Way back in the 20th century college football’s BCS was born. On Jan. 4, 1999, Florida State and Tennessee were the first two teams to battle for the Waterford Crystal Coaches’ Trophy.
Phillip Fulmer had led the Vols to a perfect 12-0 record. Yet they were 5 1/2 point underdogs to Bobby Bowden’s 11-1 Seminoles. To make matters seemingly worse, Fulmer’s offensive coordinator (current Duke head coach) David Cutcliffe had left the team a month earlier to accept the head coaching position at Ole Miss where he would coach a Manning of his own.
Who was the next man up? Quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders stepped in and called the plays needed to win the title. Along with Tee Martin and company he helped guide UT to a 23-16 victory over the Seminoles. All in all, Sanders spent a total of 22 years at his alma mater as a player and coach.
However, things hadn’t come full circle yet, more like an obscure half circle. After resigning from UT in 2005, the Morristown, TN native found himself in Lexington coaching Kentucky’s quarterbacks. Wildcats fans will not soon forget the job he did with Andre’ Woodson and Mike Hartline. Memorable wins and bowl appearances occurred at a rate most of us had never seen before.
The circle was completed in 2011 when Sanders guided Matt Roark to the 10-7 win over the Vols that most UK fans thought they might never see again. Sanders, who had been on the UT sideline for so may of Tennessee’s triumphs over Kentucky was now playing a key role in silencing the dreaded streak.
In Pasadena on Monday night Sanders may have had deja vu all over again. Now he was a member of the Seminoles, those same Seminoles he had denied a title on that January night in Tempe, Arizona. He helped get the SEC off to a flying start in the BCS era then.
Now he was looking to end the years of dominance displayed from the conference he was so well acquainted with.
Back then he had Tee Martin who just finished his first full season as a starter. Similarly, on Monday night he had Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, who just finished his first full campaign as a starting quarterback.
When the final buzzer sounded Florida State came out on top with a 34-31 win. Sanders again had that familiar ring.
That championship ring. The ring(s) of a two-time BCS title winner.