As the endless weeks of over-analyzing continue for the BCS National Championship game it is hard not to dwell on past Florida State championship game appearances. The Seminoles were the class of college football in the 1990s by finishing in the top-5 of every season — a feat that has not been accomplished before or since. This year their quarterback Jameis Winston became the third Florida State player to win the Heisman trophy while also guiding his team to a national championship game appearance.
Charlie Ward won the Heisman in 1993 and also directed his team to their first national championship in school history. That’s the good. In 2000 Chris Weinke, then 28-years old, won the Heisman trophy and helped lead his team to national championship game berth. However, it was not meant to be for the Seminoles of 2000.
Charlie Ward was a tremendous athlete, and Bobby Bowden did a tremendous job of fine-tuning his mechanics, allowing Ward to reach his full potential as a football player. Florida State had lost in ’91 and ’92 after wide right kicks doomed them, but in 1993 the Seminoles achieved redemption against the Hurricanes. Florida State was No. 1 while Miami was No. 3, but that was as close as the game ever got. The Seminoles dominated 28-10, finally getting over the Mount Everest that was wearing the colors of orange and green. It looked as if Florida State was going to cruise in style all the way to the Orange Bowl, but the train took an unexpected detour on the way to the party.
Notre Dame had beaten Bowden’s squad in mid-November putting them on the outside looking in. All seemed to be lost until the Noles received a gift from above. Notre Dame was upset the following week by an average Boston College team, and the Eagles played Santa Claus in Tallahassee. Florida State took advantage of Notre Dame’s misfortune by beating Tommie Frazier led-Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to capture their first national championship in school history. Heisman winner Charlie Ward passed for 286 yards while rushing for 36 more to set the pace for the offense. It was a low scoring game, but Ward was able to make enough plays with his feet and arm to ensure a victory for his team.
In 2000, Florida State was looking for back-to-back national championship seasons behind their Heisman winning quarterback Chris Weinke. Weinke had a stint in minor league baseball before returning to school which is why he was older than some of the coaches in college football. Everything was going according to plan until the Seminoles once again fell on their face against their southern nemesis from Miami. Ken Dorsey orchestrated a storybook-worthy drive that won the game for the Hurricanes over then-No. 1 Florida State. However, due to the imperfect rankings of the BCS, Florida State got the nod to play undefeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl which was the venue for the national championship game. 2000 is the best example of the current BCS system failing to send the most deserving team to the title game.
If the 1993 Orange Bowl was heaven for Florida State, then the 2000 edition was hell. Bob Stoops had revived the Sooners, and it all came to a storybook ending in Miami. Big game Bob coached a brilliant game with his defense absolutely embarrassing Florida State’s potent offense. Weinke struggled all night completing less than 50 percent of his passes while throwing two interceptions. Florida State lost the game 13-2 and was shut out for the first three quarters of play. The Seminoles were without one of their top wide receivers Marvin Minnis, but it would not have mattered. Oklahoma had a superior game plan and harassed Weinke all night.
One Heisman winner won the title for his team in the same season while the other failed to win a title in the same season. Winston is the next part of the Florida State quarterback legacy, but will he be Charlie Ward or Chris Weinke? Auburn‘s defense has rarely been present this season, but strange things happen in a national championship game.
Travis Patterson, ACC Writer Rantsports.com. Football Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20