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Overreaction Satisfaction, Week 2: Anthony Richardson is the best athlete ever

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We are clearly seeing something totally new and awesome with Florida’s star QB — and while there’s nothing quite like watching Florida State faceplant, the Seminoles have never done it quite like this.

Florida v South Florida Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

So, like: You know that I usually do reasoned, measured analysis, right? I’m big on limiting my observations to things that I’ve actually observed, a stickler for only writing things that I personally feel or can prove as fact rather than jumping to conclusions, beholden to the idea that we can’t know things unless they’re genuine truths.

Overreacting to things, especially in college football, is way more fun than all that.

This Saturday was great proof of that. Florida — read: Dan Mullen, as this is his call and no one else is doing more than giving input — is facing a quarterback quandary that some seem keen on making a quarterback controversy and that most vocal Florida fans seem to me to be viewing as a settled quarterback question, one that there is an obvious answer to that Mullen either does not know or refuses to admit there.

Mullen is — whether you’re assessing him by his words now, any non-cursory reading of his career to date, or both — very clearly not going to either deviate dramatically from his plans for Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson unless something forces his hand, even with a much-anticipated showdown with Alabama looming next week.

The overreaction to this is that Mullen — who became the sixth coach to win 100 games as an SEC head coach this century on Saturday, joining a fraternity that includes Les Miles, Mark Richt, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, and, of course, Houston Nutt — is an arrogant idiot too blinded by his loyalty to Jones or his confidence in his convictions about him to make the sensible move and start Richardson against Alabama, as it is crystal clear that he gives Florida the best chance to beat the Crimson Tide.

This overreaction dispenses with pesky things like facts about inexperience — Richardson’s next pass will be his 14th as a college quarterback; his next run will be his 19th as a collegian — or nuanced cases for a two-quarterback system that is quite probably a nightmare to plan for, because you need neither of those things while jumping to conclusions — an act that is, in and of itself, irrational.

It flatters the common fan by allowing her to think she is smarter than Mullen, a person paid millions of dollars to coach football, in the realm of coaching football, despite Mullen inheriting the ashes of the Sylvester Croom and Jim McElwain regimes and still winning about two games to every loss in his head coaching career and memorably helping Florida win two national championships by coaching offense and quarterbacks prior to that.

And, maybe most importantly of all, it allows for hyperbolic and aggrieved tweets, which are practically the coin of the realm in college football at present. (Or maybe I’m overreacting to timelines that are consistently cluttered with performative or genuine masochism of the sort that might lead one to think that college football fans wallow in misery and live to compare how much muck they can accrue to their person. Who knows?)

Whatever the case, overreaction unlocks a far wider span of the fan experience than I typically walk — this is, I reckon, my chance to trade focus on metronomic process for the spectacle of pushing a pendulum one way and then sprinting to the other side of the arc to give it a whack toward a new vector.

Let’s get to it.

Anthony Richardson is the best athlete ever

The best quarterback ever? The best football player ever? No, let’s go with best athlete — period, bar none, no comparisons possible.

How else could we categorize a tall, well-built man with a cannon for an arm, firing pistons for legs, and the ability to perform every skill move in Madden on a given play — especially since he also does backflips?

Richardson — who is currently averaging 25 yards per carry and 17.5 yards per attempt, both of which are numbers that I promise I did not make up — is ethereally, preternaturally gifted, and if he doesn’t quite have Usain Bolt’s speed or Magnús Ver Magnússon’s strength, it could be because he is busy finding a way to split the difference while also equaling Ichiro’s arm strength and Danny Wuerffel’s accuracy.

Consequently, any play that Florida runs without Richardson touching the ball is Harrison Bergeron pausing for an instant when finally unshackled, or Thanos sparing a second to crack that Thor should’ve aimed for the head.

Pay no mind to that injured hamstring: It was obviously just Richardson making sure weakness left his body so that he could come back stronger, not a reminder of the frailty and mortality of even the most jaw-dropping athletic performers of our species. Expecting anything other than Richardson to be fully healthy and tossing thunderbolts — maybe figuratively, maybe literally — against Alabama is just cowardice.

Florida’s running game is destined for the record books

The Gators have had three 1,000-yard rushers this century. The 2021 Gators have two quarterbacks on pace for 1,000 rushing yards, another prospective 800-yard rusher, and two erstwhile five-star prospects who appear to be the fourth and fifth options in the rotation for now.

And it’s hard to see this train running off the rails, even as SEC defenses present far stiffer challenges than FAU and USF. Florida is clearly going to run Richardson more, whether in an effort to keep popping the big plays that happen every time he touches the ball or as part of the offense that has allocated plenty of carries to Jones, and if Jones slides into Richardson’s role as the package quarterback, I’d expect his explosive run rate to go up.

Florida’s running backs, meanwhile, have mostly been as sparingly used as runners as Richardson has been: Only Malik Davis, the one on pace to break 800 yards, has more than the 11 carries Richardson has recorded through two games. And Davis is at six yards per carry exactly, while Dameon Pierce and Demarkcus Bowman are both over 7.5 YPC, with Pierce closer to eight. It does not take an abacus to extrapolate those sorts of averages to totals threatening 1,000 rushing yards if workload increases or the explosive plays pile up.

Alabama is probably going to deal with Florida’s running game — and offense — fairly well. Georgia, too. But those are two teams remaining on the Gators’ schedule, and the others are mostly not on that level — Missouri and Vanderbilt are outside the national top 100 in rush defense, Kentucky and LSU have both yielded yards to power-conference foes and pummeled lesser competition thus far, Samford is Samford, and Tennessee’s relative success over both of its games has a lot to do with Pittsburgh throwing very effectively and also being Pittsburgh, which clocked 3.4 YPC a year ago and rolled up gaudy numbers in Week 1 ... against UMass.

Florida is first nationally in rushing yards, but it’s also second in yards per carry — and, instructively, the two other teams to crack 700 yards on the ground this year have run it 17 more times than the Gators (No. 2 Kent State, which put up nearly 500 rushing yards on VMI) and played three games to Florida’s two (No. 3 Nebraska, about which the less said the better, honestly). And while normal teams might worry about explosiveness ebbing or a dedication to the run being shaken, 2021 Florida has Richardson, who will unquestionably only get better, and Dan Mullen, who prefers to run it even when it doesn’t make sense.

The numbers are only going to keep coming.

Florida is one of a handful of great teams with elite units

Okay, so: There’s the overwhelming case for the Gators’ running game as an elite and historic aspect of an excellent offense. What other teams have units like that?

Alabama’s offense, sure. Georgia’s defense, sure. Oklahoma’s offense, sure. Clemson’s defense, sure. Those are the signatures of four College Football Playoff perennials.

Who do we add to that list? Maybe Oregon’s offense? Ole Miss’s attack? The further you get from the tippy-top, the more nitpicking you can do.

Auburn’s done a lot of scoring and little allowing of points — and has played Akron and Austin Peay. UCF followed up storming back against Boise State by beating up on Bethune-Cookman. Colorado and Texas A&M are tied for fifth in scoring defense — and just played the debtor’s version of last week’s Clemson-Georgia game.

Admittedly, Florida’s running game did its work against FAU and USF teams that look mostly lowly — but those are in-state programs stocked with Floridians who would have loved nothing more than to stymie the Gators. And both programs have been good to great at moments in the past largely because they have fielded forgotten stars from the prep ranks of the Sunshine State, or players with academic or other problems that don’t merit power-conference consideration but still very much know how to play football. (FAU also thrashed Georgia Southern — a proud program in its own right that has fallen on fallow times — on Saturday, which hints that the Owls might be more like average than putrid.)

There just aren’t many aspects of many college football teams that look like world-beating ones at present, though, and Florida seems like it might have one. I like that!

Florida State has hit rock bottom — and will be bad forever

The FSU program that rose as Florida dipped in the early 2010s and made whatever Faustian bargain it did to have Jameis Winston lead it to a national title on the field while repeatedly doing things from the embarrassing and hilarious to the allegedly heinous off the field has been a national laughingstock more often than not since the end of 2014.

After a year spent wriggling free from the jaws of defeat in increasingly preposterous ways, the Seminoles provided one of the great faceplants — in Winston’s case, literally — against Oregon in the second half of the first College Football Playoff semifinal.

In 2015, FSU lost to Georgia Tech on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, one that ESPN’s Mark Jones unforgettably memorialized by quoting the title of a Drake and Future album that will not go down in the annals of rap history.

In 2016, FSU gave up 63 points to Louisville in Lamar Jackson’s superstar turn and lost on a last-second field goal to a North Carolina team that was substantially smoke-and-mirrors; the Tar Heels would go 3-9 a year later, then 2-9 the year after that.

In 2017, things really started to turn, as FSU played its first season without one of Winston or Dalvin Cook since 2012, FSU started 2-5, the fifth loss coming by a 35-3 count to a Boston College program that did not exceed seven wins at any point in the 2010s.

After Hurricane Irma prevented a game against Louisiana-Monroe from happening in September, the Seminoles scrambled to reschedule that game for early December and add a November meeting against 2-8 FCS team Delaware State, part of an effort to win six games by any means to extend a decades-long streak of going to bowl games. (It bears noting that this streak was a point of pride for program despite the NCAA not recognizing for more than a decade at this point, thanks to FSU players cheating on an online exam in a music class, a passel of NCAA violations that would result in the vacation of the Seminoles’ 2007 Music City Bowl trip — which somehow made a loss to Kentucky on the field in that game a lesser embarrassment.)

FSU scored a 77-6 win over Delaware State, a squad so overmatched that amateur sleuths on Reddit were inspired to dig up information suggesting the Hornets didn’t meet a threshold for scholarship awards that would qualify them as an opponent FSU could beat to gain bowl eligibility. Undeterred, the Seminoles trudged on, winning their last three regular-season games — including what will assuredly be both Jimbo Fisher’s last meeting with a Randy Shannon-helmed team and was one of the rare college football clashes that serves as a farewell for the coaches of both schools — and gaining a berth in a bowl game sponsored by a sports bar that obnoxiously calls itself a “bistreaux.”

Fisher’s departure for Texas A&M — which came after a long and arduous dissolution of the relationship between him and FSU, with the school increasingly unable to satiate the demanding Fisher and Fisher’s teams producing diminishing returns as Clemson usurped FSU as the flag-bearer of the ACC — before that Louisiana-Monroe game spurred the first fully-fledged coaching search for the Seminoles since the process that landed them Bobby Bowden in the 1960s. And though Florida conducted its own very public search for a new coach that wrapped up with the hiring of Dan Mullen before the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, FSU would scuffle for nearly the entire month of December, finally importing Florida native Willie Taggart from Oregon after one year of uneven play and styling his hiring as a lifelong Seminoles fan coming home to a dream job.

In 2018, things got worse. FSU lost its opener to Virginia Tech — played before an initially raucous crowd on the night of Labor Day as the capper to the first weekend of college football that fall — by a 24-3 count, and struggled throughout a miserable season. The Seminoles needed late lightning to overcome Samford — Bowden and Fisher’s alma mater, naturally — at home, choked away an enormous lead against Miami, edged woeful Louisville and mediocre Boston College squads; they finished the year on a 1-4 jag that featured Clemson trouncing them so soundly that a shirtless professor reading a Gillian Flynn book in a near-deserted section of Doak Campbell Stadium became an indelible viral image and Florida taking revenge for a half-decade of consecutive defeats at their hands in a 41-14 rout that wasn’t as close as the score suggested and featured both an FSU defender being juked to Narnia by a Van Jefferson route and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson pointing out multiple presnap disasters for the Seminoles’ offense.

In 2019, things got even worse. FSU blew an 18-point lead in its opener against Boise State, survived a rematch with Louisiana-Monroe by a single point, rallied to 3-2 ... and then went 3-4 down the stretch, notably thudding to Earth in a 27-10 loss to Miami that prompted the program to fire Taggart — and incur more than $20 million in payments — after just 21 games in Tallahassee, a staggeringly short tenure that nevertheless saw the Seminoles enter games with a winning record just twice. That November, Florida defeated FSU while scoring 40 points that seemingly could have been 60 for a second straight season; in December, the program hired Mike Norvell, who came to Tallahassee off a scintillating run at Memphis that concluded with earning the program’s first New Year’s Six bowl appearance.

In 2020, things got even worser. FSU thudded from the gate with a loss to Georgia Tech, then got trampled by Miami in a 52-10 defeat that set that rivalry’s standard for margin of victory. The Seminoles would trail by 14 against Jacksonville State before storming back for a win that the Gamecocks probably wouldn’t remember or anything, and accrue their only other wins against North Carolina and a moribund Duke team — wins that ironically befit a school whose fans had by now retreated to the refuge of proclaiming FSU a “basketball school” and touting its uncanny ability to produce pro players while repeatedly failing to make the Final Four.

The silver linings of the fall: Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic spared FSU both a late-season meeting with a Clemson squad that was seething after a close loss to Notre Dame in an epic and a season-ending matchup with a Florida team that averaged just under 40 points per game for the season, robbing the world of meetings between teams quarterbacked by Heisman finalists and a team primarily quarterbacked by Louisville transfer Jordan Travis, who finished the year with 1,056 passing yards and six touchdowns over eight games.

In 2021, it has gotten even worster-er. FSU actually earned a measure of national and regional respect for its season-opening performance, a gallant loss to Notre Dame at home that included a rally from an 18-point deficit and the stirring return to the field of former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. Milton’s late touchdown pass also helped the Seminoles force overtime — and earn the opportunity to ice their own kicker by taking a timeout to initiate a replay review and generate an easier attempt in that extra period, only to watch him miss the shorter kick after making the longer one. Milton’s heroics aside, FSU was also aided greatly by Notre Dame stubbornly playing with three down linemen for nearly an entire half, seemingly content to let FSU gash it in the running game, and by mistakes that prompted Brian Kelly to not just think of old USC and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay’s quick-witted quip about being for his team’s execution but decide to riff on it out loud on national television.

Then came Saturday, and FSU’s continuation of its ancient rivalry with Jacksonville State, which played the Seminoles well at Doak in meetings in 2009 and 2020. This time, the Seminoles once again trailed in the first half, but also managed —for the first time — to wrest back the lead before halftime, though a second-quarter fumble by the Gamecocks in the FSU red zone had much to do with that, as it dashed the JSU dream of a double-digit lead and set up the Seminoles’ first score.

But FSU only added to that lead with a field goal — on a drive that took 10 plays to cover 35 yards, one series after the Gamecocks escaped the shadow of their own goalposts on a drive that began at their own 1 — in the second half, and failed to close out a team that had been shut out by UAB one week prior. While holding just a 10-point lead with 11:34 to play, FSU extracted zero points from first and goal at the JSU 9, false starting before that set of downs began and failing on both a third down from the 1 and a fourth down from the 3.

The Gamecocks promptly marched 97 yards for a touchdown on their next drive, a five-minute possession sure to be seared in the minds of any fans who tuned into the ACC Network to see this game. And after gifting the Seminoles a first down with a penalty on the next possession, the Gamecocks held on a third-and-one run near midfield, with FSU subsequently electing to punt and rely on its defense to protect a three-point lead rather than attempting to convert a fourth and two against an FCS foe.

For the first nine plays of the last drive of the game, that looked sagacious: Jacksonville State sputtered its way to only its own 41 over those downs, with Clemson transfer Zerrick Cooper completing just one of his first six throws on the possession.

The 10th play may have been the worst one in Florida State’s history as a football program.

The person you hear uttering a dumbfounded “Are you serious?” before dropping all pretense of being anything but a fanatic, yelling “I JUST SAID TO KEEP EVERYTHING IN FRONT OF YOU” as if he were a coach and not a broadcaster, and seemingly discarding his headphones is former FSU fullback William “Bar None” Floyd, who said on the radio pregame show that he had spoken to this Seminoles team on Friday night, expressing his pride in their fight against Notre Dame and his belief that this team would be the first to pilot the program back to glories rivaling those of the past.

The person you hear calling the game with impressive professionalism is FSU radio legend Gene Deckerhoff, who mused in the first half that this game felt to him like the Seminoles’ 2009 scrap with Jacksonville State — one decided in the final minute of play by two FSU touchdowns that rescued the Seminoles. Deckerhoff had also gently and tangentially corrected Floyd’s pregame analysis that these FSU players had different looks on their faces in 2021 by mentioning that neither member of the radio broadcast had actually seen much of most Seminoles players’ faces in the fall of 2020, given the prevalence of masks and dearth of in-person interaction at what was then a precarious point during a pandemic.

But the most amusing moment of the FSU radio broadcast that I caught on Saturday night while fetching my dinner and eating it in a parking lot — as one sometimes does, during a pandemic — was Deckerhoff mentioning that UAB’s shutout of Jacksonville State last week was the first shutout of the Gamecocks in nine years while omitting the opponent that preserved its goose egg.

I happen to know the identity of that slighted program, because I was at Florida’s 23-0 win over Jacksonville State in 2012. And I happen to think that this loss — one that inducts FSU into the club of FBS team that have lost to FCS outfits that Florida joined back in 2013 with its infamous loss to Georgia Southern — is going to prove to be a far lower rock bottom for FSU than that nadir was for Florida.

Florida, after all, was a team so decimated by injuries that it was throwing walk-on linebackers onto the field and praying that they could stop the option attack that the Eagles had run for more than a decade at that point. The Georgia Southern option was, at that point, so notoriously tricky to defend that it had once inspired a cussin’ rant from none other than Nick Saban, and the Eagles’ ground game actually benefited from trying to complete a pass just three times on that afternoon, as its famous failure on all of those three throws led it to focus on the running game, completely nullifying Florida’s massive advantage at defensive back while also eliminating any chance of an interception.

FSU, on Saturday night, was pretty healthy, as one might expect for the second game of the season, and was defending a Jacksonville State offense that has been good in recent years — though, uh, not in Week 1 against mighty UAB, remember — without being nearly as unusual as Georgia Southern’s was circa 2013.

On that day in 2013, Florida was quarterbacked by Skyler Mornhinweg, who on his best day as a football player bore no meaningful likeness to even the post-injury version of Milton and who at his most athletic pales in comparison to Travis. Mornhinweg threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Southern; Milton and Travis combined to throw for 133 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against Jacksonville State, needing nine more throws than Mornhinweg attempted to gain just 11 more yards through the air, and combined for just 23 rushing yards.

And while Florida blew a 10-point lead and allowed 19 points to the Eagles after halftime, it did so with the aforementioned emaciated roster and against an offense keyed by Jerick McKinnon, who remains in the NFL eight years later despite injuries handing making his career far less than he’s deserved.

The best player on Jacksonville State’s roster is probably Cooper — a Clemson transfer who both played there before Trevor Lawrence enrolled and transferred out before Lawrence ever took a snap, to give you a sense of how long he’s been playing college football. And Cooper, a fringe NFL prospect, mustered only a Fetty Wap-approved passing line in Tallahassee, completing 17 of 38 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, while Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson wreaked havoc for the Seminoles, collecting 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.

JSU generated zero sacks, and FSU ran for nearly 200 yards at a respectable clip of about four yards per carry; Jashaun Corbin, who has the best high school alma mater in the state of Florida, had 109 rushing yards, and he and Tre Ward got their combined 154 on just 23 carries. Yet FSU gave Lawrence Toafili nine carries that turned into just 22 yards, and had Travis throw three incomplete passes while running just once; Milton didn’t generate a single 20-yard completion despite throwing 31 times.

And all that surveying of box score and play-by-play data to find damning inefficiency means practically nothing when compared to the last play, a disaster that Norvell will assuredly never atone for without winning a national title.

FSU came out in a Cover 2 shell with corners manned up despite JSU having just six seconds and one timeout to work with — Norvell later incoherently explaining that this was an attempt to get pressure and stop them from gaining enough yardage underneath to try a long field goal despite starting on their side of the field, which probably would’ve taken some fantastic execution from the team that had managed just 14 points on the day prior to that moment — only to get no pressure and allow Cooper to rainbow a pass to Damond Philyaw-Johnson that was caught against single coverage with the safety help too slow to prevent the reception.

Then came the likely unforgivable part: FSU’s Jarvis Brownlee Jr., beaten by a step on the play, failed to bring Philyaw-Johnson to the turf or slow him down on his lunging tackle attempt from behind, and safety Sidney Williams went flying past the receiver on a cut back to the inside. Brownlee had also overpursued by this point, leaving him at a bad angle to make a final tackle on Philyaw-Johnson, but JSU’s Ahmad Edwards — who had been jogging next to FSU’s Jammie Robinson at the moment of the reception, watching the play develop — came sprinting to his teammate’s aid, throwing a block on Brownlee that foreclosed any opportunity to make a play.

Robinson, eyes on the action the entire time, appears to start sprinting toward Philyaw-Johnson after his cut, and is thus never a factor on the play.

Touchdown, Gamecocks. Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17 — and on a play that visibly shows FSU’s defense hopelessly poorly deployed and individual defenders getting both outclassed and outworked by an FCS program.

The shot from the ACC Network broadcast tracks to Gamecocks piling on the hero of the game in the end zone, but also captures a trio FSU cheerleaders trudging away, one wearing the sort of shock on his face that is only born of pure disbelief.

Pure disbelief is where FSU lives right now. And it’s hard to see how things get meaningfully better in anything approaching short order.

This team that clearly couldn’t build on the successes of a narrow loss to a supposedly good Notre Dame team — which needed late heroics of its own to fend of Toledo at home earlier on Saturday, swinging a lot of weight to “supposedly” from “good” — is supposed to begin the hard work of making Florida State elite again? Supposed to compete with Clemson, Miami, Florida? Supposed to improve or rebound in ACC play? Supposed to sell recruits on the progress of a program that just followed up a moral victory with a demoralizing, depressing defeat?

It’s probably still supposed to beat UMass. But it was supposed in the desert that this FSU team was four touchdowns better than this Jacksonville State team. That was wrong.

And while the popular thinking has long been that Florida State possesses too many innate advantages — proximity to talent, recent and lasting winning traditions, a history of swagger, an advantageous perch atop the ACC — to not be among the best programs in college football more often than not, the acceleration of the top tier away from the peleton in recent years has coincided with the erosion of most of those advantages.

A recruit in the class of 2022 was most likely born in 2004 — well after the Seminoles’ incredible, dynastic 1990s, and in the year that Ron Zook’s Florida team carried him off Bobby Bowden Field after spoiling its christening. Florida State’s success since then has mostly been contained to a period propelled by two celestial players, Winston and Cook, who have now been gone from the program for almost as long as they were part of it.

Memories are fading, and time has taken Bowden, who had barely been gone from the sidelines for the Winston and Cook era but lived more than a decade between his departures from FSU and this mortal coil. FSU still has institutional knowledge from and memories of a living legend who has long served as a North Star for the program to guide and inspire it, but the path to college football prominence was one that Bowden could no longer find at the end of his tenure. And so FSU being able to maximize its success under Bowden without fully throwing itself into the spending spree that has consumed college football in the last two decades, not unlike Florida’s similar success under Spurrier and Urban Meyer, feels like history from halcyon days that will not return.

Since losing Fisher — whose relationship with FSU had soured, by most accounts, to make his fleeing of Tallahassee something of a relief to the program even if it presented challenges — the Seminoles have also arguably botched two coaching searches while saddling themselves with eight figures of debt to a fired coach in the process. Changes in leadership at the highest levels in both athletics and academics and an 11th-hour revamp of an antiquated booster system have kept the churn going above the heads of those coaches, too — and it’s not as if there have been signature wins to note in recent memory.

FSU last defeated a team that would ultimately win 10 games in its season in 2017 — but that was in January 2017, in a one-point win over Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. It has not defeated Florida since 2017, has not defeated Miami since 2016, and has not defeated Clemson since 2014.

2014 was the lone Winston/Cook year, you may recall, but that Clemson game was the one that the Seminoles played without Winston — who was initially given a suspension for yelling “a profane and sexually explicit” phrase on FSU’s campus, only to have it upgraded to a full game’s ban after lying to coaches and university personnel about it, then further exacerbate matters by coming onto the field prior to that game in full uniform, forcing Fisher to seemingly tell him to return to the locker room and change into street clothes.

FSU won anyway: Backup Sean Maguire played the game of his life and capped it by throwing a game-tying touchdown pass to a receiver left wide open by a Clemson defensive back stumbling and faceplanting, and the Tigers fumbled on a carry that would’ve earned a first down in the red zone with under two minutes left and failed on fourth and one in overtime.

Faustian bargains being what they are, it’s little surprise that there was success before all of this failure, pride that swelled in FSU fans throughout the nation and world but has long goeth basically anywhere but one football field Tallahassee.

The problem for FSU is that there’s no clear road back to even respectability except one paved by hard work and commitment to process — and the last two coaches who have promised to find one have instead been hopelessly lost at the wheel.

It really does feel, wading through hip-deep ignominy in the wake of a man-made catastrophe, as though restoring Florida State football to glory may be a Sisyphean effort at best and an impossible task at worst.

But maybe I’m overreacting.