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Silversmith’s Mailbag: Answering your questions from a nonstop FSU week

Giving my two cents on the CFP decision, transfer portal, and the Orange Bowl

Peyton Baker/Tomahawk Nation

How’s everyone doing?

After a genuinely devastating week for the Seminole program and gut punch after gut punch, the tide seems to be turning. Mike Norvell and the staff are back in Tallahassee after being on the road straight after the decision, and positive news seems to be in the works.

As always, thanks to everyone for the questions as we try to understand what just happened.

With that being said, let’s dive in!

Do you think being left out of the playoff will affect our recruiting or ability in the transfer portal to bring other players in while simultaneously keeping our players out of it?

I thought it would produce no effect for a while, but the Patrick Payton decision changed my views slightly (although he still is not officially in the portal). The current issue presides in the fact that as soon as FSU got left out, the coaches left to go and recruit. Now, all the teams in the playoff also had their coaches on the road this week and did not have a week of practice. However, all those negative emotions, without a constant support system around, would affect anyone’s mental health. That said, most players and recruits do a great job of looking at the big picture of a program and not the season’s value from a team. Even without the playoffs, the season finished as a smashing success. Mike Norvell will still be able to pitch to recruits and transfers that his team is back and that this is just the beginning. Furthermore, with the inclusion of the 12-team playoff, being left out by a bogus decision will not be a factor for an undefeated Power 4(!) team like it was this year. Mike Norvell may even be able to spin it into a positive, mentioning the rise in Battle’s End membership and the resolve of the FSU fan base.

As I mentioned earlier with Patrick Payton, it sounded more like he wanted the bag and not that he wanted to leave FSU because they were left out of the playoff.

Long story short, negative news around a program is never helpful. But, if every poor result on the football field changed how recruits view programs, then Miami would not always finish with a top-10 recruiting class! This season, the coaching staff fully earned our trust, and until they do something that burns it, Mike Norvell and friends can handle any circumstance.

What does this mean for ACC? If the committee snubbed FSU this year for an SEC team, why would FSU, Clemson, or North Carolina (teams that have a shot of making a 12-team playoff) stay in the ACC? The committee has made it clear that an SEC team will be chosen over an ACC school, so why should those teams stay in the ACC?

As I stewed in the car on the ride back from Charlotte Sunday afternoon, I wrote a top-five list on my X (or Twitter, whatever) about the most fraudulent characters involved with the CFP decision.

Behind the committee and ESPN, the ACC checked in at #3.

Indeed, the decision proves that the ACC is a dead conference walking. For a while, no one thought that the college landscape could change this dramatically, but anything is possible with the disassociation of the Pac-12.

There is some good and bad news regarding leaving the ACC.

Unfortunately, let’s start with the bad news. Yesterday, I met with an FSU professor who has excellent knowledge of Florida State, leaving the ACC and the Grant of Rights. He explicitly stated that the GoR is about as ironclad as it gets because of how small the document is. The ACC wrote this intentionally short so that the ability to find loopholes shrinks to almost 0. Furthermore, the only way to dissolve the GoR is with a 3/4s vote from the conference members. However, with this in mind, the smaller schools in the ACC just voted in 3 new schools, making it even more challenging to find an overwhelming majority. If it were easy to leave the conference, FSU and these other schools would have already done it.

On the bright side, the Seminoles do not have an issue raising the money for an exit fee. As I said, if it were just the money, Michael Alford could find it easily. On top of that, as the years go on, the leverage from the deal slowly works back in FSU’s favor. Not this year, but 4-6 years down the line, maybe a conference will be willing to take the Seminoles in without their media rights because of their potential value down the line.

Of course, with all this in mind, 13 years is far from now. I would be shocked if the GoR lasted until 2036 because of the free-flowing and ever-changing college landscape. Do not expect a sudden move from the ACC, but things are happening behind the scenes.

Should Norvell go after any transfer portal QBs, and if so, who?

A couple of weeks ago, I received this question and deferred it to the quarterbacks' performance on the roster for their final two games. Unfortunately, we did not learn much about them, and the rumors swirling out of Tallahassee point to the staff being at least interested in a new signal caller.

First, my opinion. I think most of the fan base feels this way now, but I was content going into next season with the frame of a 9-3 rebuilding year. Let Tate get his turn at the wheel for a season. Maybe we can see if Brock Glenn beats him out during the year, but we should primarily focus on developing the new young talent. However, after Sunday’s decision, I think Mike Norvell and his staff have something to prove. There is no time for a rebuilding year, and they want to prove to the nation that Florida State is a national power. Before the decision, I think the staff and the fan base were split on taking a QB. After that, at least in my opinion, FSU should go out and get one.

With this in mind, two names have been most heavily rumored to be in touch with the Seminoles: DJ Uiagalelei from Oregon State (once Clemson) and Cameron Ward from Washington State (once D-II Incarnate Word). Of the two, I think Cam Ward would elevate the program's ceiling the highest. Ward epitomizes the phrase dual-threat, throwing for over 30 attempts in his final five games while running the ball ten or more times during the final stretch of the season as well. WSU collapsed down the stretch, but Ward's play got the Cougars ranked as high as #13 this season. He comes in at 6’2 " and 223 pounds, so his body can take the pounding. Many of the top programs around the country are in on him, so it will be difficult for the ‘Noles, but they would become ACC favorites instantly with him in the fold.

A more familiar name comes from DJU, who always seemed to play his best against the Seminoles. After a falling out with Dabo and the Clemson staff, Uiagalelei took his talents closer to home to Oregon State for a year, where he produced a bit of a career renaissance. The former Clemson QB finished with a 21:7 TD-to-INT ratio and ranked 12th in the country in QBR with a rating of 80.8. The Beavers had him throw less with 50 fewer attempts than a year ago, but further down the field, he averaged 8.4 yards a throw compared to 6.8 with the Tigers. OSU did a great job maximizing his strengths and getting him to turn the ball over less. I think FSU would succeed with DJ because of their ability to run the ball, be willing to take shots down the field, and show off their arm strength. The two concerns with Uiagalelei are still the same that he had in Clemson. He often shrinks in big games (i.e., Oregon and Washington this year), and his decision-making can go haywire. I think Mike Norvell could coach out some of the bad decisions similar to the ball security shown by all the QBs this year. But, it would still be a risk on the once 5-star recruit.

How much stake should we put into Orange Bowl results due to potential opt-outs (well deserved for those who do), transfers, and/or overall motivation after this past weekend? Also any early thoughts for Darrell Jackson for that game? - Michael K

Short answer: 0

Long answer: The Orange Bowl could be a good measuring stick for the program. Even with all the opt-outs, it will show how far FSU needs to go to build championship depth and recruit at a consistently high level. Georgia is still the gold standard, even if they are not in the CFP, and I am interested in how the Seminoles look physically and athletically matched up with the big dawgs. Regarding the motivation, I wondered if more guys would play in the game because of the snub. It turns out it did not change anything. But, to your point, I do not blame players for not playing, and I would not play either if I were a senior. For those that do play, I think they will be ready to go. Mike Norvell always finds a way to lock in his team, and they will be focused when the ball is kicked off. It will also be a good barometer to see how the fan base feels. When FSU played in the Orange Bowl against Michigan 7 years ago, the crowd split was 80/20 in favor of the ‘Noles. I expect and hope that FSU fans still travel to Miami and support a team that deserves it. But it is something to keep an eye on.

Regarding your second question, Darell Jackson Jr. is the most exciting part of this game. After the ACC championship game, multiple players mentioned they could not wait to see #14 take the field. He consistently dominated during practice and has the build to throw around the strongest offensive linemen. With Braden Fiske and Fabien Lovett moving on after this year, his role will be dramatic next season. I expect he will play exceptionally well, and an interior duo with him and Farmer next year will be just as good as the line play this season.