I subscribe to an ultimate brand of the Butterfly Effect, in which one minuscule event alters the course of history in profound ways. Don't listen to that hack Emmett Brown with his bogus Polaroid photograph, telling you "hurry, you must repair the past!"
What happens to Lorraine McFly when she looks at her son one day and realizes he's the young crush that saved her from the most traumatic event of her life, a violent sexual battery outside The Enchantment Under the Sea Dance? When the insane reality finally sets in, Mrs. McFly is overdosing on prescription sleeping pills while Doc pulls off his latest intercentury courtship.
I'm so compulsive with my Chaos Theory beliefs, that I blame myself for the 1997 loss in The Swamp as much as I blame Samari Rolle's broken ankles. (Please go on, K-Man) You see, my childhood took place just off of Mahan Drive aka Highway 90 in Tallahassee. I was pumped for the November showdown and gathered a rag tag group of neighborhood friends to see the then undefeated team off in style. We gathered in the median of Highway 90 around 5:30 pm and waited for the football team's bus to pass through. We screamed, jumped, and chopped at the players once they finally rolled by. Now the questions linger: What if Roland Seymour saw us and laughed so hard he kicked the chair in front him, causing Troy Saunders to pop-up and say "Stop", causing Samari Rolle to take off his headphones and investigate the disturbance........and yadda yadda yadda....Fred Taylor's in for 6.
Do I really think I'm to blame for the loss to Noah Brindise and Company? No. But for the purposes of this article, we'll believe that singular events and plays have profound and unpredictable consequences on the future (unlike George McFly. In the 1950's, you can fall from a tree into the path of your future father-in-law's car during a blatant act of voyeurism towards his teenage daughter). There's a slew of major incidents in Florida State football history that have been broken down and examined. Some classic examples are as follows:
--What if Joe Mauer makes it onto FSU campus and eliminates the need for one, Chris Rix?
--What if Devard Darling's secret ailment never manifests itself?
--What if Robert Morgan hangs on to the diving catch in the 2001 Orange Bowl?
--What if Gerry Thomas makes the kick?
--What if Antonio Cromartie/Dan Kendra never suffer their ACL injuries?
These questions have been thoroughly appraised, so I ask you to dig deeper today and put your hypothetical caps on.
Buster Davis's First Career Interception Waits for Another Day
September 9th, 2006
The Bobby and Jeff Bowden-lead Seminoles are coming off dramatic victory just 5 days earlier against Miami in the Original Orange Bowl on Monday night. The Noles only put up 13 points, but that's due to an athletic Hurricane defense and early season rust, right? Certainly we'd be able to roll over the Trojans of Troy, a team with less than 5 years experience in Division 1-A competition. However, the Trojans proved feisty and play the Seminoles toe to toe from start to finish. Roger Williams' endzone interception on the opening drive ended a Troy possession at the FSU 3. The Noles would muster 48 yards on 25 carries, mostly in the 4th quarter. This game was not the cupcake everyone predicted when the schedule was released in January. Let's fast forward, shall we?
The Future-Altering Play:
Troy had taken a 7-point lead early in the 4th quarter following a Chris Davis muffed punt. FSU was able to tie the game with 6:12 left, but now the D faced a crucial third down play against the Trojan offense a few minutes later. QB Omar Haugabook forces a pass across the middle, leading to an acrobatic pick by senior linebacker Buster Davis, the first of his career. FSU goes on to score the go-ahead touchdown and exits Doak Campbell without a humiliating defeat.
The Polaroid Picture: What If?
What if Buster doesn't drop off into coverage, Haugabook completes the pass, and goes on to put his Trojans in field goal range? Begin Hypothetical Now:
--There's not enough time on the clock for Drew Weatherford and the offense to respond with a game-tying or game-winning drive. In fact, Drew never completed such a drive in his career that I recall (no "long" drives late in the 4th quarter. Never happened. The last TD against Troy started at their 29-yard line).
--The team's morale is absolutely crushed. Since Wide Right I, we've lost 6 home games in the past 14 years: NC State, Notre Dame, Miami, and Florida are the opponents. Troy? How is this team going to recover? Which brings us to next week's game.....
--...against Clemson. Using the Butterfly Effect, are we counting on Tony Carter providing 9 points on blocked kicks? Without TC, the Seminoles scored 11 points (with a 2-pt conversion) on 204 total yards. Imagine how this plays out after losing to Troy: it's not unfathomable to see Tommy's Tigers wax Daddy's Noles by 3 TD's. This is getting ugly until....
---....Rice. Even a completely demoralized team takes apart a hapless flock of owls. One week to exhale before...
---....a trip to Carter-Finley. Chuck the Chest knows how to stop Drew Weatherford and Jeff Bowden (but not gravity, apparently). He did it in the real 2006, and he'll do it in our hypothetical model as well.
----(Side Note) Many FSU fans of my generation will circle "2006" as the lowest point in their history of following the team. I can get more specific. During Clemson's game winning drive, a drunken, brooding, 30-something redneck Seminole "fan" decided to stand on the bleacher directly in front of my roommate. We were sitting in row 3 behind the Tiger bench. My friend sternly, but politely requests for the gentleman to "please get down". After the third request, he's forced to pull the 6'3", 225lb. hick down by his short-sleeved flannel shirt. He turns around and chests up, a few f-bombs are exchanged and fists clenched. This is taking place immediately prior to the most embarrassing play in Mickey's career, where the entire defense was standing and staring at the sidelines as Will Proctor quick snaps the ball.
So here I am: Out of the corner of my left eye, I'm preparing to get into a tag team wrestling match against a fellow FSU fan inside Doak as the game clock goes under 1:00. Out of my right eye, I'm gazing into equal horror as James Davis is prancing down the field. Dancing and prancing! Fresh air! Dandelions!
Now THAT is rock bottom.---
So let's quickly recap: It's October 5th, 2006. A month has gone by and the once-proud Seminoles stand at 2-3, uncharted territory for Bobby's crew. Outside of a cakewalk against Rice (rice cake), Jeffy's offense has put up a little over 50 points in the 4 meaningful games. The Boosters are calling for his head. The fateful Wake Forest rain game is really 6 weeks away, but history will never know it. Despite Bobby's temper tantrums and veiled threats, a mid-season change at offensive coordinator is precipitated.
The Polaroid Begins to Fade
--Who is this interim coach that inherits our pathetic offense?
--How bad does the year get? We really finished 7-6, and squeaked past Western Michigan. Do we even make a bowl game? Are we 5-7 or worse?
---How long have we been courting Jimbo Fisher at this point? Have our targets and priorities completely shifted due to the October disaster? Who wants to take over the rains of a broken, beaten offense without a pulse?
Now things start to get really interesting....
--Assume Jimbo is a no-go, who do we reel in long-term?
--Do we trust this hastily hired OC to eventually take over the reigns for the old man? (His communication skills leave something to be desired, but he brings that Southern passion that Bobby is looking for)
--The 2007 recruiting class was lackluster....how does 2008 bounce back without Jimbo and a guy named Rick Trickett talking us up?
--Does Bobby Bowden enter 2008 as the HCWOAHCIW? (Head Coach Without a Head Coach in Waiting)
--Or does Bobby "leave" even sooner? (and enter the Jimbo?)
--How far does the rabbit hole go?
Dear Buster Davis,
I want to tell you how I feel about your history changing interception against Troy: Thank you???