Day after thoughts on Florida State, etc.
December 4, 2005
The Orlando Sentinel seems to have captured the situation best: Upset turns FSU Orange
JACKSONVILLE — It was almost as if the past month had never happened. As if Florida State hadn’t lost at home on senior day to North Carolina State, hadn’t been smoked by Bobby Bowden’s son at Clemson, hadn’t embarrassed itself on its biggest rival’s home field in a loss so ugly fans started turning on their legend of a head coach.
This, a 27-22 Seminoles win over Virginia Tech in the inaugural ACC Championship Game, is exactly what everyone would have predicted before the awful month of November. Back when this team was thought to have an explosive freshman quarterback, a punishing defense and a spot among the five best teams in the country.
But because things had been going so horribly of late, this win registers not as predictable, but as a shocking upset of an unranked team over a No. 5 favorite. Anyone who put money on these two-touchdown underdogs in Las Vegas now has enough money to pay their way to the Orange Bowl, where a marquee matchup against Joe Paterno’s Penn State likely awaits.
They also had an entertaining column: Ready or not here comes FSU
And to those who say FSU has no business playing in Miami on Jan. 3, don’t blame the Seminoles. They didn’t make the rules. They just showed up, crammed them down Virginia Tech’s throat, then hung on for the post-midnight celebration.
Was this the same team that lost to Florida by something like 183 points a week earlier? FSU fans have spent the past month debating whether their best option is to take away Jeff Bowden’s Etch a Sketch or put his old man on an ice floe.
Things were so bad, the Warrick Dunn Foundation offered to build the junior Bowden a house anywhere he wanted, as long as it wasn’t within 100 miles of a headset.
FSU had averaged about 43 inches rushing per game since October. Drew Weatherford was playing like a freshman, all right. A high school freshman.
Never mind winning. How was it even going to survive against the best defense in America?
Maybe Joe Barton can find out. He’s the Texas congressman who’s called a hearing for Wednesday to discuss the “deeply flawed” BCS. With any luck, Cindy Sheehan will show up and demand to meet with Frank Beamer.
Indeed as great as the game is on its one, it is incredibly frustrating when you look back on our losses.
Consider the 3-0 lead early in the first quarter against VT. It was the first lead that Florida State had in a game since ten quarters ago against NC State. That three point lead quickly turned into a ten point deficit and the Seminoles went on to lose. After that the defense gave up 14 points in the 1st quarter of the Clemson game and 14 in the 2nd of the Florida game. But last night the defense allowed only 3 points.
A similar story exists at quarterback. Had Drew Weatherford not thrown interceptions in the NC State game, FSU almost certainly would have won. The Florida game would have at least been closer and the Clemson and Virginia games may have turned out differently.
The team that played last night is the team that we thought we had in October when we went into the UVA game 5-0. It gives you fits thinking about what happened to them during the stretch in between.
Even more frustrating, however, is the thought that none of what happened in between mattered. Think about this: What about Florida State’s immediate future would be different had they beat Clemson, NC State, and Florida to finish 11-1? NOTHING. They would still be playing in the Orange Bowl against Penn State, with no chance at a national championship. And what if they had beaten Virginia as well and wound up 12-0? What would be different? Not much, it seems. A good amount of argument would have ensued, and perhaps a split championship would occur if Texas were to beat USC, but in the end the result would probably be Florida State being the Auburn of last year; the undefeated team that never had a chance.
When you can definitively say that three losses had no effect on a team’s post-season, and plausibly say that four losses would have had no real effect either, then you know there is a problem with the system.
So, my thoughts are similar to Brendan Loy’s reaction to ‘BCS got this one right‘; wow, big deal that they got the undefeated teams together. As he said. “A freakin’ monkey could “get this one right.”
The ABC commentators last night seemed to think that it was indisputable that because the two teams with the fewest losses were playing each other the result would be a comfort to everyone. Well, it seems to me that if you are a fan of a team in one of the other major conferences (say, the SEC), then there is cause for discomfort.
Fans can accept the results of the current system if they feel that the two top undefeated teams played a schedule of similar quality to everyone else. But is that the case?
Consider who the top four opponents of Georgia were: LSU, Auburn, Florida, and Georgia Tech. All of them are in the top 25, and two are in the top 10 (this is being written before the release of the post-championship poll). Compare to the top four opponents of Texas: Ohio State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Only two of those teams is in the top 25, one of them in the top 10. Ohio State and LSU rate as being equivalent, and on win-loss basis, Auburn and Texas Tech are equal (but otherwise, advantage Auburn). Beyond that though, it is clear that Georgia had tougher opponents. Running the table against their schedule would have been harder than had they been playing Texas’ schedule. A similar argument can be made with regards to USC’s schedule.
The two teams with the fewest losses are not necessarily the best two teams.
Ponder the ACC championship. If the conference title were decided by having the two teams with the fewest losses squaring off, the game would have been Miami and Virginia Tech. On paper it would have resulted in the best team being champion. But had the system worked that way and Virginia Tech got revenge, we never would have known that FSU was capable of beating them.
(Yes, it does seem strange that the team with three conference losses is the champion, but perhaps it is not so strange when you consider that the Seminoles did beat the top three teams in the conference (Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami)).