The Daily Nole

FSU’s 1993 National Title Team’s Silver Anniversary — Part I: Great Expectations

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It’s been 25 years since Florida State claimed its first national championship. The 1993 team delivered FSU college football’s ultimate prize for the first time. In a multi-part series commemorating the silver anniversary of Florida State’s first title team, we’ll be remembering that season with five former players who played a prominent role in the team’s success.

High expectations had become routine for Florida State as the preseason polls were released in August 1993. Fresh off an 11-1 season that culminated with an Orange Bowl victory and a No. 2 national ranking, there was hope in Tallahassee that 1993 would finally be the year.

“A lot of that was because the nucleus had a lot of snaps as starters,” said Derrick Brooks, a junior linebacker at the time. “Even though a lot of us were sophomores and juniors, we had a lot of snaps as starters. There was something different about that summer. 98 or 99 percent of the guys stayed in Tallahassee and competed all summer.”

In the 18th season under head coach Bobby Bowden, the Seminoles began the year ranked first for the third time in six years, but the schedule ahead of Florida State was a daunting one. Six of the 12 teams on the schedule for FSU were ranked in the preseason AP Poll.

“There was just something about being on a team with the expectation to win,” said Todd Rebol, a first-year starter and sophomore linebacker on the 1993 team. “I was never in the situation of my class being the hopeful one to win it. You didn’t come to Florida State unless your expectation was to win and to win a national championship. Being ranked No. 1 before the season starts doesn’t mean anything.”

On defense, FSU was losing Butkus Award winner and linebacker Marvin Jones. The injury bug also struck early with injuries to cornerback Corey Fuller and safety Steve Gilmer, who were each expected to take the next step in their careers. Still, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews’ unit would wind up being a national force to be reckoned with.

“Great players get a lot of credit, but coaches deserve credit too,” said Clifton Abraham, a redshirt junior cornerback on the team. “Coach Bowden, Coach Andrews, Coach (Chuck) Amato — we had the best coaches. We were never out of position. We knew what we were supposed to do. We were never unprepared and we dictated the game.”

On the other side of the ball, Florida State redshirt senior quarterback Charlie Ward had gotten his fair share of preseason Heisman Trophy hype after a strong finish to 1992. FSU was also bringing in key freshmen in running back Warrick Dunn and kicker Scott Bentley to make sure that missed kicks wouldn’t again be the reason for the Seminoles’ demise.

“We certainly had some key freshman contributors,” said center Clay Shiver, who was a starting redshirt sophomore at the time. “It’s easier to see when you look back. In the years past, I feel like it had been a focused objective that we were going to win a national championship.”

“We had a couple of young guys who really helped us out,” said Kez McCorvery, a redshirt junior wide receiver at the time. “The group of guys that I came in with, we thought we’d win it at some point in our careers.”

How far the Seminoles had came since an impressive 1992 season would soon be on display for the whole world to see. While most other programs waited an extra week for their seasons to begin, FSU got set to travel to East Rutherford for the Kickoff Classic against Kansas on Aug. 28, 1993.

“The thing about the ’93 team is we were all close,” Abraham said. “I could have stayed in Texas, but I came from Dallas to Florida State to win a national championship. This year was it.”

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

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