Top 10 Stories of the 2000's: 5-1

The past 10 years have been a wild ride for the Florida State football program. From contending for the BCS Championship in the early part of the decade to fighting for bowl eligibility this past season, FSU has seen many storylines develop over this decade. NoleDigest gives their list of the top 10 storylines during the 2000's, wrapping up the list with numbers 5-1.

Florida State sat atop the college football mountain in the 2000s, and it has also had several seasons where they were battling a .500 record and national respectability. The program had highs and lows and it saw the ending of a college football legend's career. Several stories made FSU what it was this decade. NoleDigest wraps up their list with the top 5 storylines for FSU this decade.

5) Mickey Andrews retires: 2009's season was the end of a 26 year run at FSU for Mickey Andrews that put him among the upper echelon of defensive coordinators in college football history. While his final year wasn't they way he wanted to go out no one can argue that Andrews played a significant role in FSU's 2 National Championships. Over the final years of Andrews tenure there was talk that he was ready to hang up the whistle to spend more time with his family. He was close after the 2008 season but he was asked to give it one more go in 2009. Between the 73 players drafted that played for Andrews to the bravado he brought to the team, it was a sad, but expected day when Mickey announced his retirement at the end of the season.

4) Bad coaching hires: At the turn of the decade FSU was still the preeminent college program as they playing in a string of 3 straight BCS Championships. At the end of the 2000 season Mark Richt took the head coaching job at Georgia, leaving the Seminoles with the chore of replacing the ultra successful offensive coordinator after the bowl game against Oklahoma. FSU could have hired just about anyone then, but Coach Bowden decided to battle the university president and state nepotism laws to promote his son, Jeff, to the spot. That was the first and biggest blunder, of Bowden's poor choices of coaches during the decade.

The hiring of Mark McHale closely follows the poor decision of Jeff's hiring. After the 2004 season Bowden finally made the much needed decision of letting Jimmy Heggins go as offensive line coach. Instead of naming a coach, Bowden and McHale agreed to terms behind closed doors, and agreed to let McHale finish off the recruiting class at Marshall. This left FSU with a huge void, leading them to miss on several targets. Once McHale got to FSU, though, things didn't improve. From a shoddy scheme to poor recruiting and evaluations of players McHale later became a message board joke for FSU fans.

Jody Allen came to FSU in 2000 as a graduate assistant after working at several small schools and high schools. His coaching experience was on the offensive side of the ball, yet in 2002 he was named the defensive ends coach at FSU. While Allen was a decent recruiter he was a poor coach in terms of developing his players and the way they played. His best players often relied on natural ability to excel.

After Chuck Amato was let go from N.C. State after the 2006 season FSU quickly picked Chuck to be the linebackers coach in 2007. While he was successful in his first tenure as an assistant at FSU, his second go around was pretty disastrous. His linebackers played undisciplined football, he lost several big time recruiting battles (this was one of his strong points), and he was a staunch Bowden supporter in the waning days of Bowden's career.

Bowden's incompetency with these hires killed the momentum of the program after the dynasty run, and it played a huge role in FSU's decline during the middle part of the decade.

3) Jimbo Fisher named HCIW: While the poor coaching hires were vast and disastrous, FSU nailed it when they brought Jimbo Fisher in in 2007. Fisher was leaving LSU after 2006 and was a prime candidate for several jobs. He decided to come to FSU after the contract with UAB was vetoed and after he turned down an offer to be Alabama's offensive coordinator.

After the 2007 season several other schools came calling, so FSU named Fisher the head coach in waiting, a title that meant he'd be the next head coach once Bobby Bowden retired. With that contract FSU got some direction with the program as Fisher was told he'd be the head coach at FSU by 2011 or be given $5 million.

As schools were negatively recruiting FSU in terms of the lack of stability once Bowden leaves this was the first step FSU made in suring up the program's future.

2) The Academic Scandal: 10 total programs at FSU were affected by the cheating scandal, but it was the football team that garnered the most attention from the media. Also, it was hit hard by the NCAA as they decided that FSU would have to vacate an undetermined number of wins, serve four years' probation, and face a reduction in scholarships and other penalties due to what the NCAA described as "major violations".

In November 2007, Florida State and the NCAA agreed that athletes who had received "improper help" would be suspended for 30 percent of their seasons. According to the Orlando Sentinel, officials interviewed 75 individuals, and 39 admitted receiving improper assistance in an online music course. Roughly two dozen football players were suspended for the Music City Bowl, which FSU lost 35-28 to Kentucky. The Seminoles also suspended about 10 players for the first three games of the 2008 season.

FSU officials and players were under the impression those athletes had already served their punishment, but the NCAA said that the instant a player cheated in class -- regardless of whether school officials knew about it -- he became ineligible, and if that athlete played in a game, it must be vacated. That could cost FSU games from 2006, when the academic fraud began.

The football team was limited to 83 total scholarships in 2008-09; 82 in 2009-10; and 84 in 2010-11; the maximum usually allowed by the NCAA is 85. Florida State self-imposed the loss of the two scholarships for 2008-09, and will self-impose the loss of three scholarships for 2009-10. The NCAA added an additional loss of scholarship from the maximum in 2010-11.

The committee stated this case was "extremely serious" because of the large number of student-athletes involved and the fact that academic fraud is considered by the committee to be among the most egregious of NCAA rules violations. Florida State's probation extends through March 5, 2013.

This ordeal has stayed in the national spotlight as FSU is fighting the NCAA's decision to take away wins. Look for this situation to not be resolved until well into 2010.

1) Bobby Bowden retires: Is there really any bigger story over the past 10 years than Bowden retiring? Bowden's legendary career would take pages and pages to talk about, but the past 4 years have not been what FSU envisioned with their program. 2 7-6 records, a 6-6 2009, cheating scandals and other issues have plagued this program for the latter part of this decade. While no FSU fan or the administration wanted the Bowden era to end the way it did it was something that ultimately needed to be done for FSU to move to the next phase.

Hopefully Bowden will be able to take some time away from the program and come back as the relationship repairs itself. Bowden wasn't happy with the way things unfolded, but he saw the writing on the wall in that FSU was ready to move on with Fisher as the head coach.


Nole Digest Top Stories