One upon a time in a place, far, far ,far away. There stood two very famous college football programs. Between them they’d won several national championships. And in-fact , they were so scary that they ran amok within collegiate football. They were very much like demons who ran wild and literally destroyed everything within their path.
Shrek and Donkey ……a kid’s animated movie(“Shrek”) based on a number fairy tale characters that were well worth watching and laughing about.
But in the ensuing years something went awry as these two once esteemed college programs fell upon hard times. So much so, that they’re barely talked about nowadays. And when they are , it’s always in the past-tence. Now if you’re wondering as to which two programs , I’m indeed talking about . Then I’ll give you something of a hint with regard to their logo or mascot.
And now that these two esteemed programs have fallen upon hard times. Their effervescent and erst-while fans are of the belief that hope, is just around the corner. And that they’ll indeed rise to prominence once again. For many it can’t come quick enough. While for others they can only live in hope and pray that the impossible can happen.
As you’ve no doubt noted the programs are from the state of Florida. Where college football comes only second to …..well, nothing. As it borders upon being maniacal amongst the fans. It may well be God then family. But college football ranks right up there as to its importance.
For the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles these last few years have proven to be a torrid time and a woeful existence. Nonetheless, football as their fans know it continues to exist. As to what form it takes to those on the outside looking in, is anyone’s guess.
The Florida State Seminoles under their long tenured coach, Bobby Bowden , has seen its fortunes rise and then bite the dust. And while no one doubts the fervor of the coach to be in his position and to continue coaching. In essence, the game has suddenly passed him by. He no longer gets the recruits that in large part , others could only dream of. But now it’s merely scraps that’ve been left on the table, as to the merits of the program’s recruiting. It is now no longer about what you’ve done in the past. It’s more about what have you done lately ? And one can reasonably suggest that Bowden and his staff haven’t exactly been doing anything of great value at all. The program and its play has become languid , lacking imagination , creativity and above all competitiveness. And the feeling is that the only reason , Bowden remains in the position is to actually pad his stats , with regard to his tally of collegiate wins. That tally now stands at 382 wins.
And as commendable as that might seem. When you’re not in the midst of things, as to national championship aspirations. Then it just doesn’t mean anything. The program under Bowden was steeped in that tradition. From major Bowl appearances to national championships. And for the program those came in 1993 and 1999, respectively. Fast forward , to today and you’d be hard pressed to find anything that’s at all desirable with regard to the program.
For the Miami Hurricanes and their once esteemed program. Their fate as of late , has essentially mirrored the economic downturn of the country. Only in the case of the Canes , theirs has been somewhat longer. Everyone could see it coming but the so called experts merely stuck to their homespun truths, that there wasn’t really anything wrong and the tide would indeed turn. Well that tide has now become a cyclone. And the program and its players have essentially become caught in the midst of dire mediocrity and sheer ineptitude. Not unlike what we’re also witnessing from their counterparts in the guise of the ‘noles.
But then again both programs and many of their more famous alumni would have you believe that ‘…. change is just around the corner’. A far cry from those gaudy days when the Canes’ program , then under the auspices of Howard Schnellenberger , Jimmy Johnson , Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis and Larry Coker were reigning supreme. Each led the program with a certain amount of distinction. And along the way,they’ve won five national championships and produced a litany of players at the collegiate level who then went on the play in the NFL.
In light of that , it has been a long time since one can really attribute anything of merit with regard to the program. Their last national championship came in the 2001-02 season . When they won the Rose Bowl. defeating Nebraska 37-14 in what would prove to be the last of their five national championship wins.
Many have attributed the downward slide of the Hurricanes’ program. When it saw fit to leave the Big East Conference and then make their way to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) . Which could hardly be considered , to be a bastion of powerhouse football at the college level.But it may well have been done primarily to add to the luster of the conference and the financial inducements at the time. The ACC in all essence, is more widely known for its college basketball prowess, than anything achieved at the collegiate football level. And for the Canes and their coach, Randy Shannon, in his third season ,who has been entrusted to bring back to the luster to the program. It can’t be understated, that there are some very difficult times ahead for the program.
As for a former player for his alma-mater and a member of a championship winning team. Randy Shannon , though not viewed as the ideal replacement for his predecessor , Larry Coker. He does know and have the wherewithal to add some discipline and ability to the Canes’ program. But if anything it has been his overall inexperience that many have began to question. And therein lies the conundrum that’s said to be facing this program. Whereas , it was felt that Coker went away from the things that brought success for the program. The vast majority of the recruiting was done locally within the South Florida area. Long considered to be a hot-bed of footballing talent. Coker , saw fit to shy away from that mindset and at the same time made a major upheaval with regard to his coaching staff. And that was after having found success in winning the program’s last national championship.
Which goes to the old adage ‘…. if it ain’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing’. Shannon for his part has reversed the philosophy of Coker’s.
There was indeed a time when a FSU , Miami Hurricanes’ match-up actually meant something on the national football stage. Now it’s more like having to endure the removal of a bad tooth but without the assist of novacaine to brunt the pain. Something that you could well do without but for the sake of others , you’ll just grin and bare it. And on Monday , the 7th September , we’ll get to view this on a national stage as to the programs face off against each other. It’ll no longer be for the footballing supremacy within the state. As for all sense and purpose the University of Florida (Florida Gators) now rules the roost within the state of Florida. Having won two national championships in the last three years-in 2006 and 2008, respectively. All this was achieved under their coach, Urban Meyer. Which has brought about something of a new pecking order within the state.
As to the event on Monday and what can be envisaged. If it’s anything like the games in recent memory . Then we could be either in for a treat or quite possibly a great deal of tedious and uneventful play from both teams. Having alluded to the fact earlier, the competitiveness of both programs have left a great many of their most vociferous fans wandering if there’s still a need for the two teams to actually play each other. But on the fact of it , it doesn’t really tell us anything at all, as to how far either of the teams have come. They’re no longer viewed as being relevant on the national stage. And within the ACC , they’re not even considered as being amongst the better teams within the conference. That’s indeed how far both have fallen on the national stage.
Much like any fairy tale that’s often told, the fans of both programs are said to be looking for a happy ending. As to which of the two teams will prevail, your guess is as good as any. But one can only surmise that the ending of this tale has some happiness for one and some heartache for the other.
Who do you think this will apply to ? The Canes or the ‘Noles ?