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Before UCF-USF scheduling feud, ’Noles played anywhere, any time in quest for national respect

Though already a national force, Florida State once made six consecutive trips to Baton Rouge.
Florida State coach Willie Taggart, left, stands with former coach Bobby Bowden, right, at the start of the 2018 spring game Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. (COLIN HACKLEY | Special to the Times)
Published May 20

Here at the outset of summer’s dog days, with actual football still three months away, the UCF-USF scheduling spat has evolved into a combustible topic.

We’re just not sure it’s gonna catch much fire in the Panhandle, specifically Tallahassee.

UCF’s claim that USF is setting an unsightly precedent by striking two-for-one deals with Florida and Miami may not resonate within the FSU fan base.

To the contrary, 'Noles fans might be inclined to call out the Knights for their seeming unwillingness to bend their scheduling philosophy in order to play more elite competition.

RELATED: No, UCF, USF’s series with Florida, Miami don’t set a bad precedent for the AAC

Back in the day, FSU certainly did some bending, contortionist-style. Playing anyone, anywhere became a well-known Bobby Bowden mantra as the FSU icon labored to mold his program into a national force.

In the early stages of the Bowden era, FSU played six consecutive road games against LSU (1979-83, ’89) and four consecutive times against Nebraska in Lincoln (1980, ’81, ’85 and ’86).

RELATED: So how good is USF’s non-conference slate? As good as any in AAC

For anyone suggesting an apples/oranges comparison, or that UCF’s brand is much stronger now than FSU’s was then, consider: The ‘Noles earned their first Associated Press top-15 final ranking in 1977 (14th) and finished sixth and fifth in ’79 and ’80, respectively. By the time a majority of those road games to Lincoln and Louisiana rolled around, FSU already was a formidable brand.

A generation later, UCF believes it possesses the cachet to insist on home-and-home deals with Power Five programs.

To each their own. Just don’t expect any sympathy in Bowden country, dadgummit.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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