FSU seniors deserve recognition

How will this FSU senior class be remembered? It's a good question, and one that some might answer differently after Saturday's action on the gridiron. After all, there's still a chance to put a big exclamation point on this season for the senior Seminoles, by beating Florida and perhaps even getting to the ACC Championship Game and winning an ACC title.

But since neither of those things is guaranteed, I'm going to base this article on what the senior class has achieved to this point--leaving Saturday's showdown with Florida and a potential ACC title game out of the mix.

To this point, the Seminole seniors have been a part of 38 wins over their five years at FSU (counting their redshirt season of 2006). Drilling a little deeper, that breaks down to three 7 win seasons, a 9 win season and 8 wins (and counting this year).

The group went 3-2 against Miami, but is currently 0-4 against rival Florida with a final shot at the Gators on Saturday.

The group won no conference championships, but did post a 3-1 record in bowl games with wins over the PAC 10 (UCLA), the Big 10 (Wisconsin), and the Big East (West Virginia).

The numbers can be massaged a variety of ways , but a simple summary would say that on the field this senior class led teams that were average to good, but certainly never great.

While the numbers are easily quantified, they don't tell the whole story about this senior class. Because remember what this group dealt with during its days at FSU:

-- The resignation of offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden

-- An academic scandal

-- A Head-Coach-in-waiting concept

-- The end of the Bobby Bowden era and the awkwardness that accompanied it

All 4 of those events were significant in their own right; collectively they were monumental events for this senior class. Quite frankly, they were monumental events in the history of Florida State football.

Given that, this senior class deserves more credit than the overall won/loss record might indicate, because they held things together at a time when it would have been easy to implode. They kept the nation's longest bowl streak alive, they kept the nation's longest active string of 7 win seasons alive, and they also extended the nation's longest active streak of non-losing seasons going. And oh by the way, they sent Bobby Bowden out with a win in his final game.

Time will tell if this group will go down as a bridge back to greatness for Florida State's football program. But if there is a Seminole uprising over the next few seasons, a case could be made that this senior class was just as significant as the group in 1980 (that featured Sun Sports' own Keith Jones).

That group played for Bobby Bowden in his first years and put FSU football on the map. This group played for Bobby Bowden in his last years and made sure FSU football didn't fall off the map.

Odds and Ends

--Christian Ponder has been selected as one of five finalists for the 2010 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented to college football's top senior quarterback in the nation. Having made the cut from the original list of 22 candidates, Ponder hopes to join FSU's previous Unitas Award winners, Casey Weldon (1991), Charlie Ward (1993) and Chris Weinke (2000).

The remaining four candidates for the 2010 Golden Arm Award are:

Andy Dalton, TCU, who has led the Horned Frogs to an 11-0 record, passing for 23 touchdowns and amassing nearly 2,500 yards while compiling a QB efficiency rating of 163.9;

Colin Kaepernick, Nevada, who has completed 166 of 247 passes for 17 TDs and a 67.2 completion percentage;

• Ricky Stanzi, Iowa, who has posted an 18-4 record as a starting quarterback over past two seasons and ranks sixth in Hawkeye history in career passing yards (4,373) and passing TDs (31);

Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin, who holds school records for career completion percentage at .675 and career QB efficiency rating of 150.0 and ranks sixth all-time at Wisconsin with 28 career passing touchdowns, 4,681 passing yards, and 369 career completions.

-- Right guard Rodney Hudson has been named one of three finalists for the 2010 Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football by the Football Writers' Association of America. Hudson is joined by Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder.

-- Defensive end Markus White has recorded a sack in 7 consecutive games.

-- Center Ryan McMahon will extend his FSU record by starting his 51st consecutive game on Saturday.

-- Linebacker Kendall Smith is the second leading tackler on the team with 78 stops this season.

-- Linebacker Mister Alexander, who battled significant injuries early in his career, is seeking a 6th year of eligibility.

-- FSU's two-deep roster features only 1 other senior in addition to the 6 listed above: second-team safety Ochuko Jenije. So FSU will return 37 of the 44 players currently on the two deep depth chart for next season (and maybe 38 of 44 if Mister Alexander is granted another season). FSU also returns all of its specialists.

I'll see you from the sideline on Saturday for the Senior day festivities and the big game!

And don't forget to watch all of the pregame festivities live on FOXSportsFlorida.com.

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