You can say that Charlie Ward was the most dazzling college quarterback you ever saw, and you would be right. You can say that Danny Wuerffel produced one of the most remarkable four-year college football careers of all time, and that he stands alongside Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow as the most important Florida Gator football player who ever lived.
You would be right.
Many other towering figures have been part of the Florida-Florida State football rivalry: Fred Biletnikoff, Jack Youngblood, Peter Warrick, Fred Taylor, Deion Sanders, Jevon Kearse, Peter Boulware, and many more.
Yet, if you had to pick the three best players ever to play in the Florida State-Florida rivalry, two of the three selections are obvious, and the third one is extremely hard to argue against.
This doesn’t mean the other choices are chopped liver – they aren’t – but these three present the most airtight cases (or something close to that standard).
The envelope, please:
3 – Warrick Dunn
Though not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the College Football Hall of Fame (the latter exclusion being due to a limited and unnecessarily shortsighted rule about First-Team All-America status), Dunn set an extremely high standard in both the NFL and college ball. He was First-Team All-ACC three times. He was a three-time Pro Bowler in the NFL.
More than that, he made the Pro Bowl in his first, fourth and ninth seasons, a rather remarkable feat. Dunn survived in the NFL as a small running back for 11 years, which is easier to appreciate today, given the pounding running backs (and running quarterbacks such as Cam Newton) take.
Great without being a superstar is still great. Dunn was an elite player in college and the pros. Moreover, he was a Gator killer as a member of the Florida State Seminoles. His catch-and-run touchdown late in the 1993 game in The Swamp is arguably the best and most memorable play in the history of the FSU-UF rivalry.
When you take all of that into account, Dunn’s place as No. 3 on this list doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.
2 – Emmitt Smith
Wait, why isn’t he No. 1? We will get to that in a moment. One of the elite running backs of all time, Smith made the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. Durability, consistency, productivity, toughness – Emmitt Smith possessed all those qualities in abundance. He was First-Team All-SEC three straight years in Gainesville, at a time (1987 through 1989) when SEC football was still a running back’s game. Defenses knew what was coming, and they still couldn’t stop Smith.
In his freshman year of 1987, Smith debuted in the rivalry with 116 yards on just 17 carries with 2 TDs despite the Gators loss to the Noles. His final time in the rivalry, he rushed for 153 yards in another 1989 loss.
Everything Smith did in college, he did on a larger scale for the Dallas Cowboys. He played through enormous pain, chiefly a separated shoulder in a late-season game against the New York Giants in 1993. His warrior mentality helped Dallas win that game, secure home-field advantage through the playoffs, and beat the San Francisco 49ers to make and then win another Super Bowl.
Smith was an essential, indispensable part of the Dallas Cowboys’ last dynastic run of three Super Bowls in four seasons. No Gator has left a bigger imprint on the NFL.
1 – Derrick Brooks
Why is Brooks No. 1 and Smith No. 2? Brooks won a Super Bowl as Smith did (not three, but both reached the mountaintop in the NFL). He was an 11-time Pro Bowler, the best of the best at his position throughout his NFL career. He stands on the same plane as Smith in that regard.
Brooks is also – like Smith – a member of both the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame. Across the board, he matches Smith.
What was the tiebreaker? Very simply, Brooks – unlike Smith – played in the very best years of the FSU-UF rivalry, in the mid-1990s, when every Nole-Gator game was a seismic event producing earth-shaking results. The unquestioned leader of those FSU defenses led them dominate college football.
None of this is Emmitt Smith’s fault, but Brooks has everything Smith has PLUS the ownership of a place in the sweet spot of a rivalry.
FSU released Mike Norvell’s assistant coach’s salary info
New FSU coach Mike Norvell is full speed ahead in every aspect of his program, including finalizing his coaching staff. And, he and the athletic department are making sure that his coaches are more than competitively compensated for his first season.
The Tallahassee Democrat obtained coaching salary information for seven of the eight assistants that Norvell has agreed with. According to their reporting, seven coaches have signed a “letter of understanding” in lieu of later actual contract and it details their compensation amounts:
— Curt Weiler (@CurtMWeiler) January 24, 2020
First, Norvell agreed to a six year deal in December to take over in Tallahassee and it will average just over $4.4 million over the life of the deal. He also received an assistant pool from the school of $5.25 million.
On the breakdown, Norvell’s highest paid assistant will be defensive coordinator, Adam Fuller, who is slated to make $800,000 this season after coming to the Noles with Norvell from Memphis
Norvell will pay FSU’s new offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, who was at Auburn a year ago, but was previously the offensive coordinator at Memphis with Norvell before that, $625,000. And, special teams coordinator John Papuchis will earn $550,000 this season.
The paper also learn the three other position coaches are also going to be making half a million dollars each. Interestingly, defensive line coach Odell Haggins has an existing salary a $482,000 and is being retained by Norvell. One would have to believe with the job that Haggins did, once again as the interim head coach for the final three games of the season and FSU’s bowl game, if you’ll receive some type of raise.
Receivers Coach Ron Dugans was also retained by Norvell and his compensation is slated to be $450,000 for this season, unless Norvell, chooses to give him as raise, too.
The only salary exception is defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson, who has been reportedly hired this past week, but not officially announced by the school. And, FSU obviously does not have a letter of understanding with Woodson, like the others do.
Norvell has taken over the Seminoles after leading the Memphis Tigers to their most successful season in their history at 12 – 1, including an American Conference Championship game win over Cincinnati. That earned them a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
Norvell did not return to coach that game is Penn State defeated them on New Year’s Day.
His previous salary was just over $2.5 million with incentives at Memphis.
ACC releases FSU and Miami dates for 2020 opponents
The Atlantic Coast Conference released their conference schedule for 2020 on Wednesday morning, and we now know the opponents and the order of conference games for the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.
First, for Miami. They already knew that they were opening the pre-conference schedule with Temple at home on Saturday, September 5th, and there toughest early test will likely be at Michigan State three Saturdays later.
The 2020 📅 has officially arrived!
This year's schedule features seven games at @HardRockStadium including Florida State.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 22, 2020
Miami will play their only non-Saturday ACC game six days later on a Friday night in Winston-Salem, NC, against Wake Forest.
Miami also has home games with North Carolina and then the Seminoles, which comes on November 7th. The Hurricanes will also play at Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech before finishing the season on Saturday November 28th back at home vs. Duke.
As for the Seminoles, they come off of a loaded pre-conference season where they are playing West Virginia in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend Saturday September 5th. And, they are playing at Boise State in the return game for last year’s upset loss on September 19th in Idaho.
FSU learned Wednesday, that they will open at NC State on Saturday October 3rd. The Noles and first year coach Mike Norvell, then get four time defending champion Clemson, as their second ACC opponent the following week in Tallahassee.
Then, they also host Wake Forest on October 17th. FSU’s remaining road games are at Louisville, Miami and Syracuse. The game against the Orange will be on Thursday night November 19th.
Florida State’s final ACC home game will be with Boston College on the previous Saturday, November 14th.
As part of the ACC schedule release, UCF learned that they will be playing Friday night September 4th in their home opener with North Carolina. That game to be televised nationally by ESPN.
The Knights already knew that they would be playing Georgia Tech in the pre-conference schedule on September 19th in Atlanta.
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