Florida State Football: Winning the ACC Will Be a Stepping Stone for the Noles

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Florida State Football: Winning the ACC Will Be a Stepping Stone for the Noles
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
John James Fisher.

From 1992-2000 the Seminoles of Florida State lost two ACC football games, which is to say
they dominated the conference. The first conference loss was against Virginia, and that was after 28 straight victories. The other was against the Wolfpack of N.C. State.

Clemson—owned.

Duke—owned.

Every other ACC team—you get the picture.

It was the ACC-wrecking ball that was Florida State against whatever overmatched ACC school got in its way.

FSU fans expected the Seminoles to steamroll ACC teams, and Bobby Bowden delivered.

And then, after the 2001 Orange Bowl loss to the mighty Sooners of Oklahoma, the fall began.

The legendary Bowden, history suggests, clearly began to lose his edge after that loss to Bob Stoops—even in his recently published book, Bowden reminisces about how hard it is to get a team to the title game.

Recruiting, his forever strong suit, slowly started to decline, and FSU coaching, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, became too predictable and ultimately inexcusable.

The hiring of Jeff Bowden, a controversial replacement for the offensive mastermind Mark Richt, and then the shutout at home by Wake Forest put into motion bad things to come.

Attrition rates, oftentimes because of poor evaluating, began to soar, and then Urban Meyer, a legend in his own right and an ace recruiter, settled in Gainesville and finished off whatever was left of Bobby.

His Seminoles' 2009 loss to UF was the final straw in his storied tenure.

FSU hasn't won an ACC title since 2005. The past seven years of ACC failure have been a lifetime for Seminoles out there.

But should it be the ACC failures that are so frustrating for FSU fans?

Or should it be something else?

Clearly, the other ACC teams are no better today than they were 20 years ago when Florida State entered the conference.

Clemson, last year’s conference champion, recently was humiliated in historical fashion by an overachieving West Virginia team. Virginia Tech, the reigning "boss" of the ACC, couldn't beat a Michigan team that had no business in the Sugar Bowl, which meant the Hokies certainly had no business in New Orleans, either.

The year before brought another BCS loss for the conference.

Aside from a rare win in 2009, the trend of ACC losses in BCS games has been a consistent one. The ACC's record in BCS bowl games is too embarrassing to mention,—OK, it's 2-13—but is there something FSU fans can draw away from that?

It basically means that FSU is a victim of itself, as the Lost Decade was a product of poor administrative decision-making. It’s not that the other programs have gotten any better. It’s just that FSU lost touch with how to be great.

 

Jimbo Fisher and his staff, from what I can tell, have taken a page from the Bobby Bowden playbook of 1992-2000 and a page from the playbook of Nick Saban at Alabama:

Evaluate, and then recruit the best.

It may not be easy, but it's certainly not complicated.

Bobby won during the Glory Years because he had manageable attrition rates and great players—not just because he had a good coaching staff. Saban is winning because of the same thing.

Follow who is recruiting elite players (and maintaining low attrition rates), and you will see who is hoisting the BCS crystal balls.

Fisher, in my opinion, understands this, and because no one in the ACC—save a downtrodden Miami program—can out-recruit FSU, the ACC will soon become merely a stepping stone for FSU.

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