The only thing more discouraging than the team’s fourth consecutive loss to arch-rival Florida, is that the last two seasons prove FSU is currently not one of the better teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference—let alone one of the best in the country.
With that said, things really aren’t as bad as they look. A team that seemed poised to rebound after tough losses at Clemson and at Wake Forest was shocked at home by Miami’s improbable fourth-quarter comeback.
The Miami disappointment was just another season defining “almost” for a team that in two seasons has been one score away in eight of its last 11 losses.
As for the program’s uncertain future, head coach Bobby Bowden, who has spent the last 32 seasons at Florida State, will see his current contract expire in January. Rumor has it the 78-year-old is seeking a five-year extension in recent talks, while FSU President T.K. Weatherell would prefer an incentive based two-year deal.
Bowden’s decision will likely influence first-year offensive coordinator and head coaching prospect Jimbo Fisher, who is expected to be sought after again this off-season with several coaching vacancies, including Georgia Tech and Arkansas.
Many FSU faithful would like to see Fisher succeed Bowden, which is believed to be Fisher’s motivation for choosing Florida State. In fact, some type of guarantee to the throne could be the Seminoles’ only chance at keeping Fisher, who says he’s content in Tallahassee.
Should the former LSU assistant take the reigns, it would almost certainly do wonders for the program’s two biggest obstacles—recruiting and a lack of vision.
Bowden’s good old boy demeanor has made him both a coaching legend and a college football icon, but—even with the influx of new, young coaches—he will continue to lose the recruiting battle to fiery middle-aged upstarts like Florida’s Urban Meyer who can provide recruits with a clearer vision and shower them in his team’s more recent success.
Bowden’s Seminoles have suffered four or more losses in five seasons since 2001 and haven’t finished in the AP top 10 since 2000. However, what's keeping Bowden at Florida State is his desire to go out on top and the fact that that other old guy, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, is still chasing him in the wins column.
FSU’s sea change could take place as early as next season, with a team chock full of veterans on both sides of the ball.
Bright spots from 2007 include the play of junior quarterback Drew Weatherford to end the season, a solid core of young offensive lineman, and the emergence of a go-to playmaker in sophomore wide receiver Preston Parker. Defensively, a unit that’s fallen under increased scrutiny this season loses only two senior starters.
At 7-5 the Seminoles are likely headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville to end the season. They will have several weeks to work and prepare—what coaches are calling a mini-spring practice—for what will be an SEC opponent, likely either Kentucky or Mississippi State.
For now, don’t take your wins for granted if you're a Seminole fan. There’s no doubt that those W’s that were once so prevalent in the 90's are harder to come by nowadays in a game that’s become more and more competitive—see this year’s BCS shuffle.
The Seminoles will make a comeback sooner or later, but it all depends on Bowden.