FSU Basketball is deserving of being college basketball's sole 'New Bloods'
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Will the real New Bloods please stand up? They have ... It's FSU Hoops

Nolan Richardson hasn't coached basketball at Arkansas in 20 years, but if you do a Google search for "40 minutes of Hell," you know that every article, photo and video you come up with is going to feature Richardson and his Razorbacks.

When discussing college football, if you mention the "Fast Break Offense" of the 1990s, everyone will automatically know you're talking about Charlie Ward and Florida State. Same goes for Steve Spurrier's "Fun 'N' Gun" at Florida.

Those nicknames were not only catchy, but they fit so well with those programs' philosophies and styles of play that they were embraced by the coaches and players, celebrated by fans, and respected by other teams and media.

So much so that no one dared apply those descriptions to other programs. To do so would have been inaccurate and disrespectful.

Which is why it's becoming offensive how many media types have started throwing around the nickname "New Bloods," which the Florida State men's basketball team has branded itself as for several years now, to any number of other upstart teams around the country.

Even though none of those programs, at least as far as I can tell, are actually doing it themselves.

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Florida State men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton embodies the 'New Blood' spirit.
Florida State men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton embodies the 'New Blood' spirit. (Melina Myers/USAToday Sports Images)

Just last week, The Miami Herald previewed Florida State's game at Miami and described it in a headline as a, "rematch of the ACC newbloods."

No, see, that's not how this works. That phrase is not a catch-all for all basketball programs not named Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, Kansas and Indiana.

It is a specific identifier for one ACC team in particular.

If it wasn't for Leonard Hamilton, his staff and players embracing "New Bloods" and mentioning it frequently in interviews and press conferences -- going back a good two or three years -- it would never have been used in that Herald headline. Nor would it have been used in other articles in recent months to classify programs like Baylor, Gonzaga, Virginia and Villanova. (Villanova???!!!)

I'm not saying Florida State's coaches were the first people in the world to use the phrase, "New Blood."

What I am saying -- unequivocally -- is that the Seminoles were the first and only college basketball program to adopt it as the fabric of their entire program. They not only have embraced it, they live it.

It is their identity.

The first time I can personally document an FSU staffer using the phrase, "New Blood" or "New Bloods" was in 2019. It was during an interview I did with assistant coach Charlton "C.Y." Young.

"Now, we might not be a Blue Blood, but we're trying to make ourselves a New Blood," Young told me at the time. (The article ran on Jan. 13, 2020, but the interview was conducted several weeks before.)

When I've talked to C.Y. and other staff members about this topic in the past, they have said the nickname really started getting used inside the program a few years earlier. It was part of their recruiting pitch to the 2015 class -- headlined by Dwayne Bacon, Malik Beasley and Terance Mann. While all three of those players had numerous offers from much more established programs, the Seminoles sold them on the idea of coming to Tallahassee together and starting something new.

An article last year by Yahoo's Krysten Peek recounted a 2018 FSU recruiting visit, when someone mentioned to Hamilton and Young that the Blue Bloods were entering the picture for a particular recruit. “That’s fine," Young reportedly said. "We’re the New Bloods.”

Now, whether the nickname actually originated in '15 or '18, I can't say for sure. I don't have it documented.

What I do know for a fact is that Young said it to me in 2019, and that Hamilton really began saying it to the masses in early 2020.

Here is a tweet from our Warchant account on March 7, 2020 -- almost two years ago -- when the Seminoles won their regular-season finale against Boston College to claim the regular-season ACC championship.

Here's more from Hamilton in that press conference: “We’ve coined our own phrase -- we’re New Bloods. We’re not going to catch up with the 80 years that were before us. We’re fighting for our spot and our position, the hierarchy of the most respected programs in the history of college basketball."

Since that day, Hamilton has used "New Bloods" to describe his team in seemingly every other interview. So have his staff and players.

Here is their postgame celebration after knocking off No. 6 Duke last week:

If Pat Riley could register "Three-Peat" as a trademark back in the 1980s, I'm not sure why Florida State and Hamilton or C.Y. couldn't do the same with "New Bloods" -- at least as it pertains to college basketball.

But they clearly haven't, and it's now being thrown around everywhere you turn in college basketball circles -- in articles, on podcasts, even on non-FSU T-shirts.

In an Associated Press article last February, ESPN's Seth Greenberg used it to describe a number of college basketball programs: “What's happened is, you have emerging new bloods. It's kind of semantics, kind of word play, but what they are is model programs for winning in the culture of college basketball today.”

No, Seth. It's not word play. It's how one specific team identifies itself.

You, for some reason, are applying it to others. And you should know this fact because Hamilton came on your ESPN podcast with Dan Dakich in September 2020 and explained why the Seminoles are calling themselves the New Bloods.

"We use it as a motivator," Hamilton said in the interview. (It's around the 32:10 mark of this podcast.)

But back to that AP article. At one point, the author writes that, "Villanova and Gonzaga have been the new blood flag bearers."

Come again?

Villanova has won three national titles in men's college basketball, with the first coming nearly four decades ago in 1985. The Wildcats have been to almost 20 Sweet 16s, going back to the 1950s and '60s.

Now, does that qualify them as Blue Bloods? Probably not. But they sure as heck aren't New Bloods either. They need to go find their own nickname.

To his credit, I can't find any instances of Jay Wright describing his 'Nova program as New Bloods. Same with Mark Few at Gonzaga or Tony Bennett at Virginia -- even though some in the media have started giving them all the New Blood tag.

The reason New Bloods works so perfectly for Florida State is not just because the Seminoles have embraced it, but because of their history as a program and the conference they play in.

They're not Gonzaga running roughshod in the West Coast Conference, winning league titles every single year. They're Florida State, playing in the most prestigious basketball conference ever assembled.

Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and Notre Dame represent four of the eight "winningest" programs in Division-I history. The ACC features several other perennial powers as well, including Louisville and Virginia.

So, more often than not, when the Seminoles take on an opponent in the Atlantic Coast Conference, they're facing a program with a much richer tradition and all of the advantages that come with that (greater booster support, better resources, more name recognition on the recruiting trail, etc.)

Yet despite all of those disadvantages, Hamilton's Seminoles have established themselves over the past several years as good as -- or perhaps better than -- anybody in the league.

They rank first in the ACC standings right now. They finished second in the league last year. They won it outright the year before.

Dating back to the beginning of the 2018-19 season, Florida State's ACC record in the regular season is 46-15. That's a winning percentage of 75.4. Here's a look at how the 'Noles compare to the conference's marquee programs during that time:

ACC regular-season records since 2018-19
Team W-L record Win pct.

Virginia

49-15

.765

Florida State

46-15

.754

Duke

43-20

.683

Louisville

38-22

.633

North Carolina

36-25

.590

Syracuse

32-20

.516

Notre Dame

25-38

.397

So the only program in the storied ACC that has a better record than Florida State over the last four seasons is Virginia, and the Cavaliers actually have the exact same number of losses.

Due to COVID scheduling issues, they played two more games than FSU last season and they have played one more this year. Based on how this season is going -- the 'Noles are 6-2 and Virginia is 5-4 -- there's a chance Hamilton's team is going to climb to first place over this stretch before the year is over.

And we all know this incredible run by Florida State didn't just start four years ago. In 2017-18, the New Bloods advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for only the third time in school history and narrowly missed a trip to the Final Four.

One year before that, they set a school record with 24 regular-season wins -- a record they would continue to break in ensuing seasons.

In the history of FSU's men's basketball program, there have been seven trips to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament -- four have come in the last decade. The 'Noles have made it at least that far in each of the last three tournaments, and the streak undoubtedly would be four if the 2020 tournament hadn't been canceled. (That team finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country.)

Then there's the NBA success. Since 2016, FSU has had 10 players drafted by NBA teams, including six first-rounders and four lottery picks. And in the last five drafts, the Seminoles have had three players selected among the top six picks overall: Scottie Barnes (No. 4, 2021), Patrick Williams (No. 4, 2020) and Jonathan Isaac (2017, No. 6).

The last time FSU had a player selected that high before this current run? Dave Cowens in 1970, when he went No. 4 overall.

New Bloods, indeed.

And you know the coolest part about Florida State being the only true New Bloods in college basketball? It's that they are perfectly happy not being Blue Bloods.

They embrace their position as outsiders. They love disrupting the status quo. They revel in being picked low in preseason polls, only to outperform expectations again and again and again.

They're not begging for respect from the college basketball elite. They are taking it.

The same way their head coach has fought and scrapped and clawed for everything he has earned in five decades in this business.

Hamilton was a trailblazer as a player and again as a coach. He has broken every racial barrier imaginable. And he has turned Florida State into an every-year power in the ACC, just like he did with Miami in the old Big East.

Charlton Young might have been the person to actually coin the phrase, but Leonard Hamilton is the original New Blood.

And over these last 20 years, he has developed a program -- the only program -- truly worthy of that name.

Contact managing editor Ira Schoffel at ira@warchant.com and follow @IraSchoffel on Twitter.

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