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Mirabel happy with homecoming

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

MIAMI — Until last February, Alex Mirabal had spent his whole life in South Florida.

Forty-two years.

Born. Raised. Educated. Worked. Married. Fatherhood.

It all happened in the Miami area.

Why, Mirabal even served on FIU’s football coaching staff for six years before joining Marshall’s program as the Thundering Herd’s first-year offensive line coach.

So, imagine Mirabal’s emotions while coaching Marshall here Saturday night.

Actually, nobody can.

That’s because Mirabal’s emotions weren’t what anybody would have expected.

"You know what?” said the 43-year-old Mirabal with a smile. “It felt awesome walking back in because of the team I was walking back in with. ... the team that I'm a part of. ... the team that is in contention to win the East Division of Conference USA.

“So, I think that's why it's felt great.”

Oh, sure, Mirabal was delighted to get to visit with friends and family. After all, it was a homecoming.

“Obviously, I was excited to go back down and see my family and my friends,” he said. “They came to the game. But there was no emotional attachment to the coaching staff there because they were all new. So, there was none of that. I didn't talk to any of their players since I left.”

That’s why this homecoming was rather ironic. It actually was more about Marshall than FIU for Mirabal.

"I was just excited to go down with this team and these guys and show them off,” he said with pride. “Not only in front of my family, but show them off in front of their families. We have 35 kids from Florida.

“That's really what it's about. ... really, truly live by what we talk about in the offensive line room. The least important person when you walk in the O-line room is yourself.

"So, this game wasn't about me. It was about our program and our program earning another victory and putting ourselves in a position we wanted to be in.

"I'm more excited, honestly, to earn a victory and come on back and get what we really want — play for a championship. That's why I'm excited.”

In fact, Mirabal wasn’t uncomfortable coaching the opposing team during his homecoming in any way. That includes switching to the away sideline after six years on the other side of the field.

"It wasn't odd because for whatever reason they decided to switch sides,” he said with a grin. “So, I actually coached on the same sideline that I was coaching on for six years down there. I don't know why they did the change, but I was on a familiar sideline. I felt right at home."

What an interesting homecoming.

TICKETS SOLD: The green-collar comedy tour that has been Marshall’s road trips to new C-USA members and their venues continued.

Snicker, snicker.

That is what everyone does when the official attendance — wink wink, nod nod — is announced at such locales as Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee State and FIU.

At FAU, officials claimed there were 19,760 fans in the stands. In reality, there were about 8,000 or so. At MTSU, the announced crowd was 19,989. That didn’t even appear to be in the ballpark. It appeared to be more like 7,000 fans.

And FIU?

Goodness only knows what will be announced in mostly empty FIU Stadium. But there weren’t more than about 1,200 fans in the 20,000-seat stadium for the kickoff.

About half of the crowd were Marshall fans.

GATOR BAIT: That’s what former MU star Cody Slate’s career record for most career touchdown receptions by a tight end (23) was for senior Harold “Gator” Hoskins.

So far, so good.

With one regular season game remaining in his career, Hoskins tied Slate’s record with a 25-yard touchdown catch with 13:25 remaining in the second quarter Saturday.

Hoskins was at 23. ... and counting.



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