Florida State finally gets a statement win under Jimbo Fisher

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From the moment our preseason top 25 was released, to last week when the demons (of Wake Forest) were finally exorcised, we here at CFT have thought long and thought hard about whether Florida State was really… you know…”back.”

It’s a four-letter word of vulgar yet somehow simultaneously diluted meaning because it’s a movie we’ve seen before. The plot goes as such: the Seminoles enter the season with lofty expectations with promises that this finally the year of a return to national prominence, only to underachieve and end up in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Though FSU was 3-0 heading into tonight’s game against No. 10 Clemson, could you blame anyone for thinking this year was any different? Sure, a 69-3 season-opening win over Murray State and consecutive shutouts against Savannah State and Wake Forest is worth at least a raise of the eyebrow, but it’s also Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest.

So forgive me for having a Stephen A. Smith moment when I thought “the Clemson Tigers are not the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.”

As it turns out, though, Florida State may not be Florida State, or at least the Florida State of old. You know, the one that loses to Wake Forest and can’t beat top-ranked Oklahoma to thrust itself back into college football’s elite group. This time around, the fourth-ranked Seminoles seized the opportunity to knock off Clemson 49-37. It was Jimbo Fisher‘s first win over a top-10 team since taking over for Bobby Bowden in 2010.

And Fisher needed a big win. For all the hype, the top recruiting classes, FSU has had nothing meaningful to show for it in Fisher’s short tenure. The ACC needed it too. Since expanding to 12 members in 2005, the ACC has not become the football power conference it was expected to be. If anything, it’s been right around, or just above, the level of the Big East. To change its perception, the ACC needs a traditional power to be nationally relevant again.

What team better than Florida State?

Could that happen this year? Perhaps. We’re not ready to use the “B-word” just yet, but the ‘Noles continue to give off the appearance that they’re for real (and we mean it this time, we think).  Keep in mind that September is for overreactions, October should be when the polls are first released and November is for separating the contenders from the pretenders. So right now, everyone’s just guessing. Want to stop the guesses? Keep winning and no one will wonder about Florida State.

They’ll wonder if the Mayans were right.

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts uses photo of Clemson celebrating title win as motivational phone background

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Nick Saban said last week that the loss to Clemson in the the national championship game earlier this year is one that he’ll never get over, although he didn’t go so far as to compare it to a death in the family. One playing member of Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide team is taking to steps to ensure that he never forgets, either.

Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s talented true freshman starting quarterback who helped lead ‘Bama into the title game and, with a 30-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left, gave his team a 31-28 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as Deshaun Watson led his Tigers on an epic 88-yard drive that was capped by his two-yard touchdown pass with just one tick left on the clock for the 35-31 win.

The stunning last-second loss is something that Hurts makes a conscious effort to remind himself of daily as the rising sophomore, as the background on his smartphone, has a picture of Clemson players celebrating their win.

“We’re obviously all on our phones all the time,” Hurts said according to al.com after this past weekend’s spring game. “Every time I unlock it, it’s kind of a reminder. It kind of humbles me and keeps me motivated. …

“It’s not a grudge at all. It’s just something that keeps it on the back of your shoulder like, yeah, it’s still there. Remember why you’re doing it because at the end of the day, the goal for this team is to win the national championship.

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.