Scott Carr, FIU’s first new athletic director in 15 years, passed “the 305 test” on Tuesday night, according to the man who hired him.
Carr, as it turns out, likes his Cuban food.
“I splurged and took him to a restaurant close to [campus],” FIU president Mark B. Rosenberg said, “and he ordered ropa vieja. And that ropa vieja came in a big tub.
“I thought to myself, ‘There’s no way he can finish that ropa vieja.’ But the next time I looked down, it was all gone.”
Carr, a 49-year-old Gainesville native, made an impression at Wednesday afternoon’s introductory press conference, too, promising to be just as hungry to get FIU football back on track as he was in attacking that massive tub of shredded meat.
Carr, who was the University of Central Florida’s deputy athletic director at his previous stop, is in charge of all FIU sports.
But, in reality, football is the big-ticket item. And football is also the gravest emergency as coach Butch Davis’ contract is essentially over.
In addition, scores of FIU football players have either exhausted their eligibility or entered the transfer portal.
FIU’s football program may be the worst in the nation at the moment, considering 11 straight losses overall and 17 consecutive defeats to FBS programs. Attendance may be at an all-time low.
The early signing period runs from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, and although the Panthers are in dire need of an infusion of talent, it’s difficult to imagine any FIU signees until a coach is hired.
Which leads us back to Carr and his timetable for hiring a football coach.
“Our goal is to move a lot faster than [Dec. 15],” Carr said. “Goal No. 1 is to get the right guy. But goal 1A is to get someone in here as soon as humanly possible.
“We’re looking to crank up the search starting [Thursday]. I have a network of different coaches and some that I would want to consider for this job.”
In addition to his contacts, Carr said FIU has enlisted a search firm to help the Panthers find their fifth head coach in program history, following Don Strock, Mario Cristobal, Ron Turner and Davis.
Head-coaching experience is preferred but not required, Carr said.
Carr also indicated that he will meet with the football team on Thursday in an effort to hold the squad together.
“I plan on meeting with the players prior to starting the coach search,” Carr said. “I think that’s a critical piece. I want them to know me. I want to understand their thoughts on a coach.”
Regarding how fast the coach search will go, Carr said: “We want to be in sixth gear and then hit nitro.”
That sounds a lot like how he attacked that plate of ropa vieja.