The Daily Nole

Athletic Year in Review: FSU Men’s Sports Superlatives

Ross Obley/FSU athletics

Another outstanding athletic year for Florida State is in the books. In total, 12 athletic programs for FSU finished ranked and six finished in the top 10.

Three of the four conference titles for FSU and four of the six top-10 finishes came from the women’s side, but men’s sports also had a year to remember. Both FSU football and baseball finished in the top 10 while FSU basketball reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years.

This academic year marked the first time since the 1997-98 that the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Tournament, the baseball team reached the College World Series and the football team played in a major bowl. Without further ado, here are the teams, programs and coaches that stood out during the 2016-17 academic year:

Team of the Year: FSU Basketball
Although the way the season ended — with a 25-point loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament — left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths, Florida State exceeded all expectations on the hardwood. At one point in the season, FSU ascended to as high as sixth in the traditional polls — its highest ranking since the 1992-93 season. Led by Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the Seminoles finished 26-9 and fell one win shy of tying a school-record for victories in a season.

FSU finished undefeated at home for the first time since the 1977-78 season and tied its highest ever seeding in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments as a No. 2 and a No. 3 respectively. Throughout the course of the season, the Seminoles defeated seven ranked teams and 14 teams that reached the NCAA Tournament. FSU also went a perfect 3-0 against rivals Florida and Miami.

Athlete of the Year: Dalvin Cook, FSU Football
A Unanimous All-American, FSU running back Dalvin Cook rewrote the Florida State record book in 2016. While rushing for a school-record 1,765 yards, Cook broke the all-time record at Florida State for rushing touchdowns and rushing yards, outdoing what legends like Warrick Dunn and Greg Allen did in four years in only three. In the process, Cook became the first FSU rusher ever to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first three seasons on campus.

Cook averaged 6.1 yards per carry and scored 20 touchdowns for a second straight season. Cook rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of Florida State’s final 10 games and finished with at least 200 total yards on four separate occasions. Thanks largely to Cook, FSU won its final five games and finished in the top 10. In his final game — the Discover Orange Bowl against Michigan — in his hometown of Miami, Cook was named the game’s MVP, accounting for 207 total yards in a 33-32 FSU victory.

Freshman of the Year: Deondre Francois, FSU Football
A redshirt freshman, FSU quarterback Deondre Francois was named ACC Rookie of the Year after accounting for more than 3,500 total yards and 25 total touchdowns. Francois completed nearly 59 percent of his passes and passed for at least 300 yards on five separate occasions. Francois was also cool in the clutch, engineering fourth quarter comebacks in wins over N.C. State and Michigan. Francois also rallied FSU from double-digit second half deficits against Ole Miss and Miami.

Most Improved Athlete of the Year: Tarvarus McFadden, FSU Football
After recording just four tackles in limited action as a freshman in 2015, Tarvarus McFadden established himself as one of the nation’s top cover cornerbacks in 2016. A 6-2 and 200-pound cover man from South Florida, McFadden combined size, physicality and ball skills to lead the nation with eight interceptions.

In the process, McFadden was named a first-team All-American by the Football Writers of America Association and won the Jack Tatum Award as the nation’s top defensive back. McFadden added 20 total tackles in 2016, including three for loss.

Coach of the Year: Mike Martin, FSU Baseball
For most of the season, Florida State failed to live up to expectations, seemingly finding a way to lose in every close contest early on. Every time the it suffered a devastating blow or defeat, FSU always found a way to pick itself up off the mat and head coach Mike Martin deserves credit for that.

As the regular season wound down, FSU hit its stride winning 12 of its final 13 games to reach the College World Series for the first time in five years. En route to Omaha, Florida State captured its second ACC title in three seasons and seventh overall. In the NCAA Tournament, FSU was able to extend its streak of consecutive 40-win seasons to 40 years. As for Martin in 2017, he eclipsed 1,900 wins for his career and now sits just 32 shy of tying Augie Garrido for the most in college baseball history.

Performance of the Year: Will Zirzow, FSU Baseball, Tallahassee Regional
The Tallahassee Regional of the NCAA Tournament came down to one game as FSU faced Auburn on June 5 with the winner to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. The Seminoles had won three games in two days after dropping the regional opener to Tennessee Tech and had few fresh arms on the roster. With FSU and Auburn set to face off in a winner-take-all, the Seminoles turned to redshirt junior right-hander Will Zirzow, who had thrown just four innings in more than two months.

With the season on the line however, Zirzow had an outing for the ages. Zirzow faced just two over the minimum in a 2-hit shutout as FSU won the regional with a 6-0 victory. The Tigers didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning. Zirzow didn’t walk a batter in his nine innings, but hit one and struck out 11 as Florida State advanced to a 16th Super Regional in 19 years.

Contest of the Year: FSU Football Makes it Seven Straight Over Miami
At just 3-2 and 0-2 in ACC play, Florida State’s 2016 season seemed to be spiraling out of control. Against No. 10 Miami on Oct. 8, the Seminoles looked to be destined for defeat. FSU fell behind 13-0 in the first half and 13-3 at the break. Miami took the second half kickoff and marched right down the field, but a Tarvarus McFadden interception of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya seemed to turn the tide.

The Seminoles answered with 17 unanswered points, thanks to Deondre Francois touchdown passes to Dalvin Cook and Kermit Whitfield. With just over two minutes to play however, Miami used a big punt return to start with the ball in the FSU red zone. On 4th-and-5 with less than two minutes to play, Kaaya found Stacy Coley from 11 yards out for what looked like the tying touchdown. On the PAT attempt however, FSU defensive end DeMarcus Walker squeezed through and got a hand on Michael Badgley’s kick to preserve the lead on a play that came to be known as the “Block at the Rock”. FSU picked up one first down on the ensuing possession to seal a seventh straight victory over the Hurricanes, 20-19.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply