So I meant to write this much earlier, but I was working on a 1,500 word profile for my magazine and feature writing class due today that I had to finish. I might post that profile some other time though, because I thought it was interesting. So here are my thoughts on last nights FSU - UM game. Enjoy.
First and foremost, man what a barn-burner that game was. FSU and Miami finally give us a thrilling game again on Labor Day, and it is arguably one of the best games in the series' history. As many also noted, it was a fitting end to a solid opening weekend for college football that escalated from South Carolina-NC State up to this game.
While the game was great though, I have one big issue with it. As Twitter blew up just before midnight with tweets from UM fans, as well as some media members, about The U's "return." Yes, they did crack the Top 25 this week, coming in at 20, but I think it's a bold statement to assert that The U has returned to relevance.
My biggest question about that claim is this: If this same game played out on a Saturday, with a noon kickoff with dozens of other games going on at the same time, instead of at primetime on ESPN on Labor Day, with no other games competing for viewers, would people be making the same assumptions? Is it only because of the time-slot and mass viewership for the game, that people are saying that UM is back?
Now don't get me wrong, both teams look considerably improved, and Jacory Harris (who was a trending topic on Twitter) is one cool cat, and will be a special player, but both teams also have a lot of concerns to address before they are "back" to their elite level of play from the 1990's. Scoring was at a premium last night not because the offenses are that great, but because the secondaries last night were suspect, at best.
Sure, there were a few great plays in the secondary, but receivers were perpetually open down field for both teams. At one point, Harris was averaging 20 yards per attempt. At the end of the day though, last night's game, while great in its own right, was equal parts good offense and bad defense that produced such a high scoring affair that came down to the last play.
So my response to everyone's quesiton of whether or not UM (and FSU) are back to their old selves, is a no. Not yet, at least. Both teams have definitely improved from the looks of it, and are on the right track (as hard as it is for me to say that at a UF student and fan). The most telling sign that the two teams are not yet back to prominence comes from Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post, as last night he tweeted that there was "Zero national media presence in the pressbox."
Now I openly admit that I get joy out of Miami and FSU's struggles, but the fact is, as many people I've spoken with agree, having all three big schools in Florida playing at an elite level is what's best for not just fans of those schools, but college football as a whole. That elite level of play won't be for another year or two, but at least UM and FSU are heading on the right track.
Ed Note: You have no idea how difficult it was to write this without trashing either school too much, and at the same time praising them to an extent. I now feel dirty, and will be taking a long shower to cleanse myself from such filth.