2023 Acc Kickoff: Here are my top two takeaways

The 2023 ACC Football Kickoff has wrapped up after three days of meeting with coaches and players to get a better insight into their upcoming season. We got to spend some time with FSU head coach Mike Norvell, Jordan Travis, Jared Verse, and Kalen Deloach to get their thoughts on the 2023 Seminoles.

I was fortunate enough to attend the event and wanted to share my main takeaways from Florida State’s turn in the spotlight. Of course, there is a lot of buzz around this program this year and many conversation points to be made. There are the transfers, returning production, and big games we repeatedly discuss. However, the two things that stood out to me during this event were a little different but equally important. Let’s dive in.

The Seminoles on stage at the 2023 ACC Football Kickoff event.

Embracing Expectations

The topic that Mike Norvell was asked about probably more than anything else at the ACC Football Kickoff event was the expectations for FSU this season.

After winning 10 games last year and finding themselves in the upper part of a lot of preseason rankings for 2023, the external expectations of competing for championships are back at FSU. However, internally they never left, and that was Mike Norvell’s message. He repeatedly said that if you don’t embrace expectations, don’t come to a place like Florida State.

After all, the standard is the standard at a place like FSU, and that is not just making a bowl game or winning 10 games. I like that Norvell and the players have leaned into the lofty expectations. They know they have the opportunity to do something special with the team they have this season, but they also know that nothing is a given and they have areas they need to improve to do it which they also talked about.

When I asked Jared Verse about some of the team goals for this season he replied, “I don’t really have any crazy goals. Obviously, we want championships. We want to win ACC and national championships, but I just want to reach our full potential as a team because if we do that, the sky is the limit.”

Everything I heard them say was about putting in the work to be the best player and teammate they can be, and the success will handle itself. As the saying goes, “Speak softly and carry a big stick” which seems to be what this team is about. They know what is expected at a place like FSU and are eager to put in the work to prove on the field that last season was only the beginning.

Culture is Key

Culture is a hot topic in college football right now with the recent issues that have been going on at a few programs.

Meanwhile, Florida State has become an example of how a good culture can positively affect a program. It was something a lot of us talked about last year and what I feel has been a large contributing factor to the turnaround FSU is experiencing.

Since Norvell’s arrival, we’ve seen team-record GPA numbers, the Seminole scholar program, and countless examples of charity work by the players and coaches. We’ve also seen Norvell repeatedly have Bowden-esk moments whether it be going out of his way to see a coach’s son play baseball because he knew how important it was to their family, or starting a campaign through his foundation allowing a pair of student-athletes to donate to a cause of their choosing each month.

It’s nice to see that Norvell is committed to getting FSU back to where it belongs on the field, but is also committed to doing it the right way off the field too. Which is the way this program was originally built by Bobby Bowden.

I asked Coach Norvell why doing it that way was so important to him, and this is what he had to say.

Because that is the standard at Florida State. We had the greatest example I think in collegiate football history of being able to sustain success.

What Coach Bowden and that staff and those great teams, what they were able to accomplish, there were tremendous players on the field, but it was also the standard and expectations for who they were developing and growing to be off the field.

I’ve got a great responsibility leading this program. I was fortunate to be able to meet Coach Bowden within those first couple of months of getting the job. I’ll never forget sitting down with him at my desk in that office. I remember him telling me, be true to who you are, and you continue to make an impact on those young men helping them to where they’re going.

That’s a daily challenge, and I owe it to him. I owe it to his legacy to make sure we’re doing this a certain way because I fully believe success is coming.

Something that stood out to me at this event was the constant mention of other teammates which speaks to the brotherhood that exists in this locker room.

When I asked Jared Verse what led to his decision to return for another year he said, “One of the biggest factors in coming back was probably seeing all these other guys come back. Like these two guys right here came back. (Jordan Travis and Kalen Deloach) Coaching staff was back. Fabien Lovett came back. Jarrion Jones came back. All these guys came back. Key players. They just kept telling me, what are you going to do? I had a feeling I was going to come back. I’m not done here yet. I accomplished what I wanted to. I put myself in conversations where I was able to go high up in the draft, but it wasn’t what I wanted. We still had a lot more as a team to do.”

It was the brotherhood and goals of the team that influenced his decision most. He could have easily left to chase his dream of playing in the NFL and gotten first-round money to do it.

Jordan Travis was also quick to bring up an example when I asked him how big-game experiences like beating LSU would help him this season. He immediately pivoted to learning from a tough loss at NC State and went on to say how his teammates were there for him afterward.

“I mean, when you throw a pick to kind of end the game, it hurts a lot. You feel like you let everybody down.

At the end of the day, my teammates let me know that they have my back. That was the most important thing. I put it all on myself, and my teammates did not allow that to happen.”

That type of bond between coaches and players alike creates accountability which leads to success. Norvell has never been shy about saying this isn’t the place for everyone and fit and family are a real this for this staff.

There are plenty of great examples of how far this program has come in the culture department. Does that mean it will win them a championship? Not necessarily, but when you combine a winning culture with an increasing level of talent, that is the recipe for success. This is what we’re seeing happen currently at FSU, and it’s being done in the right way which makes you excited for the future of the program.

Thanks for reading. Go Noles!

Enjoy this article? Share it on social media so others can too! We thank you for your support.

PTS podcast logo

Be sure to check out the Plant The Spear Podcast for those who bleed garnet and gold!

Continue Reading