And no one suffered more than Kanell. Following the example of Ward, who threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times in his first venture into the Orange Bowl, Kanell fired three mistakes that led to interceptions and was sacked twice. Bowden yanked Kanell in the third quarter after Carlos Jones scored with a pickoff that made the score 31-17 to seal the win. That was the role reversal Florida State least expected. Last year Seminole strong safety Devin Bush picked off a Costa fourth-quarter offering and returned it for a touchdown, and Costa did not start again for the last seven games of the season. Suddenly the questions have shifted to Tallahassee. Can Kanell lead Florida State in a big game?
"I just wanted to get in his face as many times as we could," Sapp said after Saturday's game. "From the first snap he took, you could see he had happy feet. He was back there hopping around. He had tunnel vision: I've got to get the ball right there, right now. You could see he was unsure about decision making.... We new we had to go get him."
And Kanell aside, how much resilience does this FSU team possess? "I saw the quit in their eyes, and when I saw that, I knew we had them," says Miami safety Malcolm Pearson. "That play Carlos Jones made—that broke their back. That was the end of their confidence."
While Bowden turned to replacements Jon Stark and Thad Busby, a serene Costa picked his way through the Seminole defense. Helped in no small measure by the running of James Stewart (95 yards, two touchdowns) and Danyell Ferguson and Larry Jones (124 yards, combined), Costa completed his first four passes and led the Hurricanes 80 yards for a touchdown on their second possession. Then, with the score tied at 14 in the second quarter, Costa started at his own 11 and threw three completions in an 11-play drive that set up the go-ahead touchdown. Backup quarterback Ryan Collins came in to get the TD on a pass to Derrick Harris off the option. Last season Collins took over when Costa went to the bench, and tension built. This time Costa was the first to congratulate Collins coming off the field. It was that kind of night.
"Frank stepped up," says Miami wide receiver Chris T. Jones. "Frank showed everyone he can be one of the best quarterbacks here. They didn't rattle him at all. They came at him, and he showed that he's the leader."
Like his teammates, Costa didn't step up against Arizona when he came in after the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, and he didn't step up against Washington this fall. But to beat Florida State so convincingly when few thought it could be done creates instant respect. "I'm extremely happy for him," Erickson says. "He's been through a lot of things, and he's come through like a champion."
It's true that Costa went through plenty, and football may have been the least of it. Last year was "a nightmare year," Costa will tell you, but the damage began long before football season. On Valentine's Day 1993, a childhood friend from his South Philadelphia neighborhood, Kevin Libucki, was killed when he was hit by a drunken driver as he strolled along a sidewalk. Then another friend Costa had known since he was six, Dominic Menitti, died after being shot in the chest. Then came the worst Miami season in a decade, and Costa would find himself buttonholed by every barstool coach in Dade County. "It'd go from a guy trying to be nice, saying, 'What happened against Florida State?' to "I lost a lot of money,' to some drunk in a bar saying, 'You suck,' " Costa says. "It got so tough on me mentally that after a while it wasn't hurting me just as a player, it was hurting me off the field."
He lost 20 pounds. He considered transferring. He called his parents, Frank Sr. and Rosemarie, nightly. "Unless it happens to you, you can never imagine," says Frank Sr., who drives a bus at the Philadelphia Naval Base. "You get a kid and all his dreams go away real fast, and when it happens, you don't know how to combat it. You think all crazy thoughts. It was horrible for him. Here we are, 1,100 miles away; how far can you reach out to him?"
But after the season, Costa decided to stay at Miami. Although Erickson gave him no guarantee except that he would have a shot at the starting job in spring practice, Costa figured he would spend his senior season fighting. "I told my parents, 'I'm not coming back to Philly.' I don't think I'm hated down here...but if I am, I am."
Now, Costa says, he's stronger. "I'm not the same person mentally I was last year," he says. "I don't let things bother me anymore. I don't care what people say."