That time Florida State was without 36 players for its bowl game

Wouldn’t it be challenging to play a game if over two dozen of your players were suspended?

That was Florida State’s fate in 2007 when the Seminoles had to face Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, as 25 of Bobby Bowden’s players were suspended. The suspensions were a result of the program’s academic scandal, which later vacated 12 of Bowden’s wins.

After a six-month investigation into academic cheating, the university announced that as many as 25 players would not participate in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 against Kentucky.

Some of the athletes who will not play have been suspended for infractions not related to the investigation, but many of them have been barred from the bowl game for accepting answers to tests from tutors or for allowing papers to be written for them.

How different would college football be if UAB had hired eventual FSU national champ Jimbo Fisher?

A coordinator at LSU, Fisher had not only helped build a championship offense in Baton Rouge, he’d played and coached at Birmingham’s nearby Samford and had family ties to the area.

UAB drew up a contract to pay Fisher around $600,000, with $350,000 covered by booster money. UAB was ready to pick Fisher up in an airplane and take him to an introductory press conference.

And then Alabama said no.

UAB stands for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and as a University of Alabama, it is governed by the regents at Bama. This continued a string of events in which UAB football was eventually eliminated and then brought back.

Let’s do some alternate history, with coaching carousel fallout and the 2013 national title moving west to ...

But that wasn’t all. Due to injuries, a total of 36 Noles (!) were missing at kickoff.

"There definitely would be [concerns]," Bowden said after Friday's practice, addressing the personnel shortcomings. "You have 22 positions out there, and some you'd be more concerned about than others."

FBS teams have 85 scholarship players. Florida State had only 43 that traveled to Nashville, 20 fewer than the FCS team that shocked Michigan.

Some of the biggest names that sat out were on the defensive side.

The Seminoles will be without tackles Budd Thacker, Letroy Guion, and Paul Griffin, as well as ends Justin Mincey and Neefy Moffett. Collectively, those five players have combined for 102 tackles, including 29 for losses with five sacks.

FSU also will miss cornerback Patrick Robinson, whose six interceptions rank him among the national leaders, and playmaking linebacker Dekoda Watson (50 tackles, three sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery).

Also missing were tight ends Charlie Graham and Caz Piurowski, as well as two starting offensive linemen in left tackle Daron Rose and guard Jacky Claude.

Kentucky beat Florida State, 35-28, as senior quarterback Andre Woodson threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns to take home Music City MVP honors, capping a season that’d seen UK beat No. 1 LSU and twice crack the top 10. According to the Associated Press, Bowden asked Woodson, "Where are you from, son?" as the Radcliff, Ky. native entered the press room after the game.

"I was worried about getting worn out," Bowden said, via the AP. "We've always played a lot of people, and we simply couldn't play a lot of people in this ballgame."

The loss was the only December bowl loss of Bowden’s career. Otherwise, he went 7-0.