Opponent: Florida State Seminoles (2-5)
Location: Tallahassee, Fla.
Sometimes It’s Just Hard to Be a Dynasty
As you know, It is far easier to draw conclusions regarding what to expect in life by looking at the past, and generalizing that what has happened before will most likely happen again in the present.
Take the start of college football season. As a new season dawns, the top 25 is more often than not littered with the same cast of characters. ‘Bama will be at the top, Notre Dame (fresh off another 4- to 7-win season) will be somewhere in the middle, teams west of Austin, TX will be largely ignored, and the Florida State Seminoles will be in or damn close to that magical top-4 of teams who will — if all things stay the same — wind up in the College Football Playoff. And at the other end of the spectrum, Syracuse will be expected to win only 4 games and lose to Wake Forest and Boston College in the process. It all follows a similar annual pattern.
While perhaps a bit lazy, applying generalizations drawn from past experience is actually a reasonably safe way to go through life. But sometimes, things just go sideways. Seemingly invincible teams inexplicably blow up and put in a year that leaves all but the program’s insiders wondering ‘what the hell just happened’?
2017 Florida State football seems to be in the midst of one of those seasons. Tipped to contend for the National Championship ahead of their week 1 matchup against Alabama, Florida State has gone from disappointment to capitulation over the past several weeks. A proud program, I wouldn’t count them out to turn their 2-5 start to some form of bowl eligibility. Nor would I expect them to stay down for too long. There’s just too much talent, and it is a program with the resources to see the error in their ways (under-investment in their assistant coaching staff), and correct course.
Yes, it’s been a down year for our friends from the Florida Panhandle, but they are not alone in being a near dynastic program who suffered a rough patch. Indeed, history is littered with great dynasties suffering from bad decision-making, poor form, questionable scheduling, or even the odd catastrophe. So without further adieu, #FakeNunes presents:
A Selection of The Toughest Seasons By Sitting Dynasties in Human History:
The Roman Empire (320-476 AD)
Okay, this wasn’t a single season, but really a series of seasons that kicked off around 320 that put an end to the greatest historical dynasty this side of Tuscaloosa. But for nearly 400 years, The Roman Empire was the standard bearer for the creation of a far reaching organized civilization. The first two centuries (Pax Romana) was a period of unprecedented political stability and prosperity where Rome steamrolled their opposition, and expanded from the Atlantic to Africa and Asia.
By the early part of the fourth century, however, Rome started to suffer from three major changes to the world landscape much in the same way Nebraska suffered at the turn of the 21st century. Indeed, the abuse of power from the Empire’s nobility (conference realignment), emerging threats from frontier opponents with advanced capabilities, (the spread offense), and the emergence of Christianity (aversion to anything other than the gospel of Tom Osborne), all served to chip away at the foundations of Rome and create social discord within its citizenry.
By 476, The 16-year old emperor Romulus Augustulus was under such pressure from foreign armies, athletic boosters and network executives, that he abdicated the throne and signaled the end of the great empire.
Honorable Mention (USA, 2017)
The Empire (A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away - a.k.a. circa 1982 Pac-10 Conference)
Any list of great dynasties inexplicably taking one on the chin has to start with ‘The Empire’. Long considered the greatest force in the galaxy, the Empire suffered the occasional off season such as in 1978 when their prevent defense famously let them down late in the game against the Yavin Rebels. But with the Nick Saban/Kirby Smart-esque duo of The Emperor/Darth Vader at the helm one would have figured that such a blip on their record would not be repeated.
Normal undefeated service was resumed from ‘79-’81, so no one could have expected ‘The Power of The Dark Side’ to slip up badly in their 1982 season. Things started out just fine, but as the season wore on, it was clear that The Empire simply didn’t have it. Their home field advantage was compromised as a result of renovations to their stadium, Lord Vader’s head had been turned by an approach from Rebel Alliance AD Luke Skywalker, and their highly-touted 4- and 5-star troops suffered from poor assistant coaching. The Emperors’ poor game management in the comprehensive defeat by 30-point underdogs Endor State (a classic Trap Game) blew up the program once more, and set the stage for sweeping changes to The Empire that cost them most of the next 20 years.
Honorable Mention: The Barzini Family (‘The Godfather’ - circa 1955); The Gladiators (‘Kicking and Screaming’ - circa 2005)
From it’s debut in 2004, ‘Lost’ was a virtual all-star game of serial drama television. It used an ensemble cast and a talented team of producers/directors (including co-creator JJ Abrams) who cleverly used every trick in the book including flashbacks, flash-forwards, and liberal use of science fiction, the supernatural, mystery and adventure. And it was awesome!
In it’s prime (2004-2006), it was arguably the most compelling show on primetime network television, and kept viewers constantly on the edge of their seats with engrossing storylines for each of the main characters, constant suspense, and #AllThePlotTwists!
But starting in 2007, Lost resembled post-Pete Carrol USC: It had the clear elements of a top program, but you could tell that the coaching staff was starting to just wing it with what they had. By 2010, they were just trying to win on talent alone and all but gave up trying to keep the plot running with any sense of cohesion. In the end, the producers simply tried to convince us that the characters were all dead and in some post-plane crash purgatory in a weak attempt to rush the show to a conclusion. It was so bad, that the entire show’s legacy will likely be remembered as one where they promised so much, and ultimately delivered so little.
Honorable Mention: Happy Days (1977)
Pearl Jam (1994)
The unquestioned Kings of the Grunge Rock movement exploded like an untamed force onto the global music scene faster than pre-scandal Baylor in 1991 with the release of their debut album ‘Ten’. From ‘91-’93 they went from strength-to-strength and released an equally powerful second album ‘vs’.
Seemingly unstoppable, the rock band did in 1994 what any sane Power 5 scheduler OUTSIDE OF SYRACUSE (sorry John) would have never done in a million years: take head-on the biggest force in the music industry: Ticketmaster.
It was Doc Gross scheduling at it’s best. Angered by Ticketmaster’s monopoly on the concert business (as a result of Ticketmaster’s insistence on charging high ticket service fees for a series of charity concerts), Pearl Jam outright refused to play in a venue that had an agreement with Ticketmaster, and further poked the hornets nest by working with the US government to break the vendor’s dominance in the marketplace. Unsurprisingly, Pearl Jam found itself without any place to play starting in 1994, and had to construct their own concert venues from scratch in rural areas or perform charity events that circumvented Ticketmaster’s contracts with established venues.
Pearl Jam still released the hugely-successful ‘Vitalogy’ album in December 1994, but the exhausting battle against Ticketmaster quickly reduced the band’s commercial viability, and altered the course of their career, with no subsequent album reaching the same level of success. Pearl Jam lives on as an iconic rock band of the ‘90s, has their own satellite radio channel, and is still essentially awesome. Heck, Eddie Vedder even gets to hang out with Chicago Cubs and write awesome tear-jerking odes to sports fandom! But one has to ask “what could have been” if they had stayed away from going head to head against the Alabama of the music industry for 12 straight games...on the road...with no return home game.
Honorable Mention: Post David Lee Roth Van Halen (1986); Eminem ‘Encore’ (2004)
Coach's Film Study
Today's Film: The Truman Show
What would happen if your life was just one well-orchestrated lie that was broadcast as entertainment to millions of people without your knowledge? What would you do if your entire existence was controlled by others, and you were led by some arrogant overlord to believe that you were special, when in reality you are simply an unwitting and powerless cog in an entertainment machine that honestly couldn’t care less about you?
I don’t know... I’m not associated with Rutgers!
Ahh, kidding side, the thought of orchestrating one man’s entire life — from birth to adolescence, to adulthood, to marriage, to parenthood, to death — is a fascinating one that is as interesting as it is immoral. And it serves as a great backdrop for a thoroughly-entertaining satirical science-fiction film starring Jim Carrey that is filmed in the idyllic Florida Panhandle town of Seaside, Fla.
The Truman Show stars Carrey as Truman Burbank, adopted and raised by a corporation inside a simulated television show centered around his life. Truman lives much of his young life blissfully unaware of the carefully-orchestrated nature of his existence, but slowly becomes suspicious of happenings inside his “hometown” of Seahaven Island (Seaside) through a series of curious events. With the assistance of some outside help, he begins to unravel the mystery of his life and eventually makes a break for freedom outside the giant archeological dome and into the “real world” - with the entertainment corporation producing his show reverting to increasingly absurd “storylines” in an effort to stop him!
All in all, ‘The Truman Show’ provides an entertaining, yet somewhat dark view into an entertainment world that in this day and age isn’t far off from reality. I mean, The Kardashians alone make me wonder if my reality is real. And Rutgers? Hell, no-one can be THAT bad all the time without some form of orchestrated effort. Right? RIGHT?!?
Four oranges (out of five)
The #FakeNunes Statistical Index (#FNSI)
F&B: (Food and Beverage). Tallahassee is a city that has about 50,000 more residents than Syracuse, and as such has a food and beverage scene that has a slight edge on The Salt City. While there is no match to Dinosaur BBQ, Tallahassee does have good ‘Que but also greater variety that draws on it’s location (Bird’s Aphrodisiac Oyster Shack and Backwoods Crossing are among a group of great restaurants that you just can’t find in Syracuse). On the beer front, both cities are solid head-to-head competitors, with Proof Brewing Co. being at the top of any visitor’s must try list.
Tailgate Efficiency: Tallahassee and Syracuse are somewhat alike in that the tailgating scene is a little broken up due to space constraints, traffic, and zoning. But FSU gets the nod over Syracuse on two fronts. First, there is an RV parking zone adjacent to Doak Campbell Stadium (this needs to be in the US Constitution as mandatory for all FBS College Football venues... you can’t trust the NCAA to do this for us), and Madison Social, a large, decidedly upscale (compared to Marshall Street bars) that is steps away from the stadium. OH WHAT I WOULD DO TO HAVE A SPOT LIKE THAT NEXT TO THE DOME!
Adj. Uniform Coolness: Man, SU is hitting it out of the park this year! I have repeatedly derided the unis because of their Rollerball-like design, but the color schemes have been on point. The “Winter is Coming” combo of all white with the orange chrome facemarks was our best yet, and I am SOO tempted to put them at FSU’s equal, but for two things:
- Florida State’s classic garnet and gold design is in my absolute top 5 on earth.
- Nike broke out all platinum for Ohio State and Illinois at the weekend... I am very afraid.
4th String F.I.: This is college football country, and like a good SEC program, Seminole fans know more about the young studs that are biding their time down the depth chart than we do about most other players not named Dungey. ADVANTAGE: FSU
Hot Seat: At 2-5, Jimbo Fisher is not the most popular man in Tallahassee. But let’s be realistic. He is still just a few years removed from FSU’s most recent National Championship, and has a buyout that makes Paul Manafort’s “consulting” salary look like some line chef in a Moscow borscht kitchen. He ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Hopefully, the same will be said for Dino Babers. Hands off!!!!! ADVANTAGE: FSU
FACEPALM: Heads (and egos) are already bruised among ‘Noles fans, with the most recent “Tomahawk Flop” against Steve Addazio’s BC Eagles (seriously, Florida State?!?). One would think a loss to Syracuse couldn’t be any worse, but I don’t think we are perceived much more favorably than The Eagles. A home loss to The Orange would likely be seen as equally painful.
They have wisely scheduled Delaware State for homecoming this year. ADVANTAGE: FSU
Grandpa Edgar: "Hell, I don’t think I can accurately express what an absolute lump of crap Florida State laid on the field against Boston College last weekend. I mean, I thought New Englanders gave up on college football and decided to stick with a commie sport like hockey, or a sissy sports like sailing! And to just roll over and lose 35-3? Unacceptable. Show some respect for yourselves!
And Syracuse? Well, you jump-kicked yourselves back to earth against what looked like a pretty beatable Miami team in your last game. I do like that Dungey kid though... he shows a lot of spunk. That is when he’s not throwing pocks and letting opponents hand out necklaces like a pre-teen birthday party at Claire’s!” ADVANTAGE: Syracuse
BFFs ADVANTAGE: Even
Iso #DISRESPEKT: This one is awful close. FSU is taking it on the chin weekly, and the hate and schadenfreude directed at the ‘Noles is enough to get under their skin. On the other hand, it is now starting to be the pundits’ opinion that Dino Babers is on his way out the door “to a bigger and better program.” Who at Syracuse LOVES to hear that??? ADVANTAGE: FSU
Narcissism+: It was a rare treat to have the college football world shower SU with love following our upset victory over Clemson, and even following our loss to Miami, there are plenty of commentators (love you Kirk Herbstreit) still believing in The Orange. But we’re still not quite sure what to make of ourselves and our newly found respect. ADVANTAGE: FSU
EDSBS IJ Factor: (Every Day Should Be Saturday Inside Joke Factor).
THE FRONTRUNNER FOR EDSBS' PEOPLE'S HEISMAN TROPHY. ADVANTAGE: Syracuse
East Coast Bias +/-: The Yankees and Red Sox are finally out of the playoffs, the Giants absolutely suck, and The Jets and Bills can’t commit to good. That leaves the door open for a team that has been a colossal disappointment and a team that might as well have been invisible until the Clemson game. ADVANTAGE: Syracuse
Tradition/Culture Index: As with Clemson, Florida State’s recent glittering past eclipses Syracuse’s proud achievements of the mid and late 20th century.
FSU also holds some of the more visually compelling traditions in college football. And no, I do not mean Jenn Sterger and her friends! Nor do I mean that annoying Tomahawk Chop.
I am talking about Osceola and Renegade. A tradition dating back to 1978, Osceola and Renegade are officially approved by the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida — with Osceola getting the awesome job of throwing a flaming spear in the center of the turf prior to each football game.
And before you you judge FSU’s decision to feature a Native American in 1978, just remember at that time we were playing with the idea of a troll, a frightening clown, and an orange cowboy with two blown-out ACLs as our school mascot...
2017 #FNSI Accuracy: (6-2) 75%
The #FNSI indicates that the Seminoles, despite their 2-5 record and capitulation against Boston College, still hold an advantage at home against the Orange. This one is going to be a sloppy affair with momentum swings, mood swings, and maybe even a porch swing thrown in there somewhere... most likely by Eric Dungey. This is Syracuse’s biggest and best chance to take down FSU, but the #FNSI says the ‘Noles will get off the mat, play desperate, and put in their best game of the season... at our expense. FSU 28, Syracuse 27.