TALLAHASSEE — OK, Florida State, I put my esteemed reputation as college football's undeniable gridiron guru on the line for you last season.
“I am sticking a flaming spear in the belief that Oklahoma will roll to the national title,” I wrote a year ago. “I think Florida State beats Oklahoma in Tallahassee on Sept. 17, runs the table and whips an SEC team for the championship. Bob Stoops won a national title in his second year at Oklahoma (beating FSU) and Jimbo Fisher will get even 10 years later and win the natty in his second year in Tallahassee.”
Of course, the Seminoles not only lost to Oklahoma, they lost the following game to Clemson, and their national title hopes were parked in the garage before they even backed out of the driveway. On the surface, it would appear that national title prediction last year made me look like the biggest college football sham since Jim Donnan's last Ponzi scheme.
But, honestly, I don't think the prediction showed a lack of knowledge on my part; I believe it proved I was just ahead of my time.
This year is the year.
This will be the season Jimbo not only puts the Seminoles back on top in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but back on top of the entire college football mountain. Step aside, Southeastern Conference, Florida State is about to put an end to your six-year stranglehold on the national title.
As much as Seminole Nation might hate hearing it, they are on the clock. In my mind, when you look at talent, schedule, defense, quarterback and coaching, this is the year Chief Osceola and Renegade gallop proudly to the top of the polls.
“Expectations don't win games,” Fisher warns.
“I don't want to hear it,” says wide receiver Kenny Shaw of Dr. Phillips High. “I've been hearing that ‘this is the year' since I was in high school. We have to go out and prove it.”
Not even one of the biggest FSU fans I know, Bobby Lory, wants to hear how the Seminoles are back. In a recent e-mail, he railed: “I gotta say it: NOBODY SHOULD GIVE THE SEMINOLES ANY CREDIT UNTIL THEY EARN IT! How many years have you sportswriters been duped by the guys in Garnet & Gold? Pretty much every year for the past decade. Jeesh, when will you all wake up and smell the boiled peanuts?
“All I can say is you — that's YOU Mike Bianchi — should NOT put FSU in the Top 10 or even the Top 20. FSU will disappoint you. The 'Noles may start out strong against the likes of Murray State and Savannah State and maybe even Wake Forest, but DON'T BE FOOLED! They have an uncanny ability to get the big head, look past their opponents and disappoint their believers!”
Let me repeat, this e-mail came from an avid FSU fan whose late father, John, used to own a workshop off the West Orange Trail. On the old tin roof of the workshop, John stenciled a giant FSU logo — 22 feet in diameter. Next to the logo were two slain animals — a 28-foot University of Florida Gator with a Seminole tomahawk impaled in its head and a 35-foot University of Miami ibis stabbed multiple times with Seminole spears.
If FSU doesn't win a championship of some kind this year, the Seminoles may just turn those weapons on themselves. It is Year 3 of Jimbo, and it's time for him to at least put the Seminoles back on top of the ACC where they belong.
Fisher has been one of the top recruiters in the country during the past three seasons and has loaded the roster with size and speed. He has a senior Heisman-contending quarterback in E.J. Manuel, who at 6 feet 5, 245 pounds might be the most athletically gifted QB in the country. He has a defense that might be the best in the nation. And he plays in the ACC, which might be the worst in the nation.
“The big thing now is we've got depth,” said Fisher, whose team is ranked No. 7 in both major preseason polls. “We could have lived up to the expectations last year if we didn't have key injuries. … “[Manuel] had about seven different offensive linemen last year around him, tailback out, wide receivers out. When that group changes constantly, it's tough. If your boss was constantly changing at work, how consistent would you be? I've never been around so many injuries on offense as last year. I'm not saying that's the sole reason we lost, but it's one of them.”
This season, there can be no such excuses.
The Seminoles are back.
This time, I mean it.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740 AM.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun