For ‘Noles, Saturday about revenge and redemption

AP Photo/Phil Sears

It was a lonely feeling, three years and one day ago.

I was scribbling my latest thoughts for Breslanta … err …, just hours after Florida State had been handed a 17-7 loss in their first game ever against the South Florida Bulls. There were so many angry thoughts going through my head as I reflected on my team’s loss to a program I didn’t respect.

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But this wasn’t about USF. It was about the fall from grace FSU seemed to be in the middle of. Luckily, it was the rock-bottom moment the program so desperately needed. The board of trustees met soon after that and decided to make changes to the coaching staff that wouldn’t be easy — namely, removing a legend from the head coach’s role.

Saturday evening, we’ll see two programs that are moving in different directions, but thankfully for my fellow FSU fans, this time it’s the ‘Noles that are trending upward.

We could have hoped for the situation we’re in, but none of us expected it to happen this quickly. Back in 2009, I was very afraid of the 2012 rematch with South Florida in Tampa because they’d have a quarterback in BJ Daniels that shredded the Seminoles as a freshman. How would they ever be able to stop him when he’d be a senior?

The Bulls had a defense that made FSU quarterback Christian Ponder’s day a living hell back in ’09 … I was sure they’d build that defense over the years and be unstoppable in 2012. Being right in the middle of Florida, USF would be able to recruit elite talent all around them and keep pace, or stay ahead of, Florida State.

Luckily, I overestimated the power of that little team from the Big East. They fired head coach Jim Leavitt for his transgressions, and the rest is history with the downfall of USF.

Being the fourth-best team in the state isn’t something FSU fans were used to. It offended them a little. So there’s no doubt there will be some angry ‘Noles in Raymond James Stadium this weekend.

It caused us to do some things we weren’t proud of. Do you think the fanbase wanted to see Bobby Bowden removed from the coaching staff? No. Do you think I wanted to stop attending games and spending hundreds of dollars I didn’t have on trips to Tallahassee when the football program appeared to have no pulse?

Of course not.

Hard truths were realized, and South Florida was the program that brought them to the surface. They had been bubbling up for years, but that was the one game when they finally emerged for the world to see. So it’s a little understandable that there’s still an inkling of anger towards the program that beat us into mediocrity.

Florida State has the chance to return the favor for South Florida Saturday evening, and while there are much bigger games ahead on the 2012 schedule, the Seminoles highlighted this battle a long time ago.

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