FIU Panthers
First season 2002
Athletic director Pete Garcia
Head coach Ron Turner
Home stadium FIU Stadium
Year built 1995
Stadium capacity 20,000
Stadium surface Field Turf
Location Miami, Florida
League NCAA Division I FBS
Conference Sun Belt
All-time record 39–79
Postseason bowl record 1–1
Conference titles 1
Consensus All-Americans 0
Colors Blue and Gold            
Fight song FIU Fight Song
Mascot Roary the Panther
Outfitter Adidas
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.


Division Years Conference Affiliation
NCAA Division I-AA 2002-2004 Independent
NCAA Division I-A/FBS 2005-2012 Sun Belt Conference
2013 Conference USA (East)

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.

Early years

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.

Recent history

File:FIU Stadium.JPG

The Panthers play at the on-campus FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida.

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.[1]

File:FIU Duke 2011.jpg

FIU Stadium during the 2011 Homecoming game versus Duke University

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.[2][3]

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."[4] Garcia openly coveted Butch Davis to replace Cristobal. The decision was heavily criticized.[5][6][7]

On January 3, 2013, FIU hired Ron Turner, former head coach at San Jose State and Illinois, as the program's third head coach.[8]

Current coaching staff

Name Current Title Years at FIU Alma mater
Ron Turner Head Coach 2013 - Pacific
Tim Cramsey Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks 2012 - New Hampshire
Todd Orlando Defensive Coordinator, Linebackers 2011 - Wisconsin
Apollo Wright Special Teams Coordinator, Running Backs 2007 - Wagner College
Cedric Calhoun Defensive Line 2010 - Morehouse
Dennis Smith Tight Ends 2007 - Miami
Alex Mirabal Offensive Line 2007 - FIU
Frank Ponce Wide Receivers 2007 - FIU
Jeff Popovich Defensive Backs 2006 - Miami
Chad Smith Strength & Conditioning Coach -
Juan Navarro Defensive Assistant 2007 - Redlands
Phil Ockinga Defensive Graduate Assistant Coach 2009 - Hastings College
Edwin Pata Offensive Graduate Assistant Coach 2011 - FAMU
Director of Player Personnel -
Juan Lozano Director of Football Operations 2012 -
Dan Hernandez Asst. Director of Football Operations 2009 - Upper Iowa
Shawn Burns Football Operations Coordinator 2009 - Jacksonville University
Christian Terlizzo Asst. Equipment Manager 2008 - FIU
Winston Chen Video Coordinator 2011 - Fresno State University

Future non-conference opponents


Touchdown flag flown by the FIU Cheerleaders during the 7th annual Shula Bowl

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

2013 2014 2015 2016
at Maryland at UCF vs Maryland
vs UCF vs Bethune-Cookman
vs Bethune-Cookman vs Pittsburgh
at Louisville vs Louisville

Awards and All-Americans

Individual award winners

  • 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)

All Americans

FIU Stadium

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.[12]

Records and championships

File:FIU Stadium2.JPG

FIU fans at the 2008 home opener game at FIU Stadium versus South Florida.

File:FIU 2011 Beef OBrady's Bowl.jpg

Panther fans at the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

Conference affiliations:


All-time record

Year Season record % Conference Conference record % Conference
Coach Attendance
Bowl game
2002 5—6 .454 Independent -- -- -- Don Strock 8,294
2003 2—10 .166 Independent -- -- -- Don Strock 7,073
2004* 3—7 .300 Independent -- -- -- Don Strock 11,108
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 opponents

Opponent Record First Meeting Last Meeting
Arkansas State 2—6 2005 2012
Florida 0—1 2009 2009
Florida Atlantic* 3—8 2002 2012
Louisiana-Lafayette 2—8 2003 2012
Louisiana-Monroe 3—6 2004 2012
Miami 0—2 2006 2007
Middle Tennessee 3—5 2005 2012
North Texas 5—2 2005 2011
South Florida 0—2 2006 2008
Troy 2—7 2003 2012
UCF 1—1 2011 2012
Western Kentucky 4—4 2002 2012
South Alabama 1—0 2012 2012

*Shula Bowl, annual rivalry game

Conference champions

Year Conference Overall record Conference record
2010 Sun Belt Conference 7—6 6—2
Total conference titles: 1

Bowl games

Date Coach Record Bowl Result
26 December 2010 Mario Cristobal 7—6 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Detroit, Michigan) FIU 34, Toledo 32
20 December 2011 Mario Cristobal 8—5 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl (Saint Petersburg, Florida) FIU 10, Marshall 20
Total bowl games: 2

Rivalry games

Alumni in the NFL

A total of seven FIU Panthers players have played in the NFL.

Notable Panthers in the NFL:
DB Nick Turnbull
OLB Antwan Barnes
WR Chandler Williams
CB Anthony Gaitor
DB Nick Taylor
WR T.Y. Hilton

Note: The following players were drafted to the NFL in 2013, but have not yet played in a seasonal game:


External links

Template:FIU Golden Panthers football navbox

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