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FIU has untapped potential but questionable leadership in the athletic department is stunting their growth

Party in the city where the heat is on. All night on the beach till the break of dawn. Welcome to Miami.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida International resides in Miami, Florida. If you asked Will Smith, he would tell you FIU has the best location in Conference USA. You would be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees. They are a drive away from the beach and a drive away from some of the best high school players in the nation.

Due to these built-in advantages they will always have the pleasure of being labeled a sleeping giant. In the P5 your sleeping giants are Texas A&M, Arizona State and UCLA. In the G5 level your label is shared with the likes of SMU, UNLV, and FAU. Clemson and Houston used to have the same label. Then they hired great coaches, displayed patience (at least in Clemson's case) and took off.

So if FIU is a sleeping giant how are they this low in the rankings? As the old saying goes, championships start with the front office and the leadership in FIU's athletic department is questionable at best.

PROS

  • Miami, Florida. Enough said.

CONS

  • There's a ton to do in South Florida. If you're not producing a winning product then no one will show up. Last year FIU averaged just over 13,000 fans per game. Even if you're winning they may not show up and the administration doesn't care to figure out how to get more fans in the stadium. If you're hoping to have great fan support this isn't the place for you.
  • Not a ton of tradition.
  • FIU AD Pete Garcia fired Miami native Mario Cristobal because he didn't like him. Despite leading FIU to two straight bowl games Garcia thought it was indefensible for Cristobal to go 3-9 the following season. I'm not sure why he still has a job but the fact he still does should be a concern.
  • The Miami Hurricanes cast a large shadow over the program. In other words, local media could care less about you. But when they do, Pete Garcia may try to prevent them from giving you some coverage anyway.
  • One of the worst facilities in CUSA.

Making the case for why FIU should be higher: Ryan Lynch, UDD FAU & FIU Beat Writer

Every team has its own set of particular flaws. For the Golden Panthers, it's the trifecta of lacking extra facilities, having little history, and problems in the higher management of the team. Those things should not be denied, and that program wears them as a pimple for the rest of the conference to see.

But, FIU still has that powder keg of potential underneath them. A coach who's recruiting savvy has an abundance of opportunity in and around Miami to make an impact. Two years of good recruiting classes despite bad management at the top could put this program near the top of CUSA.

In real estate terms, it's a fixer upper. For all the negative qualities a coaching job with the Golden Panthers currently has, there is simply too much opportunity to build something to write this program off.

If you're playing NCAA Football in an online dynasty...

You choose FIU because you really want to build a powerhouse program at the G5 level and FIU gives you the great option to do that. Recruiting should be a breeze. Depending on where your friends go, you should be able to easily dominate CUSA in a few years and lead FIU to multiple conference championships and even a possible invite from the ACC and SEC.

Depending on how much of the world you like to watch burn, you could stay there forever and compete for national championships. Ah, the beauty of video games.

If you choose this job in real life...

You choose FIU because the potential is too much to pass on. It will help if you love recruiting because you will have to earn your stripes on the recruiting trail. You also probably have ties to South Florida.

It doesn't get any better than living in South Florida so where you were going to live was just as important as where you were going to coach. You don't have to win big at FIU in order to get noticed. Just win. Your ties to coaching in South Florida will be a good enough trait for you to always be mentioned for other jobs.

Verdict

FIU is still feeling the effects of firing Mario Cristobal prematurely as the school has yet to have a winning record since his dismissal. They have also had a ton of shenanigans surrounding the football program and a lot of that is stemming from the athletic department.

A majority of the time success in college sports depends a lot on your location. Because of that FIU will never be last on any coaching jobs list. Being in Miami will forever give FIU the benefit of the doubt.

But the general apathy that surrounds the football program from fan support to the athletic department coupled with the lack of a winning tradition is what brought this job so far down.

Location can only take you so far and being a dumpster fire in the heat is far worse than being a dumpster fire in the cold.

Best Jobs in CUSA Countdown:

14. Rice

13. Charlotte

12. Middle Tennessee

11. FIU