CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Florida State pass rusher Jared Verse remembers watching the game film closely, studying moves and absorbing every possible lesson. So too does star quarterback Jordan Travis, recalling those gatherings in the team meeting room.
But this wasn’t about scouting an opponent ahead of a season of heightened expectations. It was film from some of the Seminoles’ past great teams. And it left an impression.
“You watch these teams,” Verse said, “and you’re like, ‘These guys play different.’ … We’re like, ‘All right, we’ve got to live up to this standard.’”
Consider it an example of how Mike Norvell’s program is reaching into the past to teach lessons for what could be a big season ahead. The Seminoles are trying to return to the national-elite status they held for much of the past three decades, and Norvell wants his players to dream big of matching the high level established in that footage — grainy by today’s HD standards — from years earlier.
That means having Travis envisioning himself playing well enough to win a Heisman Trophy like forerunners Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Jameis Winston. Having the team study the edge that led to three national championships. And having former players come back to tell them how it can come together.
“There’s great expectations here in this program,” the fourth-year coach said Wednesday during the Atlantic Coast Conference’s preseason media days of leaning into the FSU history. “I’ve been asked about expectations so much. If you don’t like them, this is definitely not the place to come because we want to have those type of expectations year in and year out.”
That’s why this is such a big season for Florida State. One of the ACC’s most marketable brands is emerging from a nadir of four straight losing seasons from 2018-21, which included the tumultuous two-year tenure of Willie Taggart preceding Norvell’s arrival from Memphis.
Last year’s team jumped to 10 wins — the kind of mark the Seminoles used to reach with regularity — and returns 17 starters that include Travis and Verse while adding coveted transfer defensive back Fentrell Cypress II from Virginia. There’s opportunity here, both as the presumed top contender to perennial league power Clemson in the ACC race and as the team that could restore FSU’s once-unquestioned elite status.
FSU terrorized the ACC after its 1992 arrival, rolling to lopsided wins with a 70-2 league mark from 1992-2000 under the late Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles also won national titles in 1993 and 1999 amid an unthinkable run of 14 straight seasons with 10-plus wins and a top-five finish in The Associated Press college football poll.
Then, after a dip late in Bowden’s tenure, Jimbo Fisher brought FSU back, including an unbeaten title season in 2013 and a trip to the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014 before things went sour a few years later.
That Winston-led 2013 team came up during FSU interviews Wednesday, mentioned specifically by Verse and Travis. The QB, in particular, mentioned vivid memories of watching the Seminoles rally past Auburn in the final BCS title game.
“It’s just cool. … I was 13 years old at the time, sitting at one of my best friends’ houses just watching that game,” Travis said. “So to sit in a place now when I’m at Florida State and being able to watch that and then know that we have we have the capability of being there — we could be there. But it all comes down to our work and preparation.”
As linebacker Kalen DeLoach put it: “Just by the mindset, you can see the mindset is different now that we watch it. We’re hungry for it.”
It’s hardly the first time Norvell has relied on that history to reach these current players. Before the 2022 season, Norvell and Travis had a meeting that ended with the coach suggesting his quarterback should walk into a nearby lobby and look at the Heisman trophies there for inspiration.
It wasn’t just about the storied prize for college football’s top player, either.
“I fully believe that he has the talent … to be able to win one of those,” Norvell said. “Obviously last year he took some positive steps in that direction and now he’s in the conversation. But even to today, it’s not about the trophy for Jordan. It’s about being all that he can be as a player but equally as much as a teammate and to help this football team.”
Those lessons will continue to come. Travis said former FSU defensive back Lamarcus Joyner from that ’13 title winner would talk to the team as it opens preseason camp.
“All these guys want to win a championship,” Norvell said. “When you have somebody that’s done it, they can help better tell the story of what that looked like day to day, the good, the bad, even things where they thought it could’ve been better.”
Rest assured, these Seminoles will be listening.

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