The 21st century term is “tipping point.” The older folks might call it the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Or the beginning of the end.
When Ron Zook started talking about “noise in the system” at Florida, he began tipping. An ugly loss at Mississippi State proved to be his breaking point.
Say what you want about Jim McElwain’s various issues during his three years as Head Gator, but some of us think the early exit began when he mishandled fallout from that “nude man on shark” photo that exploded on social media. Yes, the man looked like Jimmy Mac. No, it wasn’t Jimmy Mac. But he reacted with the least amount of humor possible, which sorta explained a lot.
In Tallahassee, the movers and shakers finally had it up to here with Jimbo Fisher complaining about FSU’s lack of 5-star facilities. So when Texas A&M sent a driver, the Seminoles held the door for Jimbo and fetched his coat.
Just a week into the 2019 season, it’s impossible to know how the rest of this college football season will unfold. But I gotta say, if losing that big lead to Boise State wasn’t bad enough, Willie Taggart’s hydration chatter really has really given the FSU faithful reason to toss and turn.
In case you missed it: On Taggart’s weekly call-in radio show Monday, the FSU head coach talked about proper hydration, which seemed timely given that some Seminoles dealt with cramps during their come-from-ahead loss to Boise State.
“They need to start hydrating early in the week and take care of their bodies,” Taggard said. “We can't leave it up to our players just to do it. We’ve got to force them to hydrate and take care of themselves. I don't know if we did a good job of that last weekend. One of those situations where you live and learn, and we'll make sure that we help our guys when it comes to that.”
Except, Taggart said two days later, he was actually talking about the week ahead, not last Saturday. No blame on FSU’s training staff, he insisted. His clarification came during a midweek media availability, and while Taggart certainly has every right to correct the context — or at least retroactively amend it — his method seemed questionable.
WATCH: Willie Taggart explains his hydration comments.
Taggart is, by all accounts, a solid guy with an actual personality and first-rate comportment. You know, not your typical big-league college football coach. He mostly smiled while issuing his clarification, and even uncapped and pointedly sipped from a water bottle to hopefully make light of the situation — that’s my guess, anyway. He included a Powerade-versus-Gatorade quip near the end.
All of this, of course, is very minor. Less than that, actually. If it doesn’t disappear forever, it should.
Except that Taggart is 5-8 as FSU’s head football coach. FSU isn’t Alabama, Texas, Michigan or some other major program where championship-caliber football has been a birthright since leather helmets and drop-kicks. FSU’s football fanaticism is relatively youthful compared to the old Bluebloods.
But it’s entrenched enough that big-money flows through the booster suites. Big booster money is what keeps the footballs inflated. TV money must be shared with others. Not booster money. And when you follow a 5-7 season with an opening loss, after blowing a 31-13 second-half lead, the boosters leap past disgruntled and begin whispering questions about the contractual buyout language.
They don't usually find humor in a coach's prop comedy.
Fair or not, as Hyman Roth would say, this is the business Taggart has chosen. He knows the score. He also knows, if the current FSU mess gives way to its former glitz, if the wins start coming back week after week, by November this whole hydration issue will, you know, be water under the bridge.
Some UCF fans felt the Knights’ No. 17 preseason ranking was a tad insulting. But not when compared to last year’s No. 21 starting spot, back when they were coming off an undefeated season and still had their starting quarterback.
And then the Knights roll through their easy opener, beating Florida A&M 62-0, and guess what. They actually dropped a spot in the AP top 25, to 18th. Now, I’m no math major, but I can decipher a trend when I see one.
So, at this rate of winning a game and dropping a spot, by the time they’re 9-0 the Knights will be out of the top 25 entirely. Here’s looking at No. 19 in next week’s poll — UCF 33, FAU 20.
• Elsewhere, Clemson by 12 over Texas A&M; Vandy outsmarts Purdue; LSU by 3 over Texas; FSU over Louisiana Monroe by two cases of Dasani; Georgia Tech beats USF; Florida by 55 over Tennessee Ernie Martin; Tennessee in OT over BYU; Michigan by just 8 over Army; Stetson big over Louisiana; and the Hawks of Hartwick, at home, by 14 over the Wilkes Colonels.
BTW: Hartwick plays its home games at Wright Stadium in Oneonta, N.Y., hometown of both Jerry Jeff Walker and Pee-Wee Herman. Go figure.
Wilkes University is in Pennsylvania and its roll-call of alumni includes three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane, who was known as “The Chemist” but not for reasons you might suspect — he majored in math and chemistry at Wilkes.
Reach Ken Willis at email@example.com