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Posts from March 2012

Robot basketball invades The Burrow

You can have your Final Four. I'm not a big fan of the teams, anyway.

I've found my new favorite sport: Robot Basketball.

High schoolers built a bunch of robots for a competition that was held in The Burrow.

I stopped by court on Saturday between the end of spring football practice and the start of the baseball game. I'm telling you, I've never seen The Burrow quite like this. It was equal parts sporting event and Star Trek convention. What a scene. There was a team called Spam. The team from Jupiter was called Mars. I do not know why. Several ninja's tried to dance with me. Again, I do not know why.

The official name of the event was the FIRST Robotic Competition. Take a look at the video. There really is some amazing stuff in there.

What stood out the most was how into the action the fans were. Each team had its own support section, decked out in colors, capes, masks or robot gear. And there was a gorilla.

Honestly – one of the wildest events I've seen in that building. Next year the student government should try to give away robot t-shirts.

I spent the remainder of the day wandering around with that Saturday Night Live Sam Warterston Robot Insurance skit in my head.

Remember: persons denying the existence of robots may be robots themselves. Truer fake words may have never been published.
 

FAU posts opening for AD job, says it's looking for someone to raise money

Florida Atlantic will be looking for a new athletic director with a “strong track record in fundraising and successful marketing,” according to the ad it posted on the NCAA’s web site.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as FAU has operated as a bare bones athletic department due to the many failures when it comes to raising money and selling the program in the past few years under Craig Angelos.

How quickly is FAU looking to move? It wants resumes in hand by April 30.

Here’s more from FAU’s ad:

Florida Atlantic University’s new Athletics Director should have leadership experience in intercollegiate athletics, a record of active engagement in student development and demonstrated success in dealing with the challenges of recruitment and retention at a major institution. A strong track record in fundraising and successful marketing is desirable.

FAU seeks a leader with substantial management experience and creative approaches to the integration of athletics and academic programs. The Athletics Director reports to the University President and works closely with the President’s Senior Staff to shape the athletics environment. Minimum requirements include a master's degree in an appropriate field; a minimum of 10 years’ full-time experience in intercollegiate athletics administration at the university level, five years of which were in a supervisory capacity; and demonstrated skills in interpersonal communication. The successful candidate will be highly organized and self-motivated with an established commitment to gender equity, diversity and inclusiveness in all sports as well as proven skills in strategic planning, budget projections and analysis. Preference will be given to candidates with NCAA Division I experience.

To read the entire ad, click here.

Today's Links...

Owl Access: Reps are at a premium with six QBs in camp

Owl Access: Owls take series opener from ULL
          More coverage: ESPN1420.com

Blufield Daily Telegraph: Schnellenberger speaks at Concord banquet

FAUSports.com: Staci Wilson added to women's soccer coaching staff

FAUSports.com: FAU men's basketball announces summer camp schedule

Miami Herald: FIU's biggest play called back by holding in spring game
 

FAU looking to move quickly on women's hoops coach

Get those resumes ready. FAU has posted the job opening for the women’s basketball head coach position vacated by Chancellor Dugan. Before anyone asks, the AD position has not been posted – FAU can ask for a waiver and may not have to post the job, similar to what it did for the football coaching search.

So, what does FAU want in its new women’s basketball coach?

From the posting (click here to see the full posting)…

In relation to recruiting, individual is responsible for conducting off campus evaluations of student-athletes, campus and in home visits. Responsibilities also include scouting opponents, on court instruction, practice and game preparation and assisting with daily strength and conditioning program.

And the qualifications?

Master's degree in an appropriate area of specialization and one year college level basketball coaching experience, or a Bachelor's degree in an appropriate area of specialization with three years college level basketball coaching experience. Valid driver's license required.

See, you crazy conspiracy theorists, it doesn’t say previously knowing FAU President Mary Jane Saunders is a requirement (although I’m guessing it certainly doesn’t hurt)

Not much time for coaches to get in on this one, however. It closes on April 8, just a little more than a week from today. Seems a bit rushed (unless FAU already has someone in mind)

Interim AD Melissa Dawson will be attending the Women’s Final Four this weekend in Denver to talk to some candidates and it will be interesting to hear how many coaches are interested in the job after the twists and turns the last coach was subject to the last year. 

Today's Links...

Owl Access: FAU prepares to face ULL without P Kevin Alexander
        More coverage: Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Denton Record Chronicle: Preseason NIT adds Mean Green

Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: MTSU WR who caught Hail Mary pass vs. FAU, arrested on domestic assault charge

Bowling Green Daily News: Harper likes returning players’ potential, but still looking to improve

 

FAU owed it to Dugan to offer more than a 1-year contract

FAU Interim Athletics Director Melissa Dawson took a deep breath before she addressed the complicated situation involving FAU women’s basketball coach Chancellor Dugan in a meeting with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

After a pause she said Dugan’s 13-year run as coach of the Owls was over.

“We wanted to give Chancellor an opportunity to stay with us,” Dawson said. “We provided that opportunity to stay with us and she has chosen not to accept that, so we will be moving forward to look for another women's basketball coach."

Dawson, a vocal Dugan supporter through the years, said the choice to step sway was Dugan’s. It now appears FAU’s strategy was to legally offer her the chance to stay, but what FAU did was give Dugan an offer that wasn’t acceptable. It was a 1-year deal, meaning that Dugan would be back in the same situation next year worrying about her job.

Only this time, Dugan would be coming off a season when recruiting was destroyed by the questionable way of which she was fired and then FAU calling other coaches – some of whom are the very ones she recruits against - to find her replacement.

“I’d walk in a gym and other coaches would look at me like I had five heads,” Dugan said. “I felt like I was a dead man walking.”

FAU did enough that they could say they didn’t fire a coach after a post-season berth, but they knew she wouldn’t accept the offer. Not after what FAU had put her through the last year.

Earlier this month Owl Access reported that Dugan had actually been fired by then-AD Craig Angelos last March, but was allowed to coach a final season. Dugan took on the challenge to have a year so good that FAU wouldn’t have the gall to follow through with their plan.

I thought she almost pulled off, but come to think of it, there is no way she could have. This recent version of FAU does what it wants to do and doesn’t care how it looks or consider if it was the right thing to do.

The right thing to do here was to give Dugan the three years she was asking for and deserved. Was FAU in danger of losing donations from boosters because the women’s basketball teams might struggle?

FAU made the decision to fire Dugan last March when she was coming off a 7-win season. But instead of sucking it up and paying her salary plus that of a new coach, Angelos allowed her to coach another year. What happened next was the worst-case scenario as she kept winning. FAU won 10 more games than it did the previous season and earned a berth in the WNIT for the first-time in school history.

Good thing FAU saved that money, it certainly doesn’t look foolish now does it?

FAU needed to show support of a coach they sabotaged last March and perhaps own up that they made a mistake. Offering Dugan a one-year contract is far from that.

“If I sign that one-year contract, how am I going to go out and recruit? It was obvious they didn’t want me here,” Dugan said.

Dugan had no choice but to step away, but she didn’t quit on her team. FAU quit on her – twice, in fact – and Dugan chose not to let it happen a third time by respectfully declining.

I'm sure there is a school out there looking for a coach coming off a trip to the post-season. It's just a shame, it's not at FAU.

Today's Links...

Owl Access: Dugan out as FAU women's basketball coach
        More coverage: Sun-Sentinel

Owl Access: Pelini pleased with progress

Lafayette Daily Advertiser: ULL falls to LSU

Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Nix takes over Blue Raider defense

Denton Record Chronicle: Thankful McCarney begins second spring practice at UNT

CBSSports.com: Georgia State possible addition for Sun Belt

 

BREAKING NEWS: Dugan out as FAU women's basketball coach

For the first time in 13 years, FAU will be looking for a new women's basketball coach.

Interim Athletic Director Melissa Dawson said Wednesday that FAU coach Chancellor Dugan will not be returning.

“We wanted to give Chancellor an opportunity to stay with us,” Dawson said. “We provided that opportunity to stay with us and she has chosen not to accept that, so we will be moving forward to look for another women's basketball coach."

However, Dugan disagrees with that characterization and told Owl Access that FAU's offer of another one-year contract on the heels of one of the most successful seasons in school history was an offer that simply was unacceptable.

“I just don't think that is conducive to have this program go forward,” Dugan said. “It's an uphill battle and I would have been evaluated next year by the new AD after a year of not being able to recruit. That didn't seem fair.”

Dugan received a letter in March of last year informing her she would be dismissed at the end of the 2011-12 season but, after one of the best coaching jobs of her career, thought she had earned a chance to be rewarded with a multi-year deal. FAU obviously didn't agree and announced it will begin a national search for Dugan's replacement.

The guess here is that the "national search" won't take long.

Immediate speculation on Dugan's replacement centers on Cleveland State women's coach Kate Peterson Abiad, said to be a favorite of FAU President Mary Jane Saunders, who was a Vice President at Cleveland State before coming to FAU.

Sources said Peterson Abiad made more than one visit to FAU's campus during the 2011-12 season and was promised the job weeks ago.

Peterson Abiad, who has not responded to an interview request, has made two NCAA Tournament appearances, but stumbled this season going 12-19.

Dugan was 161-217 in 13 seasons at FAU and is 320-290 in 19 seasons as a college coach.

Check back with Owl Access.com for more on this developing story.

FAU must deal with pressing issues in men's and women's basketball ASAP

It’s been a week since FAU fired Athletic Director Craig Angelos and the transition process is underway.

FAU President Mary Jane Saunders said she expects to have a permanent AD in place in a couple of months, but there are a few issues that can’t wait that long.

Simply put, Angelos’ departure has left a huge mess on both sides of the offices in front of The Burrow that must be cleaned up by interim AD Melissa Dawson.

On the men’s side, Mike Jarvis is serving out the last few weeks of his contract and the Owls do not have a coach under contract for their next game. There aren’t many people (including Jarvis himself) who expect anyone but Jarvis to be coaching the Owls next season, but the failure to get a deal done over the past year points to a broken system at FAU and the university should be embarrassed for not getting this taken care of last year.

We’re hearing a deal could be close (hinging on incentives, and increased pay for assistants) and Dawson will likely make signing Jarvis a priority, but the damage has already been done.

As embarrassing as the Jarvis contract fiasco is, it’s nothing compared to what is going on over at the women’s basketball offices where FAU coach Chancellor Dugan is in a state of limbo and is in negotiations for a new contract, according to a source.

Dugan is still the women’s basketball coach at FAU – as of today. That may sound like good news (especially since Owl Access reported Dugan was told last March she would not be returning) but, again, the damage may have already been done. And with Mary Jane Saunders making it well-known to athletic department higher-ups she would like Cleveland State women’s coach Kate Peterson Abiad coaching at FAU, I wouldn’t blame Dugan if she would like a long-term contract so situations like the one she is in now don’t happen on a yearly basis.

Those are two pretty sticky issues that were dumped into the lap of Dawson last week. It should be interesting to see how they are resolved.

Today's Links...

Owl Access: FAU falls to UCF
WPTV.com: Palm Beach State College ball player Brandon Welch one of the highest-rated prospects in the country
University Press: Following around FAU second baseman Mike Albaladejo for a day
Palm Beach Post: Former Dwyer TE Ben Hall to walk-on at FAU

If I were the FAU AD: Toga parties at football games and a new baseball stadium

Last week's firing of FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos prompted me to start thinking about what I would do if I were somehow selected to be the Owls' new athletic director.

Some of the answers came pretty easily – including, “They would never select you to be the new AD.” The next person for the job will have to raise money, sell more high-end sponsorships and move the Owls to a conference that isn't left behind by football realignment. Otherwise, the firing would be meaningless.

President Saunders and the search committee are going to have to find a person who is able to successfully perform all of those tasks. Let's give them the unearned benefit of the doubt and assume they find an athletic director who can accomplishes those missions.

What then? What should be done when the money starts rolling in? What little things can be done to improve FAU athletic events or get the programs noticed? Here are six ideas, some of which could potentially be implemented even before the new AD is selected.

Improve the baseball stadium: At OwlAccess.com we harp on this issue frequently, but that's because we are at the ballpark frequently. At one point in time I enjoyed watching my little brother's youth league baseball team play tournaments there. That was 20 years ago – and it's still the home of a Division I team. FIU and UCF have built new stadiums in recent years, and both are planning upgrades.  It's a wonder FAU coach John McCormack can recruit anyone to play at this facility.

Hire a minor league baseball marketing person: No matter how good of a fundraiser the new AD is, it will still take some time to bring in all the dough that's needed. That's why one of the first hires should be someone who knows how to market without having a budget to work with. A marketing manager from a minor league team would be willing (and excited) to invite people to wear togas to a football game to see if they could  break the record for the world's largest toga party. They might, as the St. Paul Saints did last week, play off current events by announcing they were going to continue to put a bounty on big hits at baseball games. Little – somewhat stupid – ideas would get the community talking about FAU sports. The first call could be to the Fort Myers Miracle, who are owned by the Goldklang Group, of which master marketer Mike Veeck owns a stake.

Turn down the volume: The old regime seemed to operate under the assumption that volume equals excitement. At FAU basketball games, volume simply meant more noise. Since upgrading to a sound system that can handle more power is probably too big an expense, turning down the volume will remove some of the distortion, allowing fans to actually hear what is being said into the microphones.

Take the PA announcers to a game: Every announcement at an FAU basketball or baseball game feels forced. It's as though the PA announcer is on a mission to be as important as the game itself. Take them to a Cardinals baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium and let them listen to how self-proclaimed “semi-professional public address announcer” John Frost lets the information take center stage at a somewhat whimsical pace. Go to a University of Miami game and listen to the way Jay Rokeach presents a game. There is a style, but it's not overbearing. At FAU, talking over the action and intentionally mispronouncing names provides, what exactly?

Get more cameras for football: That video board is great, but it would be even better if it could replay tight shots of important plays. To do that, they need more cameras. Too often this past year, I looked at a replay to see if a player was down before he fumbled or whether a player definitively crossed the goal line only to see that the best available angle was actually worse than my original look. Rent high quality cameras if needed. Give the people in the stands what they expect to see.

Let the band play the National Anthem: I'm tired of people making a spectacle of themselves while trying to sing the anthem. Remember that guy who brought his guitar to the basketball game and proceeded to mess up the music and the words, essentially embarrassing the entire country? No one comes to a game to hear a National Anthem singer. Most people simply want the song to end as quickly as possible. The FAU band knows the notes. They practice. Let them play.

Fire that yelling guy: Or shoot him. I really don't care which. I don't know his name, and I I don't want to know his name, but who is that guy who shows up on the video board at football games yelling at fans to go do this or go do that? Who wants to go anywhere to be yelled at? The only way I would keep this guy would be if I were allowed to sell raw eggs to anyone near him that could then be launched in his direction as soon as he opens his mouth. That would make some money – but it could make a mess all over those togas.

 

Today's Links...

Owl Access: Defensive Players adjusting to move to 4-3, plus Monday's Practice Report

Owl Access: FAU-UCF Preview
    More coverage: Sun-Sentinel

Lafayette Daily Advertiser: One week left and ULL football still searching for solutions

Bowling Green Daily News: WKU's Jakes leads youthful corps of QBs

CBSSports.com: New C-USA, MWC league will be completed by early June
 

 

FAU honored at Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame ceremony

On Sunday night Florida Atlantic University was honored as the Outstanding Sports Contributor of the Year at the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Here’s what the Palm Beach County Sports Commission had to say …

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) kicked-off the 2011 college football season at the new FAU Stadium this past October. 2011 marked the inaugural season for the new $70 million FAU Stadium in beautiful Boca Raton. This state-of-the-art stadium has a seating capacity of 30,000. The stadium features 6,000 premium seats, 24 luxury suites, 26 loge boxes, 1,000 premier club seats and 4,000 priority club seats. The opening of the new stadium is one of the most important days in FAU football history and will be a great venue host for future sporting events in Palm Beach County.

That's a nice honor (even if some members of the Boca Tackle Football League may disagree.)

FAU running back Alfred Morris was also nominated for College Athlete of the Year and FAU coach Mike Jarvis was nominated for Coach of the Year (based on the 20010-11 season when the Owls won the Sun Belt Conference title.)

Today’s Links…

Owl Access: FAU beats MTSU to win series

More coverage: Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal

College Football Talk: FAU says it’s staying in the Sun Belt (for now)
 

Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal: Florida St. transfer moves to safety
 

Bowling Green Daily News: Hilltoppers’ young receivers progressing

 

FAU Annual Golf Tournament set for May 17 at Trump International

Let it never be said that Owl Access doesn’t spread the word on upcoming events that benefit FAU.

I would hardly call this investigative journalism, but Owl Access has learned the Annual Golf Tournament to benefit FAU Athletic Scholarships will be held May 17, 2012 at Trump International.

I haven’t seen this mentioned in many places and you would think FAU would want as many people to know about the tournament as possible, so I’m providing a link.

Click here for more info on the FAU Annual Golf Tournament.

I doubt Owl Access will be able to afford the sponsorship, so I hope FAU will consider this unsolicited Public Service Announcement as our way of giving.
 

Today's Links...

    More coverage: Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal



 

FAU puts on pads for first time

The Owls took the field Saturday morning in full pads this spring for the first time.

I'm not sure how physical the practice will, but Owls coach Carl Pelini said he believes the players are excited to start hitting.

I'll have more from the first practice later today, but here's a few observations from the first few days which I neglected to mention due to little things like the Athletic Director being fired and President Mary Jane Saunders telling us FAU will no longer be exploring moving to another conference.

  • I think it's safe to say Delray Beach – American Heritage running back Jeremy Gaskins, who signed with the Owls in February, is anxious to get on the field. He has been at several of the first practices taking in the action.
  • One player who has been hitting it hard in the weight room appears to be OL Troy Niblack, who is still listed at 280, but that doesn't look to be accurate. He might be a player to watch this spring.
  • Wide receiver Stephan Clark is not listed on the roster but is still in school working on his academics.
  • Coaches from Monmouth College were at Friday's practice session.
  • Early indications are Saturday's practice will be tough. The team was slow to report to the first drills after stretching and were immediately called back to do some “up-downs” as punishment as they were told by a coach “We're doing this my way. After going 1-11, the days of doing it your way are over.”

Today's Links...

Owl Access: FAU to remain in Sun Belt
Owl Access: Mary Jane Saunders says search is underway for next AD
    More coverage: Sun-Sentinel / The Palm Beach Post
Owl Access: Owls lose to MTSU
    More coverage: Murfreesboro Daily News Journal
 

 

Saunders says search underway for next FAU athletic director

On Friday, FAU President Mary Jane Saunders broke her silence on the decision to cut ties with Athletic Director Craig Angelos earlier this week.

Sort of.

Saunders did give an interview this morning, but declined to answer questions on why Angelos was fired.

"I don't really talk about personnel decisions," Saunders said. "I wish Craig all the best, and I think he's a great guy, but I really am focused on where we are headed now."

However, Saunders did spell out what qualities she is looking for in the next athletic director.

“This really is a position that is a liaison with lots of different groups and our community, too. Sports is a very visible part of the university and it’s a place where we can work well with our donors and potential donors, work well with our fan base, alumni and students.

“I would love to have some one who is enthusiastic, making friends out there in the community and is very positive about our athletic programs and our university and where we are headed. And of course understands that link between athletics and academics.

“I'm looking for someone with those kind of characteristics and of course someone who can take care of the business end of a very large part of the university's business operations.”

I wouldn’t want to put words in Saunders’ mouth, but the characteristics she mentioned are what many sources have told us through the years were areas where Angelos was lacking. Read into that what you will.

As for the search itself, Saunders has appointed FAU Vice President of Student Affairs Charles Brown and NCAA Faculty Representative Eric Shaw, also professor of marketing at FAU, to lead a committee to examine candidates and report to Saunders.

“I'm meeting with them this afternoon and we're going to have an (advertisement) finalized,” Saunders said

Saunders said she would like to have a new AD in place in a “couple of months” and I’m guessing one will be on the job by the time the school year starts in late August.

The search process is already underway and Saunders is already hearing from candidates,

“As you can imagine I've already gotten some interest in the position,” Saunders said.
 

FAU coaches using hands-on approach

As we've noted this week, FAU's spring football practices have a different look and feel than in years past.

Here's another example: FAU coaches, including head coach Carl Pelini, are actually part of the drills. The photos show Pelini working with defensive linemen during a drill on Wednesday. (Head coach working with the defense is another change.)

Talking with players following the first day of practice they kept referring to tempo and energy. The coaches are trying to ensure practices have those traits, and they intend to lead by example.

When the players sprint to a new drill, the coaches are right there running with them. Some of the coaches are even taking reps right along with the players.

“That's pretty fun,” wide receiver DeAndre Richardson said.

When Pelini put together his staff, more than a few of us were surprised at the relative youth and inexperience of the assistants. Some of the advantages of youth include mobility and hunger. These coaches look like they are dying to strap on the pads.

Pelini has talked about wanting to remake the Owls – essentially restarting from scratch. At least in the early parts of practice, that's meant teaching (or re-teaching) what Pelini and the staff believes are basic football techniques.

Will that change as the spring rolls on? I suspect they might cut back on those kinds of drills to make more time for installing new schemes. Will the coaches be running the plays during practice? We might find out.

For the time being, though, it's interesting to get a glimpse of the coaches getting down on their knees in the trenches – even if it's only a quick look-see.

Today's Links...

 

 


 

FAU lands verbal commitment from 6-7 forward Devonte Thornton

FAU has secured a verbal commitment from Devonte Thornton, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Marietta (Ga.) – Osborne High School several recruiting sites have reported.

 Thornton told 247Sports he had offers from Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State and Jacksonville.

 Thornton averaged 19 points and six rebounds this season for Osborne.

Thornton will join Fishburne Military Academy forward Chris Bryant and Poinciana guard Steffan Moody, who signed with the Owls in the early signing period.

Devonte Thornton 2012 MixTape - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.
Here's whose stock is rising and falling after the firing of FAU AD Craig Angelos

Anytime there is big news, you always want to see how the markets react, so let’s see what stocks are rising and falling after the firing of Athletic Director Craig Angelos.

Down - FAU President Mary Jane Saunders
Saunders made the right move by pulling the plug on the Angelos Era at FAU before it sunk into a deeper financial hole. However, when the school president decides to fire a high-profile employee they should be prepared to answer questions. Instead Saunders ducked the media on Wednesday.

Up – FAU basketball coach Mike Jarvis
Jarvis and Angelos have been haggling for a while over a contract. At this stage, it’s assumed Jarvis will be signing a new one soon, but he won the war of attrition over Angelos.

Down – FAU football coach Carl Pelini
Pelini hasn’t had a chance to prove himself yet, but it is never a good sign when the person that hired you is fired.

Up – Howard Schnellenberger
Could Schnellenberger (pictured at last night's FAU-UM game) get the last laugh by taking over the position once held by Angelos, who certainly didn’t make it easy on Schnellenberger in the last few years? Schnellenberger may not become FAU’s full-time AD, but one can bet he will have more of a hands-on role and be allowed to do more since Angelos was pink-slipped.

Down – FAU’s shot of getting an invitation to a new conference
It’s doubtful that FAU will employ the Angelos strategy of “Monitoring the situation” otherwise known as waiting for the phone to ring when it comes to exploring opportunities in other conferences. However, the next few months are crucial when it comes to the new Conference USA-Mountain West merger, and FAU will be in a transition period.

Up – Long-term prospects of FAU Athletics

Craig Angelos did some good things at FAU during his tenure, but it was clear the department was not growing as it should be and the biggest reason for that was a lack of money. FAU simply had too many mistakes made recently when it came to marketing the program and failed at growing the fan and donor bases to an acceptable level. The decision was made to fire Angelos – and it can be assumed that others will follow especially when a new AD arrives - and FAU will likely be better for it. 

Today's Links...





 

FAU President Saunders issues statement on Angelos

Despite a request for comment after FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos was fired, President Mary Jane Saunders has been unavailable for interviews today.

Through the media relations department, she did issue the following statement.

“Craig Angelos, director of FAU athletics since July 2003, will no longer be serving in this role at the University. Craig has played an integral role the growth of this University and FAU athletics. FAU is grateful for his leadership. Effective today, Senior Associate Athletic Director Melissa Dawson will serve as Interim Athletic Director and a search for the new Director of Athletics will commence immediately. We are confident that Melissa's proven leadership and enthusiasm will keep FAU Athletics moving upward during this transitional period.”

We thank Craig for his valuable service to the University and for all he has contributed to FAU’s ongoing development.”
 

 

This morning, before the regularly scheduled staff meeting when he told the staff he was no longer AD, I asked Angelos for comment, but he didn't answer.

A few minutes ago Angelos and former strength coach Rod Payne attempted to walk out to watch football practice but stopped short of the fields when he spotted the media.

He spoke with Payne for a few minutes, then left the Oxley Center without taking questions.

 

FAU AD Craig Angelos let go

FAU will have a new athletic director after Craig Angelos announced this morning in a staff meeting that he will not be returning to the position he has held since 2003.

Under Angelos, FAU’s football program moved from division I-AA to I-A, jumped from the Atlantic Sun to the Sun Belt Conference and opened up its 30,000 seat football stadium.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that Angelos' contract will not be renewed.

In other words, he was fired and told that his services were no longer needed.

I hope he lands on his feet.

However, the problems in the FAU athletic department were mounting and the university administration evidently decided it was time to cut the losses.

The number one problem in the athletics department was lack of resources (i.e. money.) Under Angelos fundraising was lacking which meant coaches were constantly being told to cut corners.

Coaching searches were often bungled and while it could be argued that in the end FAU may have hired the right guy in the majority of cases, the searches themselves were often needlessly drawn out, messy affairs.

Also it is unfathomable that FAU and basketball coach Mike Jarvis have not agreed to a contract, with the current one set to expire in weeks.

Even If it was the right call to let Angelos go, one must wonder why he was allowed to conduct the search for FAU's football coach without the help of a search committee or a search firm if there was an inkling he was going to be fired just four months later.

Associate AD Melissa Dawson will be the interim athletic director and I'm sure she will do a fine job. She is one of the hardest-working staff members in the department. With the problems she is left with, there is plenty of work to be done.
 

Sources say FAU guard Ray Taylor turning pro

UPDATED AT 12:08 p.m.

Ray Taylor is going pro.

Read that sentence again. I am not making it up.

Sources close to the program have told Owl Access that Ray Taylor has played his last game at FAU.

FAU officially confirmed our report with a press release.

"Florida Atlantic University guard Raymond Taylor has announced that he will forgo his senior season to pursue his professional basketball career," the release stated.

We are still not certain that Taylor has signed with an agent, but once that happens it will remove all opportunity to return. Taylor apparently does intend to sign with an agent, and he has that person in mind, according to sources.

Taylor, who would have been a senior next season, intends to play professionally next year – likely overseas. It is also believed he will make himself eligible for this year's NBA draft.

Listed at 5-foot-6, Taylor led the Owls in assists last season and his 8.9 points per game trailed only Greg Gantt.

A pre-season All-Sun Belt selection, Taylor's play irked FAU coach Mike Jarvis much of the season. During post-game press conferences the coach frequently discussed the selfish play of some Owls – at times singling out Taylor.

He is the second player with remaining eligibility who won't return to the Owls following their disappointing 11-19 record this season. Last week we told FAU fans that forward Kore White will not be with the team next season and reported that it was possibility Taylor wasn't coming back either. Apparently, that's exactly what is going to happen.

FAU football past, present and future on display

There was plenty going on at the Oxley Center on Monday.

It was a day for past, present and future for FAU Football.

It started in the morning with Pro Day, where nine FAU players were watched by the scouts as they went through the usual drills.

RB Alfred Morris, who has the best shot at being drafted, clocked in with a 4.62 in the 40-yard dash. Here’s a recap, official results and some video highlights of the workouts.

In the afternoon, Carl Pelini took the field for his first spring practice. Players, coaches and staff all appear pumped up. Here’s a recap and video highlights.

With a new coach in charge, one gets the feeling players want to make a good impression and this will be an interesting spring practice session.

When the practice was over, walk-on tryouts were just beginning. Will any prospects come out of that group? Pelini told us earlier he has high hopes for the walk-on program.

All in all, a pretty long and eventful day and some pretty good signs that better days are ahead at the Oxley Center.

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New FAU coach Carl Pelini makes his mark in first spring practice

Perhaps the only person on the field more excited than FAU football players to finally get the first practice under new coach Carl Pelini started was Pelini himself.

A few minutes after the Owls took the field for the first spring practice of the season, Pelini walked out of a side door at the Oxley Center and for the first time looked out and saw a college football team that his own.

“It was a proud moment for me,” Pelini said. “Excited and nervous as hell – and probably more nervous than most of these players were. But it went pretty smooth. Now we have a foundation and we can get better from here. It's a good feeling.”

Make no mistake. FAU Football is now Pelini's program. The last time the Owls had this much to learn? Perhaps the first practice in program history on Aug. 28, 2000 when the order of that day was how to call and break a huddle properly.

Fast forward to Monday and the Owls were learning how to get to the line of scrimmage, get the play in, stretch and other details that Pelini wants done his way.

The players seem to get the message loud and clear, welcoming a new attitude.

“It's not just players just being more accountable for their actions, the coaches are also,” said running back Xavier Stinson. “They are showing that they really care about our well-being and winning games. ...We can tell that they really care and we are really starting to believe in it.”
 

FAU DE Kevin Cyrille, RB Alfred Morris to work out for Dolphins

FAU's Pro Day is in the books with nine FAU players working out for seven NFL teams (and one CFL team) that sent scouts.

Here's a few quick items with more on the Pro Day coming later.

  • Today's Pro Day activities will not be the last pre-draft workouts for Alfred Morris and Kevin Cyrille. Both players have been invited to participate in the Miami Dolphins regional workout on April 5.
  • FAU players who participated in Pro Day: RB Alfred Morris, TE Darian Williams, DE Kevin Cyrille, DE Jamere Johnson (pictured) OL Sam McCroy, P Mickey Groody, DB Marcus Bartels, RB and RB Willie Floyd.
  • Scouts from the Packers, Saints, Jaguars, Giants, Raiders, 49ers, Dolphins and Hamilton Tiger-Cats were in attendance.
  • Running back Avionne Rolle, who left the Owls and returned at least once during his college career, was back in Boca Raton participating in FAU's Pro Day workout.
  • Unofficlal times for Morris in the 40-yard dash were in the 4.61-to-4.62 range.
  • More unofficial leaders were Darian Williams with 23 reps in the bench press, Marcus Bartels with 31.5 inches in the vertical jump and Avionne Rolle with 37 inches in the standing broad jump
  • Without a senior quarterback, FAU invited former Jupiter High School QB J. B. Clark to handle quarterbacking duties during the workout. At one point FAU reportedly showed some recruiting interest in Clark, but he ended up signing with Lehigh. Clark transferred to Truman St., where he finished his career in 2011. Former Dillard QB Oliver Bozeman, who played at Alcorn State, also participated.


 

Morris intends to give 40 one more try today at Pro Day

Alfred Morris plans to take one more shot at proving to scouts that he is as fast as he says he is.

Morris, who a month ago didn't plan to run the 40-yard dash as part of today's Pro Day at FAU, has decided it is in his best interest to run.

FAU's all-time leading rusher, Morris hoped to run a 4.5 at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, but instead raced to the line with a time in the 4.65 range.

“I know I'm faster than the time I posted at the Combine,” Morris said. “I still don't think I have anything to prove, but I came (to Boca Raton) ready to go out there and run – to do what I know I can do.”

Morris said he has spent the past couple weeks tying to improve the way he starts.

“At the combine I didn't feel as explosive as I did when I was training,” he said.

Even if Morris does improve his time, there may not be many scouts to bear witness. Unlike last year, when FAU had four realistic NFL prospects (Rob Housler was drafted, Lestar Jean and Michael Lockley signed free agent deals, Jeff Van Camp got some looks) Morris is the only true standout.

After Morris played in the Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl and participated in the Combine, scouts have already enjoyed plenty of chances to see him in action.

Rather than get a fourth, fifth or tenth look at Morris, scouts may be more interested to see whether some other Owls might make good free agent signings.

Defensive end Kevin Cyrille drew some interest from teams during practices for the Battle of Florida collegiate all-star game. Punter Mickey Groody could help a team in need of a punter.

Safety Marcus Bartels may have the most to gain on Monday.

“They think I'm undersized, they probably don't think I'm too fast, and they probably don't think I'm too strong,” Bartels said. “I've got a lot to prove out there.”

One person missing from Monday's activities will be Jarvis Givens. The interior defensive lineman is once again feeling the effects of a neck injury sustained in 2009.

Givens, who has the kind of size and athleticism that could have impressed, has chosen not to pursue a career in professional football.

“It's best to hang it up,” said Givens, who will try to attend Pro Day as a spectator. “I have a daughter to worry about.”

Players will report for Pro Day at 9 a.m. The events shouldn't last much past noon. OwlAccess.com will be there, providing updates on the site and on Twitter (@fauowlaccess).

Of course, we'll also stick around to cover the first spring practice of the Carl Pelini era. Should be a fun day.

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The Top 5 questions heading into FAU spring football practice

The wait is almost over.

Give or take a couple of hours, FAU is a day away from the first official practice of the Carl Pelini era. It certainly will be one of the most closely watched springs in the FAU program's brief history.

The coaching change brings new faces and new schemes. FAU will end the spring with a completely different look.

There are many questions that need to be answered. Here are five of the most important questions Pelini and crew will be trying to answer during the coming weeks.

1. Who will play quarterback?
It's the question everyone wants answered, but even if there is a clear-cut winner in the spring that may not mean Pelini will have settled on an opening-game starter. Remember, junior college signee Melvin German won't be in Boca Raton until the summer at the earliest. FAU has seven quarterbacks on scholarship. That number could be halved by the end of the spring.

“Quarterbacks - that's a spot we have to get better at,” Pelini said last week. “Those guys are going to have to come to work every day, because they are going to have to compete just to get reps every day. And then when they get the reps, they are going to be competing for the depth chart. They are going to have to be ready to go.”

2. Who will change positions?
Pelini believes as many as 30 players will change positions. Some will be subtle, like potentially sliding some of the smaller, quicker running backs into the slot receiver role. Others will move from offense to defense. Expect many of the changes to come by the end of the first week.

Pelini's sales pitch to get players to make a move?

“I'm not going to move you to a spot where I don't think you are going to be more successful than where you already are,” he said.

3. How much of an impact will the new players make?
The official depth chart released by FAU didn't feature any JUCO transfers or new enrollees on the two-deep. That will likely change by the second practice. The first-team offensive line could feature two JUCO signees – Mustafa Johnson and Stern Vile – and one FBS transfer – Jonathan Ragoo – in short order. Also, can either Grant Flessner or Colton Kane, freshman quarterbacks who enrolled in January, make an immediate impact?

4. What will the overall tenor of the practices be like?
At times over the past couple years FAU practices seemed to plod along. Will there be more urgency with this new regime? Will it have to move at a slower pace because everyone is trying to learn something new? Will the players respond to new coaching styles?

5. Who will not be around after the spring?
Some players simply won't fit in the new schemes, which means these could be their last practices in FAU uniforms. It wouldn't be surprising for some names extremely familiar to part ways with the Owls following the spring semester.

Pelini says he hasn't cut loose any scholarship players yet, but it certainly sounds like there are a few who aren't making good early impressions.

There are more questions, and we will do our best to answer as many as possible over the coming weeks. As for Monday, OwlAccess.com will be out in full force to cover Pro Day, which starts in the morning, and the first spring practice.

Let the fun begin.

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If Dugan is fired, possible replacement has ties to FAU President

There hasn’t been any announcement concerning the future of Florida Atlantic women’s basketball coach Chancellor Dugan, but all of the sudden I don’t see the prospects for her return as quite as rosy as they seemed a few days ago.

My change of heart has little to do to with the Owls’ dreadful performance in the first round of the WNIT when they lost 76-20 to USF.

Sources tell Owl Access that if FAU were to stick to its plan of last March to fire Dugan, the leading candidate to replace her would be Cleveland State coach Kate Peterson Abiad.

If the name doesn’t sound familiar to FAU fans, her current employer should. Cleveland State is where FAU President Mary Jane Saunders worked as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs from 2007-10 when Peterson Abiad led the Vikings to two NCAA Tournament appearances.

It’s not a coincidence.

I am hearing that Saunders has let it be known to athletic department officials that she is a big Peterson Abiad fan.

Nothing wrong with that, except the FAU and Cleveland State programs appear to be heading in opposite directions.

While Dugan led the Owls to a 17-13 record this season and had one of the best seasons in school history, Peterson Abiad’s Vikings went 12-19 and finished seventh in the Horizon League.

Peterson Abiad’s career record at CSU in nine seasons is 118-159 (.426) while Dugan’s is 157-217 (.419) in 12 seasons at FAU and Dugan is 320-290 (.525) in 19 seasons as a college coach.

Would axing Dugan to bring in Peterson Abiad be much of an upgrade?

On Wednesday, when Owl Access reported exclusively that Dugan was informed last March that the 2011-12 season would be her last, Athletic Director Craig Angelos said he would meet with Dugan after the season to and determine her future after evaluating the program.

As we all know, the season came to a rough ending as the Owls were pounded by the Bulls. We can assume that game won’t be the determining factor to whether the season was up to the high standards of FAU’s athletic department, which has had very few teams in the post-season lately.

I don’t blame FAU for looking at other options. Heck, bringing in Peterson Abiad (who sources say was contacted by FAU weeks ago) for Dugan would have seemed like a pretty good move last March.

But if that plan by Angelos (you don’t suppose anyone else is really making the call, do you?) is still in motion after the seasons each coach had in 2011-12, the Owls’ point total vs. USF won’t be FAU’s only all-time low this week.

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FAU releases depth chart for first spring practice under Carl Pelini

FAU released its spring depth chart moments ago.

If it isn't already out of date, it will be by the end of the first practice. Still, it's a starting point for the Pelini area, and if FAU cared enough to put out an initial spring depth chart we're going to pass it on to Owl fans.

A couple of quick takes from the depth chart:

  • Graham Wilbert is listed atop the depth chart at QB. Stephen Curtis is the back-up.
  • With no fullback in the new spread offense Xavier Stinson (pictured) is the first string running back, followed by Damian Fortner.
  • There are no junior college players, transfers or other January enrollees on the two-deep. That is not uncommon, and certainly won't stay that way.
  • Marcelo Bonani will apparently get the first shot to replace Mickey Groody at punter, but that may be because FAU felt the need to put somebody in that slot.
  • Cory Henry is listed as a starting defensive end, but Martin Wright is still at linebacker.

Take a look at the rest of the chart.

Offense
WR DeAndre Richardson / William Dukes
WR Derek Moise / Jerrard Hunter
WR Marcus Cunningham / Paul Moore
LT Troy Niblack / Christopher Chappell
LG Andy Czuprynski / DeAndre Williams
C Jimmie Colley / Jordan Sessa
RG Erik Hansen / Mike Marsaille
RT Joe Bailey / Robbert Nasiff
TE Nexon Dorvilus / Alex DeLeon
QB Graham Wilbert / Stephen Curtis
RB Xavier Stinson / Damian Fortner

Defense
DE Cory Henry / Joe Henry
DT Jimmy Jean / Andrew Stryffler
DT David Baptiste / Matt Chaney
DE Robinson Eugene / Nicardo Henry
LB Martin Wright
LB David Hinds / Andrae Kirk
LB Randell Johnson / Michael Copeland
CB Keith Reaser / D.J. Frye-Smith
SS Brentley Harstad / David Lozandier
FS Demetrius Williamson / David Parms
CB Treon Howard / Winfred Strickland

Special Teams
P Marcelo Bonani
K Vinny Zaccario
LS Tim Raber
 

 

FAU AD Angelos expects new mega conference to consider inviting Owls

A couple of days ago we told you about a CBSSports.com story that said the new conference formed by the merger of Conference USA and the Mountain West had been in contact with several schools, including FAU, about possible expansion.

FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos said the Owls had talked to C-USA representatives during the past couple years, but there hasn't been any contact in about a month.

“We haven't had any discussions since their merger,” Angelos said.

That doesn't mean Angelos doesn't expect to talk about inclusion in the new mega conference that has yet to be given a formal name.

“I know that they are interested in expanding into Florida,” he said. “I'm sure we'll have some type of discussion.”

The new league is expected to try to get some footing in Florida. C-USA had a presence with Central Florida, but now that the Knights are Big East bound, the Sunshine State is dark.

Florida, Florida State, Miami and South Florida obviously are not going to take a step backward to join the new conference.

“The most valuable schools remaining are us and FIU, and I like our position much better than FIU's,” said Angelos, citing FAU's location, fan base, facilities, wealth base and population base as being advantageous.

Of course, the league could always poach both South Florida schools away from the Sun Belt.

And there are some reasons to consider the Sun Belt the more attractive conference – travel issues being first and foremost. Still, the Owls need to pursue a move to what is likely going to be a more lucrative conference as though it is the lone opportunity they will have to move out of the Sun Belt.

“Our goal is to be a good as we can and be competitive as we can, and put ourselves in the best position,” Angelos said.

Without a concerted marketing campaign, will that be enough?

Today's Links...

    More game coverage: Tampa Bay Times | Tampa Tribune









 

Kore White won't be back for FAU, could Ray Taylor be leaving as well?

Forward Kore White will not be back next season at Florida Atlantic and guard Ray Taylor's future with the team could be determined after a meeting with Owls coach Mike Jarvis.

Jarvis said he and White, who had an inconsistent career at FAU after transferring from Marshall, came to the conclusion that his career as an Owl should come to an end.

“Kore will not be back playing for FAU next year,” Jarvis said. “It was mutually agreed upon that he needs to move on. I'm ready to end this relationship and so is he.”

As for Taylor?

Sources told Owl Access that Taylor may face disciplinary action after he did not return home with the team following the Owls season-ending loss to Middle Tennessee in Hot Springs, Ark.

Taylor posted on his Twitter account that he was still in Arkansas a day after the team had already arrived back in Boca Raton.

Like White, Taylor was a constant target of Jarvis' criticism at post-game press conferences this season.

Jarvis did not comment on Taylor's extended stay in Arkansas, but said would be meeting with Taylor soon to discuss his future.

“He is still officially part of the team,” Jarvis said. “As of this time, right now he is still part of the basketball team. I'm going to meet with Ray in the next few days and we'll talk about the future - whatever that future might be.”

A pre-season All-Sun Belt selection, Taylor started a little more than half of the Owls' games this season. His 8.9 points per game was second on the Owls to Greg Gantt. Taylor's 127 assists led the team.

FAU trying to get Miami to play football game in Boca Raton

Could FAU and Miami square off in a football game in the coming years?

FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos says he's trying to make it happen

“I think it's like a 50-50 proposition,” Angelos said. “We have talked to Miami, but we talk to Miami every year. We're still talking to them about it. We'll see if there is anything we can do about it.”

In the coming years FAU has to play at least two non-conference guarantee games per year, earning as much as possible to help pay the new stadium debt. Miami can't be counted among those games because the Canes won't pay FAU enough to play.

Angelos would also like to play at least one non-conference home game each year against a beatable opponent, which could mean a game against an FCS team.

That doesn't mean Angelos has given up on trying to get Miami to play a game in Boca Raton.

“If we could do a home and home, or something of that nature that would fit within our model, we would love to do that,” Angelos said. “We have gone away from playing any 2-for-1s, 3-for-1s, 4-for-1s or anything like that.”

 

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FAU would be foolish if it sticks to plan to fire women's basketball coach Chancellor Dugan

It's a safe bet that until this week, FAU women's basketball coach Chancellor Dugan was not looking forward to this Thursday.

Funny how things change. The Owls are now slated to face South Florida in the Women's NIT on that day - a reward for a regular season performance that may have allowed Dugan to save her job.

Owl Access has learned that last March, Dugan was informed that the 2011-2012 season would be her last, and her final day as coach of the Owls would be March 15, 2012 – this Thursday.

In a letter dated March 14, 2011, which was obtained by Owl Access using a public records request, FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos gave Dugan a written “Notice of Separation” and outlined the details of her being dismissed, which included having her coach the 2011-12 season.

However, plenty has changed since then.

The women's basketball program is enjoying one of the most successful seasons in school history. FAU's 17-12 record was its best overall  since the Owls went 20-11 in 2005-06, the year the Owls advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

After winning seven games last season, the improvement of 10 added victories this season was the sixth-best turnaround this season in Division I.

The Owls were 11-5 in conference play, its best conference record since joining the Sun Belt in 2006. FAU also won a game in the Sun Belt tournament for the first time in school history, advancing to the semifinals where the Owls lost to eventual champion UALR.

And to cap the season off, Dugan and FAU found out Monday they would be going to the Women's NIT for the first time in school history.

So, you'd think the coach of the only program that has been a consistent winner this season at FAU would be safe from the proverbial hatchet?

Well, on Tuesday Angelos told Owl Access he would only commit to having Dugan coach until the end of his season, which would stretch beyond the original March 15 termination date should FAU win that first round game to advance in the NIT.

After that, Dugan's future is subject to his evaluation of the program at the end of the season.

"We are finishing out the season here and we will go from there," Angelos said. "We will extend her time here, for sure, throughout the tournament. She's done a great job this year....We will reevaluate at the end of the season."

I'm sure Dugan (who declined to answer questions about her future until after the season is over) will welcome the evaluation, but what exactly is there to evaluate?

Dugan is 320-289 in 13 seasons, and has had many seasons where the team has struggled. But the program took a major step forward this season and while the WNIT isn't quite the NCAA Tournament, the women's basketball team is the first FAU team to make it to post-season play since the men's basketball team went to the NIT last season.

There are rumors that this call may be made by some higher-ups at the university and it's believed potential replacements for Dugan have already been contacted. However, that was before the Owls finished the season strong and made it to where few teams at FAU have ever been – a post-season.

Common sense would seem to dictate it would be morally wrong to dismiss a coach who pulled off such a fine season and in the end, I believe Dugan will be welcomed back. It just seems odd that there is even a question as to whether the only coach on campus who is currently winning games should be allowed to stay.

Sun Belt trying to land Texas-San Antonio, Charlotte, report says

The Sun Belt Conference may have found two new members. CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy reports that the Sun Belt has had discussions with Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio and that the two are the ‘leading candidates’ to join the league.

The two schools may have already received “informal invitations.”

Texas-San Antonio started football last season and is led by former Miami coach Larry Coker. Charlotte is starting football in 2013 and could join the FBS level in 2015.

Texas-San Antonio is set to join the WAC next season.

If the two were to join, the Sun Belt could have 12 teams in 2015, provided no one leaves the Sun Belt in the meantime.

We will be using FAU’s strategy and be “monitoring the situation” to see if UTSA or Charlotte give their verbal commitments once they are offered.

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SMU fires former FAU coach Matt Doherty

Former FAU coach Matt Doherty was fired by SMU today.

Doherty was 15-13 in his one season at FAU, but bolted for SMU following he 2005-06 season.

At SMU Doherty was 80-109 in six seasons and a 13-19 this season was the final straw.

Most remember that Doherty had come from a rocky three-year career at North Carolina, but FAU created quite a stir when Doherty was hired in 2005 and gave the program instant credibility.

However, Doherty took off for Dallas before he really got started on his plan for the Owls’ program.
 

Report: FAU has talked with CUSA-Mountain West superconference

This could be big news for Owl fans or perhaps nothing at all, but CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy reported Monday that FAU is among 11 colleges that has either contacted or has been contacted by the new conference to be made up of members of Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference.

I suppose one of the things that would be interesting to know would be who initiated the contact between conference officials and FAU. My guess is that conference officials reached out to FAU. Based on prior conversations with AD Craig Angelos on this matter, that would seem more in line with FAU’s strategy of “monitoring the situation.”

That could mean there is genuine interest in FAU’s program – or it could be just a call to gather information. And there is the possibility the call was made by FAU – which should be a no-brainer as I’m pretty sure FIU isn’t standing pat and waiting for the phone to ring.

Owl fans should be cautious, however, as just because the two sides have talked, it doesn’t mean an invitation is on its way to 777 Glades Road. McMurphy reports that as many as 11 schools have had contact with the conference.

Still, talking with conference officials is the first step in what will be a long, long process.

 

 

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FAU women’s basketball team makes WNIT, will face USF in Tampa on Thursday

Congratulations are in order for the FAU women’s basketball team as the Owls have made the field of the Women’s NIT.

The Owls will face South Florida on Thursday in Tampa at the USF Rec Center.

USF won the WNIT championship in 2009.

Should FAU win, the Owls will face the winner of another NIT first-round game between FIU and Stetson.

FAU is 17-12 this season and posted its first winning season since joining the Sun Belt in the 2006-07 season.

The Owls won more Sun Belt games (11) than any other time in school history and won a game in the Sun Belt Conference tournament for the first time.

This is the second post-season appearance for the Owls, who made the NCAA Tournament in the 2005-06 season, also under Dugan.

For more info on the Women’s NIT

click here.


 

Could Bieber Fever be coming to FAU?

A couple of days ago OwlAccess.com informed FAU fans that the first concert in the new football stadium was likely to be headlined by Maroon 5 and Chris Brown.

The key word in that sentence, it turns out, is likely.

In the next day or two promoters of the “Rock to Live” festival should announce that Maroon 5 will, in fact, be a headliner in the April 28 show. However, it doesn't sound like Chris Brown will be there. It is still unclear whether Brown decided he didn't want to be part of the festival, which intends to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving, or that the organizers simply decided Brown wasn't the face they wanted on their event.

The man who might become the face? How about Justin Bieber? The teenybopper has teamed with PhoneGuard, which produces a mobile phone application which prevents texting while driving. PhoneGuard is a partner of the event.

It is believed organziers are trying to land Bieber, but does that mean Bieber may actually perform at FAU Stadium? It  certainly sounds like a possibility. Which raises the question, Would the South Florida music scene be better off if concert organizers are unable to pull it off?

Can you stand it? Bieber fever at FAU!

I'm already thinking about changing my haircut...

FAU women’s basketball team will have eye on Selection Monday

As we wrote on Sunday, Selection Sunday didn’t have much drama for FAU fans.

Selection Monday may be a bit more interesting.

The FAU women’s basketball team won’t hear its name called during tonight’s selection show, but the players and coaches will still be watching ESPN very closely at 7 p.m..

And, in a strange twist, they will be pulling for Middle Tennessee.

Here’s the explanation the way I see it. When UALR upset MTSU in the Sun Belt tournament, it earned the automatic bid to the Women's NCAA Tournament when it had no shot of earning an at-large bid. The Blue Raiders, however, are likely to earn an at-large bid after going 26-6 this season.

If the Sun Belt Conference gets two teams into the NCAA tournament, the third-place team will be invited to the WNIT, whose selection process is slightly different from the men’s NIT.

Well, guess which team is No. 3 in the Sun Belt? That’s right, your FAU Owls. And as OwlAccess reported last week, FAU has even bid to play host to a home game or two in the WNIT. The WNIT will announce its field after the NCAA bracket is revealed.

Regardless if you follow women’s basketball or not, any post-season is a good post-season and we’ll find out officially tonight if they are in or not, but the guess here is there is at least one more basketball game to played by FAU this season.

Today's Links...


 

Selection Sunday quiet for most in Sun Belt

Today is Selection Sunday throughout most of the country. For FAU fans it’s just  "Sunday" with no drama today for the Owls basketball team.

It’s much the same for all Sun Belt teams, except Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers won the Sun Belt Tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, the Hilltoppers’ fate is already known - with their losing record, they are destined for Dayton for one of the dreaded play-in games .

Regular-season champion MTSU is likely headed for the NIT, which will prove that even a 25-6 record isn’t good enough to make the NCAAs. There is a slim chance the Blue Raiders make it to the Big Dance, but late losses to WKU and Arkansas State in the tournament don’t look so good.

And give it up to the Ragin’ Cajuns who have made the field for the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

Maybe it’s OK to have a nice boring Sunday.

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Out at least two weeks, Pittman's injury could cause major re-shuffling

Over the past week we've frequently – far too frequently, in fact – detailed FAU baseball's now dire injury situation.

With Nathan Pittman's hamstring injury on Friday (Pittman tweeted on Saturday that he expects to miss 2-to-3 weeks), the Owls are now missing five players expected to play key roles this season.

Injuries to Jeremy Strawn and Hugh Adams have forced FAU coach John McCormack to reconfigure his starting rotation and the back end of his bullpen, respectively.

While the loss of leading run producer Alex Hudak is the most painful to the Owls' offense, Pittman's absence may force McCormack to completely re-shuffle his defensive alignment.

“If this thing is a long term thing, do you put (first baseman Mark Nelson), who came in as an outfielder, do you stick him (in left field)?” McCormack pondered following Friday's victory over Rutgers. “

If (catcher Mike) Spano plays first, then (second baseman Mike Albaladejo) catches full time and (Ricky) Santiago plays second full time. Or maybe somebody else, Dylan Seigel, maybe plays second full time.”

That scenario would have Geoff Jimenez shifting from left field to center. Jimenez has the speed to cover the ground, but Pittman – aside from losing balls in the twilight – has shown a flair for dramatic defensive plays, and has proven his defensive ability over the past couple seasons.

As McCormack indicated, Nelson did come to FAU as an outfielder, but I don't think anyone would argue swapping him for Pittman in the outfield is anything other than a net subtraction defensively.

Spano played some first base last season, looking good while displaying what at that point had been under appreciated athleticism. Despite his 0-for-3 night on Friday, McCormack was going to have to find a way to get Santiago's bat into line-up regardless of Pittman's injury.

Seigel (photo) has appeared in five games this season, going hitless in his only two at-bats; but instead of re-shuffling the line-up on Saturday, McCormack's chose to start Seigel in left field. The transfer from Pensacola Junior College will hit eighth once the rain delay ends.

When Pittman left Friday's game, McCormack opted to make a similarly simply adjustment, moving Jimenez to center and inserting Gregg Bennis, who went 0-for-1, in left.

Whichever line-up McCormack ultimately settles on, Pittman's injury, on top of those already suffered by Hudak and second baseman Robert Buckley, who underwent meniscus surgery earlier this week, will have the Owls relying heavily on at least a few players who only a couple of weeks ago appeared destined to spend much of 2012 cheering from the bench.

FAU's annual bonfire earns award

FAU’s basketball and football teams had disappointing seasons, but there is one area where the Owls were competitive.

FAU can throw a mean bonfire.

Yes, the Owls may win a national championship thanks to their bonfire.

The Student Alumni Association received an award from The Council for Advancement and Support of Education for its annual bonfire.

Click here for the entire press release.

And I agree with them. At a school with very little tradition, the SAA has turned the annual bonfire into a eagerly anticipated event.

Sure other schools may have their own versions, but FAU's bonfire  has created a stir and fired up the student body by burning things such as Big N, UAB’s dragon mascot and even one of the top mascots in college sports, Western Kentucky’s Big Red.

I remember when I turned on the TV in a Lincoln, Neb. Hotel room the day before FAU faced Nebraska and the local news had OwlAccess.com footage of the “N” going up in flames. Great memories and I need to tell coach Carl Pelini it was nothing personal. That clip still gets comments every now and then and has seven pages of irate Husker fans venting that their N was singed.

Here’s a trip down memory lane of footage that never goes old as we go through the years of FAU’s bonfires.

Today's Links...



 


 

FAU slugging homers at pretty good pace

With the loss sluggers of Dan Scheffler and Nick DelGuidice from last season’s team, it certainly didn’t look like the Owls would be much for power hitting this season.

However, FAU has started off on a hot pace when it comes to hitting home runs.

In fact, the Owls were in the top 10 of homers hit earlier this week and that was before freshman Ricky Santiago and Corey Keller (pictured) each hit one vs. Boston College (Keller’s was a grand slam.)

Through 14 games FAU has hit 14 homers. My math skills tell me that’s one a game and that’s pretty good especially after last season the Owls had 35 homers in 57 games.

Of course, four of the long balls came from the bat of Alex Hudak, who is out for at least a few more weeks, but Keller has filled in nicely and when freshmen are going yard as well, the Owls are doing something right.

Today's Links...





 

Maroon 5, Chris Brown expected to headline first major concert in FAU Stadium

It looks like Maroon 5 and Chris Brown will be among the headliners of the first major concert held in FAU's new football stadium.

The concert will be part of a huge event put on, in part, by the student leadership of Spanish River High School, of which I am a proud alumnus.

The “Rock to Live” festival will be held on April 28 and is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.

There will be a tailgate party that starts at 2 p.m. and part of the educational component will contain simulators that allow attendees to safely experience the dangers of distracted driving. Food will be supplied by a host of area food trucks. Not sure whether attendees will be able to text their orders ahead of time.

The plan is to sell all 30,000 seats, and video will be streamed nationally, allowing anyone from across the globe to see the show – and FAU's stadium – on their computers, smart phones and IPads. (Viewers presumably won't be watching the show while driving.)

Boca Raton-based PhoneGuard, a company that produces an app that prevents texting while driving, is one of the major sponsors, as is Justin Bieber – though the Shaun Cassidy of his generation is not expected to be one of the concert performers.

Maroon 5 has produced hits like “This Love” (above video) "Moves Like Jagger", and “She Will Be Loved.” Lead singer Adam Levine is also a part of The Voice television show.

Chris Brown is apparently most famous for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna (He pleaded guilty). Oh, his F.A.M.E also won the Grammy in 2012 for best R&B album.

Sources told OwlAccess.com that FAU is in the final stages of contract negotiation and a formal announcement of the event should be made in the coming weeks.

Today's Links...



 

 

 

Pelini expects walk-ons to be contributors

The start of spring practice doesn't come for another 12 days, which gives FAU coaches a little more time to spend recruiting for the Owls' 2012 recruiting class.

FAU announced the signing of 29 recruits back on Feb. 1. Since then FAU coaches have started looking toward the 2013 recruiting class, but they still have an eye toward this summer, with hopes of bringing in about 15 preferred walk-ons.

“I have this vision of the walk-on program being similar to the one we had in Nebraska,” FAU coach Carl Pelini said. “It's not just a matter of picking anyone who wants to walk on. It's a matter of recruiting walk-ons that can come here with the understanding that if they do break into the line-up and become contributors they can be put on scholarship.”

To start the process, Pelini and his staff went back to their recruiting notes to discuss players they recruited but ultimately didn't offer scholarships. They started with about 70 high school players and whittled that number down to about 20.

FAU coaches should begin offering some of those players preferred walk-on status in the coming days. NCAA rules allow for up to 85 football scholarships, but 105 players can be part of fall camp. The players Pelini and company will target in the coming days will go a long way toward bridging that gap.

Expect most, if not all, of the preferred walk-ons to come from the state of Florida. If qualified, they will be able to take advantage of the Florida Bright Futures program, which rewards high school academic achievement with scholarship money for college.

Contrary to rumors that I have completely fabricated, soon to be released Peyton Manning is not considering becoming an FAU preferred walk-on.

Today's Links...

Owl Access: No. 1 Florida pounds Owls
...More coverage: Sun-Sentinel | Gainesville Sun | Independent Florida Aligator | Gator Country

Sun Belt Conference Tournament Scoreboard
Monday's Result
Championship

(7) Western Kentucky 74, (5) North Texas 70
 ...Coverage: Bowling Green Daily News | WKU Herald



 

 

FAU women's basketball program takes big step in 2011-12

It was short party for the FAU women’s basketball team, which lost to UALR in the Sun Belt Conference semifinals on Monday a day after winning the first game in post-season since way back when the Owls were in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

With possibly one more game to go in the Women’s NIT, the Owls are 17-12 – the most victories since FAU moved to the Sun Belt in the 2006-07 season. FAU also went 11-5 in the conference, the most Sun Belt games it has ever won.

Under coach Chancellor Dugan, the women’s basketball program went to the Big Dance in 2006. But just as the Owls started to get the program rolling with an NCAA tournament appearance, FAU jumped to the Sun Belt, a very tough conference for women’s basketball. It has taken time, but it looks like Dugan has got the program to the level where it can compete for the Sun Belt Conference title.

I know there are many who don't follow women's basketball, but so far this season, the FAU women's basketball team has provided one of the few bright spots.

Today’s Links…

Sun Belt Conference Tournament Scoreboard...

Monday's Results
Semifinals

(5) North Texas 76, (9) Arkansas State 72
         Coverage: Denton Record-Chronicle

(7) Western Kentucky 67, (3) Denver 63
         Coverage: Bowling Green Daily News | WKU Herald| Denver Post

Today's Game
Championship

(5) North Texas vs. (7) Western Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)


 

 


 

FAU women give Owl fans a rare taste of March Madness

It’s been 10 years – yes, 10 years – since FAU’s only NCAA tournament appearance.

You are excused if you didn’t realize that, because nothing was done honor the 2002 NCAA tournament team  this season. Maybe it’s just as well. Due to FAU’s lack of post-season success, it seems like that wonderful March was in the days of peach baskets and a jump ball after every basket.

After losing to Arkansas State on Saturday, FAU hasn’t won a post-season game since 2008 (when Rex Walters was the coach) giving Owl fans very little to cheer about the first week of March recently.

It’s gotten so bad, the number of Owl fans who travel to Hot Springs, Ark. to witness the annual one-game stay for FAU has gone from zero fans to a whopping zero fans. Or as some would put it “there has been no drop-off in FAU fans who travel to the tournament!”

The women’s team has had an even bigger drought, failing to win a tournament game since 2006 – the year the Owls made the NCAA tourney and before FAU joined the Sun Belt in the 2006-07 season

But that all changed on Sunday with FAU’s women’s team staging a stirring comeback from 19 points down to defeat North Texas 56-55 on a last-second bucket by April Goins.

Maybe not everyone is into women’s basketball, but right now it’s the only program that is winning in the post-season.

And it gives FAU fans a taste of what March Madness is all about, just in case they’ve forgotten – like it seems some have.

Owl fans may need a refresher, but in a tournament, when a team wins it advances to play the next game. Therefore, the FAU women will continue their fantastic season today at 3:30 p.m. vs. UALR in something called the “semifinals” of the Sun Belt Tournament as the women continue a season that will be talked about for some time.

Today’s Links...

Sun Belt Conference Tournament...
Sunday's Results
(9) Arkansas State 64, (1) Middle Tennessee 61...Murfreesboro Daily News Journal
(5) North Texas 65, (4) Louisiana-Lafayette 62...Denton Record Chronicle | Lafayette Daily Advertiser
(7) Western Kentucky 68, (2) UALR 63...Bowling Green Daily News | WKU Herald
(3) Denver 61, (6) South Alabama 50...Denver Post | Mobile Press-Register

Monday's Games
(5) North Texas vs. (9) Arkansas State, 7 p.m. (CSS)
(3) Denver vs. (7) Western Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (CSS)


 

FAU bids to play host to game in Women’s NIT

The goal this week for the FAU women’s basketball team is to win the Sun Belt Conference tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament.

However, should the Owls fall short there is a backup plan for post-season play.

FAU has put in a bid to play host to a game in the Women’s NIT.

The game at The Burrow would be March 14-16. The Owls also put in a bid for the second round held March 17-19.

"They send the paperwork and really it's an honor just to fill it out," said FAU coach Chancellor Dugan. "Obviously going to the NCAA is the goal, but any post-season play would be awesome where ever we go,"

FAU’s bid for the first round is around $6,500 and around $7,500 for the second round.

The 64-team WNIT field will be announced on Monday, March 12 following the announcement of the women’s NCAA bracket.
 

FAU basketball season started with high hopes, ends with frustration

They say FAU doesn’t have many traditions, but bowing out in the first game in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament is becoming an annual rite of spring lately for the Owls.

In four seasons FAU is 0-for-4 in the tournament, when games matter the most.

After a 70-55 loss to Arkansas State on Saturday FAU’s season is over at 11-19.

Just a guess, but the FAU players who didn’t like that coach Mike Jarvis didn’t nominate them for the all-Sun Belt Conference teams won’t have a chance at making the all-Sun Belt Conference Tournament teams either. This time it won’t be Jarvis’ doing, it will be because the Owls didn’t show up for the most important game of the season.

Thankfully, this season of high expectations but poor results is over.

Next year should be better with two solid recruits (Stefan Moody and Chris Bryant) on the way. Along with Baylor transfer Dragan Sekelja, those players could be the nucleus of a better team, which may also improve by some roster “shuffling” that could be on the way, if you know what I mean.

Today’s Links…


Sun Belt Conference Tournament...









 

Harmon hops on roster of AFL’s Jacksonville Sharks

Congratulations are in order for former FAU tight end Jason Harmon, who was added to the roster of the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League.

Harmon played tight end for the Owls, but will be a wide receiver for the Sharks, who will hold a pre-season scrimmage today and open their season on March 16.

After finishing his career at FAU in 2009, Harmon signed with Jacksonville’s other professional football team - the NFL's Jaguars. However, Harmon was cut during training camp.

Harmon was briefly on the roster of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts last season.

It also appears former FAU defensive backs Erick McIntosh and Tavious Polo are still on the roster of the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena Football League.
 

Today's Links...




 

Strawn's injury could bring Meiers back to weekend rotation

Jake Meiers' return to the weekend rotation could come sooner than expected.

Jeremy Strawn's tear in his latissimus dorsi tendon will likely cause him to miss at least eight weeks, FAU coach John McCormack said, and if it's decided Strawn needs surgery, he will be out for the year.

Should the rotation not change, that would leave Ryan Garton, Bo Logan and Austin Gomber as the weekend hurlers. Logan had a less-than-auspicious debut as a starter last weekend, allowing six runs in   4 1/3 against Manhattan. That outing followed a one-inning relief stint where Logan allowed three runs.

Gomber walked four and allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings during his first collegiate start on Sunday.

Meiers drew the first Saturday start of the season, defeating Alabama in the middle game of that series, but McCormack moved him to the midweek because of the righthander's past success against teams like Miami and Central Florida.

He struggled on Wednesday at Miami – and didn't receive much help defensively – but still would have been a lock to start on Tuesday against Florida if Strawn were healthy.

Now?

“In my mindset I'm reeling him back in,” McCormack said. “We'll see what happens this week.”

There was always the thought that McCormack would bring Meiers back to the weekend when conference play started. That may happen sooner than planned unless McCormack gets a couple of good outings from the group that includes Logan, Gomber Kevin Perez, Julian Loret de Mola, and  Kevin Alexander. One of the final three pitchers on that list is likely to start the second game on Saturday against Princeton.

Incidentally, Strawn's injury isn't that common for a pitcher. Jake Peavy is the most famous pitcher to experience a similar injury, but his was a complete rupture of the tendon. Peavy returned in 2011 to go 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA.

Other than Peavy, there are only a handful of cases of torn lat tendons nation wide than can be attributed to pitching.

It's not clear yet whether Strawn, whose arm is in a sling, will need season-ending surgery or whether rest will promote healing.

“The prognosis and what they are going to do they are still tying to figure out,” McCormack said.

Strawn injured the lat tendon in the first inning of Saturday's second game against Manhattan (photo, No. 10). He faced four batters before having to leave the game.
 

FAU coach Mike Jarvis explains why he didn't submit any players for All-Sun Belt teams

The FAU basketball team went through what could be its last practice at The Burrow this season Thursday morning before leaving for Hot Springs, Ark. and the Sun Belt tournament.

I stopped by the workout and talked to Owls coach Mike Jarvis about the team's preparation for the tournament for our preview, which will be posted later today. While there, I had to ask about the controversial decision to not nominate any of his players for the all-Sun Belt Conference teams ensuring no Owls would earn any post-season honors from the conference.

There seemed to be some confusion when the team's were announced that the voters or the Sun Belt Conference was to blame for snubbing FAU players. Instead no FAU players were submitted to be put on the ballot for the voting panel comprised of the coach from each school and a media member that covers the school (Full disclosure that OwlAccess.com was the media outlet covering FAU selected to vote)

Now that you know the background, here's what Jarvis said.

“We didn't have anyone that had a really good year. I can't nominate guys just because they are on my team. I've got to be fair and honest with ourselves and our program .

When we won last year, we had a lot of people and we deserved to, but we won seven games this year in the league. Who am I going to nominate? Nobody on our team had a really good year.

Greg (Gantt) was our leading scorer, but he didn't have a good year. There a lot of 3-men in our league that feasted on Greg's defense.

I didn't feel we had anybody deserved to be on the first team. And when I put a name in, I'm going to put a name in for a guy that deserved to be on the first team and then maybe you'll get a guy on the second team.

There wasn't anybody on our team that deserves to be all-league and I made that final decision. I get input from the staff, but I make the final decision.

The worst thing that can happen is you have a kid that has a sub-par year and he's rewarded."

Today's Links...

A closer look at FAU’s 2012 football schedule

The Sun Belt Conference and FAU have released the football schedule for 2012.

Here is FAU’s schedule so get ready to save the dates.

Aug. 31 Wagner
Sept. 8 at Middle Tennessee*
Sept.15 at Georgia
Sept. 22 at Alabama
Sept. 29 North Texas*
Oct. 13 at ULM*
Oct. 20 at South Alabama*
Oct. 27 Troy*
Nov. 3 at Navy
Nov. 10 at Western Kentucky*
Nov. 16 FIU*
Dec. 1 ULL*

* - Sun Belt Conference
Home games in bold

A few quick observations...

…FAU is playing two games on Friday night, the opener vs. Wagner and the Shula Bowl vs. FIU, which is set to be televised on ESPNU.

…The Owls are idle on Oct. 6 and Nov. 23.

…FAU doesn’t play Arkansas State this season as the Sun Belt expands welcoming South Alabama this season. FAU travels to face the Jaguars on Oct. 20.

 

Owls can't be sloppy against next few opponents

Florida Atlantic didn't look like it belonged on the same field with Miami early in its 10-5 loss on Wednesday.

Fly balls were falling around FAU fielders, cut-off men were being missed and the list goes on and on.

However, the Owls showed some life late in the innings and those runs and solid pitching performances did more than just make the score from Alex Rodriguez Park look respectable.

The Owls have several tough games ahead with a game at No. 1 Florida next week on the road and a home game against Boston College,

Heck, even this weekend's game against Princeton, an NCAA Regional team last season, will be a challenge.

It's part of a brutal opening schedule that has FAU playing its first 13 games against teams that played in Regionals last season.

FAU is going to need better performances on the mound than the one Jake Meiers (pictured) had and better fielding coming up soon to be successful.

“In the stretch that we're in your are going to need better starting pitching,” FAU coach John McCormack said.

The Owls may have lost an important game, but there are plenty of other important ones on the horizon as well.
 

Today's Links...







 

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Yes, that is the young man. Thanks for the information. I hope he gets a shot somewhere else.

I believe you must be talking about Robert Lohnes. I had not heard why he left.

Sorry to hear that. He was exciting to watch and he seemed to have a lot of heart too. What was his name? I hope another school picks him up.

They wouldn't give him a scholarship so he quit

Owl Access, what ever happened to our punt returner that was from the Tampa area? He was about 5'6" and really fast. I can't remember his name.

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