Weinke reflects on ‘special year’ as FSU captured national title in ’99

Wire to wire. A perfect finish.

Friendships that will last a lifetime.

As Florida State honors its 1999 national champions with a reunion this weekend, memories come flooding back. As much as it’s the games, the 12-0 record and the crystal football, it’s about the relationships that were built through hard work in the offseason and on the practice field.

“I look back and I always say that I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of good coaches and players,” quarterback Chris Weinke told the Osceola this week. “I think that year, I always look back to as a pretty special year because it was about the people and coach (Bobby) Bowden.”

Weinke, now in his second season as an assistant coach at Tennessee, took a few minutes to reflect on the Seminoles’ championship season. Now 47, Weinke of course won’t make it back to Tallahassee this weekend as he is preparing for a matchup with South Carolina.

FSU began the preseason at No. 1 in the AP poll. While there were blowout wins, there was also a shootout with Georgia Tech as well as close games with Miami, Clemson and Florida. Each was a test of the Seminoles’ mettle.

“You look back on that year and you think about, ‘Hey, you always have to overcome adversity at some point to have an undefeated season and to win a national championship,’ ” Weinke said. “You look back and you think about the Clemson game and things like that that stick out. You have to find a way to win those games and we did that. We were able to accomplish what we set out to accomplish, and that was to win a national championship.”

In a 1999 season where Weinke did whatever he could to help the Seminoles win each week, he was at his best in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech in a game where FSU was comfortably in front on the scoreboard but uncomfortable throughout as Michael Vick kept running, throwing and putting up points.

Weinke completed 20 of 34 passes for 329 yards and four touchdowns – two apiece to Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans. His 43-yard touchdown pass to Warrick is perhaps the most memorable, a remarkable catch with a defensive back’s arm trying to prevent the reception, as FSU put away VT for the 46-29 win.

“The one game that I look to is the national championship game,” Weinke said. “And obviously the way that it played out and the excitement about that game. It’s a perfect example of guys like Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans and those types of guys – big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. It was the icing on the cake in a pretty special season there.”

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