Turner hopes change of “culture” can bring wins

Football Head Coach Ron Turner. Photo courtesy: Maria LorenzinoFootball Head Coach Ron Turner. Photo courtesy: Maria Lorenzino

Jorge Corrales/Staff Writer

Football Head Coach Ron Turner is entering his second season as leader of the Panthers and looking to improve on last year’s 1-11 mark; the fewest wins since the 2007 Panthers also went 1-11.

“We’re a completely different team, both on and off the field. We have to keep building a culture and keep holding each other accountable,” said Turner.

Accountability is a big part of the culture that coach Turner is trying to instill, the idea of players doing their job and also making sure their teammates do theirs. Accountability is the first step towards becoming a successful football team; and Turner believes that this 2014 squad has the potential to be just that.

“First meeting I had with [the team] this year, I told them we are gonna be winners,” said Turner. “But we’re not gonna win on the field until we learn to win off the field. I didn’t know how bad it was [last season] to be honest with you. We had so many guys that were academically ineligible or struggling with off the field issues. There’s no surprise that we went 1-11. We didn’t deserve to do anymore than 1-11. But that is changing. These guys are doing everything we ask them to do and that’s gonna show through their play on the field.”

This season, the Panthers will be helped by the return of several skill position players that were sidelined last year. All returning players and incoming recruits will be eligible to play. Turner looks to also use his extensive experience to help turn around the football program.

“Since I was in sixth grade I knew I was gonna be a coach at some level. I didn’t know if it was gonna be football, baseball, basketball or maybe all three,” said Turner.

Turner served as an assistant at several top Division 1 schools before landing the head coaching job at San Jose State University in 1992. He was also the head coach at the University of Illinois from 1997-2004.

Turner had two separate stints as offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 1993-1996 and from 2005-2009; even reaching the Super Bowl in 2006. He served as the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 before making his way down to FIU in 2013.

When asked how he expects to get more fans and students at home games, Coach had a simple answer.

“Win,” said Turner. ‘Win and put an exciting team on the field that’s gonna play hard, play physical and score some points. When you win and you score, people get excited.”

Coach Turner and the Panthers open up the season on Aug. 30 against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. on Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium.

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