Tar Heels soon to learn Seminoles are the real thing

Bill Tanton

September 16, 1993|By Bill Tanton

The Atlantic Coast Conference must rue the day it admitted Florida State as a member.

In football, the Seminoles are too good for the ACC. Actually, they may be too good for anybody. They're 3-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country.

Maybe they'll kick better this year and win the national championship that has eluded them -- barely.

No doubt you noticed the score of Florida State's game with Clemson last week: 57-0.

That's scary. It was Clemson's worst defeat since 1931.

L The Seminoles also have beaten Kansas, 42-0, and Duke, 45-7.

Aggregate score: Florida State 144, Opponents 7. And the carnage has only begun.

This Saturday, FSU plays North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a game that will be televised by ESPN (7:30 p.m.).

Even though Carolina (3-0) has elevated its program, is No. 14 in the country and, as Maryland found out last week, has a good football team (59-42), the Seminoles are favored over the Tar Heels by 17 1/2 points.

It's likely to be worse than that.

As I said, Florida State is too good for the ACC. The National Football League might have been a better fit for this bunch.

Say this for the Seminoles: They didn't reach this lofty height by playing patsies. FSU is playing the toughest schedule in the country. In fact, this is the third time in the past five years that Florida State has played the toughest schedule in America.

I'll tell you how hard it is to win a national championship when you're playing the most difficult schedule in the land. Only two schools have done it since this stuff became computerized -- Penn State in 1982 and Colorado (co-champs) in 1990.

Last year's national champion, Alabama, played the 34th toughest schedule in the NCAA's Division I.

No, there's nothing phoney about Florida State. The Seminoles are the real thing.

Pro scouts marvel at the number of great athletes FSU attracts, though some wonder why. The school's Tallahassee campus is not as inviting as the campuses of many of its competitors.

Nobody is surprised that Florida State won the ACC title last year in its first season in the conference. Neither is anyone surprised that FSU is favored to win the whole ball of wax this year.

When the ACC took in this powerhouse from the South, which really belongs in the tougher Southeast Conference (this week's Associated Press top 10 includes three SEC teams, only FSU from the ACC), some conference members were opposed.

They had good reason. What business does Florida State have in a football conference with the likes of Duke and Wake Forest? Or with Maryland, for that matter? FSU crushed Maryland last year, 69-21.

One shudders at the thought of Maryland's defense trying to stop Florida State this year, as it will at Byrd Stadium on Nov. 6.

The 0-2 Terps are last in the country in scoring defense (50.5 points per game allowed) and total defense (593.5 yards).

Last week, at Carolina, Maryland allowed the Tar Heels to roll for a school-record 714 yards on offense. And Florida State is better than Carolina.

Naturally, Maryland coach Mark Duffner, Mr. Positive, plays down his team's defensive ineptitude.

"At Carolina," Duffner said this week at his regular news conference, "we were not knocked off the ball and out-physicaled. We were out-big played."

Maryland will be more in its own class Saturday night when it plays host to West Virginia. The Terps are 6 1/2 -point underdogs. Maryland could win this one.

"This is a game we've got to have," Duffner said. "Our team is on the move right now. There's a real hunger for victory."

In the meantime, no ACC team can be very excited about its

chances of winning the conference championship -- not with Florida State in the league. Everybody else is playing for second place.

Why did ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan work so hard to bring Florida State into his conference?

The ACC certainly didn't need the money FSU would bring into conference coffers through bowl appearances. The ACC's NCAA basketball success has enriched all conference members. That's where a good bit of the money came from to pay for the striking improvements to Byrd Stadium.

"Money had nothing to do with getting Florida State in the conference," Corrigan told me at the time FSU came in. "Florida State has a fine bunch of people. They'll be philosophically comfortable with us. They'll be an asset to the ACC."

Tell that to Clemson. Tell it to Carolina this coming Saturday evening.

Tell it to Maryland on Nov. 6.

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