Ron Turner became the third coach in FIU football history this afternoon when he was officially introduced to the media. Here are some tidbits from his press conference.
Turner said that he came to FIU last Sunday night flying in around 8:45 p.m. after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Atlanta Falcons game. He met with FIU President Mark Rosenberg and athletic director Pete Garcia. Turner was driven around the FIU campus and shown the buildings and schools, but throughout the tour Turner said one thing kept coming up.
"The thing that kept coming up in conversation both in the car and at the president's house, which it was 2 a.m. when we finally left, was that the president and Pete talked about their vision and the thing that kept coming up from them was 'We got to get better.' No matter where we were, looking at the law school or the business building, it was 'We've got to get better. We've got to improve. What can we do to get better?'
"I can see that they have a commitment and that losing is not an option and they are going to give me as the head coach all the resources necessary to run a very good, clean program that is going to continue to climb and get better."
Turner talked about the identity he wants for the Panthers. A familiar one for any Florida team.
"On the field the identity we are going to have is that all three phases of the game are critical. Offense, which is obviously my background being an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, but I understand that you truly win games with defense. If you are not playing defense it is very difficult to win and also special teams. All three of those phases are equal and we will devote the same amount of time and energy to offense, defense and special teams to get this thing accomplished."
"The way I see our team unfolding is a team based on speed. There is no place better to base that than right here in South Florida. We are going to be a fast, tough, explosive physical football team. We are going to fly around and hit, play hard and play with passion. You can’t play hard if you don’t play with passion and you can’t play with passion if you are not having fun."
Turner will call the plays himself and he will hire a coach just to coach special teams. Turner's offensive background is with the West Coast offense (a high percentage, ball control passing game). When he was coaching at Illinois eight years ago the spread offense was starting to evolve in college football. By now you know that almost every team runs some form of the spread. Turner expects to run both the West Coast offense with some spread and option. He will also do what the old successful Oakland Raiders used to do -- throw the deep ball.
"My background is with the West Coast offense, but I have also implemented a lot of the vertical passing game. I believe in explosive plays. You got to have explosive plays to go down and score and win. With the athletes we will recruit here implementing some of the spread and option will be a big part of what we do as well."
Turner will meet with the Panthers as a team on Tuesday and then have individual meetings with each player. The off-season conditioning program will begin shortly thereafter. Turner will also meet with the current FIU assistant coaches. Turner will not attend the coaches convention this weekend, instead opting to bring in assistant coaching candidates to FIU and hit the recruiting trail with less than one month before National Signing Day.
Turner likes the foundation that Mario Cristobal built. He added with so many seniors graduating, the young Panthers will play a pivotal role in the coming season.
“I don’t think you have to tear it up,” Turner said referring to the program he inherits. “I think [former FIU coach Mario Cristobal] did do a good job of building this program and being co-conference champion a few years ago. When you lose 30 seniors that is tough to replace but we are counting on those young guys to step up.”