When getting this assignment of comparing the South Alabama Jaguars to a CFB Playoff team, all roads seemed to point to Tuscaloosa. Both teams were from the same state, and the USA head coach played for Bear Bryant, but when looking right at it, there's one team that fits the bill even better. Instead of going north, the answer lies due east, down in the panhandle in Tallahassee, home of the Florida State Seminoles.
Out of all 128 FBS teams, South Alabama is tied for the fewest returning starters, with five, along with fellow recent start-up UTSA. Florida State is tied for 100th with 11. When it comes to returning lettermen, Florida State fares better at 78th with 67.2% while USA remains near the bottom at 122nd with 58.8%.
Both teams seem to reload, but in different ways. Florida State rode the last two years of successes to top recruiting classes while South Alabama got several FBS-proven players with UAB shutting down their program in December 2014. While winning early in the season might prove difficult in 2015, both teams could become dangerous late in the year.
Departed 6'4" Quarterbacks
New Quarterback Transfers
Florida State won the Everett Golson lottery when the former Notre Dame signal caller decided to use his graduate year loophole to join the Seminoles. The Jaguars also will get a quarterback who played FBS football last season, as UAB's Cody Clements headed to the Gulf Coast.
While both quarterbacks aren't confirmed as the starters, the smart money seems to be on Golson and Clements to lead their new teams in their final year of eligibility.
The Head Coaches
South Alabama head coach Joey Jones (age 52) is three years older than Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. Jones has spent almost all of his life in Alabama. Born in Mobile, he played for the Crimson Tide under Bear Bryant and was a high school coach in the state for years. He took over the start-up South Alabama program in 2008 and coached his first game in 2009.
Fisher is from West Virginia, but played collegiality at Samford University. When moving up the coaching ranks, Fisher was infamously offered the UAB job in 2007, but noted UAB enemy Paul Bryant Jr. (son of the Bear) made sure the Alabama Board of Trustees nixed the deal. Fisher wound up at Florida State as offensive coordinator and took over when Bobby Bowden was forced to retire in 2010.
Despite having an additional year, Fischer has 75 games compared to Jones' 69 due to South Alabama only playing 7 games in their debut season and 10 in their next two.
Also, both coaches have a two-year stretch of going undefeated in the regular season. Jones did so in his first two seasons (albeit mostly against JuCo and sub-D1 teams) and Fisher in the latest two years (albeit, against the ACC).
What's your verdict, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments below and vote in our poll. Read the rest of this series here.