Fisher, Malzahn teams have come a long way on one year
The Sports Xchange
NCAAF Team Report - Florida State - INSIDE SLANT
North Carolina State that derailed all championship hopes, and they openly questioned whether third-year coach Jimbo Fisher was the man to lead the Seminoles long term.
One season ago, Gus Malzahn was slumming it -- by major college football standards -- in the Sun Belt Conference at Arkansas State, waiting for his first shot to coach an FBS contender.
What a difference a year makes.
On Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., Fisher's No. 1-ranked, ACC champion Seminoles (13-0) will play for the BCS National Championship against No. 2 and SEC champion Auburn (12-1).
The Tigers, who hired Malzahn this past offseason to turn around a program coming off a 3-9 campaign -- including 0-6 in SEC play -- that was one of the worst in school history.
Florida State, which has had the help of emerging Heisman front runner Jameis Winston, wasn't even picked to win its own division in the ACC but won each game by at least 14 points and went 8-0 in conference play.
And Auburn, which has won nine straight to get this far -- including back-to-back thrillers against top-5 teams Alabama and Missouri -- began the season unranked.
It's the matchup no one saw coming, but everyone can't wait to see.
And in the final year of the often-controversial Bowl Championship Series before college football moves to a four-team playoff in 2014, it appears the BCS committee nailed this one.
College football's best team vs. its hottest.
"We all complained about the BCS and everything that goes on, but it's funny how many times they get it right," said Fisher, whose comments we're echoed by Malzahn during their Sunday evening conference call shortly after the BCS committee announced its final pairing.
"It ought to be a good one," Malzahn said.
It will also be nostalgic.
After 16 years, the final installment of the BCS will feature a school that played in the format's very first national title game in 1998 -- the Seminoles.
It will be the fourth BCS title game in school history for Florida State, which is 1-2 in championship, and second for the Tigers, who are 1-0 in their only appearance.
Florida State, which played in three straight BCS title games from 1998-2000, won its last in 1999 when the Seminoles beat Virginia Tech.
Fisher was a young, relatively inexperienced assistant coach at, of all places, Auburn around the time. And the nostalgia will only continue when he faces his former team.