I wrote this for my fantasy football site after USF humiliated FSU last week. In light of the defeat at the hands of Boston College, I decided to post it on my blog, too. Being up in Tallahassee for this football season, I am paying attention more to the Seminoles. I'm not able to keep up as well with UCF as I wish, so I have to settle for FSU.
And settle really is the right word for it. It really made me wonder what is going on up here. Leading up to the USF/FSU game, there was a lot of smack talk between the USF and FSU camps. It sounded like a little brother mouthing off to big bro - with the older sibling about to drop a Big Stinky Leg Drop on the little punk. But it turned out that the little guy had been doing HGH and Steroid cycles while gone to college and the big guy had been doing keg stands. So there was a beating, but not what anyone expected. The game wasn't even as close as the score indicated. Remember USF missed two field goals and one of FSU's scores was a result of a micro-field.
What made it all even worse - and something echoed by the announcers on ESPN U (where U is for Ubvious Uverstatement) to the point of nausea - was that all of the damage was done by a quarterback who grew up in Tallahassee and idolized FSU. The question that stems from that is something FSU seriously must address - but probably won't. HOW IN THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN? How did B.J. Daniels end up whipping FSU instead of playing for them? As I kept hearing the announcers mention this fact, I really began to wonder. What caused arguably the most dominant team in college football in the 90s to degrade to this point? This is the same team that went 14 years straight finishing in the top five. Who does that? Now, they can't even string two good games together.
I have a couple of theories (which, honestly don't mean jack crap). First of all, FSU has completely lost its recruiting abilities. I know, they signed five of the ESPN Top 150 last year. But I looked at some stuff over the weekend and found out something interesting. Florida is the best supplier of high school players, period. 25 of the ESPN Top 150 were from Florida. The next closest is Texas (19), Georgia (16), and Kahleefornyuh (15). So it really isn't even close. This has been the case for a LOOOOOOONG time. Florida is chock full of speed and talent. Once upon a time, there were three major Florida schools. They would divide up the best of the Florida booty. Things have changed, though. I went through the rosters of the nine biggest football programs in Florida (UF, FSU, UM, USF, UCF, FIU, FAU, FAMU, BCC). Most of the smaller schools have now pilfered the Florida ranks (except for UCF, who recruits like it is a nationally known school - but it is NOT). Here's what I found:
- USF - 91.7% Florida players
- BCC - 91.6% Florida players
- FAU - 89.5% Florida players
- FIU - 85.8% Florida players
- FAMU - 83.5% Florida players
- UCF - 68.7% Florida players
- UM - 66.7% Florida players
- UF - 63.1% Florida players
- FSU - 52.8% Florida players
Combined, that adds up to 691 players, if you are curious. Do you notice something strange about that chart? I can understand the big difference between the first five and the bottom four. The first five are newer and smaller programs, so they are reduced to pulling from their backyard. That is what happens all over the country. The other four teams (yeah, UCF too) are more nationally known. They have been around longer, have larger campuses, more national coverage. (Remember UCF has had two top 5 Heisman finishers, three bowl appearances, and is the largest school in Florida.) So they can pull from the best of the country. That is why UF, UM, UCF, and FSU have smaller percentages. BUT, once you hit a certain point, doesn't the number start to mean something more? I mean, you are in Florida. You are nationally known with great facilities. You have a legend as a coach. How can you only get 56 state kids? I mean, South Carolina has 22 from Florida. The pool has been depleted, for sure, thanks to the higher number of suitors. (Not to mention Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Auburn, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, NC State, Boston College, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, and Ohio State all have between 10 and 20 Florida boys.) I just think that FSU's luster has worn off in-state. There is no reason to be that inept at recruiting in your backyard. That's how B.J. Daniels escapes.
The other main thing is that FSU is killing itself with its refusal to make a coaching change. Everyone knows that Bobby Bowden is not the coach of that team. Jimbo Fisher is the coach. Bobby is a guy in a sun hat and Oakleys wandering on the sideline wondering where his sandwich is. This can't be positive. The players have to be torn. In the Miami game, there was one point where Bowden and Fisher both were trying to talk to one of the players. The youngster looked confused and then went over to Fisher. The only ONLY reason that Bowden is still there is that he wants to beat Paterno. FSU finally got smart and put some "Associate Head Coaches" in place, like Penn State did. But Bowden (and his supporters in the Boosters) still hold too much sway. The game has passed him by - as well as Mickey Andrews and other St. Bobby staff guys. FSU really just needs to gut the coaching staff. They need to fire everyone (Fisher included, who I have not been impressed with at all). Then they need to dangle a truckload of money at some brilliant coach and say, "Here are the keys. Fix it." And not someone out of the "FSU Family." Someone who knows what they are doing.
See, the new coaches like Urban Meyer don't give a rat's tail about who ends up at the top of the all-time win chart. They don't plan on staying anywhere long enough to get a field named after them. They are going to jump into the pros or the broadcasting booth anyway. They are hired guns. Very effective, potent, intelligent guns. They have mastered the new recruiting world (texts, tweets, cell phones). It isn't about sitting in a living room and convincing mama any more. It is impressing and seducing and relentlessly pursuing. I respect FSU's loyalty - it is so rare now in our world. But it is hurting that program. The victory over FSU was huge to USF - they are going to have an even better recruiting edge now, more respect, blah blah blah. But it was huge to FSU because it showed them they aren't the big dog any more. In reality, there is UF in the top tier. FSU, UM, USF are in the next tier. UCF, FAU, and FIU are nipping at their heels. It isn't the Big Three - it is the Big One and the Next Six. FSU had better do something, or they are going to be destined to 7-5 seasons and being home before New Year.