Thirteen FIU football seniors have a chance to compete in the final college football game of their careers on Saturday when the Panthers (4-7, 4-3 Conference USA) visit Old Dominion (8-3, 6-1).
For the rest of the players on the Panthers roster, it will be their final game under interim coach Ron Cooper and their last chance to impress incoming coach Butch Davis before he starts directing them in spring practice 2017.
But players aren’t the only ones auditioning.
Assistant coaches are also looking to remain at FIU or secure another post. And Davis may want to keep at least a couple of the current FIU coaches around to ease in the transition.
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Cooper could return in some capacity. He has worked with Davis when both were part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff a couple of years ago. And Cooper has let it be known that he’s a big Butch fan.
“It’s a great choice,” Cooper said of the Davis hire. “He will be unbelievable for the program and the university. There’s no doubt the program will keep moving in the right direction and take some giants steps.”
Cooper has stated his case for future FIU employment by virtue of his 4-3 record since taking over for the fired Ron Turner. Then again, Cooper was also the defensive coordinator during that 0-4 start.
The current FIU staff includes defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bobby Babich. Steve Shankeiler is the offensive coordinator and the line coach. Kirk Doll is the special teams coach.
Kort Shankeiler coaches quarterbacks and wide receivers and is the passing game coordinator. Tim Harris Jr. is the running backs coach and the running game coordinator. Greg Moss coaches the secondary, Jason Brooks coaches cornerbacks and helps with special teams, Paul Volero coaches the defensive line, and Blair Peterson coaches tight ends.
However, reports have already circulated that former Boise State and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, 56, will be hired as Davis’ offensive coordinator.
“It would be smart to bring in a guy who has been a head coach and is an offensive-minded guy because Butch is a defensive-minded guy,” said ex-FIU quarterback Wes Carroll, now an analyst on Panthers broadcasts. “It’s exciting.
“I believe Davis will bring FIU football back to what it should be — a bowl team and being relevant in the league and even nationally.”
▪ FIU will face yet another talented quarterback on Saturday. Old Dominion’s David Washington is Conference USA’s Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 416 yards and five touchdowns in last Saturday’s 42-24 win at Florida Atlantic. He completed 26 of 36 passes.