Florida State University’s football team is 9-1. It currently stands 10th in the BCS rankings and eighth in the AP poll.
The question begs to be asked: Would this be the case if Bobby Bowden were still in charge of the Seminoles?
Think about it. Just try to imagine FSU under Mr. Dadgummit’s direction checking in with that kind of record, this late in a season, and getting, well, that kind of lack of respect.
B-Squared had 14 straight years of 10 wins from 1987 through 2000. His teams never finished out of the top five in any poll. They were royalty, and treated as such before a single snap was fired back between the wickets of a center. Without fail, the ’Noles were in the national-title talks, if not the actual chase.
They were very good, often great … and never, ever were denied their just due.
Apparently, though, the last decade has done some serious damage to their cachet. Well, actually, not just their own, but their conference’s, too – the ACC has taken a hit on the perception scale right along with its former signature program. With homecoming on deck, Clemson checks in at 8-1 – its only loss to FSU back two months ago in arguably the season’s most entertaining contest – and gets no better than 13th and 10th in the same aforementioned measuring sticks.
Frankly, it’s a little odd for anyone whose memory extends beyond the last 20 minutes to see FSU and Clemson eating dust from the likes of Kansas State, Louisville, Oregon State and – sit down for this one, Tigers fans – two-loss South Carolina. That is just not how the college football pecking order was supposed to be – especially with FSU’s one setback being by a single point and Clemson’s still providing a stage for the Tigers to show a national-TV audience the unbelievable skill-position talent on their roster.
FSU and Clemson have two of the country’s best quarterbacks as well – EJ Manuel and Tajh Boyd – for heaven’s sake.
Just what in the name of Charlie Ward is going on here?
Granted, with the ever-changing landscape of conference affiliations and the down years endured by both programs, perhaps the “current” slight is to be expected. The drop-off by fellow ACC powers Miami and Florida State hasn’t helped, either.
But the “eye test” clearly shows that both FSU and Clemson are better than they’re being given credit for right now, and not even a subpar effort by the ’Noles Thursday night in beating sub-.500 Tech on the road did anything to change that.
PUPIL POLL – Speaking of the eye test, it gives contradictory results to what some have graded out on the field. Notre Dame is 9-0, but it doesn’t pass … at least as a BCS contender. It’s the same thing with K-State, whether Heisman hopeful Collin Klein is healthy or not.
Louisville is about as soft a 9-0 as you’ll ever see, given its defense’s inability to stop any ground attacks and its rarity for blowing out any opponent. One-loss Florida consistently gets outdone on the statistical charts, before escaping with narrow victories; it’s like watching Joe Paterno’s Penn State teams in the ’80s – not a pretty sight, nor an impressive one.
BCS-banned Ohio State may look better than any of those, but it isn’t blowing anyone’s socks off, either. So the fans in Columbus, Ohio, and abroad may want to simmer down on their complaining when all is said and done.
Thing is, the view is very clear that Alabama and Oregon – throughout the course of this season – have been the nation’s two best teams. Of course, the Tide were the second-best squad on the field in Baton Rouge, La., last Saturday night, but we digress …
MAC MADNESS – The Mid-American Conference routinely makes a name for itself when member schools knock off big-named opponents. It seemed to enjoy making a mini-mockery of former member Temple’s bolting to the Big East this fall by knocking off not one, but two ranked unbeatens from that circuit – Cincinnati and Rutgers – in midseason.
But here’s the problem it always seems to run into – it never has a staple program emerge, because every team in the conference eats the other ones alive. It’s a study in self defeat every season, unless, of course, the MAC wants no unbeaten to emerge from its ranks, get a high ranking and force the sport’s power brokers to take a serious look at putting an Ohio, or a Kent State, or a Toledo in a major bowl.
The Bobcats seemed certain to take the lead on making that happen in 2012, kicking things off with an upset win at Penn State en route to a 7-0 start. They now have lost two of their last three – to MAC members Miami and Bowling Green. Toledo, the conference’s only ranked squad (at No. 25), next Wednesday gets Northern Illinois – the one-loss team it trails in the MAC West standings. Like Ohio, it already lost earlier this week.
Kent State, the MAC’s other one-loss squad, ends it regular season with a visit from Ohio.
The conference is a minefield – most of all to itself.