Nearly one month to the day after stunningly dismissing Mario Cristobal, FIU introduced its next out-of-nowhere decision: head coach Ron Turner.
Turner has spent the past eight seasons in the NFL, the most recent of which as the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That brings the obvious question, why leave? Why not continue to work under Greg Schiano coach a team with a young, up-and-coming roster?
“I love the challenge of being a head coach,” Turner explained. “The happiest time I have in in coaching were the nine years I spent as the head coach in college. That’s why I’m in coaching – the relationships you have with your players and their families that last forever.”
Okay, that makes sense. But why FIU?
“I really believe that this program is ready to take the next step, to win at a high level on a regular basis,” Turner continued. “When I got down here, I could feel the excitement. It’s kind of unbelievable the path they’ve been on, and I see that trend going that way. I could see the passion and they’ve got a commitment to be the best.”
As he pointed out Friday, Turner has spent the vast majority of his coaching career at the college level. But the game is a much different place than when he left it in 2004. For starters, the spread offense was still considered a gimmick and Facebook was exclusive to Harvard students.
Turner credited his son Morgan, an offensive at Stanford, for keeping him abreast of the NCAA’s recruiting rules and practices, and his college-aged daughters for introducing him to social media. “I haven’t gotten into the Twitter yet, but I know that’s coming,” said Turner.
We’ll have a fast, tough, physical, explosive football team that plays with passion. You can’t tough unless you play with passion.
On the spread offense, Turner stated, “There were a handful of teams running it, now everybody’s running it, including us. Implementing some of the spread, some of the option, that everybody’s doing will be a big part of what we do.”
Turner said he won’t attend the upcoming AFCA Convention, giving the vibe that a newly-hired head coach at the annual coaches gathering would be like walking through a lion’s den draped in raw steak. “I want to get to know the current staff and I’ve got some names of people I want to talk to,” he said. “I’d rather bring them here, and give them the chance to see and feel what’s going on.”
For someone that’s been out of the game for the better part of a decade, he certainly could have fallen in a worse situation. Even with a team coming off a 3-9 season that loses 30 seniors, he’ll recruit an area with quality players at every turn at a school on the move to Conference USA.
In the end, though, it’s about the players for Turner. He plans to use his NFL experience and contacts to “teach them how to manage their time, how to make that commitment, how to work and do all the things necessary to win.”