Atlantic Coast Conference football teams will have to contend with national powerhouse Florida State a little sooner than anticipated.
In a unanimous vote of ACC athletic directors last week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., it was decided that the Seminoles would begin a full league schedule in 1992.
When Florida State was invited into the league last September, it was intended that the Seminoles play some ACC teams in football by 1993 at the earliest, but not play all eight teams until 1994 or 1995.
The Florida State basketball team will begin a full league schedule next season. The school officially will become the ACC's ninth member July 1. The Seminoles are currently members of the Metro Conference but have been independent in football.
"The conference realignments in the Big East and SEC really forced the issue," ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan said yesterday. "You either had to get it done now or you would end up without some games."
After Florida State opted for the ACC, spurning the Southeastern Conference in the process, Auburn officials informed FSU that its contract for football games was going to be canceled, effective this season.
Louisiana State, another SEC member and a regular Seminoles opponent, canceled the series, effective after next season. Florida State doesn't have an ACC team on its schedule in 1991.
"Florida State was left with some real holes in their schedule," said Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger. "The logical thing for the ACC todo was to close ranks."
As a result of last week's decision, several ACC schools are busy trying to find one non-conference opponent to drop from their 1992 schedules. Maryland's schedule that year includes West Virginia, Syracuse, Penn State and Pittsburgh.
Geiger said that he held discussions Monday with his counterparts at those schools, but nothing can be worked out until the Big Ten and Penn State agree on when the Nittany Lions will move into the conference.
"I need someone to postpone a game to a later date," said Geiger, who hopes to continue playing Penn State on a home-and-home basis at least six times a decade.
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who had one of the country's top recruiting classes, said that he was pleasantly surprised by the ACC's move to incorporate the Seminoles so swiftly.
"I can't believe it," Bowden said yesterday from Tallahassee. "I thought it was going to be 1994 at the earliest, and maybe 1995. I'm amazed. It reflects back to the management of that league."
Considering the strength of the Seminoles' football program -- FSU has been ranked in the top four in each of the past four years -- news of their sooner-than-expected arrival into the ACC was greeted with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation by the league's other coaches.
Said Virginia coach George Welsh: "It's a top 10 team, and I think it'll help raise our level. I've been for Florida State coming in since it was first talked about. I think we can play them, but there will always be some teams at the top and some teams at the bottom."
Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross, whose unbeaten Yellow Jackets won the ACC championship last season and shared a mythical national title with Colorado, said the issue would be addressed before the league's football banquet Friday in Baltimore.
But he didn't expect there to be too many objections.
"I can't speak for everybody, but I think it's great," said Ross. "It's a little faster than we thought it would be, but to me, the sooner the better."