FIU & FAU Have Legit Football Programs; Welcome to the New Age!
The times in South Florida are rapidly changing. No longer are the Miami Hurricanes the only team that needs to warrant your attention.
Back in the day it was an honor to get a scholarship to the University of Miami, as it is still today. Nevertheless, because of the way that other programs in South Florida have risen in the last decade, it’s also an honor to get a scholarship from their program as well.
Two teams in the past that are now schools that have become destinations for prime athletes are Florida Atlantic and Florida International. Those two teams in South Florida were once looked as second tier schools and a lot of players in the past overlooked their program. That chapter is now done.
The reason for that is because each of these two teams has gobbled up the local talent in South Florida who didn’t make their way to Coral Gables to play for Miami and in the process these players have helped shape their program. In 2015, it’s not an insane thought to say before the end of the year that Florida International and Florida Atlantic might have teams that are bowl eligible.
If you’re a Miami Hurricanes fan you’re most likely upset with the way that the Hurricanes competed with Florida Atlantic University.
However, if you’re a fan of the Florida Atlantic University Owls you’re ecstatic because for a second you were able to say that you hung in a game against a major college football team with your backup quarterback playing. More importantly, fans of Florida Atlantic are able to say that they were talented enough to almost get a victory against Miami.
Even though in football and in sports, in general, there are no moral victories. For Florida Atlantic, this was a game that will get recruits, fans and alumni excited for years to come.
The game against Miami was so big that it brought out a bunch of stars including Joe Namath, Howard Schnellenberger, and Jim Kelly. The game against Miami was the largest attended sporting event in Palm Beach county history. It was was a major stepping stone in the school’s history. Regardless of the outcome of the game, Florida Atlantic gained credibility and exposure. They might have a 0-2 record now, but keep an eye on this team. They only need six wins to become bowl eligible.
On the other hand as for Florida International it was in 2002 when their first football game was played. Former Governor Jeb Bush and Dan Marino were there in attendance to see Florida International pick up their first victory against St. Peter’s College 27-3.
This season though could be another first. Florida International’s team isn’t looking too shabby. Their first victory was a huge upset over one of their in-state rivals in the University of Central Florida. Secondly they almost defeated a Big Ten team on the road in Indiana in their second game of the year.
The school that is most well known for producing Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is now starting to finally get back to the successful winning program that Hilton helped established. Florida International is a public school that only keeps getting bigger and it won’t be long until they start to battle with the likes of Miami and Florida State.
These two programs are trending upward and it won’t be long until each of these schools start to pick up the major talent in South Florida. One of these days it won’t be long until a five-star recruit willingly signs a letter of intent to play at one of these two Conference USA schools.
If they keep finding ways to get more exposure like playing on television as they’ve started to, and more importantly winning more football games, Florida could have as many as six teams that all could compete at an elite level. Sure we might be years away from seeing the true birth of these programs into the elite status, but this year could be the very beginning of a new chapter.
The new age has already begun.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey.