The two main football halls of fame announce their new classes in the 24 hours before their respective championship finales. The 2019 College Football Hall of Fame class was revealed on the morning of the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide.
For the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes, their new inductees offer very powerful reminders of what used to define the college football world.
Yes, once upon a time, Florida State — had there been a four-team playoff — would have been in the semifinals basically every year, and very probably in the championship game most seasons. The Seminoles would have been what Clemson is today. Miami, the team which usually got the better of FSU, might have occupied the place currently inhabited by Alabama. (Florida State fans could debate the point, and they would have reason to do so, but if FSU was 1-B to Miami’s 1-A, it is definitely a first-world problem. What is happening today in Tallahassee is something far worse.)
What makes Monday’s new College Football Hall of Fame class so significant and symbolically potent for both FSU and Miami is that the new Seminole and the new Hurricane in the College Football Hall both represent cornerstones of these Clemson- and Alabama-style dynasties in Tallahassee and Coral Gables.
Let’s start with Terrell Buckley, a Florida State legend whose single-season interception record (12 in 1991) and school interception record (21) still stand today, over 25 years after the end of his collegiate career. Buckley — who picked off 71 passes in college and the pros combined, in 17 highly productive seasons — was one of the anchors of the front end of one of the most remarkable streaks in sports history: Florida State’s 14 straight seasons in the top five of the final Associated Press poll, from 1987-2000. After the 1987 and 1988 teams got that streak off the ground, Buckley’s excellence from 1989 through 1991 helped Florida State remain a towering presence on the college football scene.
The slippage which very easily and understandably happens at various programs after one or two special seasons — and great players leave the program — was prevented in Tallahassee thanks to Buckley and the other members of the program who carried Florida State into the early 1990s and handed the baton to Charlie Ward and Warrick Dunn, who carried the program into the mid-1990s, and kept the line of succession flowing.
Buckley is a representative example of how Florida State entrenched itself as a college football superpower in a way Clemson and Alabama fans very clearly realize.
Then turn to The U. Whereas Buckley was a builder of a dynastic run on its front end (Years 3-5 of a supreme 14-year reign — only now is Alabama exceeding what Bobby Bowden accomplished at the end of the 20th century), Dennis Erickson represented the back end of Miami’s national championship gold rush.
Howard Schnellenberger got the Miami program off the ground. Jimmy Johnson was the perfect coach to continue a rising program’s display of Hurricane-force excellence.
However, programs sometimes run out of steam when coaching turnover continues to emerge.
Notre Dame had Ara Parseghian followed by Dan Devine. The two men crushed it at Notre Dame from the mid-1960s through the 1981 Sugar Bowl, Devine’s last game as the leader in South Bend. Then, however, Notre Dame had to find yet another head coach, and when Gerry Faust was selected, the program as we had known it ceased to matter for several years. Lou Holtz had to step in and revive it in the latter half of the 1980s.
Florida had Steve Spurrier and — after the brief disaster known as Ron Zook — the Urban Meyer empire, but when Meyer’s career lasted only half as long as Spurrier’s 12-year reign in Gainesville, Florida had to look for yet another coach. Will Muschamp was the selection, and the Gators are still recovering from that mess, all these years later.
You get the point: Even the best programs often slip when they keep having to hire new coaches. Sure, the job is great and will attract elite talent, but more vacancies and transitions invite the possibility that the next hire — as wonderful as it might appear on paper — might fail.
This is where Erickson cemented himself as a college football giant and earned the lasting respect of Miami football fans.
Schnellenberger was the architect of the Miami juggernaut. Johnson was the developer, taking Schnellenberger’s initial blueprint and elevating it to a greater height. When Johnson went to the NFL to join Jerry Jones with the Dallas Cowboys, The U was under pressure to find yet another man who could handle the heat in The Old Horseshoe in Little Havana and maintain Miami’s place as The Team, THE PROGRAM, in college football.
Dennis Erickson, a native of the Pacific Northwest and a man who had spent his entire collegiate coaching career at off-the-radar Western programs, was Miami’s selection before the 1989 season.
Erickson had coached — as an assistant or as a head coach — at Montana State, Idaho, Fresno State, San Jose State, Wyoming, and Washington State. That’s not exactly a natural career track preceding a move to the most prominent college football program in the entire United States, but Erickson won the job.
He then won a ton of games and lost very few.
Erickson spent the next six years getting the better of Bowden and Florida State in a majority of instances (4-2). His Miami teams never lost more than two games in any regular season. In his first four seasons in Miami, Erickson won two national titles (1989 and 1991) and coached for a national title in a third season (1992). A fourth team had a chance to finish No. 2 in the season-ending poll, but lost to Tom Osborne’s first national championship team at Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
It is true that Erickson’s tenure in Miami wasn’t smooth. The 1991 Cotton Bowl against Texas, a 46-3 win, was nevertheless marred by 202 penalty yards and repeated instances of appalling behavior. Off the field, a series of scandals and misdeeds led to the decline and reset of the program in the mid-1990s. After the 1994 season ended, Erickson got out of Dodge and snagged an NFL gig with the Seattle Seahawks, returning to the region of the country where he grew up and had learned how to coach. Nevertheless, Erickson had maintained the Miami brand and identity. He wasn’t hired to be a choirmaster. He was hired to win big. He did.
Terrell Buckley fueled the rise of Florida State’s remarkable 14-year reign at the end of the 20th century.
Dennis Erickson sustained Miami’s most fertile and formidable 12-year period (1983-1994) as a college football power before the school found its renaissance in the year 2000.
On the morning of another Clemson-Alabama national championship game, FSU and Miami have been reminded — by their new College Football Hall of Fame representatives — what their own shimmering dynasties used to look like.
Not so fast on QB D’Eriq King coming to Hurricanes?
24 hours later it doesn’t look dead certain that Houston transfer quarterback D’Eriq King will end up at the University of Miami after all.
In fact, it may be several days before we know the coveted grad transfer QB decides to do.
This after a report Sunday out of Houston from Fox 26 Sports director Mark Berman ,who got comments from King about his short term plans and visits:
D’Eriq King (@DeriqKing_), who is transferring from @UHCougarFB, says he has yet to make a final decision on where he’s going: “I haven’t committed to anybody yet. I’m still looking at my options. I visited Miami. I liked it, but there are other options I’m still trying see to..” pic.twitter.com/E4kz2xypWR
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 19, 2020
It is interesting that King is considering Maryland in the mix in addition to powerhouse LSU and possibly trying to revitalize Miami.
As our Jamil King wrote on Sunday it looked like the Houston standout quarterback was “e-ticketed” for Coral Gables and to come as a package deal with newly hired offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Lashlee, who has previously been at Auburn and the SMU offensive coordinator the last couple of seasons, was hired two weeks ago to help jump start the Canes disastrous offense from the second half of last year.
Quarterback play plagued the Canes in 2019 with Jarren Williams showing flashes of great play followed by freshman mistakes and inconsistency. N’kosi Perry found his way into some games, but was also inconsistent in his own right. Miami suffered humiliating losses to FIU and at Duke to close the regular season.
Then, the Hurricanes were completely inept in the Independence Bowl, while being shut out 14-0. This, while rumors were swirling everywhere that coach Manny Diaz would be firing his first year offensive coordinator, Dan Enos. Enos, who had been the QB coach at Alabama, was fired the next day.
Back to King, if the Hurricanes are able to land him, they get a player who over his career at the University of Houston threw for 4,925 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 50 touchdowns with only ten interceptions.
King also completed almost 62% of his passes with the Cougars, adding another 28 touchdowns on the ground. He promises to bring some explosives, something the Canes desperately needed, if they can land him.
Hurricanes land Houston QB transfer King
Miami Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz found out very quickly that the life if a head coach isn’t an easy one. He saw his Miami Hurricane offense move nothing like a “Hurricane” at all.
Instead of fast and lethal, it was often slow and stagnant.
Thus, Diaz had to go in a different direction for his offense replacing his first-year offensive coordinator Dan Enos, and he made what looks to be like a strong hire in Rhett Lashlee, bringing his spread offense over from SMU.
Quarterback play plagued the Canes in 2019 with Jarren Williams showing flashes of great play followed by freshman mistakes and inconsistency. N’kosi Perry found his way into some games but was also inconsistent in his own right.\
With New OC Lashlee coming in, it was going to be interesting if either Williams or Perry could run the new system or if seldom used 2019 transfer Tate Martell may be the best fit?
All of those questions may be answered for us already with news coming out today on a new Miami quarterback entering the fold. Houston transfer D’Eriq King has decided to play for the Canes in 2020.
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) January 19, 2020
King is an immediate upgrade in the QB room for a few different reasons for the Hurricanes in 2020. First, over his career at the University of Houston (above), King has thrown for 4,925 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 50 touchdowns with only ten interceptions.
King also completed almost 62% of his passes with the Cougars, adding another 28 touchdowns on the ground. The young man can flat out play ball, something the Canes desperately needed.
King is also going to be a leader in the locker room and the quarterback room. He is an older guy and will be someone everyone can look up to and listen to another coach on the field. King also brings the most to this offense.
He has the ability to make deep throws to the far side or hit a man in stride. He also brings the running ability to the offense that opens up a Pandora’s box for Lashlee. He can use the QB designed run, an option here and there, and lots of RPOs.
The addition of King is certainly an exciting one, and once again, for the second offseason in a row, there is new optimism on the offense in Coral Gables.
The question is this time will the excitement last longer into the season, and will it produce?
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