16 years ago Florida State University played in the very first BCS Championship Game. On January 6th, FSU will also play in the very last BCS Championship game.
In between the program has fallen on hard times and risen again.
"Florida State was in the first three National Championships '98, '99 and 2000 and all those National Championship games, it's kind of funny how it has come full circle like that and I do appreciate the history of college football that way," said Jimbo Fisher. "And we all complained about the BCS and everything that goes on, but it's funny how many times they get it right and how the history just keeps repeating itself."
The Seminoles will square off against the Auburn Tigers, who beat then-no. 1 Alabama two weeks ago and won the SEC Championship game against Missouri on Saturday.
“It honestly didn't matter to me who it was,” said Fisher. “Auburn [has a tremendous program]. I've coached there, I know them... but I'm just glad that Florida State is there.”
The storylines for this game are too numerous to count.
Fisher cut his teeth coaching in Division I under Terry Bowden at Auburn in the early 90’s. Bowden had coached Fisher as a quarterback in college -- Fisher had even followed him from Salem College to Samford as a senior -- and he gave Fisher a job coaching quarterbacks at Auburn in 1993.
That year would prove fateful for both the Tigers and the Seminoles.
While Bobby Bowden’s Florida State team went 12-1 and won the first national title in the program’s history the Auburn Tigers went unbeaten -- Unfortunately, the Tigers were on probation and weren’t eligible for the postseason.
“I always tell Florida State this: We should have had half of that National Championship in '93. We were the only undefeated team in the country,” Fisher said.
20 years later Fisher has returned Florida State to prominence. His team is unbeaten again.
Still, the Seminoles will head to Pasadena as potential usurpers in the eyes of some.
For nearly the past decade the SEC has been king, dominating the BCS and making other contenders look foolish. The state of Alabama in particular has been home to the BCS Champion the last four years straight.
Auburn will be looking to continue that streak and win the last BCS Championship ever awarded.
"We're not going to get involved in all this SEC/ACC stuff because we done made it to where we are and we're not done yet,” said Jameis Winston. “We fear no one. Our opponent has no face, so we don't care.”
Part of the Seminoles’ confidence may stem from the fact that they are built like an SEC team.
Just don’t tell Fisher that.
“I built our program like I thought we needed to build it to win a championship. We don't model ourselves after nobody,” said Fisher. “We're Florida State, we do things the way we do them and the way I think you have to play to win a championship and the kind of team you have to have to win a championship. That's the way I think we tried to build this team."
Florida State boasts the top-ranked scoring defense in the nation, creates turnovers at an alarming rate (they lead the country with 25 interceptions) and the Seminoles brutalize opponents in the trenches.
Not to mention the fact FSU is on pace to score more points this season than any team in college football history.
Still, until another conference can beat the SEC for a BCS title -- the last BCS title in this case -- some will still going to be skeptical of the Seminoles’ chances.
“Yeah, people are always going to doubt us or have a feeling of upset or something. But that's why we have that chip on our shoulder,” said Telvin Smith. “That's why we play the way we do, and that just drives us, that feeds us, and that's what it did the whole season, it just fed us, and now we're here going to the big one.”
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