After 36 consecutive seasons ending with a bowl game, the Florida State Seminoles finished their 2018 season with a 5-7 record and were ineligible for a postseason appearance.
A lot happened for the Seminoles from 1981 up to that point, such as three National Championships, 15 ACC titles, three Heisman Trophy winners and 35 consensus All-Americans. When college football’s all-time bowl streak ended, everyone took shots at FSU, but people should really just appreciate such an impressive feat.
FSU’s Record 36-Year Bowl Streak
Going 41 years with a winning record in the regular season and posting 36-straight years of bowl eligibility is amazing, but all streaks must come to an end. The fact that a team made a bowl game every season I have been alive, plus another 10 years on top of that, is wild.
Florida State has been a model of consistency over the last 40 years under just three head coaches — mainly, Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher, until the program stumbled under Willie Taggart before Mike Norvell’s takeover in 2020.
Even though the Taggart era was over after two seasons, it isn’t all on him. Fisher left this team in rough shape after leaving when he almost led the team to a losing record.
But this isn’t the time to be embarrassed. It’s time to celebrate that it happened, and how no other program ever made more consecutive bowl games in FBS football history. It does suck it was ended by a in the Florida Gators, but the longest bowl streak they ever had was 22-straight seasons.
It might be lame, but Dr Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
So let’s celebrate it, and look back at the longest streak of bowl appearances in NCAA history.
The Longest Bowl Streak in CFB History
Bobby Bowden led the program into an iconic rise from 4-29 in the three seasons prior to 39-8 in four seasons after his first. In Bowden’s first season in Tallahassee, the ‘Noles missed out on a bowl game with a 5-6 record — the last losing season before 2018 — but would only miss out two more times in his next 33 seasons leading the team.
It was in the 12th season under Bowden that Florida State really hit its stride. In 1987, the Seminoles went 11-1 and began a 14-year streak of winning double-digit games. That streak contained two National Championship teams, 1993 and 1999.
Florida State’s National Championship
In 2010, Jimbo Fisher took over and continued the streak with bowl appearances in all eight of his seasons in Tallahassee. The ‘Noles won at least 10 games in six of those eight seasons, including a 14-0 record and National Championship in 2013.
The 2017 season was by far the program’s worst season under Fisher with a 7-6 record. The team nearly missing out on a bowl-game, needing three consecutive wins to end that season, which leads us to 2018.
In the nearly 40 years since FSU missed a bowl game, they had dozens of accolades, as a team as well as individuals. Quarterbacks Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Jameis Winston each won the Heisman Trophy. Numerous Seminoles earned consensus All-American honors in that time period.
Seven players made that list twice: Deion Sanders, Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Sebastian Janikowski, Peter Warrick and Alex Barron. In addition, 15 Players have been unanimous All-Americans, Sanders being the only one to do that twice.
Only five schools have as many or more national championships as FSU since 1982. Florida, Washington, and Nebraska are tied with three apiece while Miami has five and Alabama has seven.
Very few schools have had as much success over the past 40 seasons. There are schools who have a more storied past and have more well-known traditions, but Florida State isn’t out-shined on the field by many over the last four decades. All schools have down years. The most important thing for the Seminoles moving forward is to make sure this is just a few seasons, not decades of mostly mediocrity.
This post was originally published on March 13, 2020, but had been updated.