tom jones' two cents
Danny Kanell was one of the best quarterbacks in Florida State history. From 1992 to 1995, Kanell threw 57 touchdowns (third on FSU's all-time list) and went 21-3-1 as a starter. The tie was the memorable "Choke at Doak'' in 1994, when Kanell helped rally the Seminoles to a 31-31 tie after falling behind 31-3 entering the fourth quarter. He went on to spend parts of seven seasons in the NFL with the Broncos, Falcons and Giants. These days, Kanell, 37, works as a college football broadcaster for ESPN and at a youth camp for troubled kids in his native Fort Lauderdale. Today, Kanell returns to his alma mater to work as an analyst for the Seminoles-North Carolina State game, which can be seen at noon on ESPNU. He spoke with St. Petersburg Times staff writer Tom Jones and discussed his thoughts on Bobby Bowden, Tim Tebow and his former program.
How is going back to Tallahassee to call games?
Well, I love going back, but I'm there to do a job. I have to be careful. The crew is always reminding me not to refer to Florida State as "we.'' But it's like being a football player. Once you step between those lines, you know you have a job to do.
How do you feel about how Bobby Bowden was forced out at FSU?
I was very disappointed in the way it went down. I think if you ask anyone who played for Coach Bowden, they would say the same thing. He deserved better at the end of his career. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be felt that there needed to be a switch. … I would've liked to have seen him have one more year.
What do you think of the job Jimbo Fisher is doing?
I think he's doing a fantastic job. This season has turned a little disappointing because expectations set upon him coming … were so high. But I always felt that Florida State was a year away from competing for a national championship. They've been decimated by injuries, and it's been tough going. But I still think the program is on the right track.
What have you thought of the play of quarterback EJ Manuel?
The last two games he has passed the ball very well. And you have to love the ability he brings to the table in terms of running the football. That's the way college football is going. It's rare to see guys who are just pocket passers. Teams now love to run the spread offense, and you're seeing more and more of it because now high schools are running that offense. It's funny. The spread offense is an exciting offense to watch, but it has diluted the quarterbacks at the NFL level.
Do you think we'll ever see the spread offense at the NFL level someday?
The thing is, there is so much speed and size at the NFL level. If anyone can do it, it would be a Tim Tebow. But the NFL is such a physical game. I don't know that a quarterback can survive 16 games running that offense.
Speaking of Tebow, what do you think of him as an NFL quarterback?
I think he's going to struggle as a passing quarterback, a quarterback throwing from the pocket. The spread offense suits his skills, but the question is whether any NFL team is willing to run the spread offense at the NFL level. It would take a unique coach who is willing to take a big chance by committing to that offense. What if Tebow were to get hurt running that offense? Then what would you do?
How do you like being a broadcaster?
It's been a blast. I love going back to college campuses. I've always been partial to the college game. The NFL is such a big business and a little sterile. I love going to college games and seeing the excitement and the fans and the tailgating. There seems to be more passion.
What's it like working at ESPN?
I had the advantage of starting on ESPN3, which is kind of like a minor league for broadcasting. It's a great training ground. Now I'm working my way up the ladder, getting more responsibility and getting more competitive, good games.
What about the rest of your time?
I run a youth program called Rocketown (near Fort Lauderdale). It's a faith-based program where we help kids who have slipped through the cracks. They come in after school and on weekends. They skateboard, and we have music programs, and they get free tutoring. We're mentors to these kids.
How old are the kids?
Junior high and high school. We'll be open two years in November, and it's something I want to continue to do even as I continue working on my broadcasting career. Working with kids has become a passion for me.