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Posts from April 2012

Former FAU TE Williams drawing interest from NFL teams

Former FAU wide receiver Lestar Jean may be about to get a phone call.

Jean's Houston Texans are one of two NFL teams considering signing Darian Williams, the former FAU tight end said on Monday.

In the next couple weeks Williams expects to work out for the Texans and the Oakland Raiders in hopes of signing a free agent deal.

“I'm excited for (the workout),” Williams said. “I feel like I could do a lot to help up there.”

Jean signed a free agent deal with the Texans after going undrafted last year. A shoulder injury during preseason camp prompted the Texans to place Jean on injured reserve. Jean said he approached the 2011 season as though it was his redshirt year. In January Jean said he expected to be ready to go for the upcoming season.

Williams (photo) believes he caught the attention of Raiders scout Zach Crockett during FAU's Pro Day workouts, saying Crockett noted Williams' 23 repetitions on the 225 pound bench press.

At least two other former Owls still hope to sign free agent deals.

Punter Mickey Groody saw the handful of teams interested in his services sign other punters to free agent deals. Groody believes he could still sign with a team in the next week or two before rookie camps begin.

“It's not over yet,” Groody said. “I have to wait out the rest of the week and see how it goes.”

On the defensive side of the ball, a tweet by Marcus Bartels' father Jack indicated Philadelphia may be interested in the former FAU safety.

Williams, Groody and Bartels are looking to become the second former Owl to sign a free agent deal this year. Defensive end Kevin Cyrille agreed to a deal with Minnesota on Satruday in the moments that followed the draft.

Of course, on that same day running back Alfred Morris became the third player in the history of the program to drafted. Washington took him with the third pick of the sixth round.

We'll keep FAU fans posted on any new free agent developments.

Owl Access Links

FAU Football: Owls coaches gave Alfred Morris chance to run the ball in college

Other links...












 

 

Reports say Kore White will transfer to USF

Forward Kore White, who left the FAU men’s basketball team in March, will transfer to USF, according to The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Bay Times.

The Bulls will be the third team White will play for in his college career. White transferred to FAU from Marshall.

The 6-foot-8 White averaged 8.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in his FAU career but never was a consistent threat for the Owls, which drew the ire of FAU coach Mike Jarvis.

White will graduate from FAU this spring and will be eligible to play this season for the Bulls.
 

FAU wants fans to vote to get an ESPN GameDay commercial

We’ve had a little activity on a recent ESPN GameDay promotion on Twitter, and FAU just put out a press release on this, so it might be worth mentioning again.

Basically, a school may have an ESPN GameDay commercial filmed on its campus if it can get its fans to stuff the ballot box. Could FAU actually win. Well, in Palm Beach County we know how to get votes counted multiple time so I'd say it's possible.

Have at it Owl Nation…


FAU Fans Have ESPN GameDay Spot Opportunity

Voting Campaign for Commercial Spot Underway

 

BOCA RATON, FL (April 30, 2012) – Florida Atlantic University fans have an opportunity to bring ESPN’s GameDay to the Boca Raton campus. For the first time, ESPN will film a College GameDay commercial on the site of a selected campus, based on fan votes. The social media promotion will be open for voting beginning Tuesday, May 1.

            Fans can vote once per day for their university at GameDayVote.com via computers or smartphones or using the Facebook app at facebook.com/collegegameday. Fans can keep track of the leading schools throughout the promotion and share the contest with friends on various social platforms to drive votes for their university.

            This first-of-its-kind spot will be filmed this summer on the selected campus with student participation, and will air in the fall to promote the 2012 season of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot. The contest highlights College GameDay’s unique on-campus presence while building on the successful social vote last season which asked fans to choose a mascot for the ESPN College GameDay Dry Cleaners spot.

            Now in its 26th year, College GameDay Built by The Home Depot airs Saturdays at 9 a.m. EST on ESPNU and at 10 a.m. EST on ESPN.

 

College GameDay Contest -- Social Media:

Internet: GameDayVote.com

Mobile: m.GameDayVote.com

Facebook: Facebook.com/collegegameday

Twitter: @CollegeGameDay and #GameDayVote

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: Owls shut-out at Troy, lose Sun Belt series

Other Links...

Sun Belt Baseball Scoreboard

 

      Sun Belt     Overall 
Team     Pct     Pct     Last 10  Streak 
Florida Atlantic     14  .737     26  17  .605     4-6  L 2 
Arkansas State     12  .632     23  19  .548     5-5  L 1 
South Alabama     12  .571     18  26  .409     6-4  W 1 
FIU     11  10  .524     25  18  .581     5-5  L 1 
Middle Tennessee     11  10  .524     25  21  .543     4-6  W 1 
UALR     12  .429     22  21  .512     6-4  W 1 
Louisiana-Monroe     12  .429     21  23  .477     5-5  W 1 
Western Kentucky     12  .429     18  26  .409     4-6  L 1 
Louisiana-Lafayette     13  .381     20  23  .465     5-5  L 1 
Troy     13  .381     20  24  .455     5-5  W 2 


Sunday's Results
Troy 9, Florida Atlantic 0
Louisiana-Monroe 7, Western Kentucky 6
South Alabama 8, FIU 2
UALR 9, Louisiana-Lafayette 8
Middle Tennessee 5, Arkansas State 3
 

How to celebrate? For Morris, it's bowling

Hey, Alfred Morris. You were just selected by the Washington Redskins in the NFL Draft.

How are you going to celebrate?

“I'm going bowling with my friends,” Morris said Saturday evening. “Regardless of what happened we were going bowling.”

Redskins fans, rejoice. This is the kind of guy you're getting. He's down to earth and seemingly always in a good mood. He's good natured and always smiling. Everybody likes Fred – until it's time to tackle him.

Never short on youthful exuberance (he was the last of the adults taking part in the snowball fight with kids when the Owls brought in a truckload of snow as part of a basketball game promotion two seasons ago), Morris was almost giddy after learning he was a Redskin. The laid back running back talked so fast you'd have thought he already landed a sponsorship with Red Bull.

Morris would have been happy to play anywhere for anyone, but he's been a Redskins fan ever since they traded for Clinton Portis in 2004.

“It worked out kind of crazy,” he said. “This definitely makes it even better that this is one of my (favorite teams).”

FAU fans have to feel good for Morris. He literally (yes, literally) carried the Owls' offense last year. His four touchdown performance against UAB in the Owls' lone victory last season won't soon be forgotten by anyone who saw it – which regrettably was only about a couple hundred people.

I located a couple old videos we produced during Morris' breakthrough sophomore season. The top one features Howard Schnellenberger comparing Morris to Larry Csonka. The bottom one appeared as part of The Howard Schnellenberger Show in 2009 and features former Redskins offensive backfield coach Fred O'Connor comparing Morris to John Riggins.

Avoid the rush and get to know him now, Washington fans. He should fit perfectly into Mike Shanahan's running schemes.

You'll soon understand what FAU fans have known for years: Alfred Morris is worth your emotional investment.

Owl Access Links

FAU Football: Morris drafted by Redskins

FAU Football: Cyrille agrees to terms with Vikings

FAU Baseball: Owls fall to Troy

Other links 

Sun Belt Baseball Scoreboard

Saturday's results
Troy 6, FAU 4
Arkansas State 8, MTSU 5
FIU 6, South Alabama 4
Louisiana-Lafayette 7, UALR 6
Western Kentucky 7, ULM 6 (11 innings)

Sunday's games
FIU at South Alabama, 12:30 p.m.
FAU at Troy, 2 p.m.
Arkansas State at MTSU, 2 p.m.
Louisiana-Lafayette at UALR, 2 p.m.
Louisiana-Monroe at Western Kentucky, 2 p.m.

FAU defensive end Kevin Cyrille agrees to terms with Minnesota Vikings

Kevin Cyrille didn't have to wait long once the NFL Draft concluded to learn that he would in fact be playing professional football.

Approximately 30 minutes after the NFL announced Mr. Irrelevant, Cyrille and his agent agreed to a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings. He expects to sign the paperwork to make it official in the coming days.

“I tried to contain myself,” Cyrille said of his reaction to learning the news. “I didn't try to get too happy. This is still the first step to the process. I know I've got some work to do. I've got to get on it right now.”

Cyrille recorded 36 tackles last season for the Owls. His 8 ½ tackles-for-loss tied for second best on the team and his 4 ½ sacks placed him alone in second for FAU.

Following his senior season, Cyrille was selected to play in the first Battle of Florida collegiate all-star game.

A defensive end during his tenure at FAU, Cyrille said the Vikings intend to move his 6-foot-2, 279-pound frame to the interior of the defensive line.

“I'll do the adjustment, I don't really care,” Cyrille said. “It's just a dream I wanted to live since I was a young child. I don't really mind.”

Cyrille said his agent fielded multiple offers but chose the Vikings because of their need for defensive linemen.

Here is our draft profile for Kevin Cyrille, complete with a video we produced documenting his evening at the Battle of Florida.

Breaking News: Morris selected by Redskins in sixth round

Alfred Morris didn't get any carries after becoming a late addition to the 2012 Senior Bowl roster, but he obviously did enough to impress.

Morris (photo) became the third FAU player drafted into the NFL on Saturday when Washington selected the former FAU running back with the third pick of the sixth round (No. 173 overall).

The Senior Bowl connection? Morris' coach in that game was none other than Mike Shanahan, the Redskins Executive Vice President and Head Coach.

The Redskins could be one of the best possible destinations for Morris, whose skills seem superbly suited to the kind of running attack that Shanahan used to make late round draft choices Terrell Davis (also a sixth rounder), Orlandis Gary (4th round) and Mike Anderson (6th round) fantasy studs.

The Redskins' running backs unit was beset by injuries last season. Former Nebraska running back Roy Helu led the team with 640 yards. Tim Hightower rushed for 321 yards before suffering a season-ending injury. Ryan Torain and Evan Rosyter also rushed for more than 200 yards apiece.

Washington, of course, traded up to take Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin with the second pick of the draft. Morris is the first running back selected this year by the Redskins, who still have three picks remaining.

Congratulations to Morris, FAU's all-time leading rusher. For those unfamiliar with Morris' accomplishments, here is our draft profile page which contains a video feature on him that ran on The Howard Schnellenberger Show early in the 2011 season.

Expect Morris to learn where he'll play today

Today will be unforgettable for Alfred Morris.

Unless something completely unexpected happens, the Florida Atlantic running back will learn today where he will be playing professional football.

The NFL holds the final four rounds of its draft today. I expect Morris' name will be called (did New England trade for a fifth round pick to select Morris?), but even if he isn't selected he will certainly agree to a free agent deal in the hours that follow the draft.

Earlier in the week Morris (photo by Ralph Notaro of Owl Pix) told me he's going to hunker down at his Pensacola home with his family. Round four begins at noon, and the final four rounds will take up most of the afternoon. Don't worry if you don't have time to watch it all. We'll keep you up-to-date on all things FAU related via OwlAccess.com and Twitter.

By the end of that seventh round, FAU may actually have two players drafted. Morris should be the first Owl off the board. Once Morris' name is called, we'll be watching to see whether defensive end Kevin Cyrille slides into the late rounds.

While waiting for the draft to start, why not spend a little time looking back on Morris' career. Here is the draft profile page featuring Alfred Morris that we produced, complete with a video feature that originally aired as part of the Howard Schnellenberger Show this past season.

Incidentally, even if Morris is selected with the first pick of the fourth round he will only be the fourth Sun Belt player selected this year. Arkansas St. running back Demario Davis went to the Jets with the 14th pick of the third round. Eight picks later ULL corner Dwight Bentley went to Detroit. FIU's T.Y. Hilton became a Colt near the end of the third round.

It's likely Friday was also a satisfying night for FAU coach Carl Pelini and assistant Jeff Sims. Tampa Bay selected Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David with the 26th pick of the second round. Before playing for Pelini as a Cornhusker, David played for Sims at Fort Scott Community College.

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: Owls take first game of series from Trojans

Other links.


Sun Belt Baseball Scoreboard

Friday's Games
FAU 7, Troy 3 (Recap from Owl Access)
Arkansas State 8, MTSU 5 (Recap from Murfreesboro Daily News Journal)
South Alabama 9, FIU 7 (Recap from Mobile Press-Register)
UALR 7, ULL 2 (Recap from UALRTrojans.com)
ULM 14, Western Kentucky 6 (Recap from Bowling Green Daily News)

Saturday's Schedule
ULM at Western Kentucky, 1 p.m.
ULL at UALR, 5 p.m.
Arkansas State at MTSU, 5 p.m.
FAU at Troy, 7 p.m.
FIU at South Alabama, 7:30 p.m.
 

First Touchdown Thursday event of Pelini era a success for FAU

The Carl Pelini Summer Tour began in earnest last night with the first Touchdown Thursday. Approximately 75 fans, incuding some Owl Access members, made their way to Duffy's in Delray Beach for some food, drinks and to meet the coach.

Pelini spent more than an hour moving from table to table talking FAU football with fans. He also briefly addressed the crowd as a whole, talking about the future of the Owls.

Interim AD Melissa Dawson was also in attendance – she introduced Pelini to the crowd.

Along with meeting the coach, the FAU fans in attendance were treated to an appetizer table, and many enjoyed some pretty big beers.

Here is our photo gallery from the event.

Thursday was the first of four Touchdown Thursdays. Next week Pelini will be at Tarpon Bend in Fort Lauderdale. Stops at the Palm Beach Ale House in West Palm and Duffy's in Coconut Creek will follow.

If they are anything like yesterday's event, they are worth attending.

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: Owls face Troy in weekend series
 

Other Links...

FAU President Saunders pleased with progress of women's basketball coach and AD searches

Over the past couple days our message board has been alive with talk about the FAU women's basketball coaching search.

We've heard from many new voices sharing varied opinions about the program and the athletic department in general.

Figured those who've been part of the discussions and those who've simply been following along might like to hear from one more interested party.

As can be imagined, FAU President Mary Jane Saunders has also been paying attention to the progress of the coaching search.

“I'm hopeful we'll get someone good in there,” Saunders said while taking in an FAU baseball game. “I love women's basketball. I'm hopeful we'll get a good coach. It's a great opportunity for someone.”

Interim Athletic Director Melissa Dawson has been handling the search. Sources have told OwlAccess.com that over the past couple days LIU head coach Gail Striegler and Miami assistant Darrick Gibbs have been on campus to interview.

Some on our boards have criticized Saunders for allowing an interim appointment to make such a hire.

“Life goes on – that's what people forget,” Saunders said. “I've been an interim provost and interim dean. You have have to continue to do your business. In this business, there are big decisions every day of the week.”

In the month or so since Dawson has stepped into the AD role, she's achieved a contract agreement with basketball coach Mike Jarvis and reached agreement with the University of Miami on a football series.

“I think she's doing a very good job,” Saunders said.

Dawson says she is not a candidate to become FAU's full-time AD, nor is she on the advisory committee to help identify Craig Angelos' replacement.

Has Dawson experienced success because she isn't distracted by the AD search?

“Whether or not they are going for the job, you want them to be doing the job like they would do the job,” Saunders said. “We're not asking someone to be a place holder. You can't do that. You get an offer to play a good team like Miami, you've got to capitalize on that.”

And what about that search for the new AD? How's it going?

“I think very, very well,” Saunders said. “A lot, a lot of interest. A lot of really talented candidates. People calling from other schools, people calling from other leagues. I think we are doing very well.”

Though a new AD could be in place by the end of May, Saunders indicated that June might be a more realistic time frame.

As expected, she didn't offer any names, but provide one interesting tidbit.

A couple of her statements prompted me to ask her whether it was likely the new AD would come from outside the Boca Raton area.

“Yeah, probably,” she responded.

Owl Access Links

FAU Football: We tracked down a few of the FAU seniors who have a chance to play at the next level for their thoughts on the NFL Draft.

FAU Football: Meet FAU coach Carl Pelini at Touchdown Thursdays


Other links


 

Meet FAU coach Carl Pelini at Touchdown Thursdays

With spring football in the books, everyone wants to know what FAU coach Carl Pelini thought about it, right?

Well, just ask him.

We told you about these events a few weeks ago, but just in case you didn’t save the dates, here’s a reminder because the first Touchdown Thursday is in fact this Thursday (the best day of the week to hold an event called Touchdown Thursdays.)

Sounds like a great event and hopefully there will be plenty of Owl fans at Duffy's in Delray Beach to show Pelini support at his first major public appearance. The event is sponsored by the FAU National Alumni Association.

FAU at Navy to be televised on CBS Sports Network

I’ve heard that Navy football games in Annapolis present one of the best and most unique game day atmospheres in the nation and I hope that many FAU fans will make the trip.

If Owls fans can’t make it, however, there is good news.

FAU’s game at Navy on Nov. 3 will be televised on CBS Sports Network with the kickoff time set for 3:30 p.m. the Navy athletics deparment has announced.

Mark your calendars.

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: FAU falls to Miami for third time this season

Other links

UM overbooked for 2015 football season with five nonconference games (Sun-Sentinel)
FIU fallout: Forward Dominique Ferguson entering NBA draft after transfer requests denied (Associated Press)
UL's Bentley not concerned about what round he's taken (Lafayette Daily Advertiser)
Marquette assistant Tony Benford named new UNT basketball coach (Denton Record-Chronicle)
 
 

Saunders, Shalala wanted FAU vs. Miami football series to happen

A few weeks ago FAU President Mary Jane Saunders saw that Donna Shalala was calling and assumed the University of Miami president's call had something to do with United States President Barack Obama's impending visit.

Upon answering the call, Saunders learned Shalala had something far more important on her mind.

“Instead she said, 'We'd love to do a series with you guys. This is what we have on the table. What do you think about it?' Saunders recalled. “I said, 'I'm excited about it. Let me make a few calls.'”

Saunders immediately contacted interim FAU interim Athletic Director Melissa Dawson and football coach Carl Pelini to see if a deal could be reached.

Less than two weeks later, that deal was done. Dawson, Pelini and FAU Senior Vice President for Financial Affairs Dennis Crudele helped put together a three-game deal with the Hurricanes that includes an FAU home game in 2015 and two $500,000 paydays for away games in 2013 and 2016.

OwlAccess.com first reported the agreement on Saturday and even after waiting through a couple of rain delays at Sunday's FAU baseball game, Saunders was still beaming.

“I think what we ended up with is perfect for us,” Saunders said. “I'm very, very excited about having a game here because, of course, we get all that revenue. ...Our fan base will be down there and their fan base will come up here. I think it will be exciting.”

A frequent traveler with the team to away games, Saunders said she sees no downside to playing Miami, and points to the ability to take a quick bus ride to the game as one of the biggest up sides.

“I know how tough those away games are where you finish up and get on the plane and get back at 3 or 4 in the morning,” Saunders said. “They are 18 and they bounce back. I'm not 18.”

Saunders was also quick to praise the people who made the deal happen.

“I give a ton of credit to Melissa and to coach Pelini," Saunders said. 'They got together. They went to Dennis Crudele, they looked at the (stadium financing needs). They decided it would work and they signed the deal.”

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: FAU-Miami preview

Other Links

FAU-Miami preview (Sun-Sentinel)
FAU's next opponent, Troy, hosts Auburn on Tuesday (Dothan Eagle)
New Orleans Bowl to be played in afternoon for first time (NewOrleansBowl.org)

Sun Belt Conference Baseball Standings

 

      Sun Belt     Overall 
Team     Pct     Pct     Last 10  Streak 
Florida Atlantic     13  .812     25  14  .641     6-4  W 1 
Arkansas State     10  .625     21  18  .538     4-6  L 2 
FIU     10  .556     24  16  .600     7-3  L 2 
Middle Tennessee     10  .556     23  18  .561     4-6  L 1 
South Alabama     10  .556     16  24  .400     5-5  W 1 
Western Kentucky     10  .444     17  23  .425     4-6  W 2 
UALR     11  .389     20  19  .513     4-6  W 2 
Louisiana-Monroe     11  .389     19  21  .475     4-6  W 1 
Louisiana-Lafayette     11  .389     18  21  .462     5-5  L 1 
Troy     12  .333     17  22  .436     4-6  L 2 

 



 

 

 


 

Could UM fans have to buy FAU season tickets to see Canes-Owls in 2015?

There was some pretty big news over the weekend as Owl Access’ Chuck King broke the story Saturday morning that FAU and Miami had agreed to play three games with one of the games at FAU Stadium.

Then the news got even better as we also reported that FAU would get paid $500,000 in each of the two games vs. Miami at Sun Life Stadium.

Now I’m hearing that FAU is considering severely limiting tickets to its home game vs. the Hurricanes in 2015 as part of season-ticket package and may not sell single game tickets for Miami to the general public.

Of course, FAU’s new athletic director, whenever he (or she) is hired will make the call, but it sounds like a good idea.

When schools stick it to their opponent’s fans by limiting single-game tickets as a way to get them to buy season tickets (like FIU did when it played host to Central Florida last season) it often is seen as a shady way of bringing in more ticket revenue.

However, for FAU it may make sense as the school could save face by using it as an attempt to market its program to UM fans, who may come back for games when the Hurricanes are off or on the road.

For instance if a Hurricane fan who lives in Fort Lauderdale has to buy an FAU season ticket to see his Canes play at FAU Stadium, he could come back on a Saturday when Miami plays on a Thursday and enjoy some college football (at an on-campus venue, no less.)

If UM fans don’t want to come back to FAU, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to sell or give away tickets to FAU alumni in their neighborhood or at work.

If FAU goes this route it would all but guarantee a season sell-out making this series the most successful business decision made by FAU in some time with very little down-side.

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: Complete coverage of Owls' 6-2 victory Sunday over Arkansas State.

Other links
FAU comes in at No. 116 (Pre-Snap Read)
North Texas close to hiring new men’s coach (Denton Record-Chronicle)

Sun Belt Conference Baseball Scoreboard

Sunday's Results
Florida Atlantic 6, Arkansas State 2 
Western Kentucky 6, Troy 5 (Recap via The Herald)
South Alabama 5, Louisiana-Lafayette 3 (Recap via Mobile Press-Register)   
Louisiana-Monroe 13, Middle Tennessee 7  (Recap via Monroe News-Star)
UALR 6, FIU 4 (Recap via UALRTrojans.com

 

 


 

FAU to receive $1 million total for the two road games against Miami

Howard Schnellenberger says he had a simple reaction when he heard that FAU and Miami had finally agreed to play each other in football.

“Hallelujah!” was the first thing the coach said popped into his mind.

Schnellenberger, of course, was responsible for building the Hurricanes into what would become the dominant football program of the 80s and 90s.

He is also the founder of FAU's program and now serves as an ambassador for FAU.

FAU fans should also rejoice. This is an amazing deal for the Owls. A source has told OwlAccess.com that interim AD Melissa Dawson not only negotiated a game with the Hurricanes in Boca Raton in 2015, but FAU will also receive a $500,000 guarantee for each of the two road games.

That's not quite the million or so dollars that FAU has been asking for from other BCS schools, but FAU will save a boatload of money because the travel costs are so minimal. Remember, Dolphins Stadium was the home of the Owls years before it became the home of the Hurricanes.

While the money is great, the exposure is even better for the Owls. I suspect there will be plenty of casual Miami fans from the surrounding area who will be seeing FAU stadium for the first time. If they like what they see from the stadium and the campus, and they enjoy the atmosphere – and there is ample reason to believe that's possible - they might decide that a college football in Palm Beach County is a great way to spend a Saturday.

“I think it's wonderful and I'm ecstatic that they came to an agreement,” Schnellenberger said. “It's going to mean a great deal to both schools. And more importantly it's going to have a major impact on collegiate football here in the south-central portion of Florida.”

Schnellenberger had tried to set up an FAU-Miami game since he came to Boca Raton. He said Miami wasn't interested.

Though I'm sure he would have liked to roam the sidelines one last time against the team he led to prominence, he won't say it.

“That's bygone times. I'm looking at it for the present and the future,” he said.

Whether he's on the sideline or in a suite, I'm sure plenty will be done to honor Schnellenberger.

Incidentally, Schnellenberger isn't surprised that Miami agreed to play a game on FAU's campus.

“We've come a long way,” Schnellenberger said. “We've got a stadium. They don't.”

MIAMI, FAU AGREE TO THREE FOOTBALL GAMES INCLUDING ONE IN BOCA RATON

Florida Atlantic will finally get its shot at the University of Miami on the football field.

FAU and Miami have agreed to a three-game deal that will include the Hurricanes making a trip to Boca Raton in 2015 for a game at FAU Stadium, a source has told OwlAccess.com.

The series will begin in 2013 with a game at Sun Life Stadium and conclude with a second Miami home game in 2016.

The deal could be announced as early as today.

Separated by a little more than 50 miles, FAU and Miami have never met on the football field despite the fact that FAU program founder Howard Schnellenberger led Miami to its first NCAA title. Schnellenberger retired as FAU's coach following the 2011 season but remains an ambassador for the university.

The schools have met regularly in other sports, most frequently on the baseball diamond. They've also  faced each other on the basketball court in each of the past four seasons – though the last three times came in tournaments.

The Hurricanes will be the first school from a BCS conference scheduled to play the Owls in their new on-campus stadium, which opened in 2011.

Miami would become only the second ACC team the Owls have ever faced. FAU opened the 2006 season at Clemson.

The Hurricanes are accustomed to having in-state teams on their schedule. Miami played a series with Florida International which ended in 2007, the most infamous game contained a bench clearing brawl in 2006. The Hurricanes have also played at Central Florida and South Florida in recent years.

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: Owls-Red Wolves opener posponed until Saturday

Other Links

North Texas ready for spring game (Denton Record-Chronicle)

Terry Bowden raising money at Akron (Grantland)

Sun Belt Conference Baseball Scoreboard

Friday's scores
Arkansas State at FAU, Postponed
Troy 13, Western Kentucky 3 (Recap via Bowling Green Daily News)
FIU 10, UALR 5 (Recap via Miami Herald)
South Alabama 7, Louisiana-Lafayette 5 (Recap via Mobile Press-Register)
MTSU at ULM, Postponed

Saturday's schedule
Arkansas State at FAU (DH), 11 a.m.
UALR at FIU, 11 a.m.
MTSU at ULM (DH), 3 p.m.
Troy at WKU, 5 p.m.
ULL at South Alabama, 7:30 p.m.
 

 

 

Wet weather could impact big baseball series vs. Arkansas State this weekend

It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the Sun Belt Conference this weekend so what could possibly go wrong when FAU plays host to Arkansas State at FAU Stadium?

Before you answer, have you seen the weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday? If not, take a look.

I’m certain FAU will be monitoring the situation closely, but the guess here is there could be some rain delays or some changes to the schedule. In the past the threat of weather has been enough to move the Sunday game and make Saturday a doubleheader.

As you know, Owl Access is well-versed in rain delays and we will have any updates on our site, so it might be a good idea to check with us before heading to the ballpark this weekend.
 

Links from Owl Access

FAU Baseball: Owls-Red Wolves Preview

Other Links..

  • FAU hosts Arkansas State in battle of Sun Belt's top teams (Sun-Sentinel)
  • Once a coach, always a coach: Why does 71-year-old Larry Brown want back in? Howard Schnellenberger knows (ESPN.com)
  • Omari Grier visiting Bradley (Peoria Journal Star)
  • FAU seeks to put its brand on display (Sun-Sentinel)
  • Budget woes at Florida Atlantic University could consolidate campuses (TCPalm.com)
  • Kermit Davis candidate for Southern Miss job (Murfreesboro Daily News Journal)
  • Cajuns hope to keep bats going (Lafayette Daily Advertiser)
Maryland assistant Langley would be good fit for FAU women's basketball

As you may or may not have seen during our Live Chat on Wednesday, colleague Chuck King broke the news that Maryland assistant women’s basketball coach Tina Langley has been offered the job at FAU.

You can see from Langley’s full bio from Maryland’s web site she has also been an assistant at Georgia, Clemson, Toledo

During the Chat (you can read the archive here) it was brought up about her lack of Florida credentials and I certainly don’t see any on her resume.

However, I don’t think having a state connection is as important in men’s or women’s basketball as it is in football.

I may have not put Langley through the most extensive vetting process - I assume FAU has - but it looks like FAU AD Melissa Dawson is trying to reel in a strong candidate.

Owl Links

By Owl Access

Chat: Archive of our chat with readers

Other Links

FAU president fired AD Craig Angelos because of fundraising, marketing and decision-making, sources say (Palm Beach Post)

Owls come in at No. 117 (Orlando Sentinel)

What we learned this spring (Sun-Sentinel)

Georgia looks like a good bet to win SEC East, but that could change (CBSSports.com)
 

FAU ramps up search for AD by putting button on its home page

You can’t say FAU isn’t going all out to try and land qualified candidates to be its next athletic director.

We told you a few weeks ago that FAU had posted the job opening on the NCAA’s web site with a job description.

FAU is taking it to the next level by now using the home page of its own web site to find that perfect fit to replace Craig Angelos, who was fired last month

Go ahead and look at www.fau.edu and you’ll see a big button urging you to “Apply for FAU Director of Athletics.”

One would hope FAU finds some viable candidates otherwise the next step will be to go to Craig’s List to find Craig’s replacement.

By the way, some of the early names I am hearing could be potential candidates are former FAU Associate AD Terry Mohajir who is an Associate AD at Kansas, fomer FAU Trustee Armand Grossman, and former N.C. State AD Lee Fowler, who is the director of men's and women's basketball operations at the Sun Belt Conference office.

 

Owl Access Links

FAU Baseball: FAU falls behind early and UCF rolls to an easy victory

 

Other Links...

No. 15 UCF uses fast start to defeat FAU 12-3 (Orlando Sentinel)

No. 10 UCF baseball rolls past FAU (Central Florida Future)

FAU proposes raising student fees (Sun-Sentinel)

UNT to take time to find next basketball coach (Denton Record Chronicle)

C-USA, Mountain West merger on hold (CBSSports.com)
 

FAU's search for women's basketball coach also making progress

Florida Atlantic appears to be putting the finishing touches on making sure its men’s basketball coaching situation is solidified.

It also appears FAU is making progress when it comes to its women’s basketball coaching search.

There have been some internet reports that the Owls have interviewed Maryland assistant Tina Langley (pictured), former Auburn assistant Kerrey Creameans, Florida State assistant Angie Johnson and Cleveland State coach Kate Peterson Abiad.

Owl Access has also learned FAU has talked to St. Thomas coach Robin Harmony who was also an assistant coach at Miami for 20 years. FIU assistant coach Desma Thomas Bateast, who played at Miami, has also talked to FAU about the job.

One has to be impressed with the pool of candidates featuring some sitting head coaches as well as assistants from top programs and coaches with South Florida connections.

The search is starting to wind down so we’ll try and stay on top of any developments.

Owl Access Links

FAU Hoops: Jarvis, FAU agree to 3-year deal
FAU Hoops: Mavin says he is transferring
FAU Baseball: Owls prepare to face Central Florida

 

Other links

Commentary: After much change and confusion, FAU AD job no longer is attractive (University Press)
Men’s basketball coach Mike Jarvis agrees to new three-year deal (University Press)
Basebal previewl: Owls face No. 12 Central Florida (Sun-Sentinel)
New FIU basketball coach Richard Pitino’s recruiting begins (Miami Herald)
Mike Peterson leaces Wake Forest for North Texas women's basketball (Denton Record-Chronicle)

 

FAU, Jarvis agree on three-year contract

Florida Atlantic and basketball coach Mike Jarvis have agreed on a contract that will keep Jarvis at FAU until 2015, sources told OwlAccess.com on Monday.

The contract will pay Jarvis a base salary in the neighborhood of $225,000 per year for the three years, plus incentives. With some incentives  Jarvis' salary has approached the $200,000 mark in recent years.

FAU assistant coaches will also be getting pay raises as part of the deal. FAU could announce the deal as early as Tuesday.

Jarvis' Owl teams have compiled a 52-72 record during his four years at the helm, but the record doesn't tell the complete story. During those four years he's helped build a fan base the likes of which the Owls have never enjoyed.

Despite a disappointing 11-19 record this past season, the student section of The Burrow still drew a pretty good turnout.

Jarvis' Owls won only six games during his first season at the helm but two years later they won 21 times, leading to FAU's first appearance in the NIT.

His FAU teams have fallen short in the post-season, though. FAU has yet to win a game in the Sun Belt tournament under Jarvis' guidance and lost to Miami in the NIT appearance.

Overall, Jarvis has spent 23 years as a head coach, taking each of his previous three schools (Boston University, George Washington and St. John's) to the NCAA Tournament.

 

FAU guard Dennis Mavin to transfer

The exodus from Florida Atlantic's basketball program this spring seems to have gained another member.

Sophomore guard Dennis Mavin (photo) is the latest member to announce he's leaving FAU.

A status update on Mavin's Facebook page declared: “Yes I'm transferring!”

Mavin started seven of the Owls 28 games this season, averaging 5.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

He is the fourth player with eligibility remaining to leave FAU this off-season.

Guard Raymond Taylor chose to pursue a professional career. Kore White and Omari Grier are also transferring. White reportedly has received interest from South Florida and Lasalle. Nevada has shown interest in Grier.

Coupled with the graduation of guards Alex Tucker and Shavar Richardson, the Owls will be without five guards who played last season for the 2012-13 season.

FAU has already filled three of those spots. Poinciana's Stephan Moody signed their National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. Fishburne Academy's Jackson Trapp and Marietta-Osbourne's Devonte Thornton signed during the current period. FAU coaches say Thornton, who is 6-foot-8, has the skills to play the guard position.

FAU also expects to host two more recruits this week.

A look at FAU’s Spring Game by the numbers

The FAU coaching staff will be going over video tapes of the Spring Game probably until training camp opens in August.

We have tape as well, and you can be sure Chuck King will be going through his tapes of the game - he’s already cranked out a nice highlight package here.

Another way to go over the game is the stats. Due to the many players changing jerseys, compiling the numbers wasn’t easy, but the FAU Sports Information Department did their best.

Going over the numbers, it’s easy to notice Jonathan Wallace, but how about Tony Moore (pictured) who had 99 yards and averaged 5.8 yards per carry despite going against the first-team defense in the first half.

The quarterbacks combined to go 23-of-35 for 192 yards, but David Kooi’s stats were not impressive at all.

As far as receivers go, Alex DeLeon played well and how about the slot receiver Brendan Meyers who had a 23-yard catch from Nick Bracewell.

Here are some of the numbers they came up with…

RUSHING
White
Jonathan Wallace 8-104 3 TDs
Damian Fortner 9-60
Graham Wilbert 9-46
Travis Jones 12-38

Blue
Tony Moore 17-99
Antonio Washington 5-13
Nick Bracewell 6-3
Colton Kane 2-0

PASSING
White
Graham Wilbert 8-10-0-71 1TD
Stephen Curtis 5-8-0-45

Blue
Nick Bracewell 6-9-0-60
David Kooi 1-5-1-0-3

RECEIVING
White
Alex DeLeon 4-52
Derek Moise 4-18
Nexon Dorvilus 3-32 1 TD
Jonathan Wallace 3-20

Blue
Brendan Myers 2-37
Byron Hankerson 2-15
Antonio Washington 2-3
Forrest Campbell 1-8

Today's Owl Links

FAU Baseball: Owls defeat Warhawks, to take another Sun Belt series

Other Links

FAU takes series from ULM with 6-5 win (Monroe News Star)
FIU set to hire Pitino’s son as basketball coach (Miami Herald)
Five questions from MTSU spring practice (Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal)
Two WKU football sustain gunshot wounds at bar (WKUHerald)

Sunday's Sun Belt Baseball Scoreboard

Florida Atlantic 6, Louisiana-Monroe 5 
Troy 10, Middle Tennessee 3 
Arkansas State 6, Western Kentucky 3 
FIU 2, Louisiana-Lafayette 1 
South Alabama 14, UALR 7 

 


 

FAU offense doesn’t show much in Spring Game, but could open up later

Since a large part of FAU’s football practices are closed to fans and the media, Saturday’s Spring Game was the most extensive time I’ve seen what the new version of FAU football will be like.

Here’s what stuck with me…

# Many times during Saturday’s FAU Spring Game, coaches on the sideline were yelling at their players to “get up” and to “get ready for the next play” before the last play had even been blown dead.

That’s what is going to be different this season for FAU and the players who are going to adapt will be playing. The ones that don’t? I think we know their future.

# What isn’t different is that the offense didn’t throw down the field very much. But that will come later. The playbook Saturday was very basic – and included lots of short passing plays, but few explosive plays, as the players get used to the new offense. One can assume some of the plays that are added to the playbook down the line will be some long pass plays to take advantage of FAU’s speed.

# I’m not sure how this played to the fans at FAU Stadium for Select-A-Seat Day, but the term “spread” offense does not mean a team has to throw on every down. In fact, this offense may be more run-oriented than Howard Schnellenberger’s
“Pro-Style” offense.

Need proof? Stats aren’t that important in a spring game, but of the 115 plays the Blue and White teams ran, 79 were running plays. That’s means a running play was called 69 percent of the time. Again, I expect that to change with more plays added to the playbook, but this team will be looking to run this season – and I like it. You give me a team with a good defense and a solid running game and I’ll take my chances against teams looking like they are playing fast-break basketball on grass.

# As far as players go, you had to be impressed with RB Joanthan Wallace and DB Jeremy McKnight. It wasn’t a total surprise as Chuck King had both as “Players to Watch” in our Spring Game Preview. Chuck, who has been basically living at the Oxley Center the last month, is on his way to assume the title of “Director of Personnel” for FAU Football soon.

Owl Access Link Center

FAU Football: Pelini sees progress after Spring Game

FAU Football:
Wallace runs wild

FAU Football:
Highlights of Spring Game (Video)

FAU Football:
Pelini's press conference after Spring Game (Video)

FAU Football:
Tailgating outside stadium (Photo Gallery)

FAU Football:
Sideline shots (Photo Gallery)

FAU Football:
Spring Game action (Photo Gallery)

FAU Football:
Pre-game blog

FAU Baseball:
Owls fall to ULM 13-5

Other links
More Spring Game coverage: Sun-Sentinel | Palm Beach Post
ULM evens series with FAU (Monroe News-Star)


 

FAU RB Jonathan Wallace runs wild in Owls Spring Game

FAU running back Jonathan Wallace certainly made a name for himself during the Owls' Spring Game on Saturday.

Of course it wasn't a total surprise to our loyal Owl Access readers since we told you about Wallace's potential more than a week ago. On Saturday he came through with a three-touchdown performance that has to make the FAU coaching staff a bit more comfortable with their stable of backs.

Wallace, a junior college transfer, said he was just happy to get the chance. He's likely to get many more.

“You have to have dreams, beautiful dreams,” said Wallace, who officially had 104 yards rushing. “This is what you live for – the opportunity to go out and play football on the Division I level.”

Wallace received more action this spring due to an ankle injury to Xavier Stinson, who was thought to be the starting running back, but may have to fight for his job in August with Wallace on the scene.

Wallace is listed at 6-0, 198 pounds and spent last season playing on the scout team, but in the spring game he did what good players do – he took advantage of the best opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do.

His yardage may be tainted however. His 69-yard touchdown run came on a play where he appeared down but no whistle had blown. This photo by our friend Ralph Landau, who was shooting photos and video for Owl Access, shows Wallace's knee was on the ground (even the referees on the field admitted the play should have been blown dead after they were shown the image).

No matter, Wallace (who, of course, said he wasn't down) still deserves credit for the run because he kept going while the defense stopped,.

“I kept my stiff arm on the ground and the ref didn't blow the whistle so I'm still running,” Wallace said. “Coach always says play through the whistle. It's just one of those plays, you can't plan it.”

Wallace is a gamer – and it's going to be fun watching him develop this fall.

Wilbert, Curtis to be on same team in today's FAU football spring game

Here are a couple of quick notes heading into the spring game – which will begin in a few short hours.

  • The first team offense and the second team defense will take on the second team offense and first team defense. Pelini originally wanted to hold a draft, letting players pick sides, but injuries prompted him to change his mind.

 

  • Stephen Curtis and Graham Wilbert (photo) will both be playing on the first team offense and are expected to get the same amount of snaps. On Friday it appeared as though Wilbert will get the first set of snaps. Either player could end up switching teams late in the game if they need to get more snaps. “Curtis is still learning,” FAU coach Carl Pelini said. “He shows flashes of brilliance and then, whew. He has peaks and valleys. He needs to be more consistent.

 

  • Look for Nick Bracewell to get the first snaps for the second team offense. David Kooi and Colton Kane will also quarterback that side. Grant Flessner is not expected to play.

 

  • There will be times when the offense has two running backs on the field at the same time, but don't look for FAU's traditional I Formation. Backs will often go in motion or will line-up wide as a receiver.

 

  • Pelini didn't want to name a breakout player for today's game (he originally thought about running back Travis Jones, but reconsidered because Jones is a little banged up but will play) but he does think certain units will perform well. He's pleased with the development of the linebackers and defensive backs. He also thought the offensive line could have a good day.


We're on our way to the stadium. Look forward to seeing many Owl fans there and hearing what they think of FAU Football 2.0. For those of you tailgating, save me a hot dog and a beverage.

FAU seniors spend one final night in their stadium

It took a little while, but FAU did the right thing for the seniors from last year's football team.

On Friday night the Owls hosted the annual football banquet in the stadium. The event, which is normally held in January, was postponed while FAU tried to get its football house in order.

FAU considering skipping the banquet altogether – which is not uncommon following coaching changes – but ultimately chose to honor the outgoing seniors.

Approximately 15 graduated seniors attended the event, along with a couple undergrads like Graham Wilbert and Andrew Stryffeler who received awards. Players on the current football team for the most part did not participate. They practiced right up until the start of the event, and they have a bit of a busy day today.

Howard Schnellenberger presented the MVP awards – a list of other awards can be found at the end of this blog. Spoiler Alert: Alfred Morris and Marcus Bartels shared the Team MVP award.

Current FAU coach Carl Pelini attended the banquet. I suspect you'll be seeing this photo of Pelini and Schnellenberger for years to come. In his speech to the graduated seniors, Schnellenberger implored them to return to the school and lend their voices to help build the program. He once once again asked them to lend their support to the new football regime.

“We will make Carl Pelini a superstar,” he said.

This marks the third year I've attended the football banquet. For me, the best part is seeing the players get all dressed up. Those who know me understand that I ooze fashion sense. My vote for the best dressed player goes to Marcus Bartels (second photo). Fantastic bow tie – even if it was the first time he ever tied it...

Alfred Morris and Kevin Cyrille also put in good showings.

This event finally closes the book on that dreadful 2011 season. Later today comes the spring game, where we'll all see what Pelini and crew have been managed to put together.

To close the season, though, FAU seniors spent one last night in the stadium they waited so long for. Not a bad reminder of what their careers produced.

To see the remainder of the photos, check out this Photo Gallery.

BANQUET AWARDS

Student Athlete Award: Graham Wilbert
Non Scholarship MVP: MVP David Baptiste
Most Improved: Chris Newbold
Ramon Rickards Memorial Bone Award:
Marcus Bartels
Special Teams MVP: Mickey Groody
Offensive MVP: Alfred Morris
Defensive MVP: Kevin Cyrille
Team Co-MVPs:
Alfred Morris/Marcus Bartels

Owl Access Link Center

FAU FOOTBALL: Our Spring Game preview

More: Our take on what the depth chart may look like | Latest position changes
 

FAU BASEBALL: FAU holds off Louisiana-Monroe

Other Links

Sun-Sentinel: Carl Pelini delivers on promise that everything would change at FAU

Sun-Sentinel: 5 things to watch at FAU Spring Game

Monroe News-Star: Warhawks' rally falls short, 9-7

Miami Herald: Ferguson's appeal denied; 2 decommit from FIU

Denton Record-Chronicle: North Texas' Johnny Jones hired by LSU

Bowling Green Daily News: Red-White game pits WKU vs. WKU today

Tuscaloosa News: Packing Bryant-Denny for A-Day has become tradition under Saban

Friday's Sun Belt Baseball Scoreboard

Florida Atlantic 9, Louisiana-Monroe 7 
FIU 2, Louisiana-Lafayette 1 
UALR 18, South Alabama 7 
Middle Tennessee 12, Troy 10 
Arkansas State 5, Western Kentucky 0 

 

FAU expecting more than 100 high school players to visit on Junior Day

FAU football will spend Saturday showing off its new offensive and defensive attitudes at this year's spring game. The Owls hope that some of the most interested people are local high school football players.

Approximately 125 high school juniors are expected to spend Saturday on campus learning everything there is to know about FAU football.

“We want to showcase our stadium. We want to showcase our new offense, our new defense.  We want to showcase that we are playing at night,” FAU recruiting coordinator Jeff Sims (photo) said.

The Owls are expecting potential recruits to start showing up on campus at 1 p.m. In the hours leading up to the 6 p.m. spring game kickoff they will meet with Sims and coach Carl Pelini.

After spending about a half hour with the coach that would be their position coach at FAU, the players will receive presentations about the Owls' academics, sports medicine, and strength and conditioning programs.

They will then be given a complete tour of campus before getting a little time to explore the stadium and grounds prior to the game.

“We really feel like Florida Atlantic is going to be cool,” Sims said. “Beautiful weather. Beautiful stadium. Tempo offense. One of the best defenses in the country. There's no reason that this (program) shouldn't be exciting.”

The players in attendance should be predominantly from South Florida, including a contingent from reigning Class 5A state champion Miami-Norland.

“Hopefully we can start a pipeline,” Norland coach Daryl Heidelburg said. “We can keep some of our kids home and help elevate (FAU's) program too.”

Owl Access Links

FAU P Ahmed Garcia uses deception to keep hitters off-balance
             More: FAU-ULM Need to Knows

Lacunza signs to play basketball at FAU

Other links...

Palm Beach Post: At ever-changing FAU, new coach Carl Pelini seeks stability ... and a packed stadium every Saturday

Tampa Bay Times: Bulls looking at FAU transfer forward White

FAU-ULM Previews: Sun-Sentinel | Monroe News-Star

Denton Record-Chronicle: LSU interviews UNT's Johnny Jones for open post

Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Cajuns reel in pair of signees

Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Backup QB Murphy tears ACL, but may try to play

Dothan Eagle: Tevin Calhoun signs with Troy

Bowling Green Daily News: Hilltoppers struggling at the plate
 

Lacunza signs to play basketball at FAU

Owl Access has learned Javier Lacunza, a 6-8 forward from Spain who played at Hudson Falls (N.Y.)as a junior signed with FAU on Thursday.

Devonte Thornton, a 6-7 forward from Marietta (Ga.)-Osborne signed with FAU on Wednesday.

Jackson Trapp, a 6-4 guard from Fishburne Miltary Academy, is expected to sign during the signing period, which began Wednesday

Lacunza and Thornton join Chris Bryant, a 6-foot-9 forward also from Fishburne and Stefan Moody, a 5-10 guard from Poinciana, who signed with the Owls in the early signing period.

Besides Trapp, FAU may sign another more player this period.

FAU QB Stephen Curtis moves ahead of Graham Wilbert

Stephen Curtis is getting his shot.

On Wednesday the redshirt freshman worked as the first-team quarterback - the first time this spring he has seen extensive action at that spot.

Curtis and incumbent Graham Wilbert had been battling for the top spot. Saturday's performance in the second spring scrimmage seems to be what prompted the switch. Curtis threw the lone passing touchdown that morning and didn't turn the ball over, while Wilbert tossed two picks.

“I had a pretty good game on Saturday,” Curtis said following Wednesday's practice. “Limiting mistakes was probably the biggest thing. I'm just focusing on cutting out the small mistakes.”

The Owls had Monday off from practice, making Wednesday's outing their first time on the field since the scrimmage. Curtis said he learned about the move prior to the start of practice.

Curtis also had a pretty good day carrying the ball on Saturday, and his ability to move the chains on the ground via designed runs brings a dimension to the offense that Wilbert doesn't provide.

FAU coach Carl Pelini has yet to split the teams for Saturday's spring game, but it's a pretty good bet that Curtis and Wilbert will be on separate sides. Whichever player wins that head-to-head battle is likely to emerge as the top quarterback on the depth chart heading into fall camp.

Today's Links

Owl Access: See why WR William Dukes is making an impression on the coaching staff this spring and get the latest from the practice field

Owl Access: FIU basketball players trying to transfer can't get their release

Sun-Sentinel: Every Owl fighting for a job this spring

Miami Herald: FIU denies basketball players’ requests to leave

Bowling Green Daily News: Taggart ups stakes for spring game

FIU basketball players trying to transfer can't get their release

A few days ago we told you about the FIU men's basketball team walking out of the team's athletic banquet to protest the firing of coach Isiah Thomas.

It was sort of funny, because, if you have ever been to one of those, the players livened up what was probably a boring event.

However, the latest development out of FIU is a bit more serious as members of the basketball team say they won't be granted their release to transfer from FIU or be able to talk to AD Pete Garcia about Thomas' firing.

This is turning into a really bad situation down in Miami, and while things aren't perfect at FAU, one can bet the school would be handling this situation much differently.

Here's the full text of the letter, sent by players to FIU President Mark Rosenberg among others...

Dear President Rosenberg, FIU Administrators, Faculty, Staff and Media:

We are writing this letter in regards to a few concerns we have surrounding the firing of our Coach Isiah Thomas and his staff. Firstly, we would like to explain that on Monday night at the Sports Banquet we meant no disrespect to our university or anyone persons in attendance but only wish to exercise our human right to protest and support our coach and mentors in a time of grief. Our staff taught us five values Honesty, Loyalty, Belief, Sacrifice and Trust so I am sure you can see that our "silent protest" stems from these excellent principles.

Our main concerns that we wish someone to address are, why Coach Thomas and his staff where fired and why it was done in such an ugly fashion. To this day nobody in this university has sat down and gave a thorough explanation as why they were dismissed. This is very troubling because even though we are athletes we are still humans and have rights which should be respected. What is confusing is that if Coach Thomas was fired for losing games, he is not only at fault because we were the ones playing the games. He was given five years to fix an already existing problem and then it was cut to three. The team he had coming in next year was young but by far his best class. Neither he nor we got the opportunity to finish what we started and have no explanation as to why our goal was cut short by this university.

We also ask someone to look into why Coach Thomas and his staff had to be humiliated by being told they were fired and to pack their belongings immediately and with no explanation of what was going on in front of our team and other FIU staff members. It was quite embarrassing for us to witness and hurtful, they deserved a better way to leave, it is already embarrassing being fired.

We would like everyone to know that we came to FIU not only to gain an education and play basketball but also to be mentored by Coach Thomas. This is why we are extremely upset about his firing; we lost not a coach but a mentor. Maybe you are not knowledgeable of the many things that Coach Thomas has done in helping develop us as young men. These things don't show up on the scoreboard at FIU but do show up on the scoreboard of life. There are too many to discuss but we collectively will mention to you one of the most important ones he did and that you can investigate.

Please get in contact with the writers of a book Coach Thomas suggest that we read, "Out of Bounds, When Scholarship Athletes become Academic Scholars" by Dr. Jabari Mohair and Dr. Derek Van Rheenen from the UC Berkeley. Not only did Coach Thomas tell us about this book but on multiple occasions he brought these authors to FIU to lead academic workshops which stimulated our minds and helped us to understand what it is to be a true scholar athlete. These workshops were also attended by FIU faculty and students who were not athletes, even NBA All Star Amare Stoudemire sat in the workshops which lasted over a weekend. But more amazing is that not only did Coach Thomas and his staff participate in the workshops but Coach Thomas has led by example by taking classes in sports and education with the professors on Skype. He also was admitted into the MA program at UC Berkeley in the School of Education. He was not only telling us to go to class but served as a role model by being a student himself. Please reach out and ask these professors about our team and coach and how education and mentoring was the focal point of his short tenure not winning on the court but in changing lives. Coach would tell us that" our record may be losing on the court, but that will change in time but our graduation rate is 17-2 which is more important". This is the Isiah we know and love not the one which the media attempts to destroy. If they brought there camera and notepads into these workshops they may find it beneficial to report on how sports should be used to build character not destroy it.

Lastly, the AD of FIU told us only that Coach Thomas was fired because " we are going in another direction" and we respect his decision even if though we disagree with it. Every human has a right for "freedom of choice" which is given not a privilege. We chose to come to FIU for at least 5 years to be mentored, play basketball and enjoy college life. FIU has given us a great opportunity and is a fine university, which we have appreciated our time here.

Yet, some of us have asked to be released from the school and have been rejected by the AD. We ask that under such circumstances with our mentor being fired you to give us the freedom of choice to "move in another direction". Please help us receive our athletic "releases" so that we can find a coach and program which will be a good fit in our growth. America has many fine universities to choose from and we only wish to have the option of staying here or finding a place which has a coach that will continue in the same tradition as Coach Thomas. Even if FIU was to hire another ex- NBA coach that would not change our feelings about leaving because we did not come here thinking Isiah Thomas was going to take us to the NBA. But the person of Isiah Thomas as a mentor is what was important in our decision.

In one of our meetings with the Professors we learned that " when an athletic department uses players as commodities it loses its moral leadership". We hope that this school sees us not as "bodies" but "minds" which can grow develop and become productive citizens of the world. Thank you FIU men's Basketball Team

 


 

Three players to sign with FAU basketball in the coming days

The action in The Burrow on Wednesday won't exactly rival yesterday's presidential visit, but it will impact at least part of the university for the next few years.

Today marks the beginning of the spring signing period for several sports, most notably basketball.
The Owls are expecting three faxes in the coming days.

 

 

  • Devonte Thornton – Signed on Wednesday (photo). A 6-foot-7 forward from Marietta (Ga.)-Osborne, Thornton committed to FAU over Tennessee Tech, Tennessee St. and Jacksonville. He averaged 19 points and six rebounds as a senior.
  • Javier Lacunza – The native of Spain spent his junior year as an exchange student at Hudson Falls (N.Y.). The 6-foot-8 17-year-old averaged 13.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per game as a junior, where he was selected to the first team of the Foothills Council All Stars and the Post-Star second team All Area. Lacunza played in Spain this year. That's his highlight video.
  • Jackson Trapp – Signed with Winthrop during the early signing period, but was granted his release after a coaching change. The 6-foot-4 combo guard played at Lake Highland Prep then Fishburne Military Academy, where he was a teammate of Chris Bryant.
  •  

     

     

      All three of these players have committed to FAU.

       


      FAU will likely add one more player to the class. Trivante Bloodman of Olney Central Community College will be visiting FAU two weekends from now. The 6-foot-1 guard has already visited Seton Hall, and is also considering Western Kentucky, Texas Tech and Cleveland St.

      In all, FAU will be signing six players to its 2012 signing class. Bryant and Stephan Moody signed with the Owls during the fall period.

      Alex Tucker, Shavar Richardson and Jelani Floyd were the only seniors on FAU's 2011-12 team. Kore White and Omari Grier decided to transfer. Ray Taylor decided to turn pro.

      Today's Owl Links

      Owl Access: FAU can't complete rally vs. FGCU
          More coverage: Naples Daily News

      Palm Beach Post: Video, full text of Barack Obama's speech at FAU

      Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Wild off-season for Sun Belt hoops

    Expect FAU's offense to be well grounded on Saturday

    FAU fans envisioning footballs flying all over the field when the Owls debut their new spread offense at Saturday's spring game might be setting themselves up for disappointment.

    So far this spring the running game has been ahead of the passing game, and that isn't likely to change in the final two practices leading up to Saturday's game.

    “Right now our running backs are a strength, no doubt, and we are going to try to play offensively to our strengths,” offensive coordinator Brian Wright said.

    With an ankle injury likely preventing Xavier Stinson from participating in the spring game, FAU is only expecting to have four running backs available on Saturday. That may not seem like a lot, but the Owls only play one back at a time in the new offense, so the need for bodies isn't as great as it was in years past.

    Travis Jones (photo) has been a top the depth chart for the past week. Running backs coach Kerry Dixon called walk-on Jonathan Wallace a “strong No. 2” following Saturday's second scrimmage. Wallace could be getting even more reps with the first team when the Owls return to the practice field on Wednesday.

    The offensive star of Saturday's scrimmage was Damian Fortner, who rushed for three touchdowns. Fortner had been slowed by a hamstring injury and says he's still not 100 percent.

    “I was proud of him today the way he came out and fought through some nagging injuries and tried to run the ball for us,” Wright said on Saturday.

    A fullback last year, Tony Moore began the spring working with the tight ends before returning to the running back spot prior to the first spring scrimmage. The Owls have also returned Antonio Washington to the running back role. Like Moore, Washington had been working with the tight ends.

    If I had to guess, Moore and Wallace – both big backs – will be on different teams, as will the smaller, quicker Jones and Fortner. I wouldn't be surprised if Washington plays a fill-in role on whichever team needs an extra running back at any given time.

    Something else to remember is that running backs aren't the only ones who do the running in the spread offense. Quarterbacks Graham Wilbert and Stephen Curtis have also been frequent ball carriers during the spring. On Saturday, Curtis in particular had a strong day carrying the ball.

    Having a quarterback who can be a factor on the ground will ultimately help open more lanes for the running backs.

    “It makes it easier for us because they can't just focus on one person,” Jones said. “They never know who has the ball.”

    With the Owls missing two of their top receivers, DeAndre Richardson and Paul Moore, the running backs have also been getting more work than normal in the passing game. Look for them to line-up wide frequently on Satuday.

    Like Wright said, FAU will try to take advantage of its strength.

    Godfrey to FAU or UCF? 'I have no idea, yet.'

    UPDATED 12:38 p.m. ...

    Is former Central Florida quarterback Jeff Godfrey changing his mind about possibly transferring to FAU – or even leaving UCF at all?

    Could be.

    UCF coach George O’Leary told several media outlets after Tuesday morning's practice that Jeff Godfrey called him and they will meet soon about a possible return to the Knights.

    On Monday night I asked Godfrey where he will be attending classes in the fall.

    “I have no idea, yet,” Godfrey responded.

    That was a far different answer than the one Godfrey gave a couple months ago.

    In February Godfrey said UCF had given him a full release and told OwlAccess.com that, “FAU is the No 1 (choice).” He also said he was “very close” to transferring to Boca Raton.

    Now it sounds like he might be missing UCF.

    Citing messages on Godfrey's Twitter account, BayNews9 reported that Godfrey is now considering returning to UCF.

    "Knight fans what do you think about Jeff Godfrey coming back."

    The Tampa channel said Godfrey followed that tweet with this one:

    "I have no problem apologizing bout wat [sic] I did bout leavin out on the team but wat [sic] luke (Campbell) and my dad had nothing to do with me I didn't say anything bad about the program or about GOL he has my most up respect."

    As a freshman season in 2010 Godfrey led the Golden Knights to the Liberty Bowl and a Top 25 ranking. He lost the starting job to Blake Bortles last season.

    Today's Owl Links

    Owl Access: FAU baseball team headed to Fort Myers ahead of Obama visit

    Owl Access: FIU basketball team walks out on athletic banquet to protest firing of Isiah Thomas

    Owl Access: Sun Belt Conference adds Georgia State and more programs are coming

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia State ready for bright future in Sun Belt

    Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Cajuns add Ole Miss to 2014 schedule

    Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: MTSU mulls impact of Georgia State addition

    Palm Beach Post: Half-century wait is over as second sitting president visits FAU today

    Palm Beach Post: Obama's in the house - plan for possible traffic snarls

     

    FIU basketball team walks out on athletic banquet to protest firing of Isiah Thomas

    It wasn’t your normal athletic banquet down at FIU on Monday night.

    The men’s basketball team had a surprise up it’s sleeve to send a message to AD Pete Garcia and the rest of the FIU administration after coach Isiah Thomas was canned after three years on the job.

    When an unidentified speaker started talking about the men’s basketball team, the players decided they didn’t want to stick around and walked out of the banquet.

    Here’s a video of the team beating the hasty retreat.

    There is no word what happened to the team’s dinner, but we can assume the FIU brass wasn’t very happy. Come to think of it, the last time FIU looked this bad at a formal event was when Thomas was hired and was introduced as “Isiah Thompson.”
     

    Sun Belt Conference adds Georgia State and more programs are coming

    The Sun Belt Conference is officially in expansion mode.

    On Monday, Commissioner Karl Benson announced Georgia State will join the Sun Belt Conference in 2013-14.

    And, he said, the Sun Belt Conference isn’t finished adding members with more news coming in the next few weeks.

    "This announcement is a strong declaration of the Sun Belt's commitment to being better,” Benson said. “It shows the Sun belt is prepared to move forward and be a stronger player in the future. Today's addition Georgia State, I think it's safe to say, is more than likely just the first of other additions that we hope to make in the next 90 to 120 days.”

    Speculation is rampant that the Sun Belt will add some combination of either Charlotte, Texas-San Antonio or Texas State as well. The goal is to get to the magic number of 12, which allows a conference to stage a championship game.

    The addition of Georgia State will give the Sun Belt Conference 11 football-playing members.

    The addition of Georgia State could be a good one for the conference. GSU is in a large media market (Atlanta) has a well know coach (former Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky coach Bill Curry) and a top of the line stadium (The Georgia Dome). I don’t think many Sun Belt schools can match that combination, so this appears to be a solid step by Benson and the rest of the Sun Belt.

    The Panthers will join the Sun Belt in the 2013-14 school year. The Panthers are expected to play a Sun Belt schedule in 2013, but may not be eligible for the championship until 2014.

     

    Quarterback Stephen Curtis wants to be the FAU punter as well

    Unlike nearly every other FAU football player, Stephen Curtis is actually in two completely different position battles this spring.

    In Sunday's blog we told FAU fans that Curtis enjoyed one of his better spring days at quarterback during Saturday's scrimmage. Curtis also did some punting on Saturday.

    When I first noticed Curtis was working with the punt crew, I figured this might be something the new coaching staff asked him to do as a stopgap measure while they look to bring in a replacement this summer for the graduated Mickey Groody.

    Turns out, Curtis is excited about the possibility of being the Owls' full-time punter.

    “I want to do it,” Curtis said. “I punted in high school and I messed around last year punting.”

    Curtis is currently battling scholarship kicker Marcelo Bonani and walk-on Sean Dooley, who is the son of women's soccer coach Brian Dooley, for the punting role.

    “The thing that hurts Curtis is obviously he has to work at the quarterback spot,” special teams coach  Brett Diersen said. “The thing that also helps is that he's used to the competition.”

    Like a few other positions, it's possible – if not likely – that the player who emerges as the top punter in the spring might not start the season atop the depth chart.

    Diersen somewhat cryptically hinted that another candidate or two is expected for fall camp.

    “It's a spot, I'm telling you right now, that's wide open,” Diersen said. “It's a spot where we need to get better. It will be wide open even when fall camp starts.”

    As far as the guys who will be returning punts, on Saturday the Owls had Blake Bierman, Damian Fortner, Travis Jones and Robert Lohnes fielding punts. Earlier in the week, those four along with DeAndre Richardson, Keith Reaser, and D.J. Frye-Smith were returning kickoffs.

    Today's Owl Links

    Owl Access: Owls fall to Jags in series finale

    Sun-Sentinel: FAU quickly plans for Obama's visit

    ESPN.com: Sun Belt adding Georgia State

    New Orleans Time-Picayune: Commissioner Karl Benson likes Sun Belt's position, potential

    Dothan  Eagle: Troy's Franklin fitting in well at running back

    Sunday's Sun Belt Scores
    South Alabama 7, FAU 4
    MTSU 4, UALR 3
    ULM 10, Arkansas State 1
    FIU 4, Troy 2
    ULL 2, WKU 1

    Curtis the best of the quarterbacks on Saturday

    Heading into spring, Stephen Curtis' familiarity with a spread offense combined with his athleticism led many to believe he would quickly rise to the top of the quarterback depth chart.

    Curtis' ascent hasn't happened as rapidly as expected, but Saturday's scrimmage may indicate the redshirt freshman is gaining momentum.

    “He threw some nice passes, especially the one to (William) Dukes in the end zone,” linebacker Randell Johnson said. “He's doing his thing right now.”

    Curtis' “thing” involved moving the offense through the air and on the ground. The TD pass to Dukes was the only score through the air for a passing attack that struggled on Saturday. Unlike first team starter Graham Wilbert who threw two interceptions, Curtis didn't throw any picks.

    He also produced some good runs – an area where Curtis should stand out among the current quarterback corps.

    Offensive coordinator Brian Wright has been waiting for Curtis to master the reads required by the new offense. After the scrimmage Wright indicated that Curtis is getting closer.

    “I thought he managed the game a little bit better this Saturday,” Wright said.

    Curtis and Wilbert have separated themselves from the four other players in the spring quarterback battle, and the consensus was that Curtis had the better day of the two on Saturday.

    David Kooi, who missed the first scrimmage with an injury, Nick Bracewell and Colton Kane only received limited snaps on Saturday. Grant Flessner has been absent from practice this week for an undisclosed disciplinary reason.

    Remember, though, that winning the quarterback battle in the spring may be of little consequence come the fall when junior college transfer Melvin German is expected in camp.

    Today's Owl Links

    Owl Access: Defense stars in Saturday's scrimmage

    Owl Access: Photo Gallery from Saturday

    Owl Access: Owls win second game over South Alabama

    Daily News Journal: MTSU WR Anthony Amos salutes father

    Denton Record Chronicle: UNT defense improves during first scrimmage

    Bowling Green Daily News: WKU offense impressive in scrimmage

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia State has accepted an invitation to join Sun Belt

    Saturday's Sun Belt Baseball Scoreboard
    FAU 10, South Alabama 7
    Louisiana-Monroe 9, Arkansas State 0
    MTSU 7, UALR 6
    FIU 5, Troy 3
    Louisiana-Lafayette 1, Western Kentucky 0

     

     

     

    Injuries to WRs giving FAU more breakout opportunities

    In yesterday's practice report we told you FAU fans that running back Jonathan Wallace is getting the attention of FAU coaches and could be primed for a big performance in today's second spring scrimmage.

    We're at the Oxley Center this morning for today's second scrimmage searching for more breakout candidates. One place we're focusing is on the wide receiver corps.

    The Owls entered the spring searching for playmakers at wide receiver. That search gets even deeper now that FAU has lost two players for the remainder of the spring who had been working with the first team.

    DeAndre Richardson had to be carted off the field on Wednesday with an ankle injury. Paul Moore hasn't played at all this week because of a knee injury. Both players are expected back for fall camp.

    Without Richardson and Moore, the Owls worked with two-tight end sets frequently on Friday, meaning Alex DeLeon or Chris Jackson could be more of a factor today.

    Brian Sirmans, who moved to receiver from safety prior to the start of the spring, received work with the first team in the spot normally occupied by Richardson. So did Byron Hankerson, a walk-on who missed last season because of academic issues. In years past Hankerson had flirted with becoming a useful receiver only to suffer a setback. Could this be his opening?

    As far as the slot receiver, coaches had been saying that Paul Moore was catching on quickly. Brendan Myers, a freshman wide receiver out of Boynton Beach-Park Vista, has been working with the first team in place of Moore. And Blake Bierman is always lurking, ready to make a play.

    Will they have a big Saturday? We'll know more in a couple of hours.

    And you can check back at OwlAccess.com for a full report

    Today's Links

    Owl Access: Owls win opener vs. South Alabama

    Owl Access: Omari Grier says he's transferring

    Owl Access: Obama's visit means FAU-FGCU will be moved

    Owl Access: Coaches raving about RB Jonathan Wallace in spring

    Miami Herald: FIU fires Isiah Thomas

    ESPN.com: Thomas surprised by decision

    ESPN.com: Thomas was a joke from the start

    SportingNews.com: Once Bobby Petrino is fired, Arkansas should hire Gus Malzahn
     

    Hoops freshman Grier to transfer from FAU

    Freshman sharpshooter Omari Grier will transfer from FAU, according to a message on his Facebook account.

    “Its truue im transferring,” Grier's post read.

    Grier (at right in photo) did not indicate where, or if, he will be playing basketball next season.

    The true freshman played in 25 games for the Owls last season – starting three of them. He averaged 6.3 points and 1.4 rebounds. Known for his range, Grier actually shot better from behind the three-point arc (40.8 percent) than he did inside of it (.389).

    At one point this season it looked as though Grier could become a prolific scorer for the Owls. He broke through for 27 points against Miami in the Orange Bowl Classic. His 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime. He connected on another 3-pointer with 33 seconds to go in overtime to force double overtime, where the Owls ultimately lost to the Hurricanes.

    The performance prompted FAU guard Ray Taylor to call Grier, “One of the best pure shooters in the country.”

    Grier lost his touch as the season progressed and spent most of the final portion of the season on the bench.

    He becomes the third player with eligibily remaining to leave FAU since the season ended. Taylor, a junior, has announced his intention to play professional basketball. Power forward Kore White also could have played one more season, but he will not return either.

    Updated: Obama visit prompts FAU to move Tuesday's baseball game to Fort Myers

    FAU and Florida Gulf Coast have decided to swap upcoming home baseball dates - a move made necessary by President Barack Obama's impending visit on Tuesday.

    The game originally scheduled to be played on Tuesday at FAU baseball stadium will now be held at Florida Gulf Coast.

    It’s believed that the crowds and security that would accompany Obama’s visit to FAU’s campus on Tuesday would create problems for the baseball game. Additionally, there is word that everyone who enters the atheltic side of campus will need security clearance.

    The game was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and Obama may be speaking around 3 p.m. at The Burrow.

    The Eagles will now be coming to Boca Raton on May 8, the day the Owls were originally scheduled to play in Fort Myers.

    It’s not the first time a political event has tinkered with an athletic event at FAU.

    On Jan. 24, 2008, FAU was the site of a Republican Party presidential candidate debate and the FAU men’s basketball team had to play a “home” game vs. Denver at Lynn University that night.

    For more on Obama’s visit to FAU, including parking lot closings and other restrictions click here
     

    FAU fans the big winners now that the Fyfe's are running the baseball concession stand

    We frequently harp on the facilities and the environment at FAU baseball games, so it's only fair to give FAU props when the powers that be make improvements.

    It may seem like a small move that Rick Fyfe (photo) and his family are now running the food and beverage concessions at baseball games, but for those of who attend the ballpark multiple times a week, it's huge.

    Chartwells simply wasn't getting it done this year. The prices were high. The food, which was cooked at the commissary over at the football stadium, was lousy. And the stand often closed before the sixth inning.

    That will not be the case with the Fyfes. These are the folks that ran the stand last year. They also handled the concessions for MagicJack games.

    What I like most about the way they run the concession stand is that they are not afraid to try some new products. The pulled pork sandwich is good and will be back this weekend. Tired of the sandwich? Try a pulled pork dog. Or maybe a fried Oreo. At Tuesday's game against Lynn, the cotton candy-flavored Italian ice was a fast mover.

    Judging by the number of people gathering outside the concession stand, FAU fans have responded to the $1 sodas and the greater variety of items to nibble on during a game that lends itself to the consumption of fun food.

    Kudos to FAU for making a change that benefits the fans. And Chartwells should also be commended for being flexible enough to let the change happen – though I suspect they are still getting some money out of the deal.

    To taste for yourself what I've been writing about, head over to FAU's baseball stadium this evening when the Owls begin a three-game weekend series against South Alabama. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

    Don't worry about stopping for something to eat before the game. There's cheaper – and better – food at the ballpark.

    Today's Links...

    Owl Access: South Alabama comes in for three-game series

    Owl Access:
    Meet Pelini at Touchdown Thusdays

    Also...

    Sun-Sentinel: Sun Belt leading Owls host South Alabama

    Bowling Green Daily News: Hilltoppers leading scorer and rebounder is granted his release

    ESPN1420.com: This weekend in Sun Belt Baseball

    Denton Record Chronicle: AD wants new women's basketball coach in two weeks
     

     

     

    FAU alums can meet Pelini at Touchdown Thursdays

    There has been some conversation that FAU football coach Carl Pelini hasn't made many public appearances since he was hired in December.

    Well, it looks like that is about to change and Pelini will be hitting the road to drum up excitement for the football program as soon as spring drills are over.

    The FAU Alumni Association will be holding Touchdown Thursdays starting April 26 at Duffy's on Federal Highway in Delray Beach from 6 to 8 p.m. when FAU alums can mingle with Pelini.

    Here is the schedule for other Touchdown Thursdays and more details click here.

    Boca Area
    April 26
    6 to 8 p.m.
    Duffy’s Sports Grill
    1750 S. Federal Highway
    Delray Beach, FL  33483

    East Broward
    May 3
    6 to 8 p.m.
    Tarpon Bend
    200 SW 2nd Street
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL  33301

    West Palm Area
    May 10
    6 to 8 p.m.
    Palm Beach Ale House
    2161 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.
    West Palm Beach, FL  33409

    West Broward
    May 24
    6 to 8 p.m.
    Duffy’s Sports Grill
    4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd.
    Coconut Creek, FL  33073
    (West end of Publix plaza)
     


     

    Former FAU QB Rusty Smith endorses Owls' new spread offense

    In what might be considered a bit of a surprise, former FAU quarterback Rusty Smith gave a whole-hearted endorsement to the Owls' new spread offense.

    “I, personally, absolutely love it,” Smith said. “When I first found out that FAU was going to the spread, I wasn't extremely happy about it. From talking with coach (offensive coordinator Brian) Wright and coach (Carl) Pelini, I really like coach Wrights' philosophies a lot. Everywhere he's been he's always used the strengths of the players that he was given.”

    Now a member of the Tennessee Titans quarterbacking corps, Smith holds nearly every important passing record at FAU. 

    After leading the Owls to their only two bowl victories while piloting Howard Schnellenberger's pro-style offense, Smith became the first Owl ever selected in the NFL draft.

    Smith and wife Nicole were back in Boca Raton on Wednesday. He spent the afternoon at the Owls' football practice chatting with some of the quarterbacks. The photo shows Smith talking with Pelini during the opening moments of practice.

    Smith said he still follows the Owls as vigorously as ever.

    “I'm really excited to see what this season is going to hold because I definitely think this team has a lot of talent,” Smith said.

    As for his current team, Smith will enter off-season workouts as the Titans' No. 3 quarterback.

    “With Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, life for me is just fighting to stay on the job,” Smith said.  “We'll see what happens in the future. I'm playing football, doing what I love, living in Tennessee with my beautiful bride. I can't complain.”

    Today's Links...

    Owl Access: FAU's defense has been in nickel package for most of spring

    Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Stuart absent for MTSU, James auditions at center

    Denton Record-Chronicle: Little-used CB now in UNT spotlight on secondary

    Pre-Snap Read: Florida Atlantic odds of winning title are 75,000,000-to-1

    CBSSports.com: ULM's pre-game video is awesome
     

    Athleticism prompts Niblack's move to FAU defensive line

    At one point last season an FAU assistant coach told me that Troy Niblack had the most athletic ability among the offensive linemen.

    The new coaching regime saw the same athleticism in Niblack, but they intend to harness it toward a different purpose.

    “His athleticism translated better to the defensive line,” defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis said. “We looked at him and some of the numbers from the winter and said that's the one guy who can come over and help us defensively.”

    Niblack (No. 78, file photo) switched jerseys from white to blue for Monday's practice, and following his first afternoon on the defensive side of the ball seemed pleased.

    The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder who will be a redshirt senior spent at least part of Monday's practice working as a defensive tackle on the second team.

    Niblack's name stood atop FAU's offensive line depth chart at left tackle when spring practices kicked off. With big No. 78 switching to the other side of the ball, DeAndre Williams, Andy Czuprynski , Jordan Sessa, Ricardo Henry and Joe Bailey appeared to comprise the starting offensive line on Monday.

    The running back unit also continues to undergo changes, with two more players trying new positions on Monday. Cary White moved to safety, while Javaris Giles is giving linebacker a shot.

    The White move is perhaps the most surprising so far. As a true freshman last season he gained 34 yards on six carries and looked like a ball carrier who could make an impact in the coming years.

    Giles' move is less surprising. He projected as more of a fullback, and this offense doesn't use a fullback. If Giles wanted to play, he was probably going to have to try something new.

    Today's Links...

    Owl Access: Owls defeat Lynn in bottom of 9th
            More coverage: University Press

    Owl Access: Easter Service to be held at FAU Stadium

    Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Cajuns lose ninth straight game to nemesis SLU Lions

    Mobile Press-Register: Alabama baseball rallies to beat South Alabama

    Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Bleachers break at Murphy Center

    Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: MTSU football to play at Minnesota in 2014, 2017




     

     

    Calvary Chapel to host Easter service at FAU football stadium

    Super fans may someday think of FAU's new football stadium as the Cathedral that Howard Built.

    Those looking to do some worshiping in the stadium without waiting for it to achieve monument status can head to campus on Sunday, when Calvary Chapel will celebrate Easter by holding a service in the Stadium.

    Members of the Fort Lauderdale-based congregation have been placing invitations to the service on the doors of houses in the area. The one on the right comes from a Delray Beach neighborhood.

    According to the invitation, the service begins at 8:30 a.m. and is free to the public.

    The Easter Service is the first of two events in the stadium this month. There was finally an official announcement about that Rock2Live concert. Apparently the Maroon 5 portion of the show fell through, but Chris Brown is back in. The folks at Spanish River High School who are putting on the event must have wanted to add a role model to the line-up. Or something...

    The Easter service and the concert are the third and fourth non-FAU football events booked for the stadium. The Battle of Florida collegiate all-star game was played in January. Major League Lacrosse is scheduled to play its all-star game at FAU in the summer.

    Hudak cleared to play and is available tonight

    There is good news for the FAU baseball team.

    No, the Owls - or their fans – will not have bathrooms at tonight's game vs. Lynn.

    But they could have Alex Hudak for the first time in about a month. Hudak, FAU's top hitter when he went down with a fractured ankle on March 3, has been cleared to play and could be available for tonight's game against the Knights, according to FAU coach John McCormack.

    McCormack said Hudak likely wouldn't be back in rightfield immediately, but being the designated hitter or pinch-hitting could be an option starting tonight after he visted a doctor on Monday.

    If all goes well, Hudak could be back in the lineup this weekend.

    "I'd like to see him do  pre-game (Tuesday) and see how it goes so maybe he could pinch hit at the end of the game," McCormack said. "Then see how he goes through practice on Wednesday and Thursday and maybe insert him in this weekend somewhere."

    Hudak is hitting .421 and has four homers this season.

     

    Fred in red? Kansas City showing interest in Morris

    Could Kansas City be the ultimate destination for FAU running back Alfred Morris?

    The Chiefs are showing some late interest in Morris. Kansas City is sending its running backs coach to Boca Raton today to check out Morris today.

    Morris may also be heading to Kansas City for a workout in a couple of weeks.

    The Chiefs employed a three-headed monster at running back in 2011. Jackie Battle led the team with 597 yards. Dexter McCluster was right behind with 516 and Thomas Jones had 478. Overall the Chiefs' rushing attack finished 15th in the league with a 118.3 yard-per-carry average.

    Morrris, FAU's all-time leader in nearly every important rushing category, rushed for 1,186 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior.

    The Miami Dolphins are also going to be taking a look at Morris and some other FAU players. Defensive end Kevin Cyrille and punter Mickey Groody have been invited to Davie to participate in Miami's regional workout on Friday.

    Morris, Cyrille and Groody are looking to join Rusty Smith (Tennessee) and Rob Housler (Arizona) as former FAU players drafted into the NFL.

    The NFL Draft begins April 26.

    Today's Links...

    Owl Access: Graham Wilbert still No. 1 QB

    Owl Access: New names on FAU AD advisory search committee

    Owl Access: Keller named Player of the Week

    CBSSports.com: Sun Belt votes to add Georgia State

    Sun-Sentinel: FAU's potential lured new defensive coordinator to Boca Raton

    SB Nation: A preview of the Owls

    Lafayette Daily Advertiser: ULL tries to regroup after being swept by FAU

    Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: MTSU football to open season on a Thursday night

    Denton Record Chronicle: UNT women's coach accepts job at Texas

    WKU Herald: WKU loses top pitcher

    Saunders has chosen FAU AD advisory search committee

    FAU President Mary Jane Saunders seems to have decided upon the group that will help advise her in the selection of the replacement for fired athletic director Craig Angelos.

    Saunders had said previously that Vice President for Student Affairs Charles Brown and FAU marketing professor Dr. Eric Shaw would head the advisory committee.

    According to sources, Saunders told the athletic department during a meeting last week that there will be four more members on the committee.

    Former basketball player Justin Davis (photo) will add height and a low-post presence to the committee. He's currently working as a graduate assistant in FAU's Alumni Relations office and will receive his Master's in the coming months. FAU coach Mike Jarvis frequently praised Davis for his business acumen during the 2010-11 season - Davis' final year playing basketball for the Owls.

    The students will also be represented by incoming student government vice president April Turner, who at one point was a manager for the basketball team. Seems like a couple of good choices. Both Turner and Davis can frequently be found attending FAU athletic events.

    Bruce Allen, a former president of the Florida Atlantic University Foundation as well as an FAU alumnus, will be part of the committee.

    Saunders also received a commitment from Palm Beach County Sports Commission executive director George Lindley, who holds a Master's degree from FAU.

    It will be the committee's job to sift through the resumes of those who apply for the AD job to recommend some applicants for consideration. From what I'm hearing, though, the selection of FAU's next athletic director will be made solely by Saunders.

    FAU running backs give tight end a shot

    Prior to the start of spring workouts, new FAU head coach Carl Pelini expected plenty of Owls to switch positions. He also intimated that the switch to a one-back set likely meant running backs would be affected the most.

    Some of those changes at running back appear to be happening already.

    Prior to Saturday's scrimmage at least two running backs, Antonio Washington and Chris Jackson, were working at tight end.

    A redshirt junior come fall, the 6-foor-1, 240-pound Jackson (photo, in a drill from last fall) had played fullback during his years at FAU and shown good athletic ability for a player of his size. Most of his contributions last season came on special teams, but he did carry the ball three times for 14 yards.

    Washington sat out last year while recuperating from a broken ankle suffered during the final weeks of his senior season in high school. He will be a redshirt freshman in the fall.

    The tight ends also picked up one player from the offensive line. Eric Minemyer has changed numbers to 49 and could now be catching passes.

    Even with the moves, it appears Nexon Dorvilus and Alex DeLeon still hold the top spots on the tight end depth chart.

    Running backs coach Kerry Dixon said Tony Moore, another former fullback, had spent the first week of spring working at tight ends before returning to running back for Friday's practice. Moore scored one of the four touchdowns during Saturday's scrimmage on a 2-yard run.

    On Saturday the running backs were working in units of three. The three backs working with the first team were Travis Jones, Xavier Stinson and Cary White.

    Don't be surprised if the safeties are the next unit Pelini looks to beef up. While the Owls seem to have a plethora of corners, they only look to have about six safeties – and two of them were nicked heading into the scrimmage.

    That unit actually lost a player before the start of spring practices. We told FAU fans a couple of weeks ago that Brian Sirmins has moved from safety to wide receiver.

    Today's Links

    Owl Access: FAU earns two victories vs. ULL, sits alone in first place
            More coverage: Lafayette Daily Advertiser

    Akron Beacon-Journal: Chuck Amato's renewed purpose lifts Zips’ defense

    Fox Sports Southwest: UNT's McCarney happy to be back after stroke
     

     

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    Nicely done Jake. Great addition to Owl Access.

    Then who do you think has the uper hand to be three yard directly behind the center.

    Sorry, I read the above question wrong. Who will be UNDER center? No one. They will operate primarily from the shutgun.

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