Tag Archives: Florida State Football

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

The Need for Consistency at Florida State

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The controversy surrounding the conduct of Florida State football players did not end with the exit of Jameis Winston. Instead, over the last month the heat surrounding Jimbo Fisher’s program ratcheted up in intensity in recent weeks.

Earlier this month heralded freshmen quarterback De’Andre Johnson was charged with physical battery after he allegedly struck a young woman in a bar.

Similar charges were brought up against sophomore running back Dalvin Cook last week.

All eyes were on Fisher to see how he handled both situations. The public pressure on him to dole out the appropriate punishment came from his poor handling of his former Heisman trophy winning quarterback.

Cook and Johnson were both suspended by Fisher indefinitely from the program while the criminal investigations were ongoing.

Both punishments seem appropriate but the real test will come if something like this happens again. Will Fisher put that player on a short leash like he did with Cooke and Johnson or will it take multiple offenses like it did with Winston for him to finally bring the hammer down?

For the sake of the coach’s career and the lives of the young men he is in charge of Fisher has to embrace a model of consistent punishment.

Before deciding to travel down the path of a writer I was working towards a career in teaching. One of the first lessons that my instructors pressed upon my classmates and I was a doctrine of consistent punishment.

My instructors argued that for a teacher to have control of their classroom they needed to never stray from the stipulated consequences for breaking the rules. To stray from that was to invite chaos into the classroom and for the students to not respect the teacher’s authority.

During my first semester of student teaching I wanted to be a laid back cool teacher that my students liked. So, I let them get away with a lot and as a result trying to get them to do even the most basic assignment was a war. My lack of consistency in enforcing the rules cost me my credibility.

The next semester I was firm in upholding the rules and punishment during class time. Despite a number of huffs and “This is stupid Mr. Taylor” I had a far easier time controlling the students.

If Fisher refuses to regularly discipline his players who run afoul of the law or team rules he is inviting his program to slide even further into the dark side of public opinion. Even worse he is tempting the ire of the NCAA to step in and bring its own brand of justice to Tallahassee.

In either circumstance it is hard to image Fisher remaining head coach.

The real tragedy thought would be allowing these players to not be held accountable for their actions. So many athletes go through high school and college without a thought of how their behavior effects their future.

A bad reputation will cost them money at the next level. Criminal behavior will ruin their lives. It is Fisher’s responsibility to ensure that neither happens.

If Fisher does fail to regularly enforce the law the result will not be favorable for him or his players.



Florida State Opponent Breakdown: Part 2

vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
All-Time Series Record: 25-6-1
Last Meeting: 2013 FSU 59, Wake Forest 3
Wake Forest last season: 4-8, 2-6 ACC
Head Coach: Dave Clawson (2nd season, 4-8)
Returning starters: 10 (5 offense, 5 defense)
After the shocking 30-35 loss to the Demon Deacons in 2011, Florida State has won the past two years by a combined score of 111-3. That dominance will continue this year when Wake comes into Tallahassee. Jimbo Fisher is 24-4 in home games in his career, and Wake Forest is arguably the weakest team in the ACC this season. The ‘Noles will take care of this one with no problem, while looking ahead to the remainder of their schedule.
Florida State 70, Wake Forest 0
at Syracuse Orange
All-Time Series Record: 6-1
Last Meeting: 2013 FSU 59, Syracuse 3
Syracuse last season: 7-6, 4-4 ACC
Head Coach: Scott Shafer (2nd season)
Returning starters: 15 (8 offense, 7 defense)
Last season, FSU ‘welcomed’ Syracuse to the conference with a 59-3 beatdown at FSU. This year, however, the Seminoles will travel to the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2004. Syracuse will be improved, and may surprise the ‘Noles slightly. I don’t expect the Orange to even come close to upsetting FSU, but this is a solid team that will win 7-8 games. Florida State is still on a different level than even above average teams, and will ultimately take care of business here and move to 6-0.
Florida State 38, Syracuse 21
vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
All-Time Series Record: 5-2
Last Meeting: 2011 (Champs Sports Bowl) FSU 18, Notre Dame 14
Notre Dame last season: 9-4
Head Coach: Brian Kelly (5th season, 37-15)
Returning starters: 12 (7 offense, 5 defense)
Notre Dame is always viewed as a “sleeping giant”, capable of having an impressive year based solely of recruiting on their tradition (see 2012). But this is the kind of statement game the ‘Noles have flourished in recently, and due to the publicity both teams receive from media, this will be a big game regardless of Notre Dame’s record. Doak Campbell stadium will be packed for a game with this appeal, and the home crowd will be a huge advantage for FSU. The fact remains that there are really only 10 teams in the country capable of matching Florida State’s talent at each position. There is always the chance for the occasional upset, but FSU should pull this one out 9 times out of 10.
Florida State 42, Notre Dame 10
at Louisville Cardinals
All-Time Series Record: 12-2
Last Meeting: 2002 FSU 20, Louisville 26
Louisville last season: 12-1, 7-1 AAC
Head Coach: Bobby Petrino (5th season, 1st stint with team: 41-9)
Returning starters: 11 (7 offense, 4 defense)
It is widely recognized around Tallahassee the tortured history FSU has had on Thursday night games. Florida State is 7-6 all-time on Thursday nights, and that includes many upset losses in seasons FSU was a national title contender. This season the ‘Noles are helped by a bye week the Saturday before the matchup, a luxury they have not been granted in the past. Louisville flourished in Bobby Petrino’s first stint with the team, and the Cardinals seem to be poised for a top-25 year. This could be a key matchup in the Atlantic division depending on Louisville plays three weeks earlier against Clemson. This may be the Seminoles toughest test of the season, but they will find a way to win as they have the past two years. 8-0.
Florida State 31, Louisville 23
-Part 3 coming next week-

Big Things For Karlos Williams


If you don’t already know who RB Karlos Williams is on Florida State’s Football team, now is the time to learn. Williams was actually a 5 star recruit as a Safety coming out of high school. He was penciled in to be a key point of the Florida State defense but after two years of not really making a huge impact or seeing starter minutes, Jimbo Fisher decided to explore other options regarding how to use this 6’1” 220 pound specimen. Williams had been a successful punt returner during his first two years as a safety, so after two years of being a backup, a transition to the other side of the ball seemed like it could be beneficial for not only Karlos Williams, but also the whole Florida State team.

Williams headed into the 2013 season set to continue playing as a safety, but after his first carry ever during the second game of last season against the Nevada Wolf Pack resulted in a 65-yard touchdown run, the transition was complete. Karlos went on to run for 730 yards on only 91 carries for a whopping 8.0 yards per carry. These numbers would have been much higher, but he was forced to be the 3rd string running back behind returning backs James Wilder Jr. and Davonta Freeman. Even with the backup role and limited exposure, he was still selected as a pre-season all ACC running back, only raising the expectations for Williams this year.

Williams breaks a tackle in the 2013 ACC Championship game
Williams breaks a tackle in the 2013 ACC Championship game

This year he enters camp and the season being the number one back, with lofty expectations. Even though there are other backs on the Florida State roster with promise and talent, no one who has seen Williams carry the ball can deny that he isn’t set to breakout this year. Not only can Williams smash the ball down your throat with his big safety frame, he can cut to the outside and burn you down the sideline as well. He enjoys contact and is very hard to bring to the ground due to his relentless motor. But carrying the ball isn’t his only strength, he can catch out of the backfield, and he can block. He is a legitimate three down back.

This also happens to be a make or break year for the senior. After this year, he could either be a first round selection in the NFL draft or he could be undrafted. But based off of his existing numbers and the projection of him being the lead back for a team that is a National Championship favorite, the potential for Karlos Williams is through the roof.

It has yet to be seen however, if he can take the beating of being a go-to running back. Even though he was a dominant safety at one point in his career, that doesn’t amount to the number of hits he will receive as a running back as running backs get hit on every carry by multiple people. Assuming his body will hold up, it’s not unreasonable to expect Williams to have over 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns, as he had 11 touchdowns in a diminished role.

There is a lot of deserved hype this season for Karlos Williams, and even though he has a relatively small sample size of carries, the explosiveness and power that he possesses when he touches the ball can’t be denied. This is his year, and with his multiplied role in the offense, Karlos Williams will challenge every running back in the NCAA for the Doak Walker award as the best running back in the NCAA.