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Larry Jones and Bobby Bowden: FSU had a football identity before Bobby

Just for the sake of completeness, and certainly meaning no disrespect to the accomplishments of Bobby Bowden, I think it's at least worth mentioning to younger FSU fans and the general sports-minded public at large, it is not true that "FSU football was nothing before the arrival of Bobby Bowden." This is a popular myth right now in making the argument that FSU football is (was) somehow Bobby's to tear down, if he wished, because it was nothing before he came. Not so. FSU football arguably hit the college football map for the first time under the mad genius of  Bill Peterson in the sixties. If memory serves, Bowden was one of Peterson's assistants when FSU was tearing up the college football scene with the first true pro-style offense. A strong candidate for the Seminole's stepping to center stage is the 1964 (?) game against 5th ranked University of Kentucky (that's right, Kentucky) in Tallahassee; a game that FSU shocked the football world by winning handily, featuring the "Magnificent 7" defensive front  and Steve Tensi to Fred Bilitnikoff pitch and catch combo on offense.

FSU beat UF for the first time that year, in Gainesville, and went on in a future year to tie Alabama 37-37 in what would have been Bear Bryant's 300 win. (TK Wetherall played and starred in that game along with Walt Sumner, Ron Sellers and Kim Hammond, to name a few.) There were several other notable  moments during that run and FSU was frequently ranked in the top 25. During one of Coach Pete's latter years FSU placed nine players in the NFL draft. Pretty good for a "nothing" program. Then Pete left for the pros and in came Larry Jones who virtually dismantled the program with a rare combo of laziness, poor PR and ineptitude. 40+ players left the program (quit) under Jones and the program was, then and only then, a wreck. Jones was followed by Daryl Mudra and, believe it or not, Mudra actually turned things around from 0-11 (Jones last year) by winning 3 whole games the next two years. Despite the poor numbers Mudra had recruited relatively well (Larry Key, for example) and had significantly upgraded FSU from a joke to a team headed north.

Before Bowden became head coach, Don James, Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs all coached at FSU. Just sayin'.

FSU not only existed but made lots of noise before Bobby showed on the scene. I mention it only because it's true and, at least to an old timer like me, important.

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