2014 Football, Game 2: The Citadel vs. Florida State

The Citadel at Florida State, to be played at Doak Campbell Stadium, with kickoff at 7:30 pm ET on Saturday, September 6. The game will be televised on various regional sports networks around the country (list). The TV announcers for the contest will be Wes Durham (play-by-play) and James Bates (analysis), with Hans Heiserer serving as the sideline reporter.

The game can be heard on radio via the various affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. Mike Legg (the newly minted “Voice of the Bulldogs”) will call the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze. It is also possible to listen to the action with a smartphone, using a TuneIn Radio application.

WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station for The Citadel Sports Network. The game broadcast will be produced by Jay Harper, who will also provide updates on other college football action.

Links of interest:

The Citadel game notes

Florida State game notes

SoCon weekly release

ACC weekly release

Mike Houston’s 9/2 press conference

Mike Houston on the SoCon teleconference

ACC teleconference (Jimbo Fisher at the 12:50 mark)

Florida State practice report (with video)

Underlying and supporting the educational experience at Florida State University is the development of new generations of citizen leaders, based on the concepts inscribed in our seal: Vires, Artes, Mores — Strength, Skill and Character…

…Florida State’s 40,000 students are dedicated to academic excellence and providing leadership in our complex world.

Florida State University’s 16 colleges offer more than 275 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, professional and specialist degree programs, including medicine and law, covering a broad array of disciplines critical to society today. Each year the University awards over 2,000 graduate and professional degrees.

Florida State University’s origins can be traced back to a legislative plan in 1823, before Florida had even attained statehood. An academy called the Florida Institute began in 1857, and became co-educational the following year.

During the Civil War, the school was known as the Florida Military and Collegiate Institute, with a component of it dedicated to training military cadets. Some of those cadets fought in the Battle of Natural Bridge in Tallahassee.

Because of that student involvement, FSU’s Army ROTC unit is authorized to display a battle streamer with its flag. Only two other schools have authorized Confederate battle streamers — VMI (which has one for the Battle of New Market) and The Citadel (multiple streamers for various campaigns).

Tangent: some sources indicate the University of Mississippi also has an authorized battle streamer, but I have been unable to confirm this. There are two schools that have streamers for other wars — William & Mary (for the Siege of Yorktown, during the Revolutionary War) and the University of Hawai’i (for Pearl Harbor).

By 1901, the school was a four-year institution, but a big change came in 1905, when Florida’s educational system was reorganized. At that time, the University of Florida (in Gainesville) became a school for white men. The school located in Tallahassee became the Florida Female College (the same legislative act also led to the institution now known as Florida A&M).

The split also resulted in the elimination of the football program, which had started in 1902, since there were no longer any male students.

The school remained an all-women’s college until 1947, when the renamed Florida State University became co-ed again. It also re-started the football program.

After a winless 1947 season (0-5), the Seminoles would win 30 of 34 games over the next four years, competing for three of those seasons in the Dixie Conference. Florida State played in its first bowl game during this time, beating Wofford 19-6 in the 1950 Cigar Bowl (played in Tampa following the 1949 regular season).

Teams in the Dixie Conference didn’t offer athletic scholarships. FSU left the league when it began to offer athletic scholarships after the 1950 season. Florida State would remain an independent in football until it joined the ACC in 1992.

The Seminoles were 38-34-1 from 1953 through 1959, playing in bowl games in 1954 and 1958. While FSU had a few players move on to the NFL during this era, two of the more notable football alums in this time period didn’t play pro football.

The two players to whom I’m referring are Lee Corso (a fine QB/DB for Florida State from 1953-56) and Burt “Buddy” Reynolds (an injury-plagued halfback for the Seminoles between 1954-57). You’ve probably heard of them.

By 1959, Florida State had designs on an SEC invite. The school president wrote each of the twelve SEC presidents asking for admission. It didn’t happen.

The coach for the 1959 football team was Perry Moss, who left for the CFL after only one season in Tallahassee (FSU finished 4-6 that year). Florida State hired Bill Peterson to replace him.

Peterson had been an assistant at LSU under Paul Dietzel. He would be the first man to raise FSU’s profile in the world of college football, setting the stage (after a couple of coaching hiccups) for the sustained success the Seminoles would later enjoy under Bobby Bowden.

Bowden was an assistant during part of Peterson’s tenure at Florida State, one of a number of outstanding coaches to serve under “Coach Pete”. Bill Peterson’s first staff in 1960 included Don James; other coaches who would later become Peterson assistants included Joe Gibbs, Dan Henning, Bill Parcells, Earle Bruce (when Peterson was a high school coach in Ohio), and Bobby Ross (during Peterson’s one season as head coach of Rice).

Besides hiring and tutoring outstanding coaches, Peterson was also known as being something of a malaprop artist. His best known line is probably this one, addressed to his players at the beginning of a practice:

You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle

Peterson would later become known for basically introducing pro-style offense to southern college football, but in 1960 he was just trying to get a handle on a team that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. One reason Florida State hadn’t been welcomed with open arms to the SEC was its record on the gridiron against league foes. FSU had only beaten one SEC team (Tennessee in 1958) up to that point in its football history.

The 1960 season began with some promise. Florida State beat Richmond 28-0, then played creditably in a 3-0 loss to Florida. The Seminoles followed that up with a 14-6 victory over Wake Forest, a bit of an upset.

The next game on the schedule for FSU was on October 8, against The Citadel.

I’m going to spend the next few paragraphs writing about that game. Why am I writing about a game played in 1960 when this is supposed to be a preview for Saturday’s contest?

Well, why not? It’s not like anyone is reading this to find out what Florida State’s 4th-down conversion rate was last season (it was 75%, by the way; the Seminoles only went for it on 4th down four times in 14 games, converting three of them).

The 1960 matchup is almost certainly the most memorable tie in The Citadel’s long gridiron history. It’s worth taking a closer look at that game.

The Citadel had gone 8-2 in 1959, the first season of a three-year run that was up to that time the finest in school history. Included in those eight victories was a 20-14 victory over West Virginia in Morgantown to close out the campaign, perhaps best remembered for Paul Maguire’s school-record 83-yard punt.

The 1960 campaign for the Bulldogs began with a shutout of Newberry. The Citadel then lost a tough game at George Washington before slipping past Davidson the following week. Thus, The Citadel was 2-1 when Florida State came to town.

The two schools had met twice before, and neither game had been close. In 1959, FSU had beaten The Citadel 47-6. A few years earlier, in 1955, the Seminoles had shut out the Bulldogs 39-0.

Both of those games were played in Tallahassee. In 1960, however, for the first (and only) time, FSU made the journey to Charleston to play the military college.

A crowd of 11,200 on a “terribly humid” night (per The Tallahassee Democrat) gathered at Johnson Hagood Stadium to watch the action.

Bill Peterson, taking a page from his former boss Paul Dietzel, had installed “platoon” football at Florida State. The rules for substitution at the time were different than they are today; there were limitations on moving players in and out of a game.

While many of the players on The Citadel’s squad played both offense and defense, FSU had three distinct units. The first team players were known as the “Chiefs”. The other two platoons were made up of offensive specialists (the “War Party”) and defensive stalwarts (“Renegades”).

One of the things that stood out to me while looking at the statistics for this game was the lack of possessions. The Citadel’s offense appears to have had the ball for eleven drives during the game, while FSU had ten drives. A mistake could be very costly, in that each team only had so many opportunities to score with the limited number of possessions.

The Citadel took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, getting nice first down runs from both Early Eastburn and Tommy Edwards, but got bogged down in the red zone and missed a short field goal. It would be one of two times the Bulldogs moved the ball inside the FSU 20-yard line during the contest.

Florida State answered that drive with one of its own, a 20-play marathon that included two 15-yard penalties against the Seminoles (one of which negated a TD). On fourth and three from the Bulldogs’ 8-yard line, Florida State elected to throw the ball into the end zone, but the attempt fell incomplete.

FSU’s next possession resulted in a missed field goal attempt, a 33-yarder. Placekicking was not the Seminoles’ strong suit. In 1960, FSU only attempted four field goals all season — and missed all four of them.

Later in the second quarter, The Citadel again moved into FSU territory, but a penalty stopped the drive. FSU did nothing on its ensuing possession and punted the ball back to the Bulldogs. However, the half ended just as the cadets crossed midfield.

Florida State was the first team to mount a scoring threat in the second half. The Seminoles got all the way to the Bulldogs’ 16-yard line, but on 4th-and-2, FSU halfback Bud Whitehead (who later played in the AFL for eight seasons) was stuffed for a one-yard loss.

Another drive for Florida State was blunted by The Citadel at the Bulldogs’ 41-yard line, and the FSU punt that followed was short (13 yards). That led to The Citadel’s best offensive possession of the second half, which included big runs by Eastburn and . Edwards, and a pass from Jerry Nettles to Bill Gilgo.

The Bulldogs moved inside the FSU 20. At that point Bill Peterson changed platoons and brought in the Renegades. The Citadel promptly lost a fumble and the scoring chance was over.

With just over six minutes to play, Florida State got great field position after a quick kick by the Bulldogs went awry, taking over at The Citadel 38-yard line. A long pass play moved the ball to the 10.

A short run advanced the pigskin to the Bulldogs’ 7-yard line, but on the next play a pass into the end zone was intercepted by Nettles.

Florida State had one more chance to score, but after moving the ball inside The Citadel 40, the Seminoles were thwarted when Gilgo sacked the quarterback for a 16-yard loss. The game ended with the Bulldogs in possession, but in their own territory.

Both teams finished the game with 16 first downs. The Citadel outgained FSU, 278-265, but committed two turnovers to the Seminoles’ one.

Bill Peterson was complimentary to The Citadel afterwards, telling The Tallahassee Democrat that the Bulldogs “deserved the tie because [The Citadel] played better” and that “the crowd inspired them”, mentioning the Seminoles had trouble hearing signals due to all the noise in the stadium.

The reporter for the Tallahassee paper said that the Bulldogs had been “hypnotized with inspiration”.

I mention the Peterson quotes in part because over the years, I’ve heard different stories about this game, including the attitudes of Peterson and some of his players. However, I have not found any documentary evidence that Peterson was rude, demanding, and/or abrasive prior to the game, or after it was over. Maybe he was, but I’ve seen no real proof.

It doesn’t matter anyway. The tie was a fine result for The Citadel, which would finish the 1960 season 8-2-1, including a win in the Tangerine Bowl, the program’s first (and only) trip to a bowl. That win in the Tangerine Bowl is also the only victory in The Citadel’s history to have occurred in the state of Florida.

The following year, the school would celebrate seven more victories and its first Southern Conference title. One of the three defeats that year came against FSU (44-8), but that game was played after the SoCon crown had already been wrapped up.

As for Florida State, the Seminoles finished the 1960 season 3-6-1. Peterson gradually built FSU into a power, culminating in the 1964 season, which saw the Seminoles finish 9-1-1, defeating Florida for the first time in school history and beating Oklahoma in the Gator Bowl.

Some trivia about that 1960 game:

– It was the final tie game in the history of Johnson Hagood Stadium.

– The Citadel would play more than two decades of football before being involved in another tie game (28-28 at Chattanooga in 1981). At that time, the number of consecutive games without a tie was an NCAA record.

The tiebreaking non-tie game came in 1980, and any fan who wore a tie to the game could bring a friend for free.

– Eddie Teague’s only other tie in nine years as head coach of The Citadel came in his very first game in charge at the military college, the season opener in 1957 against Newberry. The score of that game? 0-0.

When Bill Peterson first got the job at Florida State, he offered an assistant position to Bill Crutchfield, who had also been offered a job at Miami. Crutchfield took the Miami job in part because “Miami had the big schedule and Florida State was still playing The Citadel”.

Since then, almost 55 years have passed, and Florida State is the defending BCS champion and on anyone’s list of elite college football programs. And what team will the Seminoles be playing on Saturday? The Citadel…

Mike Houston isn’t really excited about his squad being on FSU’s schedule.

At his press conference, he was asked, “For future schedules, would you like to see more big teams, big games like this one?”

His answer was, shall we say, abrupt:

No. Not unless I get 85 scholarships.

Of course, The Citadel isn’t really in a position to drop FBS matchups, as noted in Jeff Hartsell’s article the next day.

As was mentioned in the story, the programmatic differences between The Citadel and Florida State don’t stop with the disparity in scholarships. Just to mention one example, FSU spent over $250,000 per scholarship football player in 2012 (the most recent year compiled in the Knight Commission’s spending database). The Citadel spent slightly under $60,000 per scholarship player.

Houston seemed a bit more open-minded, if cautious, when asked about the subject in the SoCon teleconference:

If the game is something that is a positive for the program, then I’m all for it…right now with the program we’re kind of at the ground floor building…my hopes are that one day we can get the program where it can be competitive in games against some of the FBS opponents. That’s when I think you see more purpose from it. You get a game like this — I don’t know.

I can understand his point of view. However, the annual game or two against FBS opponents isn’t just about the money (although that’s a huge factor, of course). Most players enjoy competing in the games and measuring themselves against top-flight opponents. Travelling to FBS games can also be enjoyable excursions for fans of the program.

I look forward to the day when the program can “be competitive against some of the FBS opponents”. On the other hand, schools like Arkansas and South Carolina may not be quite as excited by that possibility.

Of course, Houston may not have to worry about playing FBS opponents in the future, if a few of the coaches and administrators at the “power five” conferences get their way. I hope they don’t, as I’ve written about before.

Normally I would write about an opponent’s statistics, discuss its players, etc., as they relate to The Citadel. It seems pointless to do so for this game, for obvious reasons. I’ll just make a few quick comments:

– Last season, Florida State averaged over 51 points per game. As Bill Connelly of SB Nation pointed out, the Seminoles also had (at least statistically) the nation’s best defense.

– Mike Houston suggested in his press conference that, based on watching him play on Saturday, Jameis Winston appears to be even stronger and faster than he was last year. You may not know this, but last year Winston won the Heisman Trophy.

– Only twice last year did FSU win by fewer than 27 points — against Auburn in the BCS title game, and at Boston College (and the estimable Andre Williams). Florida State still won the latter game by two touchdowns.

The fact that the Seminoles were so rarely challenged in 2013 made last week’s 37-31 victory against Oklahoma State all the more surprising. It is true FSU never trailed in the game, but it still gave people something to think about.

Florida State returns a lot of the same players that helped it win a title last year, and it’s not like there is a lack of 5-star quality athletes ready to step in for the players who left, anyway. This is not a team with anything resembling a true weakness.

That said, I think if I were an FSU fan I would be concerned about three things: 1) Winston’s health; 2) trying to find a difference-maker along the defensive line who can measure up to Timmy Jernigan (not easy, despite a surfeit of DT talent); and 3) the transition to a new defensive coordinator.

Jeremy Pruitt did a great job in Tallahassee. He’ll now be doing a great job in Athens.

Odds and ends:

– Last year, Florida State played one FCS opponent, Bethune-Cookman. The Seminoles won the game 54-6. That was the fewest points scored against an FCS team by FSU since Jimbo Fisher became head coach.

– Besides being the home opener, Saturday will be Hall of Fame day at Florida State. Included among the honorees are former football players Amp Lee and Aaron Carter.

James Bates, the analyst for the TV broadcast of the game, was a linebacker at Florida and played for that school’s 1996 national title team. That was the year Florida beat Florida State in a rematch (in the Sugar Bowl) to claim the crown.

If the TV crew is introduced during the game, I’m sure Bates will get a warm welcome from the FSU faithful.

– Saturday’s game is officially a sellout, just like The Citadel’s game last season against Clemson. The bottom line: people all over the country want to see The Citadel in person.

This game is not exactly a must-win for The Citadel, but it definitely is for Florida State. There is no way the Seminoles can lose on Saturday and remain in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

A win by The Citadel in Doak Campbell Stadium would be the stuff of legends. There would be a movie, maybe a miniseries. Several books would be published about the game (at least one of them would be written by me).

Could it happen? Hey, anything can happen, even for a 52 1/2 point underdog like The Citadel. Is it likely? No.

All I really want to see from the Bulldogs in this game is on-field progress. Yes, there can be progress in a matchup like this.

Obviously, avoiding injuries would be high on the wish list too, but players can get hurt in any game, and in any setting. That’s the nature of the sport.

More than anything, I hope The Citadel’s players (and fans) at the game have some fun, and enjoy some kind of positive experience that they will always remember.

I also hope FSU’s check clears.

Go Dogs!

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