few other observations from Monday's practice.


...Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden wasn't at Monday's practice and may not show up until Thursday due to a death to close friend.
 

...The coaching staffs were announced and are fairly impressive.

  • South offensive assistants: Robert McFarland, Mike Kruczek, D.J. McCarthy, Donnell Bennett, Don Soldinger
  • South defensive assistants: Johnny Frost, Richard Lage, Mike Rumph, John Fontes
  • North offensive assistants: Leon Searcy, Kerwin Bell, Ernie Mills, Jessie Hester, Oronde Gadsden
  • North defensive assistants: Ernie Logan, Kurt Van Valkenburgh, John Bock, Devin Bush
     

 

FAU exploring game at Hawaii in 2012

What's making news on Monday...

FAU fans hoping to experience a Thanksgiving luau may get their wish in 2012, Owls Athletic Director Craig Angelos said.

The Owls have been in discussions with the University of Hawaii and about adding a game with the Warriors for the upcoming season.

“We have talked with them,” Angelos said. “They do have an opening, it's just a matter of whether we can fit it into our schedule.”

Should it be played, it would be the 13th game of the season for FAU. The NCAA allows Hawaii and its out of conference foes an extra game as a reward to off-set travel time and costs for those games. Should the Owls go to Hawaii, the Warriors would pay travel costs along with some extra money.

The biggest hurdle appears to be fitting the game into the Owls schedule while managing bye weeks within the season.
 
Angelos also had another concern.

“If you're 6-6, and you go into that last game and end up 6-7, you fall out of bowl contention,” he said.

Pearl River Community College quarterback Melvin German said that during a recruiting conversation new FAU coach Carl Pelini was touting the potential game as a de facto bowl game for the Owls.

FAU has traveled to Hawaii before, producing a 35-28 overtime victory in 2004.

Angelos also said the Owls are closing in on a deal that would bring an FCS (formally Division I-AA) team to FAU for the opening game of the 2012 season.

“Especially, since we have had a hard time winning games the last three years, I think it would be great to start out with a win,” Angelos said. “That's the kind of home game we are going to have to get right now.”

Angelos said a decision on the Hawaii game will likely be made this week. He hopes the contract with the FCS team, which he declined to name, will be signed in the next week or two.

Today's Links...

Battle Blog: Dolphins, Bucs cheerleaders hold Battle of Beauties

It was a chilly day on the beach at Spanish River Park on Sunday, but cheerleaders from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins heated up the spectators at the Battle of the Beauties.

The cheerleaders faced off in volleyball, flag football and even a tough obstacle course similar to the one used in lifegaurd competitions.

Here are some photos from the event, which kicked off a week of activities for the Battle of Florida game on Saturday featuring former FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger coaching his South team against former Florida State coah Bobby Bowden's North squad.

Here is the schedule for the remainder of the week.

Monday

3 p.m.
Dual practice

8 p.m.
North vs. South Bowling Tournament
Strikes @ Boca

Tuesday
10 a.m.
North Practice

1:45 p.m.
South Practice

Wednesday

10 a.m.
North Practice

1:45 p.m.
South Practice

6 p.m.
40s, 50s & Fabulous Wellness Competition
Carmen's at the Top of The Bridge Hotel

Thursday

10 a.m.
North Practice

1:45 p.m.
South Practice

6-9 p.m.
Clematis By Night with The Battle of Florida
Centennial Square, West Palm Beach

Friday

8:30 a.m.
Dual practice

8 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)

Meet the Teams & Gin Blossoms Concert
Mizner Park

Saturday

11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Battle of Florida FCA Luncheon
FAU Stadium Delray Acura Premier Club

5 p.m.
The Battle of Florida VIP Tailgate Party
FAU Stadium

8 p.m.
The Battle of Florida
FAU Stadium

Battle of Florida events kickoff today

Here's the first of our Battle Blogs on this week's Battle of Florida game...

Got the official practice schedule for The Battle of Florida and after Saturday's hoops display at The Burrow, I think a few days on the practice field is what I need.

I've added the workouts to the list of events we compiled earlier this week for a "master" schedule for this week's game. All the workouts are at the Oxley Practice Fields and are free and open to the public so you can catch a glimpse of Bobby Bowden and Howard Schnellenberger leding their teams through the drills.

Sunday
Noon- 4 p.m.
Battle of the Beauties on the Beach
Boca Raton Beach

Monday

3 p.m.
Dual practice

8 p.m.
North vs. South Bowling Tournament
Strikes @ Boca

Tuesday
10 a.m.
North Practice

1:45 p.m.
South Practice

Wednesday

10 a.m.
North Practice

1:45 p.m.
South Practice

6 p.m.
40s, 50s & Fabulous Wellness Competition
Carmen's at the Top of The Bridge Hotel

Thursday

10 a.m.
North Practice

1:45 p.m.
South Practice

6-9 p.m.
Clematis By Night with The Battle of Florida
Centennial Square, West Palm Beach

Friday

8:30 a.m.
Dual practice

8 p,m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)

Meet the Teams & Gin Blossoms Concert
Mizner Park

Saturday

11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Battle of Florida FCA Luncheon
FAU Stadium Delray Acura Premier Club

5 p.m.
The Battle of Florida VIP Tailgate Party
FAU Stadium

8 p.m.
The Battle of Florida
FAU Stadium

Keep checking back here for our Batlle Blogs throughout the week.

Today's Links...

 

 


 

 

Jarvis slams White after another no-show in loss to Middle Tennessee

There is plenty of blame to go around for FAU's disappointing play in the Owls' 67-54 loss to Middle Tennessee at The Burrow on Saturday.

But one of the lead culprits was junior forward Kore White (0 points, 3 rebounds in 13 minutes), and coach Mike Jarvis didn't mince words.

“Kore White hasn't been here all year,” Jarvis said. “He's been missing in action. He's like a guy who went AWOL - the only problem is we see him. I'm waiting for Kore White to show up, but I've been waiting now for a couple of years.”

Florida Atlantic ran into a buzz saw on Saturday night at The Burrow in the form of Middle Tennessee, which is putting together quite an impressive season.

Here's a few other thoughts from another rough night at The Burrow...

  • I was entertaining the notion that FAU is a better team with Ray Taylor on the bench, but I think I'll revisit that thought.
  • Guard Alex Tucker (pictured) struggled in Taylor's absence, with six turnovers and one assist.
  • Remember when the Owls were picked to finish above the Blue Raiders by Sun Belt coaches in the pre-season poll? I'm guessing Middle Tennessee's players do.
  • With the Owls losing seven out of their last nine games, there is little chance FAU will be accused of peaking too early this season.

 

 

FAU to hold fundraising dinner on Signing Day

Florida Atlantic isn't just hoping to bring in some new players on National Signing Day.

The athletic department also is looking to bring in some money.

On Feb. 1, FAU will hold a National Signing Day Fundraising Dinner with seats going for $150 a pop. A table for nine with an assistant coach will go for $1,250 or you can get a table with coach Carl Pelini for $5,000.

There will also be a reception and auction.

For more details or to sign up just click here.

 

FAU recruits making their presence known leading up to local all-star game

We're looking forward to the biggest basketball game of the season to date in The Burrow tonight, with Sun Belt leader Middle Tennessee coming to town, but we'll understand if rabid FAU football fans choose to spend the evening looking at some of the incoming recruits.

Four players who've committed to FAU, and at least four others who are seriously considering the Owls, will be playing at Greenacres-John I. Leonard in the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast All-Star game.

Wide receivers Chad Ward, Mike Bullard and Nesly Ovincy (photo, left to right) are all playing in the game, as is defensive tackle Andy Daceus (bottom photo).

I attended Thursday's National Team practice, and was surprised to hear some of the other players shouting for the “FAU guys,” and there were even some F-A-U chants.

“I think it's great,” Daceus said. “(Going to FAU) is a chance for all of us to come together for a school that needs some players. We can change the team.”

Royal Palm Beach running back Tremane McCullough actually moved his scheduled FAU visit from this weekend to next so he could play in the game. His teammate, linebacker Teddy Mathews, also could be at FAU that weekend.

Fort Pierce Central linebacker Freedom Whitfield, a member of the American team, is also expecting to take his FAU visit next weekend.

“It's good to keep your in-town recruits here, especially if they are athletes,” said Ward, who is still planning on making a visit to Middle Tennessee next weekend. “FAU has really come up in the world and is starting to come out of its shell. They are trying to keep the best of the best here in Palm Beach county.”

Ward and company are also doing their part to help the Owls.

Village Academy wide receiver Devonte Robinson, a West Virginia commit, has been practicing alongside the FAU commits all week, and the FAU fever appears to be spreading. Robinson decided to visit FAU this weekend, though he still intends to slip away for a few hours to play in the game.

Robinson said Ward has been among the most vocal, encouraging him to take a look at the Owls.

“He's telling me I should come out,” said Robinson, who didn't decide to make the visit until Thursday evening. “I'd be closer to home. My whole family can see me.”

Another FAU commitment, Fort Pierce Westwood lineman Inuka Rhaheed, was also selected to play in the game but the Palm Beach Post is reporting that he won't be in action. Here is the Post's blog about the game, including a roster rundown. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Today's Links...




 

Bobby Bowden says Terry Bowden was interested in FAU job

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, promoting the upcoming Battle of Florida, had some interesting things to say about his son, Terry Bowden, who is the new coach at Akron, during an interview with Evan Cohen on ESPN760 on Friday afternoon.

Terry Bowden was thought by many to be one of the first candidates FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos would pursue to replace Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger.

However, Bobby Bowden told Cohen that Terry Bowden, who was coach at Division II North Alabama, was interested in the FAU job but was never contacted by Angelos.

“I think he was interested in the FAU job, but I don’t think he went after it,” Bobby Bowden told Cohen. “I think he was hoping and wishing they would come after him.”

FAU may not have pursued Terry Bowden, but Akron sure did.

The Zips snatched up Terry Bowden, a former National Coach of the Year winner, for a reported $300,000 in base salary plus incentives a few weeks after FAU named Carl Pelini as its next football coach with a base salary of $450,000.

 

 

Second big high school recruiting weekend won't include Clements

The on-again-off-again courtship of Miami-Coral Reef cornerback Brendon Clements is about as off as it gets right now – at least as far as Clements is concerned.

Earlier this week we told FAU fans that Clements, who had committed to FAU under the Howard Schnellenberger regime, had re-opened his recruiting because he didn't feel the new FAU staff was all that interested in him.

A couple days later Clements said he received an e-mail from a new member of the staff, but apparently that wasn't enough. He told me on Thursday he'd committed to Navy and will not be taking his official visit to Boca Raton scheduled for this weekend.

Clements isn't the only player who's wondering about his standing. It seems many players in Orlando and northern Florida haven't heard from anyone at FAU since November. Dr. Phillips wide receiver Trey Griffey and Cocoa linebacker Grady Redding both indicated FAU doesn't seem to be interested in them anymore when I talked with them.

But there are plenty of players coming to FAU's campus today for their official visit. The most intriguing player may be Pearl River Community College quarterback Mervin German. Contrary to some reports, German told me he hasn't committed to FAU, but that could certainly change in the next couple days. He was extremely interested when we talked earlier this week.

A couple players who have already committed, running backs Jarvon Anderson (Miami-Braddock) and Jeremy Gaskins (Delray Beach-American Heritage), will be making their official visit this weekend. And don't read anything into Royal Palm Beach running back Tremane McCullough's rescheduling of his visit. I talked with him on Thursday at his practice for Saturday's Palm Beach/Treasure Coast all-star game. He pushed back the FAU visit a week so that he could play in that game.

For the most complete list of visitors, check out our recruiting list

Today's Links:


 

 

Givens, Cyrille, Groody on roster for Battle of Florida

What’s making news on Thursday…

FAU defensive linemen Kevin Cyrille and Jarvis Givens have officially been added to the roster for The Battle of Florida game to be played on Jan. 21 at FAU Stadium.

They will join FAU punter Mickey Groody, who also will be playing in the game featuring FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger and Bobby Bowden.

Speaking of the Battle of Florida, I just saw the list of events surrounding the game including a concert by The Gin Blossoms at the Mizner Park Amphitheater.

In case you are interested, here is a list of some of the events surrounding the game...


Sunday
Noon- 4 p.m.
Battle of the Beauties on the Beach
Boca Raton Beach

Monday
8 p.m.
North vs. South Bowling Tournament
Strikes @ Boca

Wednesday
6 p.m.
40s, 50s & Fabulous Wellness Competition
Carmen's at the Top of The Bridge Hotel

Thursday
6-9 p.m.
Clematis By Night with The Battle of Florida
Centennial Square, West Palm Beach

Friday
Meet the Teams & Gin Blossoms Concert
Mizner Park

Saturday
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Battle of Florida FCA Luncheon
FAU Stadium Delray Acura Premier Club

The Battle of Florida VIP Tailgate Party
5 p.m.
FAU Stadium


Some events are free, others require a ticket so for more information go to thebattleofflorida.com

Today’s Links...



 

SGA giving away the new "Atlantic" T-shirts on Saturday

At the last home basketball game you may have seen a few students wearing a new T-shirt.

With a nod to a popular former Florida State T-shirt, it has the state of Florida with “Atlantic” written down the peninsula.

By popular demand, now even more students can get their hands on one – for free, courtesy of FAU Student Government. All you have to be is one of the first 200 students to Saturday’s basketball game vs. Middle Tennessee at The Burrow.

Here is the shirt pictured above worn by a headless fan.




 

Quick look at FAU baseball features major position change

Football season is over, and the weather has been beautiful. You know what that means... Baseball season is almost upon us.

I know – it's basketball season. Don't worry, we're going to keep providing the best coverage of FAU basketball that can be found anywhere. But the Owls also have a fervent contingent of baseball fans and, believe it or not, the start of baseball camp is less than three weeks away.

Two of the stories we're watching coming out of fall baseball involve role/position changes.

The most notable is that catcher Mike Albaladejo, a fixture behind the plate for the past three seasons, might be the Owls' everyday second baseman in 2012.

Alby (photo, with Mike Spano trailing) played  a lot of second base during the past two collegiate summer league seasons. FAU coach John McCormack wanted Alby to rest his sore back this fall. He also wanted to see a little more of Mike Spano behind the plate. The results were somewhat surprising.

“You watch Mike play second base and with Spano swinging the bat, and Mike does what he does offensively, and you go, God, this could be a realistic thing,” McCormack said.

On the mound, it sounds like McCormack has finally decided that R. J. Alvarez will be better utilized coming out of the bullpen. One of the top college pitching prospects in the nation, Alvarez struggled with consistency as a starter but thrived out of the pen in the Cape Cod League.

He won't be the closer, though. Hugh Adams earned that role with his 10 saves last season. Think of Alvarez as a one or two inning set-up guy.

In one off-the-field note, every fall McCormack puts the Owls through a series of competitions – some physical like sprints and lifting, some more academically oriented – and the surprise winner this year's  Iron Owl award was pitcher Ahmed Garcia.

Why was this unexpected? Two years ago Garcia finished last in the competition, earning the less-than-flattering Cotton Owl award.

“He said, Before I leave here I'm going to win this thing,” McCormack recalls.

This past fall, Garica was in second place heading into the final competition, fall GPA. The Cuban-born Garcia, who earned his American citizenship last year, posted a 3.6 to become this year's Iron Owl. Congratulations to him.

We'll have more about baseball in the coming weeks. We now return you to your regularly scheduled basketball season and football recruiting stories, already in progress.

Today's Links...




 

A few that got away from FAU this weekend

We've spent the past few weeks telling FAU fans about the players who've visited and committed to FAU.

Let's go in a different direction for a moment.

I've had a few conversations with players whose decisions didn't go FAU's way.

Venice quarterback Grant Flessner talked his high school teammate, defensive lineman Forrest Lamp (photo, 76), into making FAU his final visit. Lamp said he enjoyed the campus, particularly the stadium, but it wasn't enough to change his mind.

Lamp said on Monday he planned to commit to Western Kentucky.

“I love their coaching staff,” Lamp said of the Hilltoppers. “Everything is brand new up there. It's one of the best facilities I've ever seen.”

FAU's offers to three players from eventual state champion Seffner-Armwood was big news. At least one of those players won't be coming to FAU. Defensive end Brandon Teeling visited Samford this weekend and committed to the Bulldogs.

Teeling told me on Monday he was closing his recruiting process and wasn't planning to make any more visits. Teeling's teammates, Allen Covington and Wade Edwards, are expecting to make their trips to Boca Raton this weekend – though they may be unofficial visits.

Homestead defensive end Pedro Sibiea, a Louisville commit, thought he was invited to visit FAU this past weekend by Rod Payne. FAU, though, never got back to him to finalize the plans and his schedule is full for the remaining January weekends, so it doesn't look like he'll be visiting Boca Raton.

Hey, FAU can't win them all.
 

So Grant, what did you do on your summer vacation?

Grant Flessner enjoyed what amounted to his de facto summer vacation – all three days of it.

Flessner (photo) graduated high school on Friday, a semester early.

Instead of taking that normal long post-graduation summer hanging around with high school friends, on Monday he made the trek to Boca Raton to start his college career.

“It's a big relief to finally get everything done,” said Flessner.

In order to graduate early, Flessner needed to take three on-line classes in addition to his regular high school course load.

The extra work allowed Flessner to enroll at FAU for the spring semester (he starts classes today), which, in turn, will allow him to participate in spring football. Being a quarterback, this extra practice is obviously going to help his chances of playing as a true freshman is what is sure to be the most interesting position battle.

Flessner is one of five new football players at FAU for the spring. Another quarterback, Colton Kane, arrived in Boca Raton last week. A member of FAU's 2011 signing class, Kane grayshirted, preserving a year of eligibilty.

Junior college transfer Stern Vile (OL) made the three-day drive from Eastern Arizona to Boca Raton last week. Center Mustafa Johnson flew to FAU from California. I'm told that safety Jeremy McKnight also made it safely to Boca Raton and attended Sunday's team meeting.

Welcome guys. Look forward to covering y'all.

Today's Links:

OwlAccess.com: Owl Access Pass holders were the first to know that JUCO linebacker Adarius Glanton committed to the Owls.
OwlAccess.com: FAU basketball picked up a much needed victory over ASU.
Sun-Sentinel: Alex Tucker leads FAU to victory.
 

Taylor to miss tonight's game at ASU

The already struggling FAU offense could be without its spark plug for a couple of games.

Starting point guard Ray Taylor (photo) will miss tonight's game at Arkansas St. with concussion-like symptoms. It is unknown when he'll be able to return to the court.

Taylor incurred the injury on Sunday during practice. A pre-season All-Sun Belt selection, Taylor is coming off his worst game as an Owl, turning the ball over 6 times and failing to score in Saturday's 40-38 loss.

He leads the Owls with 5.3 assists per game and is fourth on the team in scoring at 9.0 points per game.

FAU may also be without another member of the back court. Dennis Mavin injured a wrist during the Owls' loss at UALR and is questionable against Arkansas St.

The Owls will be trying to earn a split of its trip to Arkansas on Monday. FAU returns to Boca Raton on Tuesday to prepare for Saturday's tussle with Middle Tennessee at The Burrow. The Blue Raiders (17-2, 4-0) currently sport the best record in the Sun Belt.
 

Morris to play in East-West Shrine game

The good news for Alfred Morris is that he's been selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game.

The bad news for him and South Florida football fans is that the game will be played on Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg.

Morris had been scheduled to play in the Battle of Florida, held in FAU's stadium on that day.

“I kind of found myself in a crisis,” Morris said on Monday. “After talking and debating it, though, it was best to do the East-West Shrine.”

This will be the second consecutive year FAU played a player in the Shrine Game. Wide Receiver Lestar Jean, now with the Houston Texans, played there last season.

The college all-star game is  a showcase for some of the nation's best seniors.

Even though Morris won't be playing in Boca Raton, FAU fans will still be able to watch him. The Shrine Game will be televised on the NFL Network. It kicks off at 4 p.m.
 

Dinner at the stadium part of FAU recruiting visits

In years past, recruits spent much of the first night of their official visit weekend at FAU at Duffy's – often starting impromptu chicken wing eating contests and doing other things soon-to-be high school graduates are apt to try at neighborhood restaurants.

Now, FAU has a new venue - one the Owls can't wait to use.

On Friday, FAU coaches, recruits and their player hosts toured the stadium, watched a video about FAU football on the video board, then made their way to the Premier Club for dinner.

“Dinner was great,” said Delray Beach-Atlantic wide receiver Chad Ward.

As might be expected, the stadium was a big hit among the recruits.

“I loved the stadium,” Fort Lauderdale-Boyd Anderson wide receiver Bruce “JoJo” Natson said.

Natson was originally scheduled to visit next weekend but changed the date when his friend, Pompano-Ely defensive back AJ Burton, scheduled his visit for Jan. 6.

While all the players I talked with said they enjoyed their visit, the first major high school recruiting weekend didn't yield too many commitments – at least not immediate ones.

By our count, 15 players actually made the trip to Boca Raton. Four of those said they had already committed to the Owls prior to making the trip. Four others made the visit despite being committed to other schools.

Another, Fort Myers running back Dalvin Battle, said he is ready to commit, but FAU is still working on the offer.

Owl Access pass holders can click here to see the list of players who made their official visits to FAU this weekend. As a bonus, we've already posted our list of players who expect to make their visits next weekend. There's sure to be changes in the coming week, so check that list frequently.

Today's Links:


OwlAccess.com: Another commitment added to the list
OwlAccess.com: FAU basketball looking for offense
Sun-Sentinel: Owls looking for Arkansas split
Arkansas Democrat- Gazette: Arkansas St. falls to Northern Illinois

Allen will be retained as member of FAU coaching staff

This news isn't unexpected, but that won't make it any less appreciated by most FAU fans.

OwlAccess.com has learned that it's now official: Carl Pelini has retained coach Jared Allen (photo, coaching Graham Wilbert).

A member of the Owls' first football team and one of the most acclaimed players in FAU history, Allen has been a member of the FAU coaching staff since returning as a graduate assistant in 2009. The following season Howard Schnellenberger elevated Allen to wide receivers coach and  he spent 2011 as the quarterbacks coach.

Allen has been actively recruiting Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast for Pelini. He is also responsible for bringing in Texas defensive end Shalom Ogbonda, who could be considered the most impressive FAU commitment. Allen will be the only member of the previous nine-man coaching staff to stick with the new regime.

Yesterday we reported that Pelini had added Luke Meadows and Javon Dewitt to his staff, so Allen becomes the final piece of the on-field coaching staff puzzle. (As we reported on Friday, the strength coach position is currently in flux.)

We expect an official announcement in the coming days, but here is what we're hearing the coaching assignments will look like:

Head coach: Carl Pelini
Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: Brian Wright
Offensive line: Luke Meadows
Running backs: Kerry Dixon
Wide receivers: Jared Allen
Inside receivers/tight ends: Jeff Sims

Defensive coordinator: Marvin Sanders
Defensive line: Brett Diersen
Linebackers: Javon Dewitt
Defensive backs: Ross Watson

Today's Links:

OwlAccess.com: FAU pursuing touted JUCO QB
OwlAccess.com: Owls fall to UALR
OwlAccess.com: Pelini adds two FCS coordinators to staff
Sun-Sentinel: Pelini's staff has Nebraska connections
Arkansas360.com: Trojans stay unbeaten in Sun Belt
 

Two more FCS coaches to be part of Pelini's staff

It appears FAU football coach Carl Pelini settled on a couple more assistant coaches.

Sources are telling OwlAccess.com that South Dakota St. associate head coach Luke Meadows has been offered the offensive line coaching job and he is expected to accept it. Sources also say Northern Iowa defensive coordinator Jovan Dewitt will coach the linebackers.

Should both make it through FAU's human resources process, they are expected to be on campus by Tuesday.

Meadows (photo, surrounded by the Jackrabbits) recently finished in his 10th season with the Jackrabbits, serving as offensive coordinator and O-line coach for the past six years.

A graduate of South Dakota St., Meadows began his coaching career there as an undergraduate assistant before spending the 2001 season at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Meadows returned to SDSU a year later, and has been there ever since.

Meadows also spent a good part of his time at SDSU as the Jackrabbits recruiting coordinator.

The Jackrabbits went 5-6 in 2011, averaging 370.3 yards and 24.1 points per game. During that time SDSU surrendered 33 sacks. The Jackrabbits finished sixth in the nine-team Missouri Valley Conference.

After spending two seasons as the Panther's linebackers coach, Dewitt took over the Northern Iowa defense this season. The Panthers finished tied for No. 51 in total defense, allowing 352.5 yards per game.

Dewitt graduated from Northern Michigan in 1999, where he was a student assistant, and later became a graduate assistant, and, in 2004 became the defensive coordinator for two years.

He's also been the running backs coach at Fort Scott Community College (2002) and special teams coordinator at Fairmont St. (2003). From 2006-08 DeWitt served as the defensive coordinator for St. Norbert College.

Could a Jarvis be in the mix at Western Kentucky?

Could yesterday's firing of Western Kentucky basketball coach Ken McDonald have an impact on FAU basketball? Certainly.

FAU coach Mike Jarvis has been saying for a couple of years that his son, associate head coach Mike Jarvis II (Deuce), is ready to take the helm of a program.

I would be surprised if Jarvis doesn't at least give Western Kentucky Athletic Director Ross Bjork a call sometime this week to recommend Deuce, who was a finalist for the Boston University job a few months back.

Prior to the start of the season I was talking with Jarvis about the possibility that he could leave to head a program of his own.

“In all actuality he should be head coach at a good Division I school right now,” Jarvis said. “He's better than a lot of the guys that are coaching in Division I.”

Prior to the start of the season the basketball web site RecruitDirt.com ranked Deuce the second best assistant coach in the Sun Belt. The top assistant? Western Kentucky's Ray Harper, who has taken over the helm of the Hilltoppers. Will Bjork keep Harper if turns the Toppers around this season, or will he want to clean house no matter what happens? It's probably too early to tell.

In past seasons Jarvis has pointed to Western Kentucky as an example of a program that understands how to carry and market itself. He also has been treated well by the Hilltopper's large and energetic fan base.

Western Kentucky probably will be looking for a bigger name hire than Deuce. With Jarvis' current contract situation in flux, if he does call to recommend Deuce, would Bjork turn the tables around and  inquire about Jarvis' interest in being the Hilltoppers' coach?

I doubt Jarvis (and, perhaps more importantly, his wife) would want to leave Boca Raton for Bowling Green, but these are the kinds of questions that are likely to surface frequently as more coaching positions open and Jarvis' contract extension talks continue at a crawl.

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FAU strength coach Remington resigns, leaves void in FAU weight room

FAU football players are returning to campus and will be hitting the weight room, but as of right now, it's unclear who will train them.

Strength and conditioning coach Brian Remington, who worked with the football and basketball teams, has resigned his post, cleaning out his office on Thursday night. He is leaving FAU for an out-of-state job in the corporate world.

Remington's situation had been a bit uncertain since the hiring of football coach Carl Pelini on Dec. 5. New football coaches frequently bring in their own strength and conditioning coaches as part of the new regime.

The open position leaves a gaping hole in Pelini's staff at a critical time. The strength coach is perhaps the most important position in the off-season because he is the only assistant permitted to work with the players during much of the spring semester.

Remington took over as FAU football's strength coach following the 2010 season, and earned praise from players and coaches alike. Alfred Morris, for one, is quick to cite the changes introduced by Remington for his rushing resurgence in 2011.

In somewhat of an odd move a year ago, Rod Payne, football's previous strength coach, remained the co-head strength and conditioning coach, but did not work with football or basketball. Sources said Payne is not  being considered as a replacement for Remington.

It is possible that FAU could choose to out-source its off-season strength and conditioning program – at least for a little while. OwlAccess.com is being told that the Owls are considering having Athletes Edge coach the football players until Pelini names a permanent strength coach for football.

Athletes Edge is a personal training outfit that utilizes FAU's facilities. Several former FAU football players, including Michael Lockley, have chosen to train with Atheltes Edge following their FAU career in preparation for pre-draft workouts.

At least for the time being, assistant strength coach Carson Randall is expected to work with other sports, including basketball. Randall, a former United States Marine, is a 2010 graduate of FAU.

Another assistant added to FAU football coaching staff

What’s making news on Friday…

The Florida Atlantic coaching staff is still growing with the addition of another coach

Multiple sources have told Owl Access that Indiana defensive ends coach Brett Diersen will join Carl Pelini’s staff at FAU.

Diersen resigned his post at Indiana earlier this week after being with the Hoosiers for a season.

Prior to coming to Indiana, Diersen was the defensive line and special teams intern at Nebraska from 2008-10.

Diersen also was the defensive line coach at Minnesota State in 2007 and was the defensive coordinator, defensive line and defensive backs coach at Division III Wisconsin-Stout from 2001-03.

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Herman Edwards tells FAU to play to win the game

 

FAU didn't look like it was trying to do anything fancy in its workman-like 58-30 victory vs. Louisiana-Monroe at The Burrow on Thursday.

It looked like the gameplan was simple: You play to win the game.

Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence the Owls had a visitor who made those words famous drop by campus this week.

That's right, none other than former Jets coach Herman Edwards stopped by to talk to the team, Owls coach Mike Jarvis said.

And he wasn't the only one who paid a visit. Jarvis also said TNT analyst Charles Barkley also swung by this week.

“My old friend Herman Edwards came back this week and visited us and had sent his video “You Play the Game to Win” and even Charles Barkley visited us this week, with his “Defense” YouTube video,” Jarvis said. “And those are the messages - You play the game to win and in order to do that you have to play defense. It's not about stats. It's about doing the right thing. It's about getting on the floor and all those things.”

Not sure if it was FAU's defense - inspired by Edwards and Barkley - or that ULM is just a bad basketball team, but the Owls held the Warhawks to 30 points, topping the old school record of 32 Palm Beach Atlantic had on Nov. 23, 1991.

 

 

Malzhan could be bringing Auburn star to Jonesboro

Making news on Thursday…

Nothing has been confirmed at this point, so the trophy engraver down the street from the Sun Belt Conference office in New Orleans doesn’t have to get busy just yet. But, there are some reports that Auburn running back Michael Dyer will transfer to Arkansas State, where Gus Malzhan, his offensive coordinator at Auburn, was named the head coach less than a month ago.

That’s Dyer – as in the sophomore all-SEC running back who rushed for 1,242 yards this season for the Tigers.

If it were to happen, it would immediately shift the balance of power of the Sun Belt Conference to Jonesboro, Ark. There is even some speculation Dyer would ask to play THIS season due to be closer to an ill family member. If not, he would sit out due to transfer rules and play as a junior in 2013.

In Red Wolves news that has been confirmed, ASU pulled off pretty a big coup by hiring Keith Patterson, the interim coach at Pitt, as his new defensive coordinator.

It sure seems like there is a lot of buzz coming out of Jonbesboro, doesn't there?

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Live owl to swoop to center court before Thursday's tip-off

Two additional practices were held between Wednesday's men's and women's basketball practices at FAU.

Following the men's workout, the Louisiana-Monroe women came in for their shoot around.

Then it was time for some practice flights. Hera, the Eurasian Eagle Owl which took in FAU football games from the sidelines this season, will enjoy her first basketball game on Thursday.

She was never able to fly around FAU's stadium, but she will attempt to fly from the suites to center court prior to tip-off on Thursday.

Above is the video from some of Wednesday's test flights. In case you're wondering, Hera gets to eat steak from that cup after a successful flight – so, yes, the Owl eats better than you.

No word as to whether Hera will be able to swat away a few jump shots if the game is tight in the closing minutes...

FAU women's basketball off to 2-0 start in Sun Belt

The biggest game of the week between FAU and Louisiana-Monroe at The Burrow isn't on Thursday.

It takes place tonight when the FAU women's basketball team plays host to the Warhawks with both teams sporting 2-0 Sun Belt Conference records and tied at the top of their respective divisions.

Affter starting off 3-5 with losses to Michigan, Kansas and Saint Louis, the Owls have won four out of their last five games and are 7-6 overall. 

“The girls really took ownership and we've worked hard since March to be in the position we are in,” said FAU coach Chancellor Dugan. “We know it's early, but we'd rather be in the position that we are in right now.” 

The Owls season didn't get off to a good start when the team's best player, Brena Turner went down with a knee injury which will likely keep her out for the season. 

However, the team has overcome the adversity and discovered other players on the team can carry the load. 

“That brought us together and kind of made us more focussed,” said senior guard Teri Stamps. “Breana was a big part of the team, so we knew we had to step it up." 

Even if it is early in the Sun Belt season, Dugan thinks the team is on the right track. 

“I'm happy with the progress we've made,” Dugan said “They come in each day with smiles on their faces and ready to work.”

For tickets to tonight's game, contact 1-866-FAU-OWLS.

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Montana State’s RB coach Kerry Dixon coming to FAU, sources say

It appears new Florida Atlantic offensive coordinator Brian Wright is bringing more than his belongings from Montana State.

Sources said Tuesday that Bobcats running backs coach Kerry Dixon will be coming with Wright and join new FAU coach Carl Pelini’s coaching staff.

Before arriving at Montana State in 2010 Dixon was the offensive coordinator at Division II Stillman. Dixon also coached quarterbacks at Texas Southern in 2007 and Morgan State in 2008.

Dixon played quarterback for Baylor before transferring to Hampton.

Montana State had the No. 16 rushing offense in the Football Championship Subdivision with 212.2 yards rushing yards per game. Bobcats running back Cody Kirk finished No. 20 in the FCS with 103.9 yards per game.

In 2010, Montana State was No. 33 in the FCS with 175.7 yards per game.

 

A rundown on how former Owls fared in the NFL this season

What’s news on Tuesday…

The NFL regular season came to a close on Sunday and with it the seasons for the Owls who are playing in it.

This would be a good time to take a look at how each player fared – and it won’t take long.

Tight end Rob Housler contributed the most to his NFL teams of the three former NFL players who were on active rosters this season.

Housler finished the season with 12 catches for 133 yards for Arizona and split most of the time with veteran Todd Heap.

Quarterback Rusty Smith did not get in a game for the Titans and most weeks was listed as “inactive” on game days behind Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. When the Titans played the Colts in Week 15, Smith was listed as active due to injures to Hasselbeck and Locker.

The Titans and Cardinals failed to make the playoffs.

Linebacker Michael Lockley was placed on the Jaguars active roster in mid-season and played in seven games mostly on special teams, but was waived by Jacksonville before the team’s final game.

Wide receiver Lestar Jean was placed on injured reserve by Houston before the season started.

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A way to celebrate New Year's Day again

New Year's Day falls on Jan. 2 this year, so to speak, so it's time to fire up the grill and take in a full day of college football and hoping that any high school players out there will do the right thing and hold off on their commitments until tomorrow.

Today's all about the games.

Owl fans probably will have the most interest in the Outback Bowl featuring Michigan State, a team FAU is very familiar with, and Georgia, one of next year's opponents.

BCS spokesperson Bill Hancock is fond of saying every game counts and in the Owl Access Bowl Contest that's certainly true as TeamBeer is in front for the race to get a VIP Package for four to the Battle of Florida.

Today is certainly a great day to be a college football fan, but don't forget about how great a playoff system would be, If you don't believe me, just pick up the updated 2011 version of Death to the BCS by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan. The book forcefully lays out a plan for a playoff that would work and be fair. And Chapter 4 features none other than FAU AD Craig Angelos and the financial arrangements for the Owls going to the 2008 Motor City Bowl. Very interesting reading!

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2011 ends with a whimper for Owl fans

What's news on New Year's Day...

2012 begins today with more questions than answers for Owl Nation.

 FAU fans not only will be waiting patiently to find out how good a head football coach Carl Pelini will turn out to be, but now also have to be concerned about its hoops team.

The Owls were tabbed as the pre-season favorite to make it to the Big Dance, but are in a bad place right now. Mired in a five-game losing streak, FAU had better find a way to stop the bleeding – and quick – as Sun Belt play is under way.

This is not something Owl fans though they would be concerned with this season.

But, if there is a way, Owls coach Mike Jarvis, will find it as different lineup combinations and strategies could be on the way.

Sounds like it won’t be dull at 777 Glades Road to start 2012.

Happy New Year from all of us at OwlAccess

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Go watch college football in Boca. It's that simple. Support your local team and go have a good time!

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