Joe Goldsmith remembers. He was one of the top receivers during those years (61 catches for 958 yards). Still proud to be a Nole, today he's a successful building contractor in Lakeland, his hometown.
We asked Joe to give younger fans a feel for what it was like when FSU was an underdog every time the team stepped on the field, starting with this comment:
"When I was there, times were tough. I had three coaches while I was at FSU. I started with Bill Peterson and had Larry Jones and Darrell Mudra."
How did you stay positive and get up for games?
"I went to Florida State to get an education. And they were saying if you play football we're going to pay for your education. I wanted to earn my way, so I tried to keep those distractions aside and just focus on doing the best job I could, and try to keep a positive attitude with the rest of the players."
You had to be encouraged by some of the team's better games, like when FSU almost beat Alabama in 1974, losing by one point in the final seconds.
"We were so close. We missed five field goals in that game and we outplayed them and got a standing ovation from the Alabama fans at Denny Stadium.
"That was quite a thrill for me. I remember catching a pass and somebody tackled me and rolled me up right underneath the Bear. He had a comment like, 'Somebody kill that guy there.' So I was kinda proud of that. That was a fun game."
"We were so close (to getting it together as a team). I felt like we were snakebit. We might get beat by a big score one week and then the next game we played good enough to win. But just not quite good enough. And you know when you're down in the well it's hard to get out. It's just tougher."
Do you think that's happening with this year's team?
"I don't know if it's the FSU team, it's more the other teams that get so fired up to come into our big, beautiful stadium and beat us at home. People used to fear Florida State. We used to be better than everybody and beat 'em good. Now, we've been beaten enough times that everybody thinks they can beat us. And a big part of football is believing what you can or can't do. So every team's chomping at the bit, they want to get a piece of FSU -- kinda like let's get 'em back."
How do you compare the talent on this year's team to when you played?
"We had a lot of talent then. I'm sure we have a lot of talent now. But it's more than just talent. Everybody's got to play together as a unit. Sometimes people don't put enough importance on that. You say, this guy's great and that guy's great. But everybody needs to play together and complement each other and help each other when they have a bad down or a bad play. That's what good teams are, you cover for somebody if they make a mistake."
Did you and your teammates stay united during your time?
"Yeah, we did. We stuck it out and we never gave up. Actually, we're having a class reunion of the '73 team on Homecoming Weekend. We went through that time before the Bowden era when it wasn't good. So there's a special bond with those guys because it was tough."
You probably learned some life lesson from it, too.
"Guaranteed. You particularly learn how to keep going when things aren't going your way. As we all know, when things are going your way, it seems everything is easier. When things are going against you, it's hard. So it helped prepare all of us for adversity and gave us that attitude of don't give up. We're still in this thing and we're not going down without a fight."
So if you had a message for FSU fans, would it be not to panic, that this too shall pass?
"Yes, things will get better. I'm not giving up. I'll be up there this weekend and hope we whip Georgia Tech. I've been there every home game and been disappointed like everybody else. But I certainly feel like everybody on the team is trying. I've been there before. If it doesn't go your way, sometimes it seems things just get worse instead of better. So we've gotta get things turned around, we've gotta hit that turning point."