This is not your daddy’s Florida State-Miami football rivalry, and not in a good way.
The two teams will play this weekend and it stokes the memories of years gone by of some absolutely tremendous games between the two schools, games that transcended the in-state rivalry and captured the nation’s imagination.
The ’87 game, when FSU coach Bobby Bowden decided to go for two after scoring a late touchdown, only to be denied and watch Miami go on to win its second national title.
Florida State’s kicking woes that produced Wide Right in 1991, Wide Right II in 1992, Wide Right III in 2000 and Wide Left in 2002, all Seminole losses.
FSU’s win in 2006 in the last game between the two teams at the old Orange Bowl in Miami before the ‘Canes moved their home games to Sun Life Stadium (a disastrous move, IMHO, but that’s for another day).
Ah, good times, good times.
But the drama and storyline surrounding this year’s game is not about two highly-ranked teams fighting to stay part of the national championship race – FSU is ranked a modest 14th and Miami is unranked – but rather whether the seat that Hurricanes coach Al Golden currently occupies will go from hot to scorching.
Although, to be fair, the website Coaches Hot Seat only has Golden at No. 10 on its list of coaches in trouble. Nonetheless, Golden’s job security has been called into question by fans at least since last year.
A banner reading “Fire AL Golden Save The U flew over Sun Life Stadium prior to the game against Cincinnati last year, another was flown prior to the Week 2 game last month against Florida Atlantic that read “Make Miami Great Again – Butch Davis 2016,” and still another prior to the Sept. 19 game against Nebraska that read, “C’mon, #FireAlGolden. These Banners Are Expensive.”
Apparently, however, this fan might have a sense of humor but only selective memory. Yes, Davis was highly successful at Miami, bringing the program back from the severity of NCAA sanctions to go 51-20 over six seasons, including four bowl wins – including the 2001 Sugar Bowl over Steve Spurrier and Florida – and, of course, a victory over Florida State that snapped a five-game losing streak to the Seminoles.
Davis then left for the NFL, where he flopped, and hasn’t coached since 2011 when he was fired at North Carolina for his role in an NCAA investigation of academic fraud.
I don’t know whether Al Golden will lose his job, but I can tell you with certainty that Butch Davis isn’t getting it.
In the meantime, there is a dissatisfied fan base to deal with and that’s never pretty. The loss to Cincinnati on national television last Thursday night didn’t help, even though that was Miami’s first loss of the season. And it certainly didn’t help when you have what is arguably the school’s biggest football alum tweeting out during the game:
What is happening with @CanesFootball
— Michael Irvin (@michaelirvin88) October 1, 2015
This is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ profession, and in the minds of many Hurricanes fans the loss to Cincy was not only unfathomable – an ACC team losing to an AAC team? – but also took the shine off of what could have been a showdown of unbeatens when Miami travels to Tallahassee.
But, to be fair to the unhappy fans, they’re not exactly thrilled with Golden’s record over four years of 0-12 vs. teams that finished the season ranked in the Top 25.
Now the game is just about one man trying to save his job, when the game itself should be the story.
We were right – this isn’t your daddy’s FSU-Miami game.