October 8, 2002
Seminole Mental Holiday
by Keith Weiland
Florida State University stunned the rest of the world when they cancelled all classes on October 3 and 4. You see, there was an important tackle football game to be hosted on campus, one so wholesome it pitted father versus son. How could an academic institution set aside the importance of higher learning for the likes of a silly game?
An impromptu four-day weekend is nothing new for college students. To properly pre-party, party, then post-party, FSU students, faculty, and staff know a simple two days is never enough. And for the Florida State football program, one that seems to be losing to unranked opponents at an alarming rate these days, winning Thursday’s battle with Clemson was of utmost importance to the, um University.
It was also of utmost importance to Seminoles’ head coach Bobby Bowden. Bowden hasn’t had an easy go of it himself lately. After stumbling through a 2001 season in which his team lost four games, he drew the nation’s skeptical eye this past summer when he bastardized the phrase “Let’s Roll” as a means of motivating his underachieving squad. The phrase, spoken by true hero Todd Beamer aboard Flight 93 on 9/11/2001, is the one wearing the red quarterback jersey warning everyone else to touch it with caution. In fairness, the Todd Beamer Foundation praised its usage as a means of keeping their message alive.
Bad karma though rightfully ensued. Bowden tried to skate by on his rehearsed, hick-ish, “aw shucks” bumpkin act, but it didn’t work so good this time. Keep in mind this is coming from the guy whose school enjoys “honoring” the American Indians with tomahawk chop arm-wavings. For a historically successful coach who trails only Penn State’s Joe Paterno in college football victories, maybe his reaction to the media outburst is a sign that Bowden’s 72 years of age are catching up to him. Or maybe it’s that everyone else is finally catching on to him.
Either way, that bad karma nearly came to fruition in Bowden’s first game this season against the electrifying Iowa State and their Heisman candidate quarterback, Seneca Wallace. Unfortunately for the rest of us with sense of right and wrong, Wallace’s Cyclones came up a yard short of possibly winning the game.
Then Florida State traveled to Louisville. Ranked fourth heading into the game, the overrated Seminoles lost in a rainy slop to a team they had no business losing to. Sure, Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone is a great talent, one that could be taken very high in the 2003 draft, but FSU has great talent at all of their positions, too.
Thursday’s game against Clemson would give those players a chance to show that talent on yet another national stage. For the first time in four seasons, the game was more than just the Bowden Bowl, an annual spankfest in which the elder Bowden orders his football team whip the younger’s ruthlessly.
One player who reclaimed the spotlight was running back Greg Jones, a nearly 250-pound junior who can power his way between the tackles as good as he can bounce to the outside and scamper for a big run. Jones did just that near the end of the first half as his 64-yard run helped set up an FSU touchdown to give his team the lead for good against Bowden the Younger.
Despite going AWOL for the Louisville game with just 32 yards, Jones rushed for 160 yards and three scores against a Clemson team with one of the better run defenses in the country. Jones bruised that defense for the second year in a row, proving to be a hitter that knows how to use that muscle mass. Combined with his 4.5 speed, Jones could be bulldozing his way up draft boards next year if he chooses to declare his eligibility to the NFL.
But that’s getting a little ahead of myself. Jones, Bowden, and the rest of the Seminoles have plenty more rolling to do this season. Not only do they have big games against Miami this week, Notre Dame next week, and Florida at the end of the regular season, the Seminoles will also have revenge opportunities against schools that whipped them last year, including North Carolina and NC State on back-to-back weekends.
Maybe Bowden will be able to think up new ways to “honor” fallen U.S. heroes and motivate his team through such a daunting stretch. If nothing else, the Seminole holiday thing seems to be a hit in Tallahassee.
Tune In, Drop Out… Next up a (possible) weekly new feature in which I spotlight one or two (or four) nationally televised games that feature potential future Texans.
This weekend offers viewers a great chance to scout the best wide receivers the college game has to offer. Go ahead and just tape the remote to your body Saturday morning because you won’t want to let it out of your sight all day:
Michigan State @ Iowa, 11am, ESPN – Junior phenom Charles Rogers tries to keep alive his record-setting streak of consecutive games with a TD.
Florida State @ Miami, 11am, ABC – Flip to this blockbuster matchup to study the hands of Rose Bowl co-MVP Andre Johnson.
Tennessee @ Georgia, 2:30pm, CBS – Kelley Washington of the Vols is the highlight here, and he’s yet to be held under 100 yards receiving this season.
Oklahoma vs. Texas, 2:30pm, ABC – Last, but not least, tune in to see if another Roy Williams will have an impact in the Red River Shootout.
Keith Weiland encourages you to visit the Todd M. Beamer Foundation website at www.beamerfoundation.org, a non-profit public charity created to equip children experiencing family trauma to make heroic choices every day.