FSU DC Harlon Barnett talks defensive issues with running game and passing game.
Wayne McGahee III, Tallahassee Democrat
Danny Kanell is a man of many words.
The former Florida State quarterback (1992-95) has made a reputation for himself as a successful analyst across sports broadcasting, working first in radio and television for ESPN and currently for CBS and SiriusXM Radio.
This proved true when he was the guest speaker at the Tallahassee Quarterback Club dinner Tuesday night in Tallahassee.
Kanell addressed the crowd and answered questions for nearly 50 minutes, covering a wide range of topics across his career at FSU, in the NFL and as a broadcaster.
Of course, he talked about his memory of quarterbacking FSU back from a 31-3 fourth-quarter deficit in the Choke at Doak in 1994 and his disappointment over not going for two and the win against Florida.
He also told the story of how he almost had to start in the “Game of the Century” against Notre Dame in 1993 due to an injury suffered by Charlie Ward.
He also talked about the player he feared most in the NFL (Warren Sapp), his thoughts on the College Football Playoff (it should be eight teams) and how Alabama is often propped up by the media based on reputation.
These were all tidbits of Kanell’s talk, though.
The topic he spent the majority of his time on before opening up for questions — and the direction many of the audience questions took — was FSU’s current team.
The Seminoles’ struggles this season are well known by now. FSU is 4-6 and needs to win its final two games against Boston College and Florida or its 36-year bowl streak is over.
Visiting at practice Tuesday and talking to the team afterward, Kanell’s main message to the team was of belief.
“The first thing I said to them was, ‘I believe in you guys. I believe in this team and I believe in this coaching staff,’ because I really do and I want them to feel that because I think there’s definitely a crisis of confidence right now within that locker room and on that field,” Kanell said of his message.
“It’s hard to play when you’re second-guessing yourself, when your fans are second-guessing you, your family is second-guessing you, your teammates are second-guessing you.
“That’s such a hard environment to succeed it so I wanted to tell them I believe in you, you guys can do this.”
One particularly relevant story Kanell told was from the aftermath of his first bad start at FSU.
He was benched after throwing three interceptions in a 34-20 loss at Miami in 1994. He returned to his dorm to a slew of extremely negative messages on his answering machine from FSU fans due to his phone number being publicly listed.
While this is a memory that has stuck with him, Kanell fully believes today’s athletes have it much worse.
“I was thinking how much different it is for today for these players and it’s another area where I can’t really relate,” Kanell said.
“I was able to block all that out. Now, there’s social media, there’s 24/7 coverage, there are TVs everywhere. The negativity is constantly coming at these kids and that’s one reason I was trying to lift them up and say, ‘Look, man, I’m here for you.'”
Seeing the team at work in a practice setting confirmed that to Kanell that the team wasn’t giving up under first-year coach Willie Taggart.
“When you hear coach Taggart say they’re putting in the work, I watched them at practice today and they still are doing the little things, they are having really good energy at practice and they are putting in the effort,” Kanell said.
He backed up his belief in what Taggart is building by stating that a number of the best coaches in college football right now got off to slow starts at their current schools.
A 7-6 Alabama team in Nick Saban’s first year and a 6-7 Clemson team in Dabo Swinney’s second season were some of the examples he cited.
“It doesn’t happen very often where you hire a coach and he comes in and it’s off to the national championship. You do see quick turnarounds, you do see Urban Meyer went to Ohio State, got them right back in there,” Kanell said.
“That’d be a great situation, that’d be a great scenario to have and hopefully it happens, but I don’t want people to lose faith in this staff.”
FSU has lost more times this season than the five it did over Kanell’s four seasons at FSU from 1992 through 1995.
That still hasn’t shaken his belief inTaggart and the staff that he’s assembled and he encouraged those in attendance to take a similar stance.
“It’s still very early in the Willie Taggart era and I’m still of the position where it doesn’t do us any good to sit here and complain, say, ‘This guy needs to be benched, this guy needs to demoted or fired,'” Kanell said.
“I do believe in this staff, I believe in these players and I think it’s going to get better. I do think they will. I think we are still Florida State, I still think we have the ability to recruit with the best of them, I think Willie Taggart is one of the best recruiters in the country and I think they will get this turned around when they get their guys in here.
“Keep believing in them, keep coming.”
Florida State vs. No. 22 Boston College
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium
TV/Radio: ESPN2/103.1 FM