Anger boiling over as some FSU fans say it’s time for Bowden to leave

September 30, 2009

The Seminoles stunning 17-7 loss this past weekend  to the University of South Florida is reverberating through FSU fandom.

One columnist has already called on head coach Bobby Bowden to pack it in. Meanwhile the Tallahassee airwaves were sizzling as Tallahassee radio host Jeff Cameron has gone on a tear the last two days, attacking many aspects of the program. Cameron defended offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisherwho on Monday said FSU needed to “grow up” and stop accepting mediocrity– and has instead painted a picture of a program in dissarray or “dysfunction” as he calls it. A big source of the dysfunction appears to be the unusual arrangement that FSU has with Fisher, who is the head coach in waiting and will earn $5 million in 2011 if the university does not let him take over the team by then.

But Cameron said that the problem is that Fisher has little power over many aspects of the team. He called defensive coach Chuck Amato “useless” and said the game had passed by Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews. He said that Bowden was in “la-la land” and that FSU had catered to his whims for too long.  Cameron then had Ira Schoffelfrom the Osceola on his program where Schoffel said things were going to come to a head in the offseason because he expects Andrews to retire – setting off a potential power struggle over whether Bowden or Fisher gets to appoint the successor.

Schoffel said it has become clear that the decision to make Fisher the head coach in waiting – calling it the “least of all evils” — hasn’t worked out.

“It was a noble idea,” said Schoffel, but he swiftly added that “when you see the inconsistent play really two, three years into this kind of new regime, at this point I think it’s safe to say this isn’t going to work.”

Schoffel said having Fisher as head coach in waiting would have meant something if he had been given complete control over the team with Bowden having veto power over his decisions.

“You have this situation where Jimbo Fisher is still kind of treading water, trying to put band aids on different things,” said Schoffel.

Schoffel made it clear he doesn’t know if Fisher “is the answer” but he said “I do know that he can’t do what he feels is in the best interest of the program.”

Well, you can see where this is heading. There are many scenarios that could play out – including whether Bowden is forced to retire – but it’s clear that if the Seminoles continue to lose that the chorus of discontent will keep building and building.


Gator bashing heats up in wake of Tebow injury

September 27, 2009

Well, that didn’t take long.

The news that Tim Tebow got knocked out of Saturday night’s game with the University of Kentucky Wildcats quickly morphed into a raging debate into whether Coach Urban Meyer should have had him in the game. By Sunday morning the talking heads on ESPN were taking sides on whether Meyer was trying to get Tebow some padded stats to help in a potential quest for the Heisman Trophy.

I’m not sure that’s a reasonable argument and actually Mitch Albom had the best counter argument that few coaches would be willing to sit down their starting quarterback in the 3rd quarter. Most coaches want to make darn sure that the game is completely in hand before they let up. The one thing a football head coach does not want to hear is that they let another team time to get back into the game. Bob Ryan countered that since Tebow was already ill Meyer should have taken him out at the first opportunity.

But this debate is only getting revved up and you can expect wall to wall coverage of  Tebow in the next few days. Other websites are already buzzing about whether or not Meyer made a mistake – and speculating that Tebow will not make it back in time for the Gators clash with LSU on Oct. 10. So far I’m surprised that Deadspin has covered it very straight forward so far.

All of this, however, is a reminder of the one undeniable downside to Meyer’s offense: It leaves the quarterback vulnerable to getting hit. Most of the time fans have marveled at Tebow’s ability to take a pounding and keep going. But it’s no secret that Tebow has been repeatedly gotten banged up in the process, although this is his first known concussion.

For the record, my speculation that the Gators would lose in the next few weeks was not based on some premonition that Tebow would get knocked out. But it was based on the premise that defenses are beginning to key on the Heisman Trophy winner more and more in an effort to slow down the spread offense. Despite losing to the Gators, Tennessee showed that mixing up blitzes and changing defensive schemes could at least slow down the Gators attack.

The saving grace for the Gators, however, remains that no one they have played so far has been able to move the ball against them. And regardless of whether Tebow can return, that will be the key to whether or not the Gators beat LSU.


A No. 1 ranking means next to nothing right now

September 25, 2009

If there was anything to be learned from South Carolina’s dominating win over No. 4 ranked Ole Miss on Thursday night, it’s that once again poll rankings in the month of September mean next to nothing.

Oh, I know that the Gators fans will soon be frothing at the mouth. That doesn’t mean that UF doesn’t deserve any respect as the defending national champion. Any team that returns all defensive starters and its star quarterback should automatically be seen as the frontrunner at the start of the season. (Although I still think UF could lose in the next two weeks.)

But the Rebels loss is just another reminder that current poll rankings are based on nothing more than smoke and mirrors and that any fan – or alumnus  – should not get their hopes up based on what some silly poll says.

For as great as FSU’s win over Brigham Young was, the fact that BYU was a No. 7 team was meaningless. Let’s see where the Cougars are in December before declaring this a victory over a substantial foe. Likewise, I’m not sure Miami’s win over Georgia Tech  is as big a deal as some might think it is. (What made it a good win for UM is that Tech rolled over them a year previously and Jacory Harris looked spectacular ripping apart the Yellow Jackets secondary.)

The plain fact is that just like the BCS is a fraud, so are these polls. They are based on the votes of people, coaches and sportswriters, who look at a box score, see a 15-second highlight, and spend maybe a nanosecond thinking about their pick. Maybe that explains why FSU – after obliterating the Cougars – is still ranked five spots BEHIND BYU in the latest coaches poll.

If polls remain a necessary evil – and as long as the Bowl Championship Series continues to legitimize them – they should not be done until at least the first four games of the season are done and over. It was a travesty that Tommy Bowden got run out of Clemson last year based on some erroneous pollster decision that the Tigers were suddenly a Top 5 team.

It is of course great to see all 3 Florida teams ranked in the Top 25 – but it won’t mean a thing if FSU loses to USF, UF loses to Kentucky and Miami loses to Virginia Tech. It will mean that this week’s poll rankings were nothing but an illusion and a tease to the fans of all three schools.


Does ESPN owe FSU fans an apology?

September 22, 2009

It’s a bit near the bottom but ESPN Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer takes a shot at the network for its heavy reliance on an ad for a slasher flick called Sorority Row that showed on many of its games including the Florida State-Miami clash on Labor Day.

One person who wrote to Ohlmeyer said the ad brought up horrific memories of Ted Bundy’s attack on sorority sisters at the Chi Omega house. On one hand Ohlmeyer said it would be difficult to “fault ESPN” for not catching a Bundy-FSU connection since the murders occurred more than 30 years ago, but Ohlmeyer goes further and suggests that ESPN should have at least declined to put the ad on during college football games.

“If you wrap yourself in the mantle of college football to the extent ESPN does, you might have to make an occasional financial sacrifice to protect it,” writes Ohlmeyer. “Put the “Sorority Row” spots in “SportsCenter,” NFL, MLB or other such programs, but a campus slasher movie strikes too close to home in a college football game.”

Of course many FSU fans were likely attending the game and didn’t actually see the ad for the movie whose official website name is “thetapi-or-die.com.”  But as a longtime Floridian I can tell you the chilling impact the Bundy murders had on the state at the time. Then Gov Reubin Askew asked NBC to block the showing of a slasher flick it had planned for the weekend following the murders.

But still it may be worth wondering what fans of the Seminoles think about it and whether ESPN actually should apologize to them.


Maybe Tim Tebow isn’t the best quarterback in the Sunshine State

September 18, 2009

C’mon admit it.

After Miami Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris torched Florida State for nearly 400 yards, your first inclination was to think ‘Wow, FSU’s defense is really, really bad.’

Well it’s beginning to look that may not be the whole story. Harris – with the help of new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple – showed to a national audience that Tim Tebow may have another Heisman Trophy contender to worry about this year.

He was just about flawless against Georgia Tech, going 20 for 25 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He hit 9 different receivers — nine!

Against the Noles Harris light up the night sky for 386 yards and two touchdowns. In both games, he threw up arching passes of beauty that weren’t just routine lobs, but at all times appeared to be going exactly where he wanted them.

Meanwhile, the Florida Gators have been playing what amounts to a pre-season schedule, putting in blowout wins over Charleston Southern and Troy.

Tebow gets his first serious test this weekend against the Tennessee Volunteers. Now I know that there are some Gators fans who are convinced they are going to smack the Vols around. But I wouldn’t go anywhere near that 28 1/2 point spread. That’s because it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Tebow struggles against a Monte Kiffin-designed defense. According to this little tidbit in USA Today, Kiffin has been “drawing on napkins” since the spring about ways to shut down the Gators.

And while Tebow may be the chosen one, he didn’t look great against Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game, which was really his last serious test.

Meanwhile, Harris is now 2-0 halfway through a brutal schedule that takes the Canes to Virginia Tech followed by a home game against Oklahoma.

Think about this: If Tebow struggles against Vols, or even worse yet, loses against LSU, that would open the door to Harris. If the young man knocks off four quality opponents in four straight games, then suddenly the Heisman contender from Florida will be wearing orange and green, and not orange and blue.

It may sound like some sort of travesty to Gator Nation but the best quarterback in the state of Florida may no longer live in Gainesville.


Bucs meltdown just keeps getting worse and worse

September 6, 2009

A few months ago I warned that all the danger signs were there for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Maybe I was too nice.

The latest decision to trade Luke McCown to the Jacksonville Jaguars just caps off a spectacularly disastrous preseason.

Alienate and drop a good kicker? Check. Fire your offensive coordinator and then publicly admit that you didn’t know until a week to go that he’s not qualified? Check. Trade your No. 2 quarterback to the team that already made it clear that they think you’re No. 1 quarterback isn’t a starter? Check. Have no clear idea of who’s going to run the ball? Check. Drag out the decision on who your starting quarterback is until just days before your season opener? Check. Have one of your top defensive players get arrested and your standout safety suspended for four games? Check.

And that’s what just happened in the last month. Leading up to this wonderful preseason we got Kellen Winslow – who has the potential to ruin your team chemistry at any time – tapped as the primary offensive weapon. The Bucs cut the heart and soul of their defense, Derrick Brooks, and paid good money for running back Derrick Ward only to suggest now that Cadillac Williams has returned from injury and should be good to go this season.

Wow. I think only the Oakland Raiders can match this for a series of disastrous moves.

It just makes the bottom line that much apparent. As much as people may have hated Jon Gruden, last season is going to seem like an eternity ago. The Bucs are going to be at the bottom of the NFC South and they will be lucky if they manage to win four games. The Bucs better just hope that the Detroit Lions remain as inept as ever, if only because it will take some of the pressure off from being the No. 1 laughingstock in the NFL.

Yes, I’m serious. It’s going to be that bad.