Clemson’s Dabo Swinney speaks highly of his new ACC rival, Mark Richt

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was 1-1 against Mark Richt’s Georgia teams. The two might meet up more frequently in the ACC now that Richt is Miami’s coach, though the teams play in different divisions.

Either way, the Tigers coach took time at Tuesday’s Orange Bowl media day to praise Richt’s abilities and bemoan the kind of attitude that caused Georgia to move on this month from a proven winner.

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04:  New University of Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt makes the 'U' sign after he was introduced at a press conference at the school on December 4, 2015 in Coral Gables, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL – DECEMBER 04: New University of Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt makes the ‘U’ sign after he was introduced at a press conference at the school. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

“The only thing that ever happened at Georgia when he was there was a bunch of wins,” Swinney said. “To just measure people on national championships, we’re gonna all have a hard time measuring up to that.

“Mark Richt is as good a coach as I’ve ever seen. Miami is very lucky to have that guy. He’s gonna do an awesome job.

“I think fans get stale. Maybe they get tired of you and that’s OK. That’s everybody’s right. They pay for the tickets. They support the program. They have a right to get tired of you. All you can do is the best you possibly can and I don’t have any doubt that Mark Richt gave the University of Georgia every ounce of everything he had for years and brought them to a level of consistency they hadn’t seen in a long time.”

At 46, Swinney is nine years younger than Richt. The two coaches worked within a 75-minute drive of each other in Clemson, S.C., and Athens, Ga., and recruited many of the same players. This is a rivalry, and a mutual respect, that will only grow stronger now that both are in the ACC.

[Hey, not such a bad year for my rock-paper-scissors 2015 predictions on UM, FSU and Florida]

[Richt’s culture change from Georgia to Miami expressed in mathematical terms]

[One potential compromise remains between baseball and Pete Rose]

 

 

Hey, not such a bad year for my rock-paper-scissors college football predictions

All right, so your so-called expert with his very own blog laid a pretty big egg with his prediction for the Miami Dolphins. I had them winning 10 games this season and instead they’re at 10 losses and counting.

Looking back on my college picks, though, tempers the humiliation a bit.

Not perfect, by any stretch, but passable.

 

Miami head coach Al Golden leaves the field after a 36-33 win in overtime against Nebraska at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)
Former Miami head coach Al Golden leaves the field after a 36-33 win in overtime against Nebraska on Sept. 19, 2015. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

I had the Miami Hurricanes finishing 9-5 with a loss in the ACC championship game. Wishful thinking, but not totally wacky. UM ended up 8-5 without the trip to Charlotte.

My prediction for Florida State was 10-3. If the Seminoles are upset by Houston in the Peach Bowl, that pick will be right on the money. If they win as expected, it’s 11-2 for a final record. Either way, I had them beating Miami and Florida and losing to Clemson. Not exactly Nostradamus, but not a total numbskull either.

Florida fooled me the worst. The Gators are 10-3 under first-year coach Jim McElwain. Ten wins and an SEC East title, that’s more than anyone saw coming. My preseason pick was 8-5 and to be honest that felt a little generous.

As long as we’re throwing stuff against the wall, I’ll say Florida flubs another one against Michigan in the Citrus Bowl to finish 10-4, good buddy.

Anyway, here’s the link to my prediction blog of Sept. 4, with the original headline to prove how much of a guessing game this really is.

[I’ll say the Hurricanes finally win the Coastal, but then again I’m an idiot]

Richt’s culture change from Georgia to Miami expressed mathematically

 

There’s no need to pile on Miami for poor attendance in the 2015 figures just released on college football. The simple fact that not enough people go to Hurricanes games is unchanging, whether we’re talking about championship seasons or total clunkers.

It is interesting to note, however, a purely numeric expression for the difference in culture that new coach Mark Richt is about to experience.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Broderick Snoddy #22 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets scores a first quarter touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes on November 21, 2015 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – Broderick Snoddy of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets scores a first quarter touchdown against the Miami Hurricanes on November 21, 2015 at Sun Life Stadium.(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Georgia, where Richt spent more than a quarter of his life as an SEC head coach, averaged 92,746 for its home games this year. That number is about the same as the previous year, and the number didn’t change even though the Bulldogs supposedly were going through such a disappointing season that it was time to fire the coach.

To put that in a larger perspective, Georgia ranked No. 8 in the nation in average home attendance during what qualified as a down year for fan enthusiasm.

Miami, on the other hand, couldn’t even crack the top eight in the ACC.

The Hurricanes averaged 47,561 in their Sun Life Stadium appearances. That is No. 9 in a league that overall is better known for basketball fever than football success and consequently has several stadiums with relatively small seating capacities.

Richt comes into this with eyes wide open. He understands and he’ll adjust to all the things that are different about Miami. For one thing, the scrutiny and the criticism will be every bit as intense when the Hurricanes lose a game than it was at Georgia, where the population of fans is much larger and covers the entire state without a hint of competition.

All those empty seats at Sun Life figure to strike him much harder, however, than they did former Hurricanes coach Al Golden. His former team, Temple, also played in an NFL stadium and had little chance of ever filling it up.

In other notes from the college attendance figures, Florida State took a significant 11 percent drop from the previous season, finishing with a 2015 average of 73,219.

I’m willing, however, to chalk some of that up to the ridiculously early kickoff times assigned by television. Two FSU home games started at noon, another at 12:30 and the worst of them, against South Florida, at 11:30 a.m.

There should never be an occasion where the refs greet the captains for the opening coin toss with a friendly “Good morning, gentlemen.”

Lastly, can’t figure out which of these figures is the most discouraging.

Seeing that Central Florida has lost so much of its hard-won momentum that attendance dropped 20 percent this season to just over 30,000.

Or learning that FAU’s paltry average of 17,617 in its beautiful new on-campus stadium represents an increase of 25 percent.

One potential compromise remains between baseball and Pete Rose

 

Baseball won’t have another commissioner for a long time and Pete Rose is 74 so that leads to one last potential compromise between the game and its most popular pariah.

Rob Manfred, who on Monday announced that Rose’s ban from official baseball activities and affiliations must stand, should explain that the Hit King will absolutely be eligible for induction to the Hall of Fame posthumously because the ban would no longer be relevant.

FILE - DECEMBER 14, 2015: It was reported that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Pete Rose remains banned for life from Major League Baseball December 14, 2015. CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 14:  Former player and manager Pete Rose looks on prior to the 86th MLB All-Star Game at the Great American Ball Park on July 14, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – Former player and manager Pete Rose looks on prior to the 86th MLB All-Star Game at the Great American Ball Park on July 14, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Along with that, the commissioner should say that he supports the enshrinement under those conditions, recognizing that it does not violate the tone of the “permanent” ban for gambling on games involving a player or manager’s own team. Can’t get much more permanent than passing on.

An announcement like that wouldn’t provide much cause for celebration. It’s pretty grim, to tell the truth, but it’s likely all that Rose is going to get.

He would make full use of it, too.

Signing “Future Hall of Famer” on all those baseballs he autographs, and at a higher price.

Wearing a cap with Hall of Famer* stitched on it, treating the obvious asterisk like a wink.

Doing all the TV interview shows and talking about what it means to know his space at Cooperstown is reserved, allowing coming generations of fans to celebrate his career in full and not in part.

There’s no point in hoping for more. Manfred has done his review of the ancient case against Rose, who after years of bold denials finally admitted to the crime of crimes in baseball. This commissioner won’t be doing another review. Manfred won’t change his mind that Rose’s continued involvement in betting on baseball through legal means is a sign that the old hustler is addicted to the action and can’t be trusted to stop, even as he runs his autographing empire from Las Vegas’ casino row.

All those who defend Rose, who rail against baseball’s hypocrisy in this and other matters, understand this. They just can’t change it.

Manfred is the only one who could. The only ounce of hope he provided was an explanation that the Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball are separate organizations and that Cooperstown’s rules of eligibility are not tied to baseball’s ban rules in this matter unless the Hall wants them to be.

[Take a ride on the dizzying coaches’ carousel with Muschamp, Golden and Richt]

[Five reasons the Hurricanes should be more fired up about Sun Bowl assignment]

[Firing Tommy Hutton is ultimate proof Marlins won’t let anyone be happy]

I, for one, have said all I can think of to say about this through the years. Rose said he made one big mistake but it was many mistakes, and many lies to cover those mistakes. His playing career was epic, his managerial behavior appalling and his public life a strange mix of asking for mercy while giving no ground.

It’s a shame that Pete and the game he made so exciting can’t be joined again, but that’s not happening now.

If there is at least certainty that it will happen later, that would be an emotional release of some sort for Rose and all those who love him.

Not a home run, but an intentional base on balls.

Rose had a way of making those memorable, too, by hustling down to first, and memories are all we’re really talking about here anyway.

Muschamp, Golden and Richt take a ride on the dizzy coaching carousel

New South Carolina NCAA college head football coach Will Muschamp stands in the tunnel at Williams Brice Stadium Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Muschamp was officially introduced today as the new coach of the Gamecocks. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
New South Carolina NCAA college head football coach Will Muschamp stands in the tunnel at Williams Brice Stadium Monday in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Just a few random thoughts on the recent college coaching carousel and it how it impacts major names from our state schools. Some real puzzlers here.

Will Muschamp – The guy goes 1-3 against South Carolina as Florida’s head coach. Just last season his Gators blew a late-fourth quarter lead to lose to the Gamecocks in overtime, and it was that result that directly led to the announcement by his boss that Muschamp would not return in 2015 to coach Florida.

So who does South Carolina hire as its new coach? Will Muschamp, of course. He’ll be back in the Swamp on Nov. 12, 2016, leading the team that Steve Spurrier used to coach against the team that Steve Spurrier used to coach.

Al Golden – He sure didn’t gain much by staying loyal to Miami through a nasty NCAA investigation and sanctions that school officials didn’t warn Golden about at the time of his hiring.

In January of 2014 Golden was considered a candidate for the Penn State job, his alma mater. Now, after being let go by the Hurricanes, he can’t even get hired on at Rutgers back in his old New Jersey neighborhood. Rutgers announced Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash as its new coach Monday and that had to sting. Golden had already started following the Twitter accounts of New Jersey’s top high school prospects so you know he was interested.

Mark Richt – His Georgia career was highly successful overall but he lost that job based on an inability to beat Florida often enough. Richt went 5-10 against the Gators and didn’t put up much of a fight this season in a 27-3 loss that probably sealed his fate despite an overall record of 9-3.

So who quickly jumps in to snatch Richt up? The University of Miami, of course, otherwise known as the program that hates the Gators more than anyone logically could.

Wishing success for all of these coaches, who are also fine men. It’s just the quirkiness of this game that sometimes gets me. Always entertaining.

[Instinctively you knew this, but no 5-7 Dolphins team has ever gone on to make playoffs]

[We wanted firings, we got firings, but now it’s on-the-job training for rest of Dolphins staff]

[Sun Bowl may not be flashy, but here are five reasons Hurricanes should be fired up about it]

Sun Bowl isn’t flashy, but here are five reasons Miami should be more fired up about it

 

Looking for ways to motivate the Miami Hurricanes, and maybe even yourself, with a Sun Bowl appearance upcoming on Dec. 26?

sunbowlHere are five talking points that might help as the Hurricanes prepare to meet Washington State, and if interim coach Larry Scott manages to turn them into shouting points in the next few weeks, you’re welcome.

  1. If Miami wins the Sun Bowl, it will be the first team from the state of Florida to do so.

FSU went to El Paso a couple of times in the early years of that program and got thumped, losing            47-20 to Texas Western in 1955 and 28-20 to Wyoming in 1966. Florida finished 6-4-1 in 1977 and apparently didn’t care much about being in the Sun Bowl, losing 37-14 to Texas A&M. South Florida made it to the Sun Bowl in 2007 and got rolled 56-21 by Oregon.

  1. The Hurricanes don’t get off easy here, either. In an enticing brand-name matchup at the 2010 Sun Bowl, Notre Dame beat Miami 33-17. The score doesn’t reflect how painful this was, especially since the rivals hadn’t met in 20 years. The temperature was 34 degrees. The Irish jumped to a 27-0 lead. Miami was penalized 10 times, including four flags that gave first downs to Notre Dame. Misery all around.

A few lowlight clips from that game ought to get any Miami player’s goat, even though none of these guys were responsible. It was a case of looking lousy individually and as a team with a newly-hired head coach, Al Golden, looking on from the Sun Bowl press box. These Hurricanes won’t want that to happen again with Mark Richt in the position.

 

  1. The Sun Bowl has been around long enough to deserve a little respect. In fact, only the Rose Bowl preceded El Paso’s entrance into the college football bowl scene.

 

The Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Sun Bowl all debuted on Jan. 1, 1935. It was the year that the first Heisman Trophy was awarded, the year that Babe Ruth retired, the year that Gene Sarazen scored a double-eagle on No. 15 to spark a legendary victory at the Masters.

 

All right, that’s a lot of historic thunder to match against the Sun Bowl’s humble beginning, a game between the El Paso All-Stars and Ranger High School, but you get the picture. This bowl game didn’t just show up five minutes ago when some corporate sponsor thought it might be good to put the name of its product on ESPN’s Bowl Week schedule.

 

  1. Playing a game in El Paso gives the Hurricanes a chance to tap into the talent-rich Texas              recruiting market. Richt will want to do that. Golden never did. Unless I missed somebody, there’s not a player on the 2015 Hurricanes roster from the state of Texas.

 

If Charlie Strong is going to hit South Florida hard in his mission to build up the Texas Longhorns, Miami ought to return the favor. Winning the Sun Bowl would be a good advertisement for Hurricanes football in an underserved region.

 

  1. Being in the Sun Bowl might get Miami a little special attention from Lee Corso on the ESPN college football set.

 

Corso played for FSU in the 1955 edition of the game and set up a Seminoles touchdown with a 48-yard run. Did it make the difference? Not so fast, my friend. As mentioned above, Texas Western beat FSU by 27 points that day.

[Instinctively you knew this, but no 5-7 Dolphins team has ever rallied to make the playoffs]

[Firing upbeat Tommy Hutton proves that Marlins just won’t let anyone be happy]

[Learning from the Heat’s Big Three and their ugly 9-8 start five years ago]

 

Instinctively you knew this, but no 5-7 Dolphins team has ever rallied to make the playoffs

OK, so the Miami Dolphins are 5-7 and there’s a chance they still could make the playoffs as the wildest of wild-card teams.

The urge to reach for the delete key is so strong after typing that sentence, you have no idea.

I’ll stay strong, though, and let it stand, if only because it is technically, mathematically, hallucinogenically true.

Miami Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell calls a timeout near the end of the first quarter with assistant head coach Darren Rizzi (left) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on October 18, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell calls a timeout near the end of the first quarter with assistant head coach Darren Rizzi (left) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on October 18, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

We know it is because a website called PlayoffStatus.com stays up with this stuff, and the wizards there have verified that, as of this moment, there is less than a 1 percent probability that the Dolphins will break their seven-year postseason drought.

The Bills, just one win better at 6-6, are given a 27 percent chance of grabbing the final AFC wild-card spot. You remember Buffalo, the team that’s already beaten Miami twice this season.

Interesting, in a useless trivia sort of way, understanding that the 2-10 Cleveland Browns are the only AFC team officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Forget all the probabilities on all the things that need to fall Miami’s way, however, and trust this trend instead.

No 5-7 Dolphins team has ever made the playoffs. In fact, no Miami team worse than .500 at this stage of the season ever has.

Here’s the list of wins and losses through 12 games for every Miami team that ever made the playoffs, followed by the season’s final record. Left out is 1982, when a strike limited the season to nine games. Also note that prior to 1978 the NFL played 14-game regular seasons.

Season        Dolphins through 12 gms     Final record

1970                         8-4                                        10-4

1971                         9-2-1                                    10-3-1

1972                         12-0                                      14-0

1973                         11-1                                      12-2

1974                           9-3                                      11-3

1978                           8-4                                      11-5

1979                           7-5                                      10-6

1981                           7-4-1                                 11-4-1

1983                           8-4                                     12-4

1984                           11-1                                   14-2

1985                            8-4                                     12-4

1990                           9-3                                      12-4

1992                           8-4                                      11-5

1994                            8-4                                     10-6

1995                           6-6                                       9-7

1997                            7-5                                      9-7

1998                           8-4                                     10-6

1999                           8-4                                      9-7

2000                           9-3                                     11-5

2001                           9-3                                     11-5

2008                           7-5                                     11-5

 

In case you’re wondering about that Dolphins team that started 6-6 in 1995 and made the playoffs just the same, here’s how it went.

The AFC East had five teams at the time, with Indianapolis included with today’s more familiar mix. Buffalo won the division title at 10-6 and both the Colts and Dolphins got wild-card spots at 9-7 each. The other wild-card went that year to San Diego, also 9-7.

If Miami had won at Buffalo in the next-to-last regular season game rather than losing 23-20, it would have been the Dolphins winning the division. So what happened?

The same two teams met in the opening round of the playoffs, and Miami lost at Buffalo again, this time by 37-22. Oh, and the Bills rushed for 341 yards that day, an AFC playoff record that still stands 20 years later. A short while later Don Shula was replaced as Dolphins coach by Jimmy Johnson.

Wanted to provide a happier ending to this blog but these are the facts. Mediocre teams aren’t really meant for the playoffs, and today’s Dolphins still have some work to do before they get to mediocre.

 

 

 

 

We wanted firings, we got firings, and now it’s strictly on-the-job training for Dolphins staff

 

Let’s suppose for a minute that you’ve never heard of the Miami Dolphins or any of the names associated with the franchise. Follow along for a moment and see if the real-life scenario I paint suggests a strong finish to a bad season.

Miami Dolphins offensive cooridnator Bill Lazor at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on September 13, 2015.  (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Former Miami Dolphins offensive cooridnator Bill Lazor at FedExField in Landover, Maryland on September 13, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Start with an interim head coach who worked exclusively with the tight-ends unit until recently and is in his fifth season as a full-time NFL staffer.

This man fires both of his coordinators and replaces them with a couple of guys who are in their fourth years in the league. One of them, the new playcaller, is 32 and originally got a pro coaching job because his father-in-law brought him in.

The other, the team’s defensive coordinator, got his chance in the NFL through a friendship with the team’s previous head coach, the one whose firing started this whole midseason game of musical chairs.

Now when the current head coach, the interim, needs advice on tough personnel decisions like this, he can go to the executive vice president of football operations, who has been up and down with a handful NFL teams and until taking on this particular front office job was working as an agent.

Other sources of guidance for the young head coach?

Well, he could talk to his general manager, who tries hard but probably won’t be here next season, or his assistant head coach, who until a couple of months ago was the special-teams coordinator.

Oh, and there’s always the team owner, who acts more like a star-struck fan than a boss when it comes to football matters and seems always to want somebody else to make the call on who runs the team and how.

Put it all together and what have you got? A staff so inexperienced that nobody would be satisfied to place an expansion franchise in its charge, much less a respected organization that has been around for 50 years.

There’s no use worrying about it now, of course. Now doesn’t matter anymore.

How could it, given the real-life scenario we’ve just reviewed?

Every firing the Dolphins have made this season has reduced the team’s experience level when it comes to coaching and advanced the notion that making it up as you go along is a sound strategy.

Ross wouldn’t be rich if he ran his other business operations this way.

Ross never would have been in position to buy a team or a stadium or a fractured fantasy in the first place.

If Mario Cristobal truly is on UM’s list, Nick Saban won’t try to keep them apart

 

If Miami chooses not to pursue Mario Cristobal as its new head coach, it won’t be because Nick Saban forbids him from interviewing for the position at a time when the Crimson Tide are preparing for a College Football Playoff run.

The Hurricanes can talk to Cristobal or his representatives any time that it suits them, just like Colorado State talked to Jim McElwain in December of 2011.

Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal works with his players during football practice, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal works with his players during football practice, Nov. 25, 2015, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

McElwain, now head coach at Florida, was Alabama’s offensive coordinator at the time. He was named Colorado State’s head coach in mid-December but stayed in Tuscaloosa to help coach the Tide to a national championship win over LSU a few weeks later.

It’s a tricky proposition, wanting to get started on recruiting and networking at the new place, but what’s wrong with being connected with a fresh national title and showing off a fresh national title ring when it comes to impressing high school prospects?

Saban goes through this all the time with top assistants and fully understands the drill. In fact, he took the head coaching job himself at Michigan State in 1994 with a month to go on his duties as defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

Saban stayed with Bill Belichick, then the Browns’ coach, through the month of December and two playoff games that followed before reporting full-time to Michigan State.

This week Alabama is preparing for the SEC Championship game vs. Florida while at the same time defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is being identified in media reports as the new head coach at Georgia. Cristobal, if Miami wants him, is a great recruiter, particularly in South Florida, but he’s just another Alabama assistant with his name in the air and his focus divided.

Many of you are screaming, of course, that Saban has no right to say anything about anybody after the way he promised not to leave the Miami Dolphins for several weeks during December, 2006 and then did it anyway. I’m just trying to explain how this works.

[Once more Jimbo and the Seminoles rule the state of Florida]

[Firing Tommy Hutton is ultimate proof that Marlins won’t let anyone be happy]

[National title history shows that UM better hire a coach who majors in defense]

Miami is either testing the waters with Cristobal’s agent right now and trying to set up an interview following the SEC title game or else the Hurricanes just aren’t that interested in the guy. There’s no middle ground.

Meanwhile, here is what Saban said Monday in response to a question about the way McElwain handled the transition, signing a contract to be a head coach elsewhere but choosing to stay at Alabama and finish his job there.

“It speaks volumes of his character and his professionalism,” Saban said. “You know, he got the job and we did everything we could to help him get the job. He came back and did a fabulous job and we won the national championship.

“I think that people can focus on the job that they have now and take advantage of opportunities in the future, and you can do both things extremely well.”

Jimbo and the Seminoles rule the entire state once more with rout of Florida

GAINESVILLE —Silly to think now that the Florida Gators ever had a seat in the musical-chairs party game run by the College Football Playoff committee.

The Gators are only half a team, lacking offense. Or we could say a third of a team, lacking offense and the special-teams minimum of a guy who can kick a ball through the goalposts every now and then.

Florida State? Now that’s a complete package, right down to a 10-2 record that can be believed more than Florida’s. With Saturday’s 27-2 clobbering of the Gators before the biggest crowd ever to stuff into the Swamp, Jimbo Fisher proved once more that he is the big dog in this state.

Everybody else is chew-toy material, and Jimbo doesn’t want you stopping at Florida and Miami when it comes to that category.

“South Florida, too,” Jimbo said, revisiting FSU’s 34-14 September win over the Bulls. “All of them.

They saw patience on the part of an FSU team that knew it would eventually prevail, and in the end they saw Dalvin Cook, who switched from Florida to the Seminoles late in his own recruiting process, racking up 183 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns.

That last score, a 29-yard run with 20 seconds to play, didn’t have to happen. Jimbo could have called for quarterback Sean Maguire to take a knee on fourth-and-3. Instead he let the play clock run all the way down, took a timeout and set up a wide misdirection toss for Cook when the gassed Gator defense was all clumped up in the middle.

Hey, the Seminoles might have lost their shutout on a fourth-quarter safety, but Jimbo never misses an opportunity for a shoutout. That tack-on touchdown he viewed as his right.

Jim McElwain isn’t feeling that sporty right now, but he will one day at Florida, once he’s got a quarterback who won’t freeze up in the pocket and miss open receivers and drop shotgun snaps.

Treon Harris did all of that Saturday, soaking up four sacks and never completing a pass longer than 15 yards. With receivers like Antonio Callaway and the run support of a horse like Kelvin Taylor, who rushed for more than half of Florida’s 262 yards in total offense, a team ought to be stacking up first downs almost by accident.

Once Florida State’s lead got to 13-0 in the third quarter, though, it was clear there was no comeback coming. The same nagging snags that Vanderbilt and South Carolina and Florida Atlantic started in the Gators’ attack got ripped wide open by the Seminoles’ defense. How McElwain got 10 wins out of this group following the suspension of quarterback Will Grier in October is a tribute to what he is capable of doing.

Saturday also showed, however, how far McElwain really has to go, and how hard Jimbo, 5-1 against three different Florida coaches, is willing to push him.

“That’s something we’ve got to learn from,” said McElwain, who tried to be gentle in saying that he never considered pulling Harris.

What he didn’t say is that there is no viable option for the Gators, and that really hurts going into next Saturday’s SEC Championship game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide, unlike FSU, is still in line for a national title shot. They won’t be bothered in the least about trying to stopping Taylor if that’s all the Gators offense can offer.

[Firing Tommy Hutton is ultimate proof that Marlins can’t let anyone be happy]

[Better find a coach who majors in defense because that’s where UM’s title teams shined brightest]

[Learning from Heat’s Big Three and their ugly 9-8 start five years ago]

Jimbo, meanwhile, can hit the recruiting trail at full steam, free of rumors that LSU might be after him, buoyed by the prospect of a probable Peach Bowl appearance, one of the New Year’s Six prizes that everybody shoots for these days.

“If you go back through the dynasty years (at FSU) with national championship teams in there, they each have had many heartbreaking losses,” said Jimbo, whose team lost close to Clemson and clumsy to Georgia Tech this season. “Their dynasty to me is how they respond after the loss. They keep the pride of the organization going.

“That’s what this team has the capabilities to do now.”

We’ll hear more from the Seminoles in December, especially if Cook gets an invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, but for the moment FSU’s heavy lifting is done.

Jimbo has taken the unofficial state trophy and power-lifted it three years in a row.

There will never be a season in which that doesn’t matter.

There will never be a time, whether Florida and Miami are fully stocked or just a fraction of a whole, that it isn’t worth flaunting.

Remember that fourth-and-goal touchdown that opened the scoring for FSU Saturday night? That was a coach trusting his second-choice at quarterback to make something happen — and being rewarded when Maguire threw a scoring pass to a tight end, Jeremy Kerr, who previously had no collegiate receptions at all.

It can’t be Jameis Winston and domination every year, but it can be awful good no matter who Jimbo puts on the field. Good enough to win three straight trips to the Swamp. Good enough to expect nothing less.