Robert Craft

The Future Is Now

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The two most powerful conferences in the NCAA are teaming up to tackle the biggest issues in college athletics.

The Big Ten and the SEC are forming a joint advisory group of university presidents and athletic directors.

It will discuss recent court decisions, pending litigations, governance proposals, and state laws. Their goal , is to “take a leadership role in developing solutions for a sustainable future of college sports.” (Whatever that means).

The two conferences are the richest in the country and deal with large scale issues like NIL on a  differently from their peers. Sankey has long complained that the NCAA governs across too diverse a membership, with the schools in the highest-resourced leagues needing to make more decisions for themselves.

No one is looking out for the greater good of the college sports. There never has been, and I’m not sure there ever will. I’d sure love for there to be a commissioner of college football (an ideal candidate just became available in January), but why would the conferences voluntarily hire a boss?

Oh, I don’t believe Greg Sankey and Tony Petittii aren’t plotting a full-on breakaway by their conferences. At least not yet. It’s more that big market administrators want to throw their weight around while college sports are reconfiguring.

Sankey, who came up through the NCAA model and remains largely loyal to it, seems unenthused by NCAA president Charlie Baker’s proposal in December for a new subdivision of schools that can pay their athletes $30,000 per year.

Petitti is a college sports outsider who may be more willing to think outside the box than most NCAA lifers.

Also: the SEC and Big Ten need a functioning NCAA more than many suggest. Do you think Kentucky is going to bow out of March Madness in favor of a Big Ten-SEC March Challenge? Do you know what a big deal the College World Series is in the SEC and the Frozen Four in the Big Ten? Not to mention all the regulatory headaches the leagues currently get to outsource to the folks in Indy.

The issue at hand is centered around college football, but this affects all athletes across the country. Any College Football Playoff format that leaves out the ACC, Big 12 and Notre Dame, among others, would lose credibility.

I suppose they could just absorb all the most credible remaining contenders (Clemson and Florida State, etc.), but unless or until a court invalidates the ACC’s Grant of Rights — which could be years — that’s not feasible.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t use their leverage to secure the most favorable terms possible in the new CFP deal in 2026. They’re certainly not going to let a two-team conference dictate how many leagues (if any) get automatic berths.

For years, College Sports Inc. has been in a state of limbo where everyone recognizes the system is broken, but no one is stepping up to do anything about it.

This was the SEC and Big Ten taking it upon themselves to do, which undermines the entirety of College Athletics for personal gain. As for the athletes and supporting conferences, they don’t have much choice but to follow their lead.

Later Gators

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Recently it was announced that the Florida football program is under NCAA investigation, and yes, that investigation is still ongoing.

Moreover, the investigation started months before the NCAA sent a Notice of Inquiry to Florida President Ben Sasse back in June.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the investigation centers around the recruitment of four-star quarterback Jaden Rashada. He flipped from Miami to Florida on Nov. 10, 2022, after signing an NIL deal with the now-defunct Gator Collective for $13.85 million over four years.

The contract was terminated on Dec. 7, less than a month later. Rashada still signed early with UF but never enrolled last January and was released from his letter of intent after the NIL deal fell through.

He landed at Arizona State and opened last season as the starter, and only played three games due to injury.

According to sources, the NCAA investigation into Rashada’s recruitment involves Marcus Castro-Walker and Hugh Hathcock. Castro-Walker serves as the director of player engagement and NIL for the football program, while Hathcock a longtime UF donor pledged a record-setting $12.6 million to Gator Boosters in 2022 and has spearheaded Florida’s NIL efforts.

NCAA rules prohibit boosters from using NIL as an incentive or inducement to recruit high school or transfer players.

California became the first state to allow high school athletes to be paid through NIL contracts, so Rashada was legally allowed to sign with Gator Collective. The issue at hand, however, is when, how and by whom that deal was facilitated.

Florida recently came under NCAA investigation in 2020 under former coach Dan Mullen. The inquiry found two violations: a Level II violation with Mullen and an assistant- they met a recruit before his junior year of high school, as well as  a Level III violation involving members of the Gators’ coaching staff having impermissible contact with over 120 prospects when seven 7-on-7 football teams visited the campus and toured the football facilities.

The assistant coach had incidental and impermissible contacts with several prospects, according to the agreement.

Last May, the NCAA Board of Directors sent out a new guidance to its Division I member schools clarifying their NIL stance and prohibiting.

“The guidance is effective immediately,” the NCAA release stated. “For violations that occurred prior to May 9, 2022, the board directed the enforcement staff to review the facts of individual cases but to pursue only those actions that clearly are contrary to the published interim policy, including the most severe violations of recruiting rules or payment for athletics performance. Schools are reminded of their obligation to report any potential violations through the traditional self-reporting process.

 

Today, the Division I Board of Directors took a significant first step to address some of the challenges and improper behaviors that exist in the name, image and likeness environment that may violate our long-established recruiting rules. While the NCAA may pursue the most outrageous violations that were clearly contrary to the interim policy adopted last summer, our focus is on the future. The new guidance establishes a common set of expectations for the Division I institutions moving forward, and the board expects all Division I institutions to follow our recruiting rules and operate within these reasonable expectations,” board chair Jere Morehead, president, University of Georgia, said in the statement

The NCAA is out to make a statement, but a toothless statement, because they are so afraid of a lawsuit and court date. Is Rashada going to haunt the Florida Football?

Navigating Rough Waters

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The undeniable sting of defeat engulfed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after their 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

It hung thick in the visitor’s locker room at Ford Field, where players dressed mostly in silence and exchanged hugs with one another and with coaches and other staffers on their way to the buses that would transport them to the airport for a long flight back south.

Moral victories garner nothing in the NFL, so the team members who spoke to the media didn’t hide their disappointment. They had failed in their quest for a Super Bowl victory, a goal they set for themselves back in the dog days of summer.

It was a goal they maintained all year, even amid a bleak 1-6 stretch at midseason, before a hot streak positioned them to finish 9-8 and the NFC South crown. Then they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 in the Wild Card round.

Real talk: The Buccaneers had no business playing in the divisional round of the playoffs. Not on paper, and definitely not based on how they looked on the field earlier this season.

Many concluded in the preseason that the Buccaneers caught in the awkward spot of rebuilding while trying to cling to a few pieces from their Super Bowl victory three years ago would be one of the worst teams in the league this year.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield might not have agreed with those preseason projections, but he understood them.

Once the former top-pick-turned-journeyman locked in on Bucs coach Todd Bowles’ vision, he shared the belief that he and his teammates were capable of far exceeding outside expectations.

So, the Buccaneers went to work, began building, overcame deficiencies and growing pains, steadily improved and transformed themselves into one of the NFL’s better teams.

Mayfield, signed to a one-year, $4 million contract in March, embraced the massive challenge of succeeding Tom Brady by turning in a career year (4,044 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 64.3 completion percentage). He served as the poster child for this team’s resolve.

This season, Bowles was the catalyst for Tampa Bay’s success. Bowles was much maligned because of a tenuous four seasons with the Jets and the Buccaneers’ 8-9 drop-off last year, Bowles was believed to be lame duck when Tampa Bay officials began preparing for this season.

Purging the roster of aging stars and their bloated salaries would force younger players into duty; often before they were ready. Bowles doubled down and believed growth and a competitive campaign were possible.

He made the tough call to overhaul his coaching staff, parting with some figures who played key roles in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win. And he entrusted the offense to two discounted figures: Mayfield and offensive coordinator Dave Canales.

Bowles, meanwhile, intensified his efforts as a defensive mastermind. He started his workdays an hour earlier than his first season as head coach and two hours earlier than his days as the defensive coordinator. That meant he was reporting to Bucs headquarters at 3:30 a.m. every day in 2023.

He didn’t, however, change his leadership style, and his stoic and patient approach was exactly what the team needed as it persevered through challenging times.

But players say there are other levels to Bowles’ personality and the way he connects and motivates.

Tampa Bay has 20 pending free agents, including Mayfield, wide receiver Mike Evans and defensive stars Devin White, Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield. But Bowles, who delivered the best coaching job of his career, firmly believes his team can mount another Super Bowl chase next season.

Time will tell.

Putting Down The Spear

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NCAA Committee on Infractions has levied penalties against Florida State’s football program, an assistant coach, one of its’ collectives and a booster for NIL-related recruiting violations.

The NCAA said the assistant coach facilitated impermissible contact between a transfer prospect and a booster in the spring of 2022, driving the prospect to meet with a booster.

During the meeting, the booster encouraged the prospect to enroll at Florida State and offered him an NIL opportunity with the collective worth approximately $15,000 per month during his first year at the school.

The prospect did not enter into an agreement with the booster or receive any related compensation and returned to his school.

FSU offensive coordinator Alex Atkins and former Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims are the two involved.

Mims recently announced he was forgoing the rest of his college eligibility to enter the NFL Draft after the Bulldogs 63-3 win over the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.

The FSU collective was identified as Rising Spear. Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell was not named in any findings nor was he penalized.

The school and enforcement staff agreed during the investigation the assistant coach also violated unethical conduct rules when he knowingly provided false or misleading information about these violations.

FSU was fined $5,000 plus one percent of its football budget and placed on two years probation with a reduction of five scholarships over the period.

The assistant was given a two-year show-cause order, including a suspension for the first three games of the 2024 season, a two-week restriction on communication and a restriction from off-campus recruiting during the fall 2023 season.

In addition to penalties related to reductions in official paid visits and in-person recruiting days, FSU must also disassociate itself from the booster for three years, and from the collective for one year.

It’s clear that the NCAA wanted to make a point here. Leaders had been saying for nearly a year that the NCAA’s enforcement staff was working on NIL/recruiting inducement cases, but as we all know, the process moves very slowly.

This negotiated resolution and the subsequent booster and collective disassociation penalties are meant to be a warning to collectives that they can’t operate as if NCAA rules don’t apply to them; they aren’t allowed to meet with prospective players, and they aren’t allowed to sign them to deals before they enroll.

This is the NCAA trying to rein in behavior that is obviously happening all over the country: meetings between players in the transfer portal and collectives of potential landing spots. We’ll see if this public example has a nationwide impact.

The most notable penalty here might be the two-year show-cause for Atkins, who was hit pretty hard with the resolution.

Coincidentally, the NCAA approved this week at its convention more penalties around show-causes, which force schools to make a case to the NCAA before hiring a penalized coach.

In the future, schools themselves could receive penalties, such as recruiting restrictions, for hiring a coach under a show-cause.

This is Exhibit A on how toothless and afraid the NCAA is of NIL!

 

It Just Means More?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The shots came from the north, the west and all over social media: The vaunted SEC, dominator of college football, had been humbled.

Michigan player Braiden McGcegor spoke for many: “In the SEC they say it just means more. That should be ours now.” Somewhere commissioner Greg Sankey read that and grimaced.

For the first time in nine years the SEC will not be represented in the national championship game. There’s a cruel irony in that for Sankey, who helped usher in the 12-team College Football Playoff despite his conference dominating the four-team era.

Why change a beneficial status quo? Because Sankey knew college football would be better if more regions and more conferences were invested and engaged. Sankey also wanted expansion this year, which, should it have happened, would have created an opening for at least one more of his teams to make a run.

Ah, well, a good humbling every now and then is healthy in the long run. The SEC sees clearly that it is in an even competition with the newly constituted Big Ten. But it’s also not a dire picture: Alabama losing to Michigan in overtime on a neutral field is not itself a confirmation of inferiority for SEC detractors.

Vice versa, Tennessee stomping Iowa and Missouri beating Ohio State are also not satisfactory evidence of total conference superiority for SEC defenders because well, bowl games in this era.

It’s just a kick in the butt collectively to the SEC to know it is no longer just in competition with itself. That change can be good. It can be fun.

But this edition of the vibes doesn’t look back. It looks forward, which is why it includes the two coming entrants to the league.

And the vibes, for those whom may be new or forgetful, are not a pure ranking from best to worst; it’s who’s feeling the best to who’s feeling the worst which is why these rankings will look funky.

This takes into account expectations, performance, and just generally the optimism, or lack thereof, heading into the 2024 season.

Even when I adjust for the normal postseason optimism, a look at the top of the SEC shows this is still going to be the best  conference, but the Big Ten is not that far behind.

The SECs tagline of “it just means more” carries a little more weight now, as the additions of Texas and Oklahoma make the league a super conference in 2024.

I feel good about 4 to 5 SEC teams’ chances of making it into a 12-team playoff next season.

The SEC will not play for this year’s championship but they are still the top conference in college football.

Birds Of A Feather

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For Arthur Blank, his football team won Sunday, but there haven’t been enough wins this season.

Blank clapped his hands and raised both fists in the air in the game’s final seconds, congratulated players and staff members, hugged coach Arthur Smith just outside the stadium tunnel, then hugged him again after the postgame news conference. He remains as emotionally invested an owner as there is in professional sports.

Blank will soon have to make a difficult call on whether to keep Smith or fire him, and it’s easy to see this is wearing on him. These decisions are never easy, and the fact the owner has fired four head coaches; not including Bobby Petrino, who slithered away by himself, doesn’t make it easier.

I’ve believed all along: it is more likely than not that Smith keeps his job. The angst and anger from fans is understandable, especially when looking at a three-season record of 21-28. Also, the offense  (Smith’s specialty) has largely underachieved.

His first two seasons came during a rebuild. This season’s record can be attributed in part – though not completely – to a turnover-laden quarterback, Desmond Ridder. And yes, Ridder is a forever grease stain on Smith’s resume.

It’s possible Smith saved his job, not only because the Falcons won before the New Year, but because we saw the upside of the offense when a quarterback doesn’t screw things up.

Taylor Heinicke threw for 229 yards and a touchdown, but more importantly, he didn’t commit one turnover. Atlanta totaled 406 yards in offense and  a season-high 29 points.

To view Sunday as a breakthrough would be premature. The Falcons’ record is pedestrian and they still need dominoes to fall just to make the playoffs. But in theory, both Arthurs may view this game with some level of hope for the future, assuming the Falcons draft the right quarterback in the offseason.

In addition to Smith’s uncertain future, several of his family members were in attendance for the game against the Indianapolis Colts, including his father, Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express.

It wasn’t the first time he had relatives attend a game but the timing seemed more significant on that day, given the backdrop.

The Falcons had dropped 8 of 12 since a 2-0 start. The 9-7 loss at Carolina was especially aggravating for anybody who had elevated expectations this season, especially Blank.

It’s logical to wonder if the win over the Colts carried more relief than joy.

“These are very complex decisions. There are a million factors that go into it. You know you have to represent the franchise, the fans, the players, the coaches — everybody. You have to make the right decision for the right reason, and you have to live with those consequences. My mother used to tell me that all the time.” Smith stated after Sunday’s game.

The Colts game was one of their best all-around games of the season. That counts for something. If this was easy, Blank would’ve made the decision by now.

Not A Big Deal?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The University of Georgia is on the verge of losing a five-star quarterback, who is the biggest name in his recruiting class. And the reaction from the program  is … meh?

Maybe Dylan Raiola bailing on Georgia will prove laughable. Maybe Raiola will end up being a great quarterback who dearly costs the Bulldogs. Maybe this will become part of a problem with the would-be dynasty Georgia program.  As they begin to lose power on and then off the field after coming up short of the top 4.

Right now, it seems like a bigger recruiting story than it is a Georgia story.

Of course, Georgia wants to keep Raiola. That’s why Kirby Smart, Mike Bobo and this staff pursued him so heavily in the first place, even when they already had and liked another quarterback in the same class. That’s why as of this writing the staff is still working to keep him with the knowledge that Raiola will be visiting Nebraska, per sources close to the program.,

With signing day next week, this does not bode well. Losing any big-time prospect, especially a quarterback, would sting.

On the other hand, it’s hard to think of this as a major, program-changing event .Not when Georgia just won two national championships with a former walk-on at QB1. Not when the same program just had another unbeaten regular season with a former four-star, who ranked No. 250 overall in 2020.

Georgia is a program that keeps trying to score an elite quarterback recruit, and after they wind up with an underdog from the scrap pile, they win games anyway.

Enough about the high school to college jump- In the past two years, Georgia has had eight players go in the first round of the NFL Draft. Zero were quarterbacks.

With 25 players drafted overall, Bennett is the only quarterback: taken in the fourth round. For UGA, the quarterback position is critical, but it’s not the position the Bulldogs revolve around.

With that being said, Beck returning for 2024 would be paramount. Looking at the way Beck played this year and the way Bennett played before Beck, after they developed they utilized the talent beaming around them.

One might argue — because some are — that Raiola, or a great quarterback prospect like him, could take the offense to another level. Like, say, top five nationally in passing offense?

Well, don’t worry, that was Georgia this year. Or top 10 in scoring and total offense? Well, that was Georgia in each of their past three years without their fancy five-star quarterback.

If Georgia can do all that with Bennett and Beck, it can do it with Ryan Puglisi, another quarterback commit in the 2024 class.

Puglisi is a four-star from Connecticut, committed to Georgia in October 2022. When Georgia pursued and landed Raiola eight months later, many speculated Puglisi’s decommitment would follow.

The first priority for Georgia is holding on to Beck for 2024, then turning the reins over to Gunner Stockton, Puglisi or whoever is added eventually via the portal or recruiting in the always bright future of a championship contending program.

Stockton, the top-50 overall recruit in the 2022 class, the third-string quarterback the past two years, figures to be No. 2 in 2024 and could end up being the next Beck. He could be the quarterback who sticks around, learns, and develops, and leaves with a ring.

Georgia doing that with two consecutive starters at a time when every quarterback seems to be a transfer would be a sentimental nod to a seemingly bygone era of farming championship talent rather than shopping for it.

Raiola is very good. But this flip, if it happens, would hurt Georgia less than it would help Nebraska. In fact, one could argue it would be better for college football (looking at you TV execs).

That doesn’t mean Georgia should just stand aside and let it happen. Smart didn’t get to three national championship games with an “oh well” mentality. The inability to hold on to elite quarterbacks has been frustrating for Georgia fans.

Maybe QB1 still ends up being Raiola, maybe if Georgia can pull off a last-ditch effort to keep him. If not, it’s setting up Puglisi or Stockton to be the next underdog story at quarterback.

Can you understand Georgia’s reaction (or lack of one)? They still have a plan. Bennett, Beck, and Fromm can say with a straight face: Meh, it’s not a big deal.

Shafted Seminoles

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

All this College Football Playoff arguing will be moot with the CFP expanding to 12 teams next year.

Arguing over 3- 5 is very different than 10-13. You lose your benefit of the doubt when you lose games. Even in the SEC.

But this year is still a four-team field, and with so many variables factoring into the decision, there is a lot to dissect. And to state it plainly: the College Football Playoff committee got it wrong.

College football has, or at least it used to have up until right now, the best regular season in sports because the games mattered most. We have a smaller sample size in this sport than any other.

To leave out an undefeated 13-0 Florida State in a Power 5 ACC was the wrong decision.

Michigan and Washington, both undefeated with top-10 wins, were the easy ones. The problem for the College Football Playoff committee was that there were three teams with legitimate arguments for the final two slots.

Sorry, Georgia. You didn’t win your conference title, and in this format, that has to count for something.

Alabama and the SEC are the proverbial elephant in this room. Nick Saban is the greatest coach of all time, and to me, this year was the greatest coaching job he’s ever done.

His team got whipped at home by Texas in Week 2 and didn’t look any better struggling with South Florida the following week.

But Jalen Milroe kept making big strides and when it mattered most, the Tide made enough plays to knock off a Bulldog team that wasn’t anywhere near as dominant in their previous two title seasons.

The problem for Alabama and the SEC is Texas. They beat Alabama convincingly in Tuscaloosa. That happened, and there was nothing fluky about it.

The Longhorns went 12-1, but there wasn’t a second-best team in the Big 12 this year. Here’s how it broke down: Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma, and Texas unsurprisingly hammered OSU Saturday.

Remember, this was an Oklahoma State team that went 9-3 and had lost by a combined score of 78-10 against South Alabama and UCF. That wasn’t going to help Texas’ cause.

With that, do we forget that a week ago Alabama barely escaped against Auburn? Auburn got blown out at home the week before by New Mexico State, 31-10.

The bigger issue this year was Florida State, at 13-0 from the ACC. As we all know, FSU’s star quarterback Jordan Travis received a season ending injury near the end of the season. The Seminoles’ backup Tate Rodemaker didn’t look great at arch-rival Florida. He also sustained a concussion.

FSU’s third-stringer, Brock Glenn, had a shaky outing in the ACC Championship Game, but their defense was dominant.

Braden Fiske and Jaden Verse led the Seminoles with 14 TFLs and 7 sacks. Not so coincidentally, that same FSU defense began the year by dominating LSU and the SEC’s biggest star, Jayden Daniels. Florida State held the nation’s No. 1 offense to its worst performance of the season.

FSU was the only team that held Daniels under 60 percent passing in a game. Daniels ran for almost 100 yards less (99) against the Noles than when he played the Crimson Tide.

I get it. The SEC has been the most dominant conference in college football for the past two decades. But this year is not like those other years. Have you been paying attention?

It’s a down year for the SEC. The ACC actually went 6-4 against the SEC in 2023. If this was a one-loss FSU, I’d say they didn’t earn their way in, but they won, so they did.

In the same argument, Texas should not have been left out for a team they beat.

What’s the point of winning if the CFP will  rationalize them away?

Old Nemesis

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This is just another SEC Championship Game. The argument will be made here, probably determining whether Georgia wins their third national championship in a row.

UGA has yet to beat Alabama in the SEC championship or at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

If Georgia beats Alabama on Saturday, they have national champion written all over them.

If Georgia loses to Alabama, there is no College Football Playoff.

Feel free to take those statements and throw them back at me next month. Say it: I’m SEC biased, or  too dependent  on recent history.

Georgia’s biggest hurdle awaits them Saturday. The main reason is talent..

The most talented team in the country, per the 247Sports team talent composite, is Alabama. The third-most talented team is Ohio State.

Class, who is the last team to beat Georgia? That would be Alabama two years ago, in the SEC championship. Which team since then has come the closest? Ohio State, in last year’s CFP semifinal.

The Crimson Tide are still in the Bulldogs’ way. By Smart’s own admission, quarterbacks who can run and throw have given Georgia’s defense problems, and you might have noticed that Jalen Milroe can run and throw.

He has multiple receivers who can make plays Jermaine Burton, playing against his former team for the first time, and Isaiah Bond, the man who caught fourth-and-31 to win the Iron Bowl.

No, Georgia is not doomed. It’s a modest favorite (4.5 points) for the right reasons, and the temptation in this space would be to take Georgia to cover. But it is a mere temptation, because Alabama, Saban and his talented unit are going to be a tough out.

First, of course, they need to make the Playoff, and at this point, the SEC Championship looks like win-and-in, lose-and-out.

That wasn’t the case for Georgia the past two years, but this year there are too many viable candidates in other conferences. There are only four spots, and if Alabama beats Georgia it would get one of them. The Pac-12 championship will get another. The chaos scenario thus requires two of the following three: Michigan losing to Iowa, Florida State losing to Louisville, Texas losing to Oklahoma State.

We’ve been waiting for the chaos, and the chaos hasn’t occurred yet, so it’s probably time to stop waiting.

We could also get into a scenario in which Georgia loses on a late field goal or disputed call, and two of the three win in the same fashion. That’s maybe when the committee finds a way to jam Georgia in.

This is a committee made of human beings who apparently think a lot of Georgia, and might also appreciate the three-peat storyline. If it’s close, that would help Georgia. But it’s harder and harder to see the close scenario. It’s setting up to be fairly clear choices for the committee.

If someone is going to stop Georgia from a three-peat, the most likely team is the one that for the longest time was its nemesis, and could still be again.

Last Laugh

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After Florida State’s win on Saturday, I wrote that FSU fans should never, ever dismiss rivalry wins. Especially when playing for so much, a loss would be devastating .

10-0 is pretty darn sweet. Even more when considering the last five or six years and THOSE challenges.

Which builds me a bridge to what happened in College Station on Sunday:

And let’s be clear, I’m not here to kick dirt on Jimbo Fisher while he’s down. Well, maybe not a wheelbarrow’s worth. It’s hard to refer to someone getting paid $75 million to not work as ‘down’.  That sounds pretty up to me all things considered.

FSU fans remember and appreciate Jimbo’s run he had and the program he rebuilt in Tallahassee for about a decade. That 2013 team was one of the best in the history of the sport. He won three straight ACC championships and coached in five straight New Year’s Six bowl games.

For a time, Jimbo Fisher was a fantastic coach. He modernized a program that was in desperate need. Fisher’s accomplishments can never be overlooked, but what Jimbo never realized is he needed Florida State as much as Florida State needed Jimbo.

Fisher complained so much during his time in Tallahassee about what he wanted, about how hard it was to get things done or built or paid for or- At the end of his time there, he never came close to appreciating how great his job was.

He intimated repeatedly that Florida State wasn’t committed to winning. Which is, in today’s football, laughable.

He needed more resources. More money. More stuff. More. More. More.

Then he went to a place that has more than anyone. Jimbo fell on his face. Meanwhile, six years later, the place that isn’t committed to winning is 10-0 and ranked in the Top 4.

I truly wonder, on a day like Sunday if it ever hits Jimbo how completely idiotic a decision it was to leave Tallahassee to go coach in the talent wasteland in College Station.

I get it. His bank account has a bunch of extra zeroes now. He’s got all the ranches he could ever want.

For a dude that seemed so competitive, that just loves ball, loves coaching ball, loves winning, he absolutely torpedoed his chances at multiple championships and a lasting legacy because he was too busy whining about what he didn’t have.

Florida State was a punchline for a few years. Even Texas A&M fans, whose program hasn’t won a national title since Bobby Bowden was a 10-year-old boy, had the audacity to make fun of FSU’s plight.

Texas A&M’s savior, the one that Florida State fans warned them about, just got canned. Aggies, welcome to the punchline, you still owe Jimbo the GDP of a small country to go away.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles are  10-0 and two wins away from a perfect regular season.

Florida State has always been a special and dominant brand. Coach Norvell has re-established that.

No one is laughing at the Seminoles anymore.