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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Why FSU is the New Bad Boys of College Football

COMMENTARY - Are these the Florida State Seminoles or college football’s version of the Showtime Lakers – the team that can flip the switch and turn on the offense and score in droves to make their opponent submit?

Now that the college football season has turned into weekends of knockout football, the Florida State Seminoles are in line to not only crash the SEC strong hold on the top five teams in the country (which they continue to poke at in the rankings) but a firmly entrenched to make a run at another 14-0 season and a national title.

Last Thursday’s come from behind win after trailing 21-0 to a pretty good Louisville defense is the latest chapter in how good this program is and how bad at times the offense struggles to produce early on.

For everything that is said about coach Jimbo Fisher, the one thing he is not is the leader of this sometimes vicious attack they call an offense.

That responsibility is Jameis Winston’s and he cherishes it – believe it or not.

With all that winning – 24-0 if you are counting at home – it has led this team to change its stance form hunting for a national title to becoming the hunted team and maybe the most hated team in college football.

The swagger. The arrogance of the team at times. The constant battle of being a head coach or a defense attorney for the players who are under legal investigation. It is all part of the new culture on campus – the one the media scrutinizes and criticizes, but in reality prays to the heavens each night because the reality is without it, college football would be dull. Nick Saban is the Bill Belichick of the sport and sound bites from the Crimson Tide coach are usually as exciting as watching paint dry.

These aren’t Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles, but you can make an argument the program that won a national title in 1993 and the one now have similarities and are polar opposites. One thing that defines both of them as a program and university is the media (and the actions of players on and off the field) has made the Seminoles out to be the bad guys of college football.

It’s a role undefined and untold but understood in some respects. Finally, college football has a team to replace the University of Miami and Oklahoma Sooners of the late 1980s and the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Florida Gators of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Football is a sport of strength, power, sometimes blood and intimidation. The players are bigger, stronger and faster and in their own minds, entitled. What college football was missing that this program brings to the table maybe more than any other team since the Spurrier Era Florida Gators and Jimmy Johnson’s Miami is characters and personalities in the sport or in this case – business.

The days of Michael Irvin and Vinny Testaverde in fatigues walking off a plane in Norman are lost on this generation. Brian Bosworth running all over the defensive side of the field with a Mohawk daring players to run at him would “rock” in today’s sports media.  The fans of today who are young have no idea what the 1990s were like when Lawrence Philips spent as much time in the Nebraska newspapers relating to his off-field incidents of domestic violence charges as he did on the field helping Nebraska and Tom Osborne win national titles.

When you win, you open yourself up to many other issues and scrutiny than the fact the team did not convert on third-and-1 from the five yard line. And for a team that resides in the capital of Florida where other than the legislature being in session and the college year until the summer, the place is pretty quiet and unassuming – almost dull at times.

So with that said, do the Seminoles relish the chance to be college football’s darlings and most wanted in the same breath – sure they do.

Fisher is fiery and aggressive at times, unlike a soft spoken Bobby Bowden. Winston is more outspoken and craves the spotlight, unlike Charlie Ward who would rather slip into obscurity than break down the offense for the local news. These ‘Noles take their “jobs” seriously and want the attention.

Its one thing to be the bully, but it is another thing to be the bully, tell your opponents what you are going to do, and then do it. FSU had better success at it last season, jumping out to huge leads that could not be reeled in. This season, it looks like child’s play, letting the opponent build a lead, gaining a great false sense of security and then playing the role of Lucy Van Pelt of the Peanuts comic strip.

Oh, and by the way, there is no laughing when the football is taken away from the opponent. That’s what these Seminoles do. It’s their job. Scoring in droves? They wait until the second half. That’s their job. And another thing, their job is winning – which they do on a continual basis. Time and time again. That’s what teams like those 1980s Hurricanes and Sooners teams did. That is exactly what the Spurrier-led Gators did in the 1990s and Tom Osborne’s Tommy Frazier-led teams did every week. Florida State is just following the leaders like most programs, excuse me, great programs do.

These Seminoles win games, and deal with all the other incidents and allegations later because winning comes first. Earning the moniker of the hunted or college football’s new bad boys just comes with the territory.

And this team relishes it.




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