Thursday, July 21, 2005

F$U on the Decline?

I've felt for a number of years now that FSU was declining as a national power in football. They'll still be a very good program that may contend from time to time but the golden era of the 1990s is over in Tallahassee. Much like Nebraska, Seminole fans don't quite know what to make of their recent struggles. Since defeating Virginia Tech in the 1999 title game the aura and intimidating presence of the Seminoles has hardly intimidated many opponents. When former Maryland coach Mark Duffner hired a Chief Osceola imposter to ride out onto the practice field so he could dramatically break the trademark spear over his knee it was viewed as a humorous and slightly unwise move by a desperate coach about to get canned. These days such a dramatic gesture wouldn't even be necessary. Teams like North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, and Clemson have all scored victories against the former bullies of the conference. Last year Wake Forest and Syracuse both gave the Noles all they could handle, something that in the past would have been unthinkable. The bewildered looks on the faces of the FSU players and coaching staff after last season's loss in College Park seemed to confirm that those inside the program were just as mystified by their sudden mediocrity as anyone else.

One would often need a police blotter to follow the off season exploits at FSU, but recently things have gotten worse. The Footlocker scandal didn't amount to much, except Laveranues Coles enduring bitterness, and Peter Warrick was allowed to miss just one game in time to seal a victory in the last national title game with a punt return. The sordid saga of Adrian McPherson was a whole other issue. After winning the starting job from the embattled Chris Rix, McPherson looked terrible against NC State. Soon there were reports that a large betting scandal had occurred and the sinister implication that McPherson had not only bet on Seminole games but had thrown them to satisfy his gambling debts. McPherson was banished from the team almost immediately and without any of the usual qualifications about "innocent until proven guilty". Chris Rix couldn't play well enough to stay off the bench and then was subsequently suspended for missing an exam.

If Seminole fans had hoped to wake up from this resent bad dream they had about as much luck as a teenager on Elm Street. Following a bizarre exhibition in which he proclaimed he was god, Wyatt Sexton, the expected starter at quarterback, was diagnosed with Lyme disease and will miss the entire 2005 season. Clifton Dickson the most dominating defensive lineman for the Noles was ruled academically ineligible. Linebackers Ernie Sims and A.J. Nicholson were arrested for domestic violence and misdemeanor drunk driving respectively. Not surprisingly Bobby Bowden pulled his "dagumit" routine and promptly reinstated Sims and Nicholson for opening game against Miami. All-American candidate CB Antonio Cromartie tore his ACL during voluntary workouts, which will place an untested sophomore at his position.

It is a pivotal season in Tallahassee.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Football Staff Lands Impact QB

Ralph Friedgen's program may be at a crossroads this season but the recruiting for 2006 is again flying high. While it may not be fair given the impact players Maryland lost to the NFL and the fact that the team is loaded with underclassmen, this season is seen as a referendum on the ability of Friedgen to elevate Maryland's program to a lofty status. It remains to be seen what will happen on the field this fall but on the recruiting trail the Terps are having an outstanding summer. The staff went into the season with a verbal commitment from Antonio Logan-El, the number 1 ranked player in Maryland. He has sense opened up his commitment again but all indications are that he will stick with his decision to attend Maryland, while enjoying some all expense paid trips to other schools.

Maryland recently landed Jeremy Ricker, a big time QB from Pennsylvania, who had been considering Oregon, UNC and Virginia. This is the highest profile QB that Maryland has landed in the Friedgen era. With the uncertain health of Jordan Steffy it was a essential pickup.

Adrian Moten, a combination LB/S, recently also committed to Maryland. He is a top 20 player in Maryland and seems to have a great deal of athleticism. He is also the Gwynn Park teammate of highly regarded DT Phillip Taylor, who is also considering Maryland.

The coach behind both these verbals is first year WR coach Bryan Bossard. Since coming from the storied AA program at Delaware Bossard has not wasted any time establishing some great credentials as a recruiter. If he lands even a few more players he will go a long way towards making up for the departure of former recruiter Ron Franklin to the NFL.

Not so good news as it seems Maryland will have 3 players from its 2005 class that will not qualify. This group includes RB Morgan Green and the prize of last year, DE Melvin Alaeze. Maryland will likely have to keep recruiting Alaeze to make sure he ends up in College Park. He was very close to picking Virginia Tech and it wouldn't be the first time VT swooped in to snatch another team's player.

Terps Basketball Notes
Jerome Dyson, 2006 SG prospect, seems to have Maryland at the top of his list. He is also considering UConn and NC State. Rumors have him committing to Maryland in August.

Gervis Vasquez stated that he will follow the normal routine of a Stu Vetter kid and not commit till spring of his senior year. This makes Maryland less of a likelihood unless Dyson surprises and goes elsewhere.

Duke Crews is skyrocketing up the rankings with a strong showing at the summer tournaments and now has a stable of top schools chasing him. He's likely to go elsewhere since becoming the flavor of the month.

Eric Hayes, 2006 PG commit, played very well for Boo Williams AAU team. He was particularly praised for his defensive effort against Duke signee Jon Scheyer. Could be the makings of some great annual battles.

Maryland will finally play someplace other than Wisconsin this year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Minnesota will come to the Comcast Center and Maryland fans will get a chance to see Vincent Grier, a potential Big Ten POY, and a team that went to the NCAA tournament last season as an eight seed.

Maryland's first round opponent in the Maui Classic will be Gonzaga, who will be a tough test for an experienced Terps squad searching to find players at PG.