Program Killer

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

We’re all ecstatic that college football season is back.

We normally reflect on past greats and talk about their amazing performances. I think of guys that won national championships or Heisman’s like Tim Tebow, Tommie Frazier, Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Ken Dorsey.

There is another side to this, people that were highly recruited but never lived up to the hype in college. We can even go far enough to say they set their program back for several years with their poor play.

The top name that comes to mind is Chris Rix.

He was in the inaugural Elite 11 QB Camp. He led the California team to victory over Florida in the CaliForida Bowl 1 at the Rose Bowl and was one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation.

Rix arrived in Tallahassee in the Fall of 2000 and was red shirted. He got to watch Chris Wienke’s senior season, a Heisman-winning campaign that ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the national championship game.

Florida State was an amazing program during this time. The Seminoles finished the season ranked in the top five for 14 consecutive years at the end of 2000.

They won the ACC Championship 9 times, one for every year they were in the conference. They won two national championships during this time. They also played in the first three BCS national championship games from 1998-2000.

It’s safe to say expectations were high going in to the 2001 season. Rix was the only four-year starting QB Bobby Bowden ever had but that was not the plan.

Florida State typically had quarterbacks play backup for two years then play for two years, normally taking a redshirt to make that happen.

That was how it worked for Peter Tom Willis (started 1988-89), Casey Weldon (90-91), Charlie Ward (92-93), Danny Kanell (94-95), and Thad Busby (96-97). Redshirt junior Jared Jones would have been the starter but he got in off the field trouble.

Mark Richt gave him the option to sit another year and lose that year of eligibility or leave the team. Jones bolted to play minor league baseball.

Rix was forced to start and coincidentally the program took a nosedive. We can say that FSU dynasty ended September 22. 2001 against North Carolina.

Going in to that game they never lost to UNC and had only lost two conference games since joining the ACC in 1991. The year before they beat the Tar Heels 63-14.

The 0-3 Heels destroyed No. 6 FSU, 41-9. Rix threw an interception and lost 2 fumbles. Miami snapped a 54-game home winning streak in a blowout, 49-27. Rix lost 2 fumbles and threw 4 picks against the Hurricanes.

The ‘Noles lost to NC State at home which was the first home conference loss, snapping the 39-game streak.

Rix was still named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2001. His best statistical season was in 2003 and he passed for 3,107 yards with 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

He was a turnover machine that seemed to really crumble in big games. He finished with a 25-11 record as a starter. He’s also the only QB to lose to the same team 5 times in his career (Miami).

He missed the 2003 Sugar Bowl because he overslept and missed an exam, which caused him to get suspended from the game.

On a positive note he ranks second in school history in passes attempted, completed, and touchdowns thrown.

The team was actually worse from 2005-2009 after he left. In retrospect maybe he was a good player in a bad situation?