CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Florida State fans, boosters and trustees have been strangely silent for months now.
There hasn’t been one single peep from any of them complaining about their football-fanatical program being stuck in a basketball-bonkers league. There has been nary a discontented word about wanting to leave the ACC to join the SEC or the Big 12.
Isn’t it amazing what a national championship cakewalk through the weakest BCS conference in college football will do for your perspective? The Seminoles completed their ACC turkey shoot Saturday night with a 45-7 thrashing of outmanned Duke in Saturday Night’s ACC Formality Bowl.
Even though the Seminoles got off to a slow start and were held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time all season, it didn’t matter. They were, after all, playing Duke — a 30-point underdog — in what was more of a ceremonial conference coronation than a championship game. In 19 meetings with Florida State, Duke is 0-19, lost by an average of 35 points, and never finished within two scores of the Seminoles.
Now, the Seminoles are off to Pasadena to play for the national title and quarterback Jameis Winston is off to New York, where he will likely win the Heisman Trophy this Saturday. Winston threw for three TDs Saturday, ran for another and broke the all-time freshman record for passing yards and TD passes in a season.
So much for all of bickering and complaining of a year ago when there was talk of another round of expansion in college football. Many FSU fans, including the chairman of the school’s board of trustees, strongly endorsed the idea of perhaps leaving the ACC for the Big 12 or maybe even the SEC.
Like the many who have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas; many in Seminole Nation had misremembered the true meaning of being in the ACC:
To be in a league that gave FSU the easiest possible road into the national championship game.
Bobby Bowden, the father of Florida State football, said so himself back in the early 1990s when Florida State turned down the SEC to join the ACC. Bobby made a boxing analogy and compared the ACC to the tomato cans that the aging, overweight George Foreman was beating up on at the time in his quest to regain the heavyweight championship.
“I’m like George Foreman,” Bowden said then. “I like to pick those unranked guys out and fight ‘em. Ol’ George is out there knocking out these no-names, but he’ll be fighting for the heavyweight championship directly.
“Everybody just assumed ol’ Bobby was raised in the heart of the SEC, so naturally he’s going to want to jump right in. Maybe I know too much about the SEC to want to join up.”
I’ve written it once and I’ll write it again right now: Back then, we called Bobby a chicken, but now we realize he was just being a wise old bird. Florida State became one of the college football’s greatest dynasties by beating up on the ACC for all those years while the SEC was beating up on each other. Now coach Jimbo Fisher, who is 17-1 in the ACC with two conference titles in last two seasons, has used the same formula to return FSU to prominence and dominance.
It’s no wonder Fisher has reportedly agreed to a new deal with the Seminoles that will pay him more than $4 million a year. Why would he coach anywhere else? He has built an SEC-type powerhouse in the ACC and has the Seminoles set up to dominate the league for years to come.
I believe the Seminoles are the best team in the country, but I certainly don’t think they would have marched through the SEC like they’ve mowed down the ACC this year (winning by an average of nearly 40 points per game). If they were in the SEC Western Division could they have run the table against the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M and then beaten an SEC Eastern Division foe like South Carolina, too?
Maybe, maybe not.
If anything, this college football season has shown that strength of schedule still doesn’t mean much in the quest for the national championship. The two top-ranked teams in the BCS standings — Florida State and Ohio State — marched through their cupcake leagues unscathed in the regular season.
According to Jeff Sagarin’s formula, Florida State has played the nation’s 66th-toughest schedule while Ohio State has played the 61st most difficult. In contrast, No. 3-ranked Auburn’s schedule is ranked 26th.
Now you know why FSU fans have been silent and smiling all season long.
It seems they only get upset about the ACC when they’re not dominating it.