With Wednesday’s Conference USA Media Days serving as the unofficial kickoff to the start of the 2022 season, Mike MacIntyre established that the focus of both he and Athletic Director Scott Carr is moving the program in a forward direction — and the emphasis is on those who are fully on-board.
“We’ve had players who left the program and have gotten wind of some of the new changes and improvements that we’ve made and called me about coming back to the program and I had to say no,” said MacIntyre. “Unfortunately, in today’s college football, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side but that’s the name of the game currently.”
The MacIntyre rebuild train’s next stop is the open of fall practice, which is set for next Monday. However, as was the case with his previous stops, the job description at FIU calls for more than X’s and O’s — something he’s not only cognizant of — but he embraces even with on-field play on the horizon.
“It’s a combination of Scott (Carr) and myself, him texting me if I can be at this place to meet with boosters, me letting him know I can make this meeting about getting our Panther Club started so we’re getting year-around revenue,” said MacIntyre. “When I took this job or even at San Jose State, I’m aware that while coaching is far and away my number one priority, I also understand that fundraising and getting out there and helping grow the foundation is part of this job and I really enjoy that part of the job.”
According to MacIntyre, season-ticket sales have exceeded the last two years sales combined and renovations are currently underway entire inside of our building, the stadium club and the players lounge.
The impetus for all of these things has been made abundantly clear, especially the omnipresent topic of conference realignment hovering over the heads of Carr and MacIntyre. In order for the Panthers to be considered during the inevitable next round of reshuffling, the program’s infrastructure must improve.
On the field, wide receiver Tyrese Chambers was joined by linebacker Donovan Manuel, who was a late addition after defensive tackle Davon Strickland had to remain in South Florida with a school obligation.
After setting new program records for receiving yards and touchdowns in a season, Chambers is focused on another new personal mark — being the leader on a winning program.
“In high school, we were a so-so school in terms of wins and at Sacred Heart we didn’t go too far, so now for me it’s all about winning and I’m trying to do that this year,” said Chambers.
One of over two-dozen new additions to the program during the offseason, Manuel comes to FIU with valuable experience playing in a 3-4 defense, which MacIntyre and defensive coordinator Jovan Dewitt will deploy this season.
“We have multiple defenses that we’ll be in throughout the game, but my experience playing in a 3-4 at East Tennessee State gives me some familiarity and Coach Dewitt has helped me expand my game,” said Manuel.
An Atlanta native, Manuel grew up patterning his game after a player who made a substantial impact as a collegiate player in South Florida, NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.
“That was my guy growing up, I just loved the way that he played the game and his intensity and tenacity, that’s the way I pattern myself as a player as someone who is accountable, dependable and physical — that’s the only way I know how to play,” said Manuel.
Entering fall, MacIntyre believes that setting the expectations high is beneficial for his team in keeping them competing with every practice — especially for a program that’s littered with underclassmen and unproven players.
“All programs set their expectations high, but I think especially for us, we have come out and let them know what we’re trying to accomplish and we can set the bar anywhere else than where we want to be and that’s competing for conference championships.