Escaping Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium with a win on a warm autumn Saturday used to be next to impossible.
Chief Osceola would ride in on Renegade, plant his flaming spear at midfield—and an opposing team would know it was in for a few hours of pure torture.
But as the old saying goes, "Those were the days."
These days are far different for the Florida State Seminoles. Gone are the Heisman Trophy winners, the National Championships, and the 12 ACC titles. Here is program that's a shell of its former self—one that no longer instills pride in its fans or strikes fear in the opposition.
And as if going from the Orange and Fiesta Bowls to the Emerald and Music City Bowls weren't tough enough...
This might only be the beginning.
The Seminoles now finds themselves hounded by news of an alleged academic cheating scandal. The facts aren't all known, but early estimates suggest that Florida State could be without as many as 25 players when they make the trip to Nashville's Music City Bowl to face Kentucky on December 31st.
Suspensions for some involved could extend as far as three games in to the 2008 schedule.
The last school to exact such punishment on its football program was Wisconsin, which suspended 26 players in 2000.
The scandal is only the latest problem to plague head coach Bobby Bowden on and off the field over the past few seasons. Together, the headaches have jeopardized his standing amongst college football's top generals.
The Seminoles have found themselves surpassed by Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Clemson in the ACC—and on the same middling plane as the likes of Virginia, Maryland, and Wake Forest.
The recent failures can't take away Bowden's successes, but they can certainly taint his legacy. Florida State has been quick to name Bowden's successor in current offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher—a move that will happen by 2010, according to Fisher's contract.
For the time being, one can only wonder what lies ahead for the team and the man in charge. Florida State fans—and college football fans everywhere—will no doubt hope that Bowden's story, when it's done, leaves them with memories of glory and dominance instead of scandal and defeat.