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What was the most significant event of the 2007-08 sports season?
Derek: There are three top contenders for that honor - the academic scandal, the departure of Dave Hart and arrival of Randy Spetman and the announcement of Jimbo Fisher as head coach in waiting.
With the first two, it remains a wait-and-see situation. The fallout from the academic stuff, while it did impact this past season, won't truly be known until the future. That's the same with Spetman's arrival - he hasn't really made a ton of major decisions yet, though he will.
So I'm going with the Fisher announcement, because has made a major impact on and off the field. In that announcement, Florida State created st@bility in its biggest money sport where there once was little. No one knew when Bobby Bowden would retire, but they knew it was coming sooner, rather than later. Instead of allowing that uncertainty to fester (and giving rival schools a major weapon in the process), FSU made it clear who would get the big job when Bowden finally decided to call it a career.
Fisher sticking around likely means that the[..]istants who came in with him - guys like Lawrence Dawsey and Rick Trickett - will be sticking around as well. That's already paid off on the recruiting trail. FSU has verbal commitments from two Rivals100 prospects and another in the Rivals250. Debate all you want about whether FSU football had hit rock bottom. The program looks like it's on the upswing, and that announcement had a lot to do with it.
Spteman's hiring was a big event for the athletic program over the past year.
Gene: I agree with Derek that all three - academic scandal, the change of ADs and Jimbo Fisher's hire as head coach in waiting - were significant events for Florida State athletics. But purely from an on the field perspective, I would say the men's track and field team winning its third straight national championship was the most significant event. With how competitive sports are these days having true dyn@sty in any sport is nearly impossible. But there's little doubt that FSU is a dyn@sty in track after getting a third straight ring. And considering that FSU was pretty much a nobody in the college track world a few years ago makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. And with coach Braman having a great recruiting cla#s coming in and him just signing a 3-year contract I don't see the dyn@sty slowing down anytime soon.
Ira:On the field, I'd go with Buster Posey's incredible season in baseball. Coming within a hair of winning the national triple crown for batting, home runs and RBIs is impressive enough. But doing it while also developing into one of the nation's best defensive catchers -- just two years removed from being a Freshman All-America shortstop - is just astounding. Throw in the fact that he's also an Academic All-American, a great team leader and just an all-around nice guy, and I think it's safe to say that FSU is going to miss him dearly.
Off the field, it's without question the Jimbo Fisher "Coach in Waiting" designation. Faced with a potentially devastating scenario - Fisher and other[..]istants bailing out on the Seminoles' restoration project - FSU's top bra#s did the right thing in giving the offensive coordinator an offer he couldn't refuse. If the Seminoles continue to improve under his watch, Fisher will be handed the keys to the castle by 2010. If they don't, he will leave FSU with a $2.5 million golden parachute. Writing that check would be a bitter pill to swallow for Seminole Boosters, but it would be far more palatable than trying to rebuild a coaching staff two months before National Signing Day. One year after the staff received an earlier overhaul.
Was there a team you felt didn't live up to expectations?
Gene: I have to go with football. After a disappointing 7-6 season in 2006 and with all the coaching changes I think everybody was looking for a turnaround, but instead we got another mediocre 7-6 season. Unfortunately, it's obvious that it is going to take more than a quick fix to get football back on track. When you take into account FSU failing to make any kind of dent in the most recent NFL draft, the average effort in 2007 is somewhat understandable. But during the preseason there was a lot of optimism - one magazine even had the 'Noles ranked in the top 10! While men's basketball was again a disappointment, Leonard Hamilton's squad having a decent season but falling just short of the NCAAs is pretty much expected so it's hard to say they fell short of expectations.
Derek: I know there were injuries and suspensions and other things that made a difference, but the men's basketball team just didn't play the way it should have. It had talent and experience, especially in the backcourt, but the team went through shocking lulls. No way should it have lost eight of 10 games in the middle of the season, nor should it have lost to Cleveland State and South Florida at the beginning of the season.
Win those two early games and two more in that 10-game stretch (Valentine's Day versus Wake Forest and January 26 versus North Carolina State both were winnable) and that's a 23-10 post-ACC Tournament record with a 9-7 regular season conference record. That probably gets you into the Big Dance. Instead, FSU lost at home to Akron in the NIT first round.
Ira: Well, this question just about sums up the dramatic shift in Florida State's athletic programs over the last few years. On the men's side, the only options you can really consider are football and basketball. Just about every other sport, from baseball to tennis to golf, had outstanding seasons. The women's programs were a little more hit or miss - with softball and basketball struggling to overcome suspensions and other issues, and volleyball continuing to flounder.
But overall, men's basketball would probably be the biggest disappointment. It's hard to say that because that group played awfully well down the stretch, winning four of its last five regular-season games and taking a first-round game in the ACC tournament. But there were too many stumbles along the way, and that NIT loss to Akron was simply dreadful. For a group with a ton of talent and experience, they didn't nearly live up to their potential.
Who do you consider FSU's top male and female athletes of the year and why?
Derek: On the men's side, you could hand it to Walter Dix as a career achievement award, but no male FSU athlete had a better season than Buster Posey. He was the runaway choice for best player in the ACC and should win every significant national player of the year award. He already has won most of them. It wasn't just the numbers that he put up, it was when he put them up. The regional home runs were huge, as was the two-run single against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. He's the greatest FSU baseball player ever when looking at the total package of numbers, versatility and leadership.
On the women's side, Mami Yamaguchi gets kudos for winning the MAC Hermann Trophy as women's college soccer's top player, but Hannah England earns the top spot. She won NCAA championships in both the indoor and outdoor 1,500-meter run and, in winning the outdoor title, set an NCAA Championship record and earned an Olympic "A" standard time. That's dominance.
Gene Williams - Warchant.com
Yamaguchi was one of the top female performers in 2007-08.
Ira: On the men's side, it's Buster Posey in a landslide. With a slew of national Player of the Year awards on his mantle, he is college baseball's version of the Heisman Trophy winner. For years to come, there will be endless debate about how Posey's junior year stacks up with J.D. Drew's 30-30 campaign -- and you could make a strong case either way. But there's no denying that Posey delivered more than any other Seminole this year. On the women's side, I'd say Mami Yamaguchi. Like Posey, she was the nation's best player in her sport. There were many times last season that she was not only the best player on the field, but she seemed to be playing at a different level. She was a joy to watch, even for non-soccer fans.
Gene: Buster Posey all day and twice on Sunday. The junior catcher flat out dominated college baseball this past season. He has pretty much won every award possible and led the nation in two of the three major offensive categories. He was also a clutch player, a perfect team leader on and off the field and a fantastic student. It would be hard to create a more perfect student-athlete than Buster Posey. Walter Dix had a great year but unlike prior years, he didn't have to carry the track & field team on his shoulders. In fact, Bob Braman's team was able to win the ACC title without him.
As with the women, I have to go with Mami Yamaguchi. The 2007 Hermann Trophy (soccer's Heisman award) winner led the country in points (66) and finished second in goals (24) and[..]ists (18). She was a major reason why Mark Krikorian's squad made it to the national championship game for the first time in school history.