New head coach hire will change views on Pete Garcia

Alejandro Solana // Staff Writer

Pete Garcia, the University’s executive director of Sports and Entertainment, seems to have earned back some trust from the community after landing what is surely his biggest hire, Butch Davis.

Garcia has been highly criticized the past few years by the media, students, alumni and boosters, mainly due to the shortcomings of the three major sports at FIU – the football, baseball and basketball teams.

A little over two months ago, Garcia’s contract, which was extended in 2013, was up and President Mark Rosenberg had a decision to make. Banners flew over the school, paid for by boosters, with a message to the president, “Fire Pete Garcia.”

Students petitioned over Facebook and Twitter, begging for a change in the University’s athletic director. An account on Twitter was also created with the handle, @FirePeteGarcia.

Despite the high demand not to renew Garcia’s contract, Rosenberg, only two days after a banner flew over the school asking for him to be fired, extended Garcia’s contract for two more years through 2018. Garcia also announced in a statement that he would then step away from the program after finishing his new contract, wanting to “explore new professional challenges.

Now, two months removed from his contract extension, Garcia has brought in perhaps the most anticipated name the school has ever had. Butch Davis, revered among South Florida football fans following his success with the University of Miami, has given the FIU football community something to be excited for.

After years of asking for Garcia’s head, one must wonder if this signing will change not only the current state of the football program, but how Garcia will be remembered after his time at the University is up.

Will it be for signing Isaiah Thomas to coach the men’s basketball team? Or for firing Mario Cristobal, the most beloved FIU coach since the creation of the football team 15 years ago, who took the program to two bowl games?

Perhaps Garcia will be remembered most for allowing the University to host a crossfit competition on the new hardwood court, which was completely ruined because crossfit on wood is never a good idea.

The decision to extend Garcia’s contract was because the school “has enjoyed 16 conference championships, 20 postseason appearances and more than two-dozen student-athletes have garnered All-America selection,” during his time as athletic director, according to FIU. It’s also important to note the improvements in the classroom by the student-athletes as well.

People can say what they want, but this is why Pete Garcia was given another chance. To bring in a name, like Butch Davis, who can revitalize your program like no other can.

The relationship between Garcia and Davis has been well documented. Garcia joined Davis in 2001, before his time with the Panthers, when Butch took the Cleveland Browns job in the NFL. The two had been seen together back in 2011 at FIU’s baseball games as well.

For Garcia, some of the criticism has surely been fair. It will be interesting to see which Garcia is remembered – the one who brought in Scott Calabrese, Randy Horner, Mervyl Melendez and now Butch Davis? Or the athletic director who led to boosters flying flags over the school asking for him to be fired?

Regardless, there is no doubt that his last hire at FIU is one that finally has the Panther community excited for a football season.

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