It is somewhat ironic that on the day the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report was released, FSU announced its former starting left tackle will be transferring to a JUCO after being declared academically ineligible.
Daron Rose started 11 games for the Semis last year, but was suspended in the academic scandal that hit the FSU athletics program last December. It’s a case of “when it rains, it pours” for a program that lost projected starting linebacker Marcus Bell when he was released from his scholarship on Monday and still is without WR/RB Preston Parker who by school rules cannot participate in athletics due to an outstanding felony charge.
It would be easy to take some cheap shots at the school over these matters, but it’s almost a case of old news since Rose and Bell both were suspended in the academic scandal. Plus, college football players being charged with felonies is nothing new. The real problem is the way the school dealt with the fact that some key players will be suspended for the first three games next year due to that academic scandal.
FSU chose to have its schedule begin with not just one, but two I-AA teams in Western Carolina and Chattanooga. And it’s not just that they’re I-AA teams – they’re bad I-AA teams. They went a combined 3-19 last year. FSU’s scout team could probably win those games.
It effectively turns the sanction into a one-game suspension, with the game against Wake Forest being the only team with a pulse that the penalized players will miss. It’s one thing to have a mid-season suspension conveniently line up with a game versus a bad team; everyone does that and if it’s not a coincidence, you can at least make up a plausible lie. There’s no way to frame structuring a schedule around a suspension without it being a completely overt weasel tactic.
The sad thing for a once-proud program is that it will need those wins. The Semis will probably lose to Wake Forest due to missing those suspended players, and the Deacons have had FSU’s number as of late anyway. Florida never wins easily in Tallahassee, but the Gators are a lot better and a lot deeper than FSU is and will almost certainly win.
Of the remaining schedule, Colorado, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Boston College will be as good or better than FSU at full strength will be, so the Semis will need to 4-1 in those games to have a chance at the ACC championship game. A 3-2 mark would mean missing a January bowl yet again.
In the end, though, wins are a Pyrrhic victory if the academic side of things doesn’t get back in order. That’s not an impossible task considering plenty of schools keep their players in good academic standing without any shenanigans. Perhaps with new AD Randy Spetman and the eventual takeover of Jimbo Fisher, FSU can once again be a winner, only this time without any dark clouds of controversy.