No. 1 is clearly the Irish No. 2 is untidy bowl scene Polls disagree on second-ranked team

November 15, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

Let the bowl coalition controversy begin.

A confusing process became further muddled yesterday when the coaches and media members voting in the respective college football polls came up with different choices for the No. 2 team behind Notre Dame.

While the Fighting Irish were a unanimous pick in the Associated Press poll of writers and broadcasters, and a near unanimous selection among coaches in the USA Today-CNN poll, the two groups disagreed for the No. 2 team.

The AP poll voted for the previously top-ranked Florida State Seminoles (9-1), whose unbeaten season as well as its 16-game winning streak ended with a 31-24 loss Saturday at Notre Dame. It kept the Seminoles in line for a possible rematch with the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl. The USA Today-CNN poll voted for unbeaten Nebraska (10-0), which clinched the Big Eight championship and a spot in the Orange Bowl with a 49-17 victory over Iowa State. The Cornhuskers, who were No. 4 in the AP poll last week, moved ahead of Miami. The Hurricanes slipped to fourth in both polls with an unimpressive 31-17 over Rutgers.

"Well, that's about as good as I could have hoped for," said Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, whose team will finish the regular season at home against Oklahoma Nov. 26. "People get all worked up about the polls, and maybe I should get more worked up than I do. But it is almost ludicrous at times, because it doesn't do any good to get upset at them. Miami-West Virginia, Florida State-Florida, Nebraska-Oklahoma -- there's a lot of tough games yet to be played."

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, whose Seminoles play host to North Carolina State Saturday and finish the regular season at Florida on Nov. 27, said: "The coaches are just putting everything on won-lost records. The consideration of who you play doesn't come into it. They should consider it. It's hard to win week after week when you're playing top five teams."

Now comes the tricky part: Because the Seminoles were a strong No. 2 in the AP poll and a close No. 3 in the USA Today-CNN poll, Florida State is still second in the coalition poll, which ultimately will decide the New Year's Day matchups. The coalition poll is based on the compilation of points received in both polls.

Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said at a press conference in South Bend, Ind., yesterday that he voted for his Fighting Irish as the nation's No. 1 and split his vote for second between the Seminoles and Nebraska. Translation: for all his posturing about a rematch, Holtz doesn't seem to want any part of the Seminoles.

When told that two coaches did not vote for Notre Dame as No. 1, Holtz said, "I have no problem with that whatsoever. I'm not saying we should be No. 1 in the country. We were the best team in the stadium on Saturday -- not by a whole lot."

Asked if he was upset that the Irish weren't a unanimous No. 1 among the coaches, Holtz said, "I would be if it was Jan. 2."

Holtz repeated the message he gave to his players after Saturday's upset of the Seminoles: enjoy the victory, but don't get carried away with being No. 1 for too long. The Irish are home Saturday and play Boston College, which has won seven straight.

"It [being No. 1] doesn't mean anything except one thing: I look forward to see No. 1 [written] on the dorm," Holtz said. "I can tell which way I have to go when I start out to go home. I'll just go toward the No. 1 [sign]."

And then there's West Virginia coach Don Nehlen, whose Mountaineers stay at No. 9 despite being only the third Division I-A team that remains unbeaten. (Auburn is also 10-0, but on NCAA probation and ineligible for a bowl invitation.)

"Polls don't matter to me. If we keep winning, they can't keep us out. If we lose, we'll fall so far you can't find us," said Nehlen, whose team will play Miami in Morgantown for the first official Big East championship Saturday.

"West Virginia isn't a marquee name. It's always been the same 15 teams since I was a kid, and it'll be the same 15 teams when I'm dead."

TITLE TALK

Some possible combinations for a national championship game between the top two teams in the bowl coalition poll, a combination of The Associated Press media rankings and the USA Today-CNN coaches' survey:

FIESTA BOWL

At Tempe, Ariz.

Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m.

Possible teams: Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami, West Virginia.

If Notre Dame wins its remaining game vs. Boston College, it will remain No. 1 and would face a second-ranked opponent from among three coalition teams: Florida State, if the Seminoles beat North Carolina State and Florida; Miami, if the Hurricanes beat West Virginia and Memphis State; or West Virginia, if it beats Miami and Boston College and moves to No. 2.

Florida State could regain No. 1 if Notre Dame loses to BC, and then would meet Miami or West Virginia if either climbs to No. 2.

ORANGE BOWL

At Miami

Jan. 1, 8 p.m.

Possible teams: Nebraska (Big Eight champion) vs. Notre Dame, TC Florida State, Miami, West Virginia.

If Nebraska wins its remaining games against Iowa State and Oklahoma and climbs to No. 1 or No. 2, the Cornhuskers would face the highest ranked of four coalition teams: Notre Dame, if the Irish beat BC; Florida State, if it beats N.C. State and Florida and Notre Dame loses; Miami, if it beats West Virginia and Memphis State and Notre Dame loses; or West Virginia, if it beats Miami and BC and both Notre Dame and Florida State lose.

SUGAR BOWL

At New Orleans

Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m.

Possible teams: Florida vs. Notre Dame, Miami, West Virginia.

Florida must win its remaining games against South Carolina and Florida State and win the SEC championship game against Alabama to climb to at least No. 2 and face the highest ranked of three coalition teams: Notre Dame, if the Irish beat Boston College; Miami, if it beats West Virginia and Memphis State and Notre Dame loses; or West Virginia, if it beats Miami and BC and Notre Dame loses.

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