Iron sharpens iron, or at least that’s how the old saying goes.
After watching an entire day’s worth of Miami/FSU classic games on ESPNU, a conclusion can be drawn that these schools need each other to elevate their game, and make each other better.
Miami has always been the big brother to Florida St, but throughout history FSU has brought the best out of the University of Miami. For 20 plus years, from 1983 to 2005, Miami and FSU , waged a war in recruiting, coaching hires, and on field play that was second to none for any rivalry. 8 National Championships were won, at least 8 other championship games were lost, and a few other games were lost on bad calls, which cost each school a shot at other championships. Simply put college football revolved around the state of Florida.
Towards the end of the Bobby Bowden era, Miami was dominant in the annual meeting winning 6 straight from 2000-2004 while FSU was falling from the Top 10, and out of the National Title discussion. Was this part of the reason Miami saw such a fall from grace? Did losing their number 1 on field rival as an annual contender allow Miami to get soft? The Canes hadn’t struggled on the field since the late 70’s, and even a small blip at the end of the 90’s could only be attributed to NCAA sanctions which crippled the program.
Since 2006, the Miami/FSU game just hasn’t meant much nationally as it once did. Miami has fallen from a perennial top 10 team to a team that struggles to stay ranked on a consistent basis. The Canes have switched coaches from Coker to Shannon to Golden to Richt and now to Diaz, and outside of a few “up” years, Miami has become a middle of the road ACC team. Florida St was able to rebuild from Bowden to Fisher and actually won a National Championship in 2013, but at the end Jimbo had run the program into the ground. Taggart flamed out in less than 2 years and now Mike Norvell has been tasked with getting Florida St to where they once were.
These programs need each other to be good again at the same time. Look back at the collective records when Miami and FSU were both good. The Canes and Noles met as ranked opponents basically every year from 1984 through 1994 then again from 98-2006. Since that point the Canes have only been ranked a handful of times when they played their upstate rivals. Now that FSU is a struggling program, Miami doesn’t get the boost that they once did beating the Seminoles. Truthfully a win over FSU is no different and actually less important than beating someone like Duke in a division game. Beating FSU is supposed to make the season, not just be a footnote in an otherwise horrible year.
Recruiting has always been a battle between the two schools, but Alabama, Clemson and Georgia are stealing a lot of the shine from Miami and FSU. For the Canes ot the Noles to get back to dominance they need to dominate their own state once again. They need to pull the elite of the elite which means they have to win games on the field, and become a destination again.
Look at the 2020 NFL draft, and you can further see why both programs are struggling mightily. FSU had ONE player drafted….one player in seven rounds, and that is it. Miami only had 4, and none picked before the 4th round. This is not where either program is used to being. When they are at the top, the NFL draft is littered with Canes and Noles in the 1st couple of days. Recruiting, player development and retention must change immediately or this downward cycle will become a rut that neither program can recover from.
Winning cures everything, and neither program is winning at the standard that was set for 20 plus years. Miami needs FSU to be good again,and conversely FSU needs Miami to be great again. Once the rivalry gets back to an annual Top 15 matchup, watch both teams quickly ascend back to the national elite. The nation will then be able to take notice that Miami vs Florida St is a rivalry that is unmatched in college football.
It’s time for this game to matter again!