Florida State's BCS Return: College Football Still The Same
By Eric Russell
Back at the birth of the BCS, Florida State was what Alabama has been in recent years. The Seminoles played in the first three BCS National Championship games. Florida State was less successful than the Crimson Tide. They only mustered one victory in the three appearances, and the last time they were in the game — the 2001 Orange Bowl (2000 season) — was a huge disaster. Oklahoma beat the Seminoles,13-2.
Now, Jimbo Fisher leads the Seminoles to another title game, fittingly, in the final season of the BCS. So much has changed since their last tussle for the title, but, in so many ways, that season foreshadowed so much of what would become the norm in college football. The ironies of the 2000 season are intriguing.
The 'Big Game'
For starters, Bob Stoops appeared to be the king of the big game after leading Oklahoma to a title in his second season as head coach. We've later come to find out BCS games aren't the Sooners' friend. Stoops is 3-5 in BCS bowls, and the two victories outside of the national title were over Washington State ('03 Rose Bowl) and Connecticut ('11 Fiesta Bowl). However, for every aspect that has changed since the last time FSU was in the title game, several things have not.
Some would say the 2001 Orange Bowl was the first time Mark Richt — then the offensive coordinator at FSU — came up short. The Seminoles didn't find the end zone at all in the game. More than a decade later, that's still how some people feel about Richt. You constantly hear the mumblings, or roars, about Richt's failures in big games.
Not Quite Good Enough
The year 2000 also highlighted college football fans' favorite BCS pastime: Telling certain conferences they aren't good enough. I consider the year 2000 as a seminal time for conference elitism, and now everybody knows certain conferences just don't belong in the title game. (Thank goodness Michigan State saved us this season.)
Back in 2000, no team could save college football from the undeserving conference, but the pollsters did. Miami beat the No. 1 team in the nation (Florida State) in early October that year. The Seminoles somehow still got the title game berth despite both teams being 10-1 at the end of the regular season (this was years before Miami's move to the ACC). It's reassuring to know that old habits die hard. College football fans still find the Big East (and the Big 10 apparently) to be unworthy.
Speaking of the Big East, in 2000, who would've expected the conference would no longer be the Big East, and Temple would be the only team remaining by the time the BCS died out? Then again, who would've known the BCS would die out?
The Big East's other top team that year, Virginia Tech, also had one loss. They finished ranked sixth and outside of the BCS mix. Their loss to a No. 2 Miami team was a little more damning. The Hokies played Clemson in the Gator Bowl, which had the feel of this year's Orange Bowl (Clemson vs. Ohio State) — two teams who were at one point looking as though they could be in the title mix now playing for pride.
That's right: The Tigers were 'Clemsoning' before hash tags were cool. Much like this season, Clemson blew its chance the last time FSU made a run to the national title game. Tommy Bowden's team worked its way up to No. 5 that year, and they promptly proceeded to lose to an unranked Georgia Tech team. Somehow that wasn't enough to drop the Tigers from the Top 10, so the next week they had a Top-10 showdown with Florida State.
There's no need to even continue this narrative. Let's just say that time Clemson's deficit was 47, 10 points worse than this year's embarrassing home loss.
A Fitting Farewell
The SEC has been a mainstay in the BCS title game. Of course they have another shot this season with a chance move into double-digit wins as a conference in the title game. Florida State, on the other hand, has a chance to make the ACC the only other conference with a .500 winning percentage in title games. (Florida State, at 1-2, has been the only team to represent the conference in the title game.)
Thanks to its championship game counterpart Auburn, FSU will go down as the only team to appear in three straight BCS national title games. After all of the conference realignment and talk of conference superiority, the BCS will go out the way it came in, with an ACC-SEC showdown that features Florida State.