October 23, 2007
TALLAHASSEE Early riser Bobby Bowden woke Sunday morning after the Miami loss to quite a surprise a large, red "For Sale" sign planted in the front yard of the only home he's had since moving to Tallahassee in 1976.
"It ain't there now," said Bowden, who pulled the sign from the ground and laid it in the driveway. "I ain't selling."
Bowden managed a chuckle over the prank, even though the Seminoles' 37-29 loss to the Hurricanes was no laughing matter. With a daunting schedule on the horizon, including a treacherous November stretch that includes road games at nationally ranked Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida, the Seminoles still need a pair of wins just to become bowl-eligible.
Florida State has made 25 consecutive bowl appearances, since sitting out the 1981 postseason after a 6-5 finish.
Not surprisingly, it was about that time "probably back in the early 80s" when Bowden said he last found a For Sale sign on his lawn.
"I had that happen at West Virginia, and I've had it happen here," Bowden said. "It's kind of a standard trick. ... It's kind of like, Here we go again.'"
SEMINOLES CLINGING TO HOPE
With their ACC championship hopes dashed by a third conference loss through the first seven games, the Seminoles seemingly would have very little to play for beyond the future.
Yet with a potential quarterback controversy swirling again Bowden isn't ready to turn the page on the season and begin anew.
"I still want to try and save this year if we can," Bowden said. "You're 4-3, and your only chance to salvage anything good is there are some big names up there that you might can beat.
"That would mean a lot for this team. If you've got all patsies up there you'd say, Well, you all ain't doing nothing.' But we've got a chance to improve. I just hope that our coaches see something (to build on)."
Before the Seminoles can take the next step, they first must decide what to do with the quarterback position. In his third start since coming off the bench to beat Alabama in Jacksonville, redshirt junior Xavier Lee was wildly erratic in the loss to Miami.
After throwing for 108 yards in the opening quarter, Lee managed only 100 more the rest of the way. He finished 14-of-33 after bouncing his final three short pass attempts off the turf, as the Seminoles' rally hopes expired on downs.
Afterward, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher who coached from the sideline for the first time in an effort to improve communications with Lee tried to both console the quarterback and turn his disastrous day into a teaching experience. Lee lost two fumbles, dropped two other shotgun snaps, was intercepted twice and had a hand in a bad exchange with tailback Antone Smith that resulted in another lost fumble.
"We've got to look at (the starting quarterback)," Fisher said.
Among the options likely to be considered:
* Redshirt junior Drew Weatherford, who started the first four games, could be re-inserted into the lineup;
* Weatherford and Lee could share some of the load, either with a designed rotation or with the coaches opting to go with the player who is executing best;
* One of the veterans could see the bulk of the action, with redshirt freshmen D'Vontrey Richardson and/or Christian Ponder gaining some valuable playing experience on a limited basis.
At this point, however, Bowden said he's "not yet" ready to turn the page on the veterans and begin the process of transitioning a youth movement.
"I think the two (quarterbacks) behind (Lee and Weatherford) can play," Bowden said. "I don't think they're ready."
RECRUITING COUP OR BUST?
The FSU-Miami game always has been a showcase event when it comes to recruiting, and this year was no exception, despite the middling efforts of the teams on the field.
The Seminoles entertained approximately 100 recruits before and after the game, including a handful of their top targets, some of whom already have committed to the school.
Among those on hand were Virginia quarterback and verbal commitment E.J. Manuel, South Carolina defensive end Everett Dawkins, Georgia defensive end Keith Wells and Jacksonville linebacker Nigel Carr.
Bowden shed some light on his recruiting philosophy and how the Seminoles are approaching their substantial 2008 class needs.
"You always try to use whatever's happening to show kids how much we need you' and what you could add to our program,'" Bowden said. "'You might be the guy we're looking for and need.'"
That's one reason Bowden isn't overly concerned that the Seminoles' loss to the Hurricanes could have a lingering effect on their current recruiting efforts.
"You can be so good you can't hardly recruit, and you can be so bad that you can recruit," Bowden said. "Some kids want to go where they can play right now; they want to go where they can help somebody. Some want to go where they're winning. ... Most of them want to play. They might look at us and see where, they need me.'"