|Athletic director||Pete Garcia|
|Head coach||Ron Turner|
|Home stadium||FIU Stadium|
|Stadium surface||Field Turf|
|League||NCAA Division I FBS|
|Postseason bowl record||1–1|
|Colors||Blue and Gold|
|Fight song||FIU Fight Song|
|Mascot||Roary the Panther|
|Rivals||Florida Atlantic Owls|
The FIU Panthers football team represent Florida International University in Miami, Florida in the sport of college football. The FIU Panthers are a mid-major NCAA FBS college football team in the Sun Belt Conference. The team plays at the on-campus FIU Stadium. In July 2013, the Panthers will begin competing in Conference USA.
On 1 September 1999, when after several years of contemplating the commencement of a football team, FIU moved a step closer by hiring Don Strock to be FIU’s Director of Football Operations. One year later, Don Strock was named Head Coach with plans to lay the foundations for a college football team. QB David Tabor was the first FIU football recruit. In February 2002, FIU found its star QB in highly touted Jamie Burke from Cardinal Mooney High, Sarasota, FL. Burke was the only player to ever throw for over 500 yards in a single game in Florida as well as led the state in touchdown passes in a season with 34. Burke was being recruited by the University of Florida but opted instead for FIU when Steve Spurrier left to coach the Washington Redskins. FIU had everything it needed to begin competing in NCAA Football. FIU was placed in the Division I-AA level as an Independent team.
FIU won its inaugural game on 29 August 2002 against Saint Peter's College (New Jersey), 27—3. The team faired fairly well against the competition that season and managed to finish with a 5-6 record. The Golden Panthers then hoped to build on that in the coming 2003 season. FIU signed to play more challenging teams of the division in hopes to get more recognition as a solid football team. The opening game of the following season started with a loss to Indiana State and it led to a 0—8 start for the second year team. They failed to reach the standard set the season before and fell to a 2—10 season. The next season followed with similar results, finishing with a 3—7 record.
After the 2004 season, FIU moved up to Division I FBS, formerly known as Division I-A, despite their relative lack of success in their first three seasons in Division 1 FCS. FIU became the fastest school in the history of college football to reach the highest level. This has since been eclipsed by multiple schools during the conference movement in 2012.
The Panthers moved to Division I-A in 2005. Many of the season's players were from the 2003 recruiting class. Keyonvis Bouie, FIU's linebacker recorded 118 tackles in nine games, 11 for a loss and three interceptions. A second linebacker, Antwan Barnes recorded 15 tackles for a loss and added 11 sacks to his statistics. On offense, FIU's quarterback, Josh Padrick who passed for 2743 yards and 13 touchdowns. His primary target was Chandler Williams, who caught 61 passes for a total of 870 yards. It was these defensive performances that allowed FIU to compete with the teams in Division I-A and finish the season 5—6.
FIU had found the foundation upon which the team would be built. As characteristic of FIU’s athletic department, the following year, FIU signed to play harder teams. FIU was headed in the right direction but still lacked consistency, and organization. As they began their 2006 season they almost evenly matched the teams which they played, losing almost all of their first few games by very narrow margins. Middle Tennessee 7—6, USF 21—20, Bowling Green 33-28, Maryland 14—10, and University of North Texas 22—25 (7OTs).
On 14 October 2006, FIU and the Miami Hurricanes met for the first time in what was supposed to be the beginning of an annual cross-town rivalry game. Nine minutes into the second half the two teams engaged in a brawl involving players from both schools, including one injured FIU player on crutches and one UM player using his helmet as a weapon. The violence later spilled into the stands, where several spectators were arrested and later released without charges. On the field, police officers were hit with bottles from the stands. 31 players were later punished for the incident, including 13 Miami players and 18 FIU players. Two FIU players were kicked off the team.
The FIU defense still finished 28th nationally, and 4th in pass defense. Antwan Barnes ranked 3rd in the nation in tackles for loss with 22 and 6 sacks. Bouie gained 119 tackles 18 for loss, and Alexander Bostic would add 98 tackles, 19 for loss and 8 sacks. Barnes, Bouie and, Bostic came to be known as the “Killer B’s”. On offense, FIU’s receiver Chandler Williams, caught 67 passes for 664 yards.
In 2006, Barnes and Williams were both drafted to the NFL. That same year, the FIU Athletics Department hired a new athletic director Pete Garcia, and found a new head coach for the team, Mario Cristobal. Cristobal became the second youngest Division I-A coach at 37. Cristobal brought in a new coaching staff in hopes to turn the program around. In 2007, FIU was the second-youngest team in Division I-A. 2/3 were underclassmen; mostly freshmen. During the 2007 season, FIU played its home games in the Miami Orange Bowl during the expansion of FIU Stadium to 20,000 seats. The Golden Panthers concluded the season with a win against North Texas 38-19. It was the last college football game ever played at the historic Orange Bowl prior to its demolition and the last home win at that stadium. In September 2008, the Panthers inaugurated the expanded FIU Stadium by hosting the South Florida Bulls with a crowd of over 16,000. FIU lost the game 17—9. The team would go on to win the next three games in a showing of a much improved team from the 2006 and 2007 team.
On Saturday, 27 November 2010, FIU defeated Arkansas State University to clinch the Sun Belt Conference Title. This earned FIU its first bowl berth in the short history of its football program. Twenty-nine days later, on 26 December, they became Little Caesars Champions. Fans brought signs saying, "¡Sí se puede!", Spanish for "Yes we can!" On 3 December 2011, FIU accepted an invitation to play in the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, the school's second consecutive bowl game.
After going from an 8—5 season in 2011 to a 3—9 season in 2012, FIU Athletic Director Pete Garcia made the decision to fire Cristobal because "we’ve gone backwards over the last year and a half. Over the last 22 games, we've gone 8-14." Garcia openly coveted Butch Davis to replace Cristobal. The decision was heavily criticized.
Current coaching staffEdit
Future non-conference opponentsEdit
In 2008, the non-conference schedule was announced for the 2011 through 2014 football seasons. The new non-conference schedule marked a new home-and-home approach with higher caliber opponents, bringing bigger name schools to FIU Stadium. In September 2012, Bethune-Cookman University was announced as the home opener game for FIU for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. FIU agreed to pay Bethune-Cookman $400,000 for each of the two games. In addition, the Panthers will first travel to College Park, Md., for the Terrapins’ home-opener next season on Aug. 31, 2013. Maryland will make the return visit to Miami and Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium on Sept. 10, 2016.
|at Maryland||at UCF||vs Maryland|
|vs UCF||vs Bethune-Cookman|
|vs Bethune-Cookman||vs Pittsburgh|
|at Louisville||vs Louisville|
Awards and All-AmericansEdit
Individual award winnersEdit
- 2006 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year: Keyonvis Bouie (LB)
- 2008 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year: T. Y. Hilton (WR)
- 2010 Sun Belt Player of the Year: T. Y. Hilton (WR)
- DB Nick Turnbull (2002, 2005) The Sports Network All American
- WR Lionell Singleton (2006: Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention)
- WR T.Y. Hilton (2008: Sports Illustrated Honorable Mention, Sporting News Freshman Team, scout.com Freshman Team)
FIU Stadium, nicknamed "The Cage", is the home field of the FIU Panthers football team. The stadium opened in 1995, and was expanded in 2007 thereby increasing the stadium's capacity to 23,500. FIU Stadium is nicknamed "The Cage" by FIU students and alumni. FIU Stadium was designed by Rossetti Architects and boasts a seating capacity of 23,500. The largest attended game was on October 1, 2011 versus Duke University with an attendance of 22,682; FIU lost 27–31.
Records and championshipsEdit
|Year||Season record||%||Conference||Conference record||%|| Conference|
|2005*||5—6||.454||Sun Belt||3—4||.429||4th||Don Strock||15,477|
|2006||0—12||.000||Sun Belt||0—7||.000||8th||Don Strock||15,110|
|2007||1—11||.083||Sun Belt||1—6||.142||7th||Mario Cristobal||13,471|
|2008||5—7||.417||Sun Belt||3—4||.429||T—5th||Mario Cristobal||13,852|
|2009||3—9||.250||Sun Belt||3—4||.429||6th||Mario Cristobal||10,204|
|2010||7—6||.538||Sun Belt||6—2||.750||T—1st||Mario Cristobal||16,544||Little Caesars Pizza Bowl|
|2011||8—5||.615||Sun Belt||5—3||.625||4th||Mario Cristobal||18,411||Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl|
|2012||3—9||.250||Sun Belt||2—6||.250||T—5th||Mario Cristobal||13,634||--|
|--||42-88||.323||--||23-36||.390||--||2 Coaches||--||2 Bowl games|
*2004 season and 2005 season wins vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
All-time record vs Sun Belt and in-state FBS opponentsEdit
|Opponent||Record||First Meeting||Last Meeting|
*Shula Bowl, annual rivalry game