The Florida State ticket office is trying, trying, trying, to push interest in this upcoming Saturday’s game between the Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes.
Imagine seeing this tweet when the rivalry was anywhere near its peak – not AT its peak, but anywhere remotely close to it:
We’ve eclipsed the 10K mark in the student section for Saturday’s @FSUFootball game vs Miami
— FSU Tickets (@FSUTickets) October 28, 2019
The 10,000-ticket mark is 6,000 short of the full 16,000 allotment for students. That is merely one of the indicators of how far this rivalry has fallen in 2019.
Let’s be clear: The rivalry isn’t a lifeless rivalry on a broader, general level. When Jimbo Fisher was at Florida State not too long ago, this series still popped. Miami had a chance to make resounding statements about its legitimacy, and came close to doing so until its breakthrough in 2017. This is not a long-term erosion of Noles-Canes. This is a short-term collapse, with Saturday’s game matching a pair of 4-4 teams. The loser will be in deep danger of missing a bowl game.
It would be jarring to see Doak Campbell Stadium, a ballyard stuffed with memories of electric nights and afternoons, having 10,000 or 15,000 or maybe more, empty seats for The U.
There is a large dose of irony attached to this game from a Florida State perspective if you stop and think about the larger history of this rivalry, dating back to the late 1980s.
Florida State-Miami was usually an early October game, sometimes a Week 1 game, in its heyday. Miami was the team which usually relied more on its defense and played a more cautious style built on limiting mistakes. Florida State was usually the much more ambitious team under Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles were a lot more likely to use gadget plays and take bigger in-game risks.
Given this contrast when FSU-Miami reached its greatest height, the prevailing line of thought about the early October or Week 1 meetings between these teams is that they generally favored Miami.
“If only Florida State could play this game in November,” the argument went, “the Seminoles and Bobby Bowden would have had a lot more national titles.”
Whether you agree with that thought process or not (I do…), it has to be a bitter pill to swallow: The game has been moved back to November this year, ideally in the hope that the late-season placement of the game would make it bigger.
Instead, the late-season placement has made it worse in 2019.
If this game had been scheduled on the first weekend of October, neither fan base would have been happy, but there still would have been a sense that with two months left in the season, FSU-Miami could form a pivot point for these programs.
Now, in Week 10? Forget it. These programs are just trying to make a bottom-tier bowl game in a place such as Shreveport or Annapolis. There is no high-end goal to shoot for, only to win this rivalry game and save face to a modest extent.
The November schedule placement many Florida State fans have longed for has blown up in the face of this rivalry and college football. Miami and FSU will slug it out at the same time the Florida Gators will play Georgia in Week 10’s biggest clash.
If the Gators are happy to overshadow a Miami-FSU game in which ticket sales have been conspicuously sluggish, you know something is severely amiss.
The late 1980s and early 1990s could not be more distant in the public memory this week.
Report- FSU hires Memphis coach Mike Norvell
The Memphis Tigers secured the American Conference Championship with a dramatic 29 – 24 win over Cincinnati Saturday night, and has been rumored, FSU is securing the Tigers head coach.
Multiple media reports said Saturday night that FSU will name the Memphis head coach, Mike Norvell, to the same position Sunday at a news conference on campus in Tallahassee. The Tallahassee Democrat reported as fact, that Norvell had been hired, but didn’t site a source:
— Wayne McGahee III (@WayneMcGaheeIII) December 8, 2019
FSU told the media Saturday evening that the press conference will be at noon eastern time, which will also be at the same time that the College Football Playoff rankings show will be taking place on ESPN.
And while Norville’s Tigers won’t be in the College Football Playoff, they will be the highest ranked team in the “Group of Five” bowl category, and that means they will be headed to the Cotton Bowl.
However, that will likely be without their head coach of the last four seasons. Norvell took over as a first-time head coach in Memphis in 2016 after having spent the previous four seasons, as offensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Memphis won 8 games his first season and then 10 games in his second year. Now, they have just completed the best season in program history at 12 – 1, with that lone loss coming at Temple in October. The Tigers beat the East Division AAC champ, Cincinnati, in each of the last two weeks.
The Tigers won dramatically on Saturday afternoon (above) by scoring with just over a minute left in the game. That’s when quarterback Brady White hit wide receiver Antonio Gibson with a 6-yard touchdown and the 29-24 lead. The Tigers missed the two point play and the Bearcats still had life to win the game.
But, Memphis’ defense then held Cincinnati on downs after the Bearcats drove in the final :30 within their 25-yard line.
Norvell is expected to receive a good-sized pay raise from the $2.6 million contract he agreed to with Memphis after the 2018 season.
FSU fired coach Willie Taggart on November 3rd after a humiliating loss the day before to Miami. Florida State sufferd their first losing season in over forty years during Taggart’s first campaign in 2018 and were on track to potentially have a second straight losing season, when he was fired.
Interim coach Odell Haggins led them to a win at Boston College and at home over FCS Alabama State making Florida State bowl eligible.
It is unclear whether Norvell will stay behind and coach Memphis in the biggest bowl game in program history, or if that will go to an interim coach instead.
Why hasn’t Florida State named their new coach?
Why hasn’t Florida State announced the hire of a new head football coach? It is a legitimate question to ask as Conference Championship Weekend approaches.
The early signing period comes closer, and the Seminoles know they need to nail down recruits to give themselves a fighting chance in 2020 and, more realistically, 2021. The more this head coaching search drags out – now that we are in December – the worse it looks for Florida State.
Moreover, the whole point (or at least the main point) of firing Willie Taggart a few weeks before the end of the regular season was precisely to get a head start on the head coaching search and find the right man for the right price in a precarious time for Seminole football.
If Florida State doesn’t have a coach firmly secured by Sunday morning – before the College Football Playoff teams and New Year’s Six bowl assignments are announced – it will be buried in the news cycle. Announcing a hire late Sunday night or early Monday morning won’t create the same splash and will certainly come across as being “late” in a meaningful sense. FSU won’t get the maximum amount of attention and publicity it needs.
The clock really is ticking. Yes, it is better to be late than to settle for a terrible hire. Florida State (and any other school in its position) is better served by getting the right coach late in a carousel cycle than to be stuck with the wrong man and making the hire “on time,” before Sunday afternoon.
We can all understand the bigger picture, though: Florida State, a program of great stature and significance, should be able to get a good hire AND be on time. The Seminoles ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
The conventional wisdom – or at least, one of several prevailing thoughts if there isn’t majority agreement on this point – is that Florida State will wait until after Saturday’s AAC Championship Game between Cincinnati and Memphis to announce the hire of Memphis coach Mike Norvell.
If this IS in fact the case (we’ll see, one way or the other), Florida State will have gotten one of the better options in the coaching carousel. Norvell’s (above) name has been thrown about for a long time at Power Five schools. His arrival would certainly offer the promise of an elite offense (and strong quarterback development) returning to Tallahassee.
It wouldn’t be a home-run, but it would be viewed as a reasonably good hire under complicated circumstances, a move which could certainly work if Norvell plays his cards right.
The bigger question – and potential problem – for FSU is if a Norvell deal has NOT been lined up, and if the program is scrambling. Then we’re in a different landscape with a lot more uncertainty.
We talk about this larger topic at this time every year: In a coaching search, there is always a prime target. If that target is secured (in this case Norvell), great.
If not, are you – as an athletic director – ready with your Plan B? Is Dave Coburn, armed with his search firm, ready?
We’re about to find out if FSU has its Plan A firmly secured, or if the school has its Plan B ready to go before the College Football Playoff announcement.
Or, if FSU has botched this hire completely by letting others who started later get coaches out from under them.