Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Colleges

Fennelly: At FSU, fake it ’til you make it out

TALLAHASSEE — On the 12th game of Jimbo …

The tree. We’ll always have the Christmas tree. Jimbo Fisher left it to us, or at least for the sanitation men Friday morning in Tallahassee, in front of his soon-to-be former home. He should have put his 5-6 record out for the trash, too.

The tree was scooped up by an FSU fan who later spoke with the Tallahassee Democrat, identifying himself as Matt S.

"I went to grab it and it’s huge," Matt S. told the Democrat. "It’s a 10-feet tree and a couple of hundred pounds. I had to take it apart in three pieces."

It’s an artificial tree.

Perfect.

The tree, or Willie Taggart possibly leaving the Oregon conifers to save the Seminoles, or USF coach Charlie Strong possibly being in the mix, was much more fun to consider than Florida State going out Saturday under interim head coach Odell Haggins to beat Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 42-10 — the Irma Game, postponed, then rescheduled in the name of FSU earning a record 36th consecutive bowl appearance and 41st consecutive winning season.

A puny win in a puny contest before a puny crowd, at least by past FSU standards, under 60,000, something not seen at Doak Campbell Stadium in 27 years. I’m pretty sure the announced attendance of 58,780 was tickets sold. No word on tickets burned.

RELATED: Florida State AD Stan Wilcox looking to hire Jimbo Fisher’s replacement ‘as quickly as we possibly can’

But Haggins ended a madhouse week by lightening the mood.

"We won. I’m leaving. See you all later," he said to begin his postgame news conference.

Ah, Saturday at Doak. On the surface, everything seemed normal, except for the fact that thousands fewer fans showed up. I think there have been more people interviewed in the Tennessee coaching search.

Seminoles fans, untethered as they seemed (their school that has only had two head football coaches in the past 41 years), still made their rounds, gathering at the Bobby Bowden statue outside the stadium for picture taking. Among them was Sean Liss of Tampa, who was with his family. Liss punted for Florida State from 1992-96.

"This has been an unorthodox week," Liss said.

A young boy walked past the Bowden statue.

"Jimbo’s never going to have one of these," he said.

FSU-ULM did have a morbid allure. It wasn’t nearly as bizarre as it could have been if Fisher had stayed to coach one final game. That might have turned nasty. Saturday was strange nonetheless.

But there was some actual good stuff. Yes, FSU played a game it had no business playing, but at least Seminoles stalwart Haggins stood in for the Grinch Who Put His Tree Out.

Haggins became the first African-American head football coach in Seminoles history. The Bartow High and FSU graduate starred on the defensive line for the Seminoles and has coached defense at FSU for 24 seasons. Haggins, 50, is one of the souls of the program. He deserved a day like Saturday.

When the game was over, the stadium video boards flashed Haggins from his playing days, doing The Seminole Rap in 1988. Fans chanted Haggins’ first name as he left the field. For some FSU assistants (but probably not Haggins) it was their final game for FSU. Offensive line coach Rick Trickett, 69, was carried off the field on players’ shoulders. Trickett pulled his cap low to hide his tears.

FSU will be back. It remains a strong program.

RELATED: Jimbo Fisher leaves Florida State for Texas A&M

"We’re Florida State," Haggins said. "We have a solid foundation. It’s not built on sand."

The roots are deep.

Think Willie Taggart’s Christmas tree will still be up in Oregon on Dec. 21?

Think Charlie Strong’s tree still will be up in Tampa?

’Tis the season.

Take it from Jimbo — literally. Artificial is the way to go.

Comments
Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox leaving for NCAA post

Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox leaving for NCAA post

Stan Wilcox is leaving his job as Florida State's athletic director to become the NCAA's executive vice president of regulatory affairs.The Athletic's Bruce Feldman first reported the news."Stan is a highly respected, visionary leader in intercollegi...
Published: 08/20/18
Preseason AP Top 25: Bama No. 1, Miami, FSU and UCF all ranked

Preseason AP Top 25: Bama No. 1, Miami, FSU and UCF all ranked

Alabama, as expected, will start the season No. 1 in the country in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.The defending national champions topped the poll, receiving 42 first-place votes. It's the third year in a row the Crimson Tide has opened the year at No...
Published: 08/20/18
Former Tampa Catholic standout Corey Martinez leaving FSU

Former Tampa Catholic standout Corey Martinez leaving FSU

Former Tampa Catholic standout Corey Martinez dropped a mini-bombshell of sorts Monday, announcing via Twitter he is bypassing his final season at FSU.A fifth-year senior offensive lineman, Martinez indicated he is leaving football altogether."As I c...
Published: 08/20/18
Florida State football getting closer to naming starting quarterback, Willie Taggart says

Florida State football getting closer to naming starting quarterback, Willie Taggart says

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Willie Taggart isn't ready to announce who will start at quarterback when the Seminoles open against Virginia Tech in two weeks.But a decision is getting closer."How close? Closer than we were the first da...
Published: 08/19/18
Updated: 08/20/18
DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

TALLAHASSEE — DeCalon Brooks doesn't only want to be known as Derrick Brooks' son.Yes, he plays the same position (linebacker) at the same school (Florida State) where his father won a national title in 1993 before becoming a Bucs legend a...
Published: 08/19/18
Why you should care about FSU-Samford: This ‘DuckTales’ parody song

Why you should care about FSU-Samford: This ‘DuckTales’ parody song

When Samford Hall of Famer Jimbo Fisher left Florida State for Texas A&M, we all needed a reason to care about the Division I-AA Bulldogs' Week 2 trip to Tallahassee.The internet, as usual, has come through with a video that needs a little context.Sa...
Published: 08/17/18
Full disclosure: My preseason AP Top 25 ballot

Full disclosure: My preseason AP Top 25 ballot

We'll find out where Miami, Florida State and the rest of Florida's teams start the season Monday when the AP releases its preseason Top 25 rankings.Until then, here's a sneak peek, in the form of the AP ballot I submitted last week.Clemson starts at...
Published: 08/17/18
Reduced seating capacity coming to college football, including Alabama

Reduced seating capacity coming to college football, including Alabama

The Rays aren't the only team looking to downsize their stadium capacity.It's becoming a trend in college football, too.The latest one is mighty Alabama. As part of the Bryant-Denny Stadium renovations expected to be announced today, the Crimson Tide...
Published: 08/16/18
Brian Burns looking to thrive in Florida State’s new-look defense

Brian Burns looking to thrive in Florida State’s new-look defense

BRADENTON — First-year coach Willie Taggart's plan to transform Florida State into a program built on lethal simplicity transcends the offense.The defense will try to live by that same two-word philosophy, which could help Brian Burns rebo...
Published: 08/15/18
Meet the Maryland coach and former Gator assistant at the center of a calamity

Meet the Maryland coach and former Gator assistant at the center of a calamity

Is Maryland’s DJ Durkin overly intense or just passionate? It depends on whom you ask.At the end of 2015, DJ Durkin addressed the Maryland football team for the first time. Some players viewed him with skepticism, the natural reaction of hypercompeti...
Published: 08/15/18