Florida State is a program in a massive tailspin. Some would even say the Seminoles hit rock bottom three weeks ago with a loss to FCS Jacksonville State.
What was at one time a program that ruled the national scope of college football, an ACC powerhouse that was in National Championship contention.
“We were Clemson before Clemson,” a former assistant to Fisher at FSU says. “We were the team that had caught Alabama and was getting ready to pass them.
“Then it all fell off the cliff.”
Ever since Jimbo Fisher left Tallahassee for Texas A&M in 2017, FSU hasn’t been able to find its’ footing as a team, partially because according to Bleacher Report, Fisher left the program in shambles. A laissez-fare attitude to academics, locker room disputes and a disciplinary process that favored some players over others turned Florida State into a mess. Willie Taggart tried and failed miserably, collecting a $18 million dollar paycheck after a 2019 midseason firing.
Mike Norvell is currently on the same route. Before his first season even got underway, Norvell and some of his players got in a rift over COVID test results. The Seminoles went 3-6 in 2020, although one of those wins did comes against North Carolina, and are now 0-4 after Louisville put up 31 points in the first half last weekend.
FSU is obviously up a creek without a paddle. It doesn’t seem like Norvell is the man to turn the program around, and the athletic department can’t be in a position to hire a third head coach in six years. So why in the world are the Seminoles still getting top recruits?? Norvell’s managed to wrangle 247sports’ top-ranked class of 2022 in the ACC and secure a commitment from #1 receiver Travis Hunter, who remains steadfast to FSU despite the struggles.
“I’m the longest commit for Florida State, and I’m trying to bring more players — more dogs — with me to Florida State to help them out. I’m doing my job and sticking with a commitment. Players don’t usually do that. They decommit or do something else. I want to show everyone that you don’t have to go to a top school to fit in. Florida State is still a top school, but they haven’t had good years in a minute.”
So it looks like Hunter is determined to lead the FSU turnaround – provided he can find more players to join the 10th-best 2022 recruiting class. Having a central figure of the class is great to attract other top prospects, especially one as vocal as Hunter.
Another angle to FSU’s recruiting success is the success under Fisher. The Seminoles were a national power when most of these recruits were growing up. Chances are 99% of the recruits in the class of 2022 watched the 2014 National Championship featuring Jameis Winston and company. Tradition is something that speaks for itself, and it definitely has stuck with this next crop of recruits, not to mention that NIL opportunities are probably aplenty with a football-crazed fanbase.
Most importantly, Florida State is in a talent-rich area. We’ve discussed Syracuse’s struggles to recruit the Empire State. Compared to New York, the Florida panhandle (plus its neighbors) is a treasure trove for Norvell. FSU’s staff can easily drive to watch multiple prospects play after practice and be the first to offer the “next big thing,” unlike Dino Babers and company, who have to fly down to Florida and pick the leftovers. The Seminoles offer a chance to stay close to home with top-quality facilities and a potential program revival in the works.
However, none of that matters if FSU is 0-5…