Monday, December 24, 2007

Boldin, Sims To Play For FSU In Bowl Game

After a week of turmoil, prospects seem to have brightened for the Florida State football program. First, offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher decided to stay in Tallahassee instead of taking the top job at West Virginia. Now comes word that a pair of former Seminoles will lend head coach Bobby Bowden a hand. Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Lions linebacker Ernie Sims will suit up for FSU in next Monday’s Music City Bowl versus Kentucky.

The short-handed Seminoles will welcome the assistance, as 36 players will not be making the trip to Nashville. Some absentees will be due to injuries, but most of them were involved in an online academic cheating scandal. The issue has caused significant embarrassment for the 7-5 Seminoles. As one disgusted FSU fan put it, “The standards here have really taken a nose dive. At Florida State, we demand renegades who play for the national championship, not renegades who lose to Wake Forest!”

The issue does come with a bit of karma. Cheat at a music history course, and you miss the Music City Bowl. The same standard apparently applies to all Bowden-coached teams. Therefore, Clemson will have to take on Auburn without three players who were caught cheating in their Chick-Fil-A class.

As young NFL stars, Boldin and Sims will certainly provide a lift to the Noles. Both players left Tallahassee with one year of eligibility remaining, so in an unusual decision, the NCAA allowed them to play in one more bowl game. Reportedly, because Boldin and Sims play for Arizona and Detroit, the NCAA felt that they would otherwise never again have the opportunity to play post-season football.

Boldin actually has experience stepping in for suspended Seminoles in a bowl game. Five years ago, with FSU’s top two quarterbacks barred from action, Boldin shifted from wideout to quarterback in a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia. He won’t have to change positions this time, but he will have to travel from Phoenix to Nashville and take the field just one day after his regular season NFL finale. Fortunately, Sunday’s game is against the Rams defense, so it’s not like he’ll have to exert himself.

Meanwhile, Sims will provide valuable assistance for the FSU defense. The Noles also had hoped to add San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie – another early NFL entrant – but he’ll be busy preparing for the first round of the playoffs. One day after facing Brett Favre, at least for part of the game, Sims will line up versus Andre Woodson and the high-powered Wildcats offense. Sims will surely find it strange for his Seminoles to be an underdog against Kentucky. Even more bizarre will be the scene after the game, when UK fans will dread the end of football season and reluctantly turn their attention to hoops.

Speaking of strange developments, the mere participation of Boldin and Sims on Monday comes as a shock to many football fans. But when it comes to these two players, one thing is even more surprising. Between the wide receiver and the linebacker, it’s the LINEBACKER who was a first round pick by the Lions.