There was a great point brought by HD, our resident "hot sports take guy" caller to BCI radio, last Tuesday. As a resident of Florida and an admitted supporter of Florida State football, he asked me if I didn't like Florida State or if I didn't like Jameis Winston. It was probably the most thought-provoking question anyone's asked me in a while.
There's a lot look within the lines there. I grew up semi-rooting for Florida State in the early 1990s. I have two older brothers, one of whom was coming into his teenage formative years right about the same time Charlie Ward was playing quarterback for Bobby Bowden. In 1993, when FSU played The Game Of The Century against Notre Dame, I remember how geeked up he was for that game, and he was 12.
I did some soul searching and thinking, and I realized I'm a sucker for tradition. There's a lot about FSU I genuinely respect and admire. I always like Bowden's country bumpkin style of coaching, especially after I learned about his relationship with Marshall during his time at West Virginia (he plays an intricate role in We Are Marshall, and Bowden himself became very emotional screening the movie). I'm a big fan of the Seminole tribe, and Chief Osceola and Renegade remain one of my favorite mascots.
I've traveled to watch Florida State. In 2004, I watched the Seminoles play at Syracuse because it seemed like a great road trip to see a good team (how little did I know I'd be watching FSU as divisional foes of Boston College). I think their home traditions are pretty cool. The spear, the war chant, the big drum, the Tomahawk Chop, and the whole Unconquered theme--it's great. The Seminole tribe has a great relationship with the university, and I'd be hard pressed to admit that I don't at least like Florida State a little bit.
To be honest, the hate at the Seminoles is completely multi-fold. They're the defending national champions, yet they really aren't respected the same way the SEC teams are. They have every reason to have a livid fan base that wants to destroy teams. Teams capable of winning back-to-back championships are fun because we hate dynasties. We want to be the team that upends them. Everyone else hates when a team knows how good it really is.
So then it must be Jameis Winston. Well, to be honest, it is. I can't stand Jameis Winston. Maybe it's because I'm getting older now, but at 29 years old, I would kill for 10% of his God-given ability. I realize he's not even 21 years old, that a kid from Alabama probably hasn't been in this type of national spotlight before coming to school. I realize he's a product of an environment that allows him to act as stupid as he is. But therein lies the argument.
I think Jameis Winston is a kid who's been handed the keys to Daddy's Ferrari with a blank check. I believe the fan base of FSU (as a generality) enable him. AJ made a great point last week: if he was the third string quarterback, he'd be thrown off the team right now. The fact that he's Jameis Winston gets him a free pass.
In 2012, he brought a BB gun to campus and started shooting at squirrels. The police held him at gunpoint and released him with no charges. What do you think would happen to you or me if we waltzed around campus with a gun?
In 2013, he was caught stealing soda from a Burger King. The Burger King employee reportedly saw him filling ketchup cups with soda and told him to stop. He asked for a water cup instead. There was no action taken.
In 2014, he had the crab legs incident where grabbed a package of crab legs and waltzed out of a Publix supermarket. He was forced to perform community service and was suspended until he completed his service.
Oh, he was suspended from the baseball team.
Then there's the sexual assault allegation. We'll never quite know the truth, but Winston was allowed to play during the first allegation because there were never charges filed (Florida State has a policy that students facing felony charges cannot play their sport pending the result of those charges). The investigation concluded with police improprieties on both sides, and, honestly, we'll never know the truth. There were injuries consistent with rape but no DNA obtained until well after the fact, and the investigating officer did private security work for the primary financing booster group to Florida State athletics, according to The New York Times. All of that can be found by doing a quick Wikipedia search and clicking on referenced links.
Bottom line: it stinks. True or false, whatever your opinion on the matter, it stinks. The bottom line, the underlying larger issue, isn't the actual action, and I'm not going to get into the details behind the girl or the situation since I obviously don't know the truth. The bottom line is that Jameis Winston is dumber than dirt, and he's got a major attitude problem that's been fostered and developed by Florida State, the police, those around him, and the entire culture surrounding Seminole football. Nobody's calling shenanigans on him, and it's bad.
Do I hate Florida State? Not by a long shot. I hate what Florida State's become. They have something really special down there, but the negatives are being completely enabled by a coaching staff, an institution, and a fan base willing to forego it all. I think FSU has great tradition. Don't sell it out for this kid any more than you probably already have. Perception is reality, and the perception of Florida State right now is really, and I mean REALLY, bad.
I might be gone for the week, but there are some things that needed to be said. Let's get to the storylines:
Weekly Storyline (AC/DC Edition)
Back in Black. Boston College is going to have to face a Florida State team wearing their UNCONQUERED uniforms this weekend. That might not mean anything to you, but it does to me. The Seminole tribe infamously never surrendered to the United States army in the 19th century. After engaging in three wars with them, the United States captured Chief Osceola after telling him they wanted to talk about a "peace truce." In 1858, the US declared an end to all conflicts with Native Americans, ending the last of the third war with about 200 Seminoles hiding in the swamps (after the US wanted to resettle them to Oklahoma, too!). The Seminole tribe never surrendered and therefore has never been conquered. It's a great theme, and I love the idea behind it.
That said, Florida State is hosting a Boston College team it's struggled with at home since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005. They've played four times in Tallahassee, with the Eagles winning the first two in 2006 and 2008 (when FSU wore the UNCONQUERED jerseys, FWIW). Before the full fledged inferno of a tire fire called the Spaziani era, BC was actually 3-2 against the Noles, and one of those losses (2007) was vacated. Doesn't change how painful that loss was, though.
The Spaz era really killed Boston College against FSU, and the Eagles got progressively worse after winning the first year, losing 24-19 (okay, not bad but indicative of the slip) in 2010, 38-7 (Hey look we stink!) in 2011, and 51-7 (SHOOT ME) in 2012. Last year, BC played Florida State extremely tight at Alumni Stadium, and the Eagles were the only opponent other than Auburn in the national title game that scored more than 17 points (BC scored 34).
Highway to Hell. There's another underlying current to this game that's kind of interesting. As good as BC's been this year, a loss this week puts 6-6 as a very real outcome. Two weeks ago, heading into Louisville, Boston College was looking at a couple of plays away from possibly going 9-3 or 8-4. The Pinstripe Bowl seemed like a foregone conclusion. With Notre Dame losing and the bad loss to the Cardinals, the Eagles are 6-4 going to a hostile environment against an ultra-talented team.
In my preseason preview, I said BC would be 6-2 going into the last four games of the season, then lose them all. I couldn't foresee Virginia Tech being that bad or Syracuse being an unmitigated disaster, so bear with me. I also said that if BC went 6-2 and finished 6-6, people would lose their marbles. There's a very real possibility that the Eagles lose this week badly, then lose next week to a Syracuse team playing for pride and a non-gender specific, happier version of the oval thing from the Zoloft commercial. Do I think that'll happen? Well, I can't say at this point. Before the season, I clearly thought that was real.
I also said that if BC lost all those games and finished 6-6, people would lose their mind. There's a big difference between a team being 2-6 and finishing bowl eligible versus a team that's 6-2 and finishes with the same record. The Eagles were 6-3 going into the last three games of the season. Losing all of them will cause people to lose their minds, but we kind of have to be ready for that as a real possibility.
Does that make this game a must-win? Well no, I don't think it is because BC is bowl eligible. But if they want to prove themselves as a team capable of grabbing that tier, after all the promise they showed earlier, well they have to play well this weekend.
Hells Bells. You gotta be ready to play 60 minutes this week, get fired up, and execute. That's how you beat Florida State. You don't so much defend Florida State as you attack them and ram their game down their throats. The Seminoles are one of the worst teams this year in running the football, but they're a top 10 team in the nation in passing. It's imperative that the Eagles get to Jameis Winston and force him to make plays with his feet. It's important to shut down the middle of the field. And it's important to make Florida State rack up all kinds of yards on the ground, not in the air.
I remember a gameplan that'll suit Boston College well. Last year in the regular season, the New England Patriots allowed Knowshon Moreno to run for 224 yards, but they held Peyton Manning to only 132 yards passing. They played seven deep, let the front seven get blown off the ball, and essentially allowed Moreno to control the line of scrimmage. That allowed Denver to run up and down the field, but it took away the bread-and-butter plays the Broncos used to win games. It set up the blueprint for how to beat them.
Last season, Boston College was a Fail Mary defensive stand and a second half drive away from keeping this game even closer than two scores. Winston threw for 330 yards, but take away that 55-yard touchdown pass at the end of the second quarter, and all of a sudden he's only going for 275 yards. If you can hold him to that tally, you're going to be in position to win the game.
There is a way to beat Florida State. Ram their game down their throats.
Bonus Song: For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). The ultimate anthem for a sports event. Nothing gets me fired up quite like this one before kickoff, except maybe Thunderstruck.
Matchup Fun Facts
School Name: The Florida State University
Team Name: Seminoles
All-Time Record: 508-237-17
Claimed National Championships: 3 (1993, 1999, 2013)
Conference Championships: 17 (3 Dixie Conference, 14 ACC)
Bowl Games: 43
Postseason Record: 26-14-2
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Years at School: Fifth
Head-to-Head with BC
All-Time Series: FSU leads, 8-4
Streak: FSU, 4
Last BC Win: 2009 (BC 28, FSU 21 at BC)
Last FSU Win: 2013 (FSU 48, BC 34 at BC)
First Meeting: 1957 (BC 20, FSU 7 at BC)