1. The Butch Davis rebuild is complete
FIU had suffered five straight losing seasons, turning into a non-factor in the Conference USA race. In came Butch Davis to take over in 2017, but no one was expecting miracles.
Of course he knew the area, and of course he brought the big name. But how much good could he possibly do right away without a few recruiting cycles and a shot to build up the program again.
The first season was fantastic – going 8-5 with a bowl appearance – but the Golden Panthers beat absolutely no one with a pulse, and they got rolled by Temple in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
This year’s team battled well in a loss to Miami, but got ripped up by Florida Atlantic and lost in a heartbreaker to Marshall that kept it from playing in the Conference USA championship. Again, there weren’t wins over anyone amazing – the Middle Tennessee victory was the only one over a team that went bowling, but this seals it. This win over Toledo legitimizes the last two seasons and proves that Davis is just that good.
And the FIU program is tuning into something just that good, too.