It has been official for sometime now, nobody believes the hype. Teams no longer are fearful of the Garnet and Gold. Division I programs seem to be fighting to get in line to take their shot at the former champ, eager to inflict the pain they felt for almost 20 plus years. Rival athletic directors chuckle at the notion of a ten win season for the Noles, whose running game has been, at best, embarrassing when compared to the days when Warrick Dunn trampled over opponents and Peter Warrick slipped and slided past secondaries all the way to the National Championship.
There, I said it. Seminole fans have been waiting for sometime now, waiting for the day the swagger returns.
It would be foolish to assume that the swagger just decided to leave one day for no reason at all, thus making it possible for it to return in the same fashion. There are many factors that have played into the decline of football in Tallahassee. Let's reflect on a few:
Losing Mark Richt: Probably the biggest loss for the former ACC powerhouse. Richt's departure to the University of Georgia exposed the program's dependence on his offensive structure and showcased his keen football knowledge. This proved that Bobby Bowden had been a figurehead for quite sometime. Richt walked into Athens and the dawgs got better instantly. The new Georgia coach had been calling the shots for years, he was just ready to be recognized for it.
Competition: College football is the home to so much passion, so much tradition, it was only natural to assume that teams would get better. How many times did FSU expect the Clemson Tigers to rub Howard's rock and feel threatened by their opponent's presence? Not too many. N.C. State came out dressed in all red in front of 80,000 opposing fans, and you could see their eyes glowing with desire to make history for their program. This is what happens when you take your dominance for granted... you get popped in the mouth.
The Bowden Bowl: This has nothing to do with the over-hyped battles between the elder Bowden and his son Tommy, but rather the fight for the number one spot between Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. Coach Bowden is the primary reason the Seminoles are fighting off futility. There have been countless coaches available with the ability to keep the program afloat, but Mr. Bowden refuses to leave. I am not downplaying Coach Bowden's influence on FSU, on college football in general, but it seems the only flaw in his storybook career is the lack of foresight to see the sun setting on his career behind his trademark sideline cap. FSU has allowed a record to overshadow their overall success, is this the price you pay for tradition?
With all that being said, I am still a die hard Nole. I just feel like that friend who has to slap some sense into his buddy because he just can't see how far he has fallen. FSU defense has been the lynch pin, the branch of hope the program clings to to prevent the long fall out of college football relevancy. The only problem is the defense can't play both sides, and the fatigue has cost the team a lot of games. Hopefully Jimbo Fisher can start the process of bringing the swagger back to Tallahassee, cause I think I speak for about 80,000 fans when I say I'm tired of tomahawk chopping and ignoring the elephant sitting right on the fifty yard line in Doak Campbell Stadium.