Florida International University’s football program was born in 2002. Despite its youth, Riccardo Silva Stadium fills with pageantry on gameday. This bowl of bleachers cemented into campus contains all the ingredients necessary for a classic college atmosphere, and the Panther football team is making their roar heard along the college football landscape.
The FIU Marching Band is a centerpiece of Panther gamedays. An eclectic group of players and dancers fill the field for pregame and halftime They entertain at a freestyle pace resembling flickers of Stanford and Rice. Sharing the field include a talented array of cheerleaders and dancing team members that add sparkle to the blue and gold. The canon blasts, smoke billows, and pyrotechnics enhance the sights and sounds of an already electric gameday in Miami.
A healthy cross town rivalry keeps the program pumping, and Florida International has Florida Atlantic stirring hate just 55 miles north. FAU is only one year older than FIU, so the teams are growing together and battling for south Florida supremacy like squabbling siblings.
FIU’s mascot endured a big transformation over the years shifting from SunBlazers to Panthers. Some nostalgic FIU fans long for the old mascot that somewhat resembles the HeatMiser from classic Christmas television fame. But, Roary the Panther is emblazoned on all corners of FIU’s campus and appears to be settled in as the university continues to grow athletically. Roary can be seen parading all around Riccardo Silva Stadium keeping the FIU spirit strong.
Expanding the football family in the sunshine state has proven to accentuate the competition in an already powerful peninsula. Youthful, but established, Florida International is a welcome addition to the college football world.