Seminole fans, get ready for one of the longest off-seasons in your life. Florida State football ended 2010 on a fantastic note, and has all us eagerly awaiting for one of the most anticipated seasons in a long time, and that excitement is well warranted.
Now, if you're a Seminole fan, you're always excited about the upcoming season. But this year feels different than recent years. Our success in 2010 was clearly a step in the right direction, and these players and coaches have made believers in 'Nole fans everywhere again.
If I may first offer some perspective here, FSU rang in the 21st Century as National Champions and was a game away from doing it again the following year. After that unfortunate loss to OU in the 2001 Championship Game, we found solace in the fact that it was probably only a matter of time until we were back in the National Championship game again. We would regroup and reload like we had the previous seasons and get back on the national stage. Yet as we all know getting back is harder than it has ever been.
There's no need for a further history lesson, as the Seminole faithful know all too well the challenges the team went through the last 10 years. Yet I will say this: every year, before the new season started, there was always hope that "this would be the year." Despite all the ups and downs, most FSU fans never lost faith in the program. There were still thousands of fans who bled Garnet and Gold just like they did during the glory years.
To those passionate fans, alumni, and students, I say this: Your faith will be rewarded.
We've actually already seen that faith rewarded, and it started in 2010; specifically on Thanksgiving weekend when FSU ended a six year losing streak to UF. Not only did the 'Noles win they did it in grand fashion, 31-7. (Actually should've been 38-7 had the officials ruled that late fumble a live ball; that thing was going to the house!) On top of that, NC State's loss that day meant we were now on our way to Charlotte to for the ACC Championship Game.
As I sat there knowing we were championship game bound, watching the "Gator head" resurrected and the student section pulling out the bleachers in excitement, I was reminded that this is what it's all about (well, except the vandalism!). Every fan goes through a down period, but like anything in life, challenges make you stronger; because once the good times start to roll again, it all feels that much sweeter. I think the excitement and happiness Nole Nation felt that November day will be a feeling that will continue in the very near future. And this isn't just blind hype from a fan; the expectations for this year are as real as it gets.
When it comes to 2011, many in the national media are picking Florida State to be ranked in the Top 10 of their pre-season polls... some say as high as number 2! I don't see any reason special things can't happen this coming season. Not to mention the 16 starters coming back!
Of course there are still questions going forward. How will Coach Fisher prepare the team for expected success this year? Will the players continue to develop? Will EJ Manuel be as a good as we've seen him once he's the full-time starter? Can the defense continue to improve? These are all questions that we have to wait for to be answered.
All in all, enjoy this time fellow Nole fans. In recent memory, there's been no greater time to be a Seminole. Here's to all the fans that stuck with FSU through thick and thin, as we all start to believe in the hype and get excited for an awesome 2011.