The Daily Nole

FSU Football: History Shows Fisher’s Scheduling Gripe is Legitimate

Jeremy Esbrandt/FSU athletics

Opposing fan bases have already begun to give Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher flack for the comments he made at a Tampa booster event on Sunday when Fisher said he didn’t like forcing college football players to have short turnarounds for games.

The Seminoles will open the season with a prime time contest on Labor Day against Ole Miss before turning around and playing their home-opener at 12:30 p.m. EST against Charleston Southern five days later.

“I don’t like that because you’re coming off a Monday night game to a 12:30 game,” Fisher said Sunday as first reported by Warchant. “I think it’s ridiculous in college to ask kids to play on a Monday-Saturday or a Saturday-Thursday – if they’re truly worried about the kids. I think those (quick-turnaround) games are ridiculous.I think it’s unfair to (the players). It’s not what’s good for the body and everything else.”

While Fisher’s focus is primarily on the student-athletes, history has shown that the short turnaround isn’t a great thing from a football standpoint either. Since 2005, FSU has played on Labor Day five times. On four of those occasions, the Seminoles were forced into action five days later and each time, FSU left something to be desired.

The lone exception where Florida State had a bye week in between was 2013. After a 41-13 victory at Pittsburgh to open the year, FSU had 12 days to get ready for Nevada, which it throttled 62-7.

The most recent Labor Day game before that was the 2009 opener when Florida State hosted rival Miami. The Seminoles dropped a heartbreaker 38-34 on a pass that was dropped by Jarmon Fortson in the end zone as time expired.

As is the case this season with Charleston Southern coming to town for the Sept. 10 home-opener at Doak Campbell Stadium, the Week 2 match-up in 2009 seemed like a slam dunk for the Seminoles as FCS Jacksonville State came to town. The contest however, would be anything but.

With under a minute to play, the Seminoles trailed the Gamecocks 9-7. Ty Jones’ short touchdown run with 35 seconds left gave FSU the lead before defensive end Kevin McNeil put the exclamation point on a victory that was too close for comfort with a fumble return for a touchdown in a 19-9 win.

Florida State opened both the 2005 and 2006 seasons with hard-fought Labor Day wins over rival Miami, but each time, the Seminoles struggled in their Week 2 contest five days later.

FSU followed up a 10-7 home victory over Miami in 2005 with a 62-10 win over The Citadel the ensuing Saturday. Beating an FCS opponent like the Bulldogs by more than 50 points hardly seems like a struggle on the surface, but with just over a minute to play in the first half, the Seminoles trailed 10-3.

Florida State would take a 13-10 lead into the locker room thanks to a touchdown pass from Drew Weatherford to Rod Owens and a long field goal by Gary Cismesia, but for a half, FSU fans were on the edge of their seats. The Seminoles went off for seven unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

After winning 13-10 the following year at Miami, Florida State was forced to play its home-opener five days later against a seemingly overmatched Troy squad, but with six and a half minutes left, the Seminoles trailed 17-10. FSU would rally with a Weatherford touchdown pass to Chris Davis, a short touchdown run from Joe Surratt and a game-sealing interception from Geno Hayes, but again, what was thought to be an easy victory turned out to be a 24-17 struggle.

Florida State opened the 2007 season with a 24-18 loss at Clemson and for a while, it looked like the Seminoles might fall to 0-2. In its home-opener five days later against a UAB team that would go on to finish just 2-10, FSU trailed 17-3 in the first half and wouldn’t take the lead for good until Weatherford’s 50-yard scoring strike to Richard Goodman on the final play of the third quarter in a 34-24 victory.

The case study however, isn’t limited to Florida State. After opening the 2010 season with a hard-fought loss to No. 3 Boise State on a neutral field, Virginia Tech returned home five days later, only to lose at home to FCS James Madison. The Hokies would go on to win their next 11 games and the ACC, but the embarrassing loss served as a huge damper on an otherwise splendid season.

After beating Virginia Tech on Labor Day last season, then reigning national champion Ohio State held just a 14-0 halftime lead five days later in its home-opener against a Hawaii team that would win just three games.

While it’s still unlikely that Florida State loses to Charleston Southern on Sept. 10, it’s perhaps more unlikely that the Seminoles will be clicking on all cylinders. FSU is set to make about $3.5 million on its season-opener with Ole Miss, but there could be at least a small price to pay the following week with a lackluster performance.

It’s not unreasonable for eyes to roll when Fisher complains about scheduling for a match-up with Charleston Southern, but in this case, history is on the side of his argument.

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