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Norvell’s Portal Heavy Rebuild Strategy a Risky Business



Credit: FSU Twitter

The Florida State Seminoles are gearing up for a pivotal match against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl this coming Saturday. This New Year’s Six bowl matchup, however, is overshadowed by a controversy that has engulfed the Seminoles since the season’s end. Despite completing an undefeated season with a victory over Louisville, Florida State was not selected as one of the four playoff teams, a decision that has since dominated the team and its fan base’s attention. This discontent even prompted Senator Rick Scott to demand transparency from College Football Chairman Boo Corrigan regarding the selection committee’s process.

The aftermath of this snub has had a noticeable impact on the Seminoles, both as a team and within their fan base, leading to a sense of defeat and inability to move forward. This isn’t the first instance of such an oversight in college football; in 2000, the Miami Hurricanes were similarly overlooked for the National Championship game, despite defeating FSU. However, Miami bounced back to win the National Championship the following year. In contrast, FSU’s response to their current situation points to deeper issues within the program, notably under head coach Mike Norvell.

Norvell, who was already on thin ice after his first two seasons, turned to the transfer portal for rebuilding the team. An FSU booster confided in me that Norvell would not make it past year three if the Noles did not show significant improvement. Norvell’s strategy paid off, leading the Seminoles to win ten games and a bowl game against Oklahoma in his third year, followed by an undefeated season. However, the team’s momentum faltered significantly after the injury of his star quarterback Jordan Travis, leading to a wave of opt-outs and transfers. For the Noles around 20 players who won’t be participating in the upcoming game including the following notable players:

QB- Tate Rodemaker (transfer)
RB1 Trey Benson ( opt out)
RB2 Lawrance Toafili (injury)
RB3 Rodny Hill ( transfer)
WR1 Keon Coleman (opt out)
Wr2 Johnny Wilson (opt out)
TE1 Jaheim Bell (opt out)
DE1 Jared Verse (opt out)
DT2 Fabien Lovett (opt out)
LB3 DJ Lundy( transfer)
CB1 Renardo Green (opt out)
NickleJarrian Jones (opt out)
SS1- Akeem Dent (opt out)

While FSU faces this predicament, it’s worth noting that other teams, like Georgia, have similar challenges with players opting out or transferring. Rusty Mansell reported that approximately 20-22 Georgia players might not play in the Orange Bowl. The crucial difference lies in Georgia’s ability to retain most of its starting roster, as Kirby Smart indicated that absences are primarily due to injury concerns or transfers.

Norvell’s strategy of heavily relying on the transfer portal has arguably created a mercenary-like team culture, prioritizing immediate success over long-term commitment. This approach contrasts sharply with that of Mario Cristobal at Miami, who focuses on high school recruitment and uses the portal more strategically. Cristobal’s long-term vision is gradually building a sustainable program, evident in the Canes’ recent improvements and strong back to back recruiting classes. Miami is expected to take a leap next year as Cristobal will mostly have over 90% of his own players on the roster and with a significant amount of 2023 and 2024 signees that will have multiple years within the program.

For Norvell and the Seminoles, the future seems daunting. With a need to replicate past success through the transfer portal and the challenge of boosting their recruiting rankings, the Seminoles face a critical juncture. The upcoming Orange Bowl not only presents an opportunity to challenge a formidable Georgia team but also serves as a litmus test for the direction and development of young players in the Florida State program. Norvell’s ability to navigate these challenges will be crucial in determining the future of the Seminoles in 2024 and beyond.

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