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Florida State Seminoles

Oldest active state school NFL player Janikowski will retire

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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The end of the line has come for the longest tenured NFL player from a state of Florida school, as Seahawks and former Raiders legendary kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, has decided to “hang them up.”

Janikowski told ESPN’s Adam Schefter Sunday that his 19th season spent last year in the Pacific Northwest will be his last:

At 41 years of age Janikowski was a long-shot to continue playing this season anyway, especially as he has battled back problems at the end of his career. It was that back issue that caused the Raiders to not only put him on injured reserve before he ever kicked in a game in 2017, but then, release him out of concern for the injury last offseason.

As we wrote then, the former All-American kicker and first-round pick out of Florida State was contemplating retirement when he hooked on with Seattle. Janikowski ended up making 22 – 27 of his field goals including 12 of 13 from Beyond 40 yards in 2018.

Janikowski was controversially drafted in the first round by the late Oakland owner/GM Al Davis in 2000. And, during an erratic rookie season where he was a shaky 22-32 in field goal attempts, former and now  once again Raiders coach Jon Gruden, admitted that he wanted Janikowski benched or released that year.  Still, after the rocky start, he ended up making 80% of his field goals (414-515) all time in his Raiders tenure.

Janikowski will retire holding the NFL record, and maybe forever, with an astounding 58 field goals of 50 yards + in his career. He was in his prime regarded regarded as the standard of long distance field goal kickers in pro football throughout the 2000’s. Yet, amazingly Janikowski only made one Pro Bowl, in 2011.

His career launched at Florida State in 1997-99, where Janikowski won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker in each of his last two seasons making 50-62 field goal attempts with the Seminoles. Janikowski also kicked for FSU in their 2000 BCS Title Game win over Michael Vick and Virginia Tech.

With this the end of his career, Janikowski retires as the oldest player from a Florida college that was still playing last year. And, now, the only other remaining active member of the 2000 NFL Draft class is…. (you guessed it), Tom Brady of the Patriots.

Florida State Seminoles

Clock controversy punctuated latest FSU collapse Saturday

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t just that the FSU Seminoles once again unraveled in the 4th quarter. This time, a clock controversy in the final 10 seconds with Florida State trying to get the game tying touchdown marred the end of yet another loss in coach Willie Taggart’s short tenure.

First, Florida State looked sharp early for the third straight game took a lead in the intermission at Charlottesville at 14 – 10. And, their much criticized defense, which brought on former USF coach and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt as a consultant this week, played well enough to get them into the fourth quarter with a 17 – 10 margin.

However, just like against Boise State and ULM, they allowed Virginia to put together three lengthy TD drives late in the game. The second one capped an 11 play, 75-yard march but after RB Wayne Taulapapa powered in from a yard out, the Cavaliers missed the extra point.

Still, Virginia got the ball back in short order and once again marched on Florida State’s defense in just over two minutes of clock time and Taulapapa scored again. QB Bryce Perkins scored on the two-point conversion for a seven-point (31-24) lead.

And, that led to the attempted heroics of quarterback James Blackman and the Florida state offense. They quickly got inside of the Virginia plus territory. And, a pass interference call put them at the Cavs 16 yard line.

However, when Blackman was sacked on the ensuing play and  Florida State showed poor management, eventually taking their final timeout with 19 seconds left.

That set up the controversial ending as two plays later Blackman completed a pass to Keyshawn Helton down inside the Virgina 5-yard line. Under college rules, the clock is supposed to stop on a first down, but it appeared that the time keeper allowed at least two, and maybe three seconds, to still run off the clock.

Judge for yourself:

So, that there were only :04 left for Florida State to run a final play. Without a timeout, they chose not to spike the ball and instead, direct snapped the ball to running back Cam Akers. He was tackled at the 2-yard line with no time remaining.

This latest stumble, albeit controversially, is only going to add to the outcry for Taggart to be dismissed. Florida State is still reeling from their first losing season in over 40 years in Taggart’s initial campaign of 2018.

Now, they are 1 – 2 to start the year and are frankly, fortunate that they didn’t lose to Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday night in overtime to keep from being 0-3.

Clock or no clock, it’s bad in Tallahassee.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU at Virginia trying not become even more irrelevant

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The elites are under pressure in America these days.

No, not Clemson and Alabama, but pretty much everyone else.

Every presidential debate is an attack on the elites and what they have done. Attacking the elites is a good way to get a favorable reaction from a large group of people.

In college football, many elites are on the run, too.

Michigan is in deep trouble and faces a huge test at Wisconsin next week. If the Wolverines fail this season, Jim Harbaugh’s barren track record in Ann Arbor will continue to weigh on him.

He might not be on the hot seat if the 2019 season fails to meet expectations, but the enveloping sense of misery which has hovered over Michigan football this decade will close in and make everyone that much more disappointed at the inability of Harbaugh to figure this damn thing out.

Other elites – proud programs with substantial traditions – are also scrambling in desperation, trying to extricate themselves from prisons in which they have lived throughout this century.

UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee have not won a single conference championship this century. They all entered this season with second-year coaches who hoped to show themselves, their players and their fans that progress was being made.

The Bruins, Huskers and Vols didn’t need to win 10 games this season, but they did need to show that they were solidly and decisively on the right track.

Through two games, none of them have improved, and Tennessee has actually regressed. Given how bad all three teams were in 2018, that is a disaster in all three places.

Yet, one detail about UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee shows why none of the three coaches at those programs – Chip Kelly, Scott Frost, and Jeremy Pruitt – are on the hot seat right now.

The fact that UCLA, Nebraska, and Tennessee haven’t won a conference title in 20 or more years means that the coaches in Los Angeles, Lincoln, and Knoxville will get a third season to prove if they can turn things around. They will all get one more chance after this year, at minimum.

Everyone knows they walked into highly suboptimal situations, but the fact that their programs had been stagnant to varying degrees is what will truly give them more time.

Florida State is not in that same boat. Florida State was beating Harbaugh and Michigan in the Orange Bowl a few short years ago. Florida State was in the College Football Playoff five years ago.

Erosion won’t sit well in Tallahassee. Whether you think it is reasonable or not, realistic or not, you know that with Urban Meyer being unemployed, Florida State won’t think twice about firing Willie Taggart after two seasons if 2019 is a total mess.

This brings us to Saturday in Charlottesville.

Florida State should never be an underdog to Virginia in ACC football. Yet, it is.

Florida State should never be viewed as a team which could potentially get blown out by Virginia. Yet, it could be.

Florida State should never be the program facing more doubts and more questions in a matchup with Virginia. Yet, it is.

It’s really very simple: Either Florida State plants its feet in the sand, steadies itself, and totally reshapes the direction of its season… or it will lose.

If Florida State somehow plays a great game yet loses in the end, maybe we can revisit this conversation, but if the Seminoles are anything less than very good in Week 3, and they get tagged with a second loss in three games, Willie Taggart will be staring at a quick end to his tenure.

Overreaction? I don’t think so.

The elites of college football in years gone by are on the run these days in America. Florida State is right there with them.

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