Welcome to the special season finale edition of the FMI! Today we celebrate the lack of celebration, applaud the pained silence, and sing Hail to the Victims (extra valid at the Peach Bowl).
Maybe I’m naive but I honestly wasn’t expecting much movement out of bowl season. I have never been more happy to be wrong, as the bowl season produced a healthy dose of reality to scores of fans who thought maybe things just might end on a high note. We even had a pair of dream crushing double-drops to finish out the season.
There is a LOT to talk about this week, so let’s take a look at the big board:
MISERY OF NOTE
- Syracuse capped their season in the best possible way: by executing a two-level drop for West Virginia, whose fans might have been thinking things were finally getting back on track. Instead they got dunked on by the Orange and two days later Dana Holgorsen went out for cigarettes and ended up in Houston. The FMI does not currently have a method for tracking coaching carousel effects on the fan psyche, but rest assured that WV fans will be working this one out with their therapist.
- Not only did the Cheez-It Bowl deliver one of my favorite games of the season, it proved once again that Cheez-Its can deliver a small amount of happiness even in the darkest of circumstances. It was like TCU sat on a couch enjoying a little snack while reading a subpoena.
- The clutch finish of the year goes to the Iowa Hawkeyes, who used an Outback Bowl beatdown to vault themselves from the Third Circle to the First right as time expired. This in turn helped Mississippi State land a yearly honor - but more on that later.
- Admit it: you enjoy the fact that after spending the entire season on the top tier Notre Dame got wholloped by Clemson hard enough to land them in the Second Circle for the off season. They’re Catholic and hence not allowed anything comparable to joy anyway. It was prideful, probably.
We aren’t finished yet, though! What competition would be complete without some end of the year awards?
MOST DESERVING FAN BASE: ARMY
This award is meant exactly as it sounds: which fan base was most deserving of the tier which they occupy, good or bad. This year I am pleased to present the award to the fans of the Army Black Knights, who have ridden a season of unprecedented success all the way to a 56 point clobbering of Houston and the first 11 win season in school history. This award will not always be a good thing, but I’m glad it is this year. Here’s the bad news: your coaching staff is about to be a hot commodity. What’s left of it, anyway.
THE ROLLING STONE AWARD: MISSISSIPPI STATE
The award for the team with the most movement was a tight competition this year, with several teams experiencing 11 level changes over the course of the season. In the end this was awarded on style points, and no team had quite as much tristesse de vivre as the Bulldogs. Never ones to stay in the same place for too long, State even finished the season in style with a last-minute level drop just to make sure they didn’t finish the season in the First Circle.
THE SIX SIX SIX FLAGS AWARD: COLORADO
Given to the team with the broadest range of levels experienced in a single season, the winner of rollercoaster season was unanimous. The Buffaloes started the season with a five game winning streak, including a rivalry win and a beat down of a conference opponent. It’s easy to forget that they spent four straight weeks in the First Circle before launching into what would become a seven-game losing skid to end the season, landing them finally in the Eighth Circle. You are the FMI’s own beautiful child, Buffs, and my only regret is that you didn’t have the gumption to finish the job and find the Ninth Circle. There’s always next year!
And finally, the moment we have all been waiting for...
THE MOST MISERABLE FAN BASE OF 2018: FLORIDA STATE
This will be a controversial call - particularly coming from an A&M blog - but it is the only correct answer. The Noles were not the first team to find their way to the Ninth Circle, that honor belongs to the New Mexico State Aggies who did so with a speed and purpose that were terrible to behold (quite literally). They weren’t even the first P5 team to hit rock bottom, an honor reserved for the living Shakespearean tragicomedy that was the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Florida State even beat fellow Ninth Circler Louisville straight up.
However, a look at the Ninth Circle reveals one truth: no one expects more from their team in that group than FSU. New Mexico State is a conferenceless nomad, early season fodder for a team with grander visions. Rutgers is a P5 team in the same sense that Aquaman is part of the Justice League - he’s useless but hey it’s a package deal. Florida State, on the other hand, is a historical success. They are a team with skins on the wall and legendary hall of fame coaches in their past. Expectations inevitably lead to disappointment.
Florida State was a team far too talented to just go 1-11 like Rutgers. No, the Noles almost managed to be bowl eligible at the same time that they entered the Ninth Circle of hell. That takes creativity, gumption, and a lot of 21 point losses. This team was just good enough to really accentuate how badly things went wrong for them.
2018 Florida State was a team of destiny and we may not see its like again for some time. It is with that in mind that the FMI officially names its highest honor, the award for the most miserable fan base, the Taggart Trophy. Congratulations Noles, may this post be lemon juice in the open Gator wound on your chest.