Owls

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Florida Atlantic Owls

General Information

  • NCAA Division: Division I
  • Conference: Conference USA (2013-present)
  • City: Westchester, Fla.
  • Stadium: Riccardo Silva Stadium

Championships

  • National Championships: None
  • Conference Titles: 1 (2010)
  • Divisional Championships: None

Past Conferences

Sun Belt

Team History

The Florida International Panthers are a Division I program located in Westchester, Fla. Florida International has been a member of Conference USA since 2013 and is coached by Mike MacIntyre.

FIU’s inaugural season was in 2002, and the Panthers competed as a Division I-AA independent for three seasons before making the jump to Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision). Coached by former NFL quarterback Don Strock, the Panthers went 5-6 in 2005, although the NCAA later vacated those wins after discovering violations within the program.

Following an 0-12 mark in 2006, Strock was fired. He was replaced by Mario Cristobal, who didn’t fare much better in his first season, going 1-11. But Cristobal eventually found success, guiding the Panthers to a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2010. They also competed in their first bowl game that season, beating Toledo 34-32 in the Little Caesars Bowl to finish 7-6.

A big reason for that turnaround was the presence of wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. The local Miami product was a transformative recruit when he arrived at FIU in 2008. Hilton set FIU single-season records as a freshman, totaling 1,013 receiving yards and 2,162 all-purpose yards. He won Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and was voted all-conference first team.

Hilton received more accolades in 2010, hauling in 59 passes for 848 yards to take home Sun Belt Player of the Year. Then in 2011, Hilton broke his record for receiving yards in a season with 1,038. FIU went 8-5 and returned to the postseason, losing 20-10 to Marshall in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.

Hilton, who also set school records for career receptions (229), receiving yards (3,531) and receiving touchdowns (24), was selected in the third round (92nd overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft. He went on to make four consecutive Pro Bowls (2014-17), including in 2016 when he led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards.
Failing to build on Cristobal’s success, Ron Turner was fired in 2016 following a 10-30 mark over parts of four seasons. But FIU overcame the odds to get back to a bowl under Butch Davis in 2017, losing 28-3 to Temple in the Gasparilla Bowl.

In 2018, the Panthers won their second bowl game in program history, defeating Toledo 35-32 in the Bahamas Bowl. They also set a school record for wins in a season, going 9-4. The following season, they lost 34-26 to Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl.

MacIntyre was named the sixth coach in program history in 2021, replacing Davis. He won AP Coach of the Year at Colorado in 2016 and most recently was the defensive coordinator for Memphis. The Panthers went 4-8 in MacIntyre’s first season.

All-Time Records

Passing Yards

o Alex McGough: 9,091
o James Morgan: 5,312
o Paul McCall: 5,189
o Wesley Carroll: 4,997
o Josh Padrick: 4,475

Rushing Yards

o Alex Gardner: 3,063
o D’Vonte Price: 2,203
o Kedrick Rhodes: 2,156
o Napoleon Maxwell: 2,090
o Anthony Jones: 2,010

Receiving Yards

o T.Y. Hilton: 3,531
o Thomas Owens: 2,177
o Greg Ellington: 2,018
o Jonnu Smith: 2,001
o Austin Maloney: 1,738

What was the worst season in Florida International program history?

The 2006 Panthers — in one of their first seasons at the Division I-A level — went 0-12. They were woeful, particularly on offense, as they were shut out three times and failed to crack double digits in more than half of their games.

What was the best season in Florida International program history?

The Panthers won a school-record nine games in 2018 and notched just their second bowl victory, beating Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl.

Who is the winningest coach in Florida International program history?

Mario Cristobal won a school-record 27 games from 2007-12 and took FIU to a pair of bowl games.
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