What a difference a year makes.
After four straight losing seasons, and just two seasons removed from a three-win campaign and just one from only five wins, Florida State won double-digit games for the first time since 2016.
In just six months FSU went from a 2022 preseason prediction of fifth-place in the ACC Atlantic to the go-to dark horse pick for pundits predicting teams to make some noise next season:
The Seminoles will return an absurd amount of talent next season, but what’s happening off the field is what’s worth examining today — how the program and head coach Mike Norvell have forged a path through continuing chaos of the changing landscape in college football and what can be done to keep pushing that climb forward.
College football is currently undergoing a fundamental metamorphosis and what exactly the sport will look like in a decade or two is anyone’s guess. However, we can make some inferences, especially when one steps back to take in just how much the sport has changed over a relatively short period of time.
A year from now, Texas and Oklahoma will be in the SEC, having paid their $100 million early exit fee, the expanded 12-team playoff will be prepping venues, and USC and UCLA will officially be part of the Big Ten.
The Big Ten and the SEC are now heavyweight superconferences that currently hold all the cards — though that hasn’t stopped the Big 12 from attempting to remain relevant by adding UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and BYU.
Meanwhile, the ACC, with their grant-of-rights deal locked up through 2036, has ensured stability by force but perhaps also irrelevancy, as least as far as deciding what the future of the sport looks like.
- In the summer of 2021 the Supreme Court slammed the NCAA which helped catalyze the explosion of NIL laws and deals which has subsequently revolutionized recruiting and made the fabled “bag man” obsolete. The state of Florida was the first to pass NIL legislation but then had to go back and fix it just this past week to remove restrictions, too late to help the Florida Gators with their star quarterback recruit as programs and recruits in states with more patient or forward-thinking legislatures reaped the benefits.
- Oh, and then the entirety of the chaos that has been the transfer portal.
Thanks to the established strength of its brand nationally, Florida State is arguably the sport’s second-most valuable property not currently within (or about to be in) the SEC or the Big Ten, behind Notre Dame.
Every day FSU inches closer to a point where its ability to sue its way out of the ACC’s grant-of-rights deal becomes realistic. But if or until that day comes, Florida State and Mike Norvell can only focus on what they can control, and that’s the results on the field.
These changes all happening while Norvell’s tenure was in its infancy gave the program time to let Norvell sort it all out, while the sport was itself sorting it all out, and now FSU is the stronger for it.
While the portal and NIL rules will no doubt continue to evolve, the dust has settled and allowed head coaches and programs to adjust and attempt to chart the best path forward. FSU and Norvell found what worked and rode the crest of this flooding wave while programs that have found themselves in flux or transition since the new world of college athletics began to be established seem to have fallen behind.
Like the balance of a well-crafted sledgehammer, Norvell combined his tough approach to his team’s development with a nurturing hand on its culture. His deftness and glaring determination in the transfer portal year after year has been a revelation to a program that was quickly fading as it fell behind in talent and resources. There have been plenty of mistakes worth criticizing, but he and by extension his program have continued to overcome them.
The question Mike Norvell has answered is whether he can rebuild Florida State’s program.
The question remaining is whether he can launch the Seminoles back into the upper echelons of the sport.
So enters The Battle’s End Collective, which has in a shockingly short period of time transformed FSU’s NIL landscape and was instrumental in several key players choosing to return for another season. Alongside established names like Rising Spear (who absorbed former collective Warpath) and Micconope 1851, Battle’s End become the big-money entity willing to spend to ensure success and retention. Most recently, as a quick flex of financial strength and proof of concept to players, the collective sent quarterback Jordan Travis and running back Trey Benson to the Super Bowl, apparently just because it could.
An enduring and weighty NIL collective seems to be a crucial and perhaps even necessary component to building a winning program in today’s era, much less to compete on the level of the Georgia’s, Alabama’s, and Ohio State’s of the world. It could not have done so at a better time, with Florida’s soon-to-be-signed revised NIL law essentially allowing maximum flexibility similar to the legislation in other states while still mirroring NCAA rules.
Florida State seemingly has all of its stars aligned going into 2023. A talented roster with a massive amount of returning production, a smart head coach who has transformed the program, and a NIL collective dedicated to winning with the apparent resources and planning to back it up long-term.
From the outside factors to the team and program on paper this season, the 10-year anniversary of the last time the Seminoles raised a national championship trophy, represents a golden opportunity for the program to recapture its rightful place among the sport’s elite programs.
2023 Florida State football schedule
Sunday, September 3: LSU Tigers (Orlando)
Saturday, September 9: Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Saturday, September 16: at Boston College Eagles
Saturday, September 23: at Clemson Tigers
Saturday, September 30: BYE
Saturday, October 7: Virginia Tech Hokies
Saturday, October 14: Syracuse Orange
Saturday, October 21: Duke Blue Devils
Saturday, October 28: at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Saturday, November 4: at Pittsburgh Panthers
Saturday, November 11: Miami Hurricanes
Saturday, November 18: North Alabama Lions
Saturday, November 25: at Florida Gators