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Why FSU's loss of Everett Golson probably means far less than some say

Perspective, 'Noles. Perspective.

Everett Golson, with Sean Maguire in the background
Everett Golson, with Sean Maguire in the background
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl time is a somewhat contradictory season on the college football calendar. The season is over-- but it's not. These games matter, and the endgame is to win-- yet they don't (well, except for the four teams in the College Football Playoff), and the aim is for a team to enjoy itself in a different city.

I'm being rather cynical, of course, and probably unfairly so. There is recruiting momentum. And extra practices never hurt-- neither do more wins, and these count just as much as any other in the record books, technically. And perhaps the biggest benefit of bowl season is enjoyed by teams' seniors, who get one more shot at gridiron glory with their buddies, their teammates, many of whom they began college alongside, sometimes a half-decade ago.

That said, Central Michigan played Minnesota in Detroit yesterday.

There: I no longer feel so bad about my earlier cynicism. I'll never complain about too much football to watch, but, to repeat: Central Michigan vs. Minnesota. I've certainly nothing against either program (in fact, I have a Master's degree from the former), and unlike most, I actually cling to a fondness for the Motor City, as I grew up in the Great Lakes State, and can recall trips to the now defunct Pontiac Silverdome, as well as the now-nonexistent Tiger Stadium.

But cynicism --and nostalgia -- aside, the simple truth is that there are so many bowl games that those propagating and broadcasting them have a distinct monetary incentive to drum up whatever story lines they can to glamorize their respective matchups. And a ton of time in which to do so.

Naturally, the biggest sales jobs are typically required by the earlier, less-sexy match-ups between directional schools that take place when you're hungover from your office holiday party. The big boys don't usually need as much help-- but that's not always the situation.

Case in point: this year's Peach Bowl, featuring the No. 9 Florida State Seminoles and the No. 18 Houston Cougars. While it is a New Year's Six bowl, it's not one that will play a part in deciding this year's national championship. And it's the only one that includes a team from the Group of Five conferences, that being UH, from the AAC. It's a contractual obligation designed to ensure the little guy (relatively speaking, of course) a spot at the table. And given the simple truth that people just don't know much about the Cougars, the Peach Bowl has not received much fanfare.

A good deal of the scant discussion that has been devoted to the Peach Bowl hasn't even focused on the game's stars: FSU's Dalvin Cook and Houston's Greg Ward, Jr. Instead, those headlines have been allocated to the news that Florida State graduate-transfer quarterback Everett Golson and the 'Noles had parted ways, due to the unfortunate passing of Golson's grandmother.

Frankly, as far as story lines go, it's an easy sell. Golson played in a national title game for the biggest of college football's brands, Notre Dame. Then he transferred to Florida State just after the most talked-about CFB player in the last few years, Jameis Winston, departed for the NFL and was selected with the No. 1 overall pick. To top it all off, Golson won the QB1 job in Tallahassee and started most of the Seminoles' games before being replaced by Sean Maguire.

What the national media has pitched, because people in Indiana and Kansas and California know the Golson name, is that, despite FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher's insistence that Maguire would be Florida State's Peach Bowl starter, this was nevertheless something to keep an eye on. As if there were still a quarterback controversy.

When, in fact, there probably never really was one, even before Golson departed. The narrative, of course, is that Golson could have been just one freak injury away from seeing the field, and now he's no longer an option.

But was this really the case? After Golson was benched due to ineffective play against NC State, the Seminoles stuck with Maguire vs. Chattanooga. And when the victory was assured, to whom did Fisher turn to relieve Maguire? Not Golson. Golson played, sure, but it was J.J. Cosentino who got the QB2 reps in that one, and while I'm no lipreader, I recall watching Fisher and Golson on the sideline while Cosentino was warming up. I'll just say this: it hardly looked like they were reciting sonnets to each other.

It's just something to keep in mind. The tragic scenario that surrounded Golson's departure is as regrettable as they come, and I hope every FSU fan is keeping his family in his thoughts. But with regard to the actual on-field implications, this situation is quite similar to so much of the aforementioned ambivalence surrounding bowl season: it matters-- but it probably doesn't. At this point, Golson and the 'Noles parting ways is probably akin to the latter missing a third-string QB.