The 2012 college football season did not go the way the Florida State Seminoles wanted it to, but they still punched a ticket for their big return to the BCS stage after a long hiatus.
It took a lot of clawing and a lot of fighting to get the 21-15 victory over Georgia Tech, but Florida State is where it belongs, atop the Atlantic Coast Conference.
2012 was a year that led folks to question head coach Jimbo Fisher, quarterback EJ Manuel and even the team as a whole. The loss to North Carolina State was a major disappointment, and the beating by Florida was even more damaging.
As expansion rumors swirled and folks wondered about the future of the program, on the field, Jimbo's team finally finished the drill.
In his first year, Fisher made the ACC Championship Game, but his team could not beat the more experienced Hokies. In his second year, Clemson beat the Seminoles, and Fisher's squad had a goal to work toward for this season.
While the national championship, undefeated record and beating the Gators escaped the Seminoles, they were able to grab one of the central goals of the season—getting back to a BCS bowl.
After all the struggles through the "Lost Decade," the Florida State Seminoles are back on the big stage and ready to show the world that they are, in a way, back.
There is still work to do, but Jimbo Fisher and the Garnet and Gold can relax and realize that they have finally arrived on the big stage.
The new facilities, the training table, the new strength and conditioning techniques and approach to football. They are all paying the dividends folks hoped for when they ousted Bobby Bowden.
As long as the Seminoles can keep the train moving forward, this should be a building block, not just a moment in time. As they replace some key pieces next year, things will be interesting, but the talent and depth are there. Winning is, again, becoming the norm in Tallahassee.
So yes, Florida State is back, kind of. The Seminoles missed a golden opportunity to finish undefeated in the ACC, and they have some work to do to beat the Gators, but they are sitting in the Orange Bowl as the dust settles. Given the way things have gone since 2006, this is certainly a major accomplishment for Jimbo Fisher and his team.
Now, the goal is to go down and win this thing. Not just for the Seminoles, but for the ACC, a conference that has been flat-out woeful in BCS bowls. Hopefully Florida state can erase the 70-33 Clemson loss to West Virginia with a victory in Miami.
The Seminoles finally made it to the big stage. After season upon season of wondering when they would get back to the big time, we finally have our answer.
With the way things are going on the recruiting trail and in player development, don't expect Jimbo's team to go anywhere anytime soon.