November 26, 1998
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – If anyone knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in, it’s Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.
This year, as in many of the last dozen seasons, Bowden’s team played some of the best football in the country at the end of the year. But an early
September loss at North Carolina State will probably keep the fourth-ranked Seminoles from a chance at their second national title this decade.
“Right now we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that somebody gets beat,” said Bowden as he prepared to leave for a Thanksgiving Day dinner at son Terry’s home in Auburn, Ala.
Unless two of the three teams ranked higher – Tennessee, UCLA and Kansas State – in the Bowl Championship Series formula lose a game, there is no chance for Florida State (11-1) to play for all the title.
And Bowden, who has taken Florida State to a 130-16-1 record since the 1986 season, says that’s the way it should be, even though his lone national title
(1993) came with a team that lost one game.
“If a team is undefeated, who is to say they’re not the best,” said Bowden. “Nobody has beat ’em.”
Actually there are four unbeaten teams, including son Tommy’s team at Tulane, which doesn’t figure to get into the national title picture despite its 10-0 mark. The 11th-ranked Green Wave hope to finish a perfect season against Louisiana Tech (6-5) Thanksgiving Day.
Tennessee, UCLA and Kansas State all play Dec. 5. UCLA visits Miami, while the other two will be in their conference championship games.
None of the top-ranked teams have played as difficult a schedule as Florida State – a factor that formally weighs into the new equation for choosing the
With a dozen new starters and only a handful of returning seniors, the Seminoles beat No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 8 Florida, No. 16 Virginia, No. 17 Georgia
Tech and No. 19 Miami.
Florida State also defeated Southern California (7-4), while Kansas State spent its nonconference energy on Indiana State, Northern Illinois and Northeast Louisiana.
“The formula? Who says it’s correct?” asked Bowden. “But no matter, it’s set in place. It’s set in stone. If we don’t like it, we’ll try to modify it next year.”
Florida State’s schedule is ranked the fifth toughest by the BCS formula; UCLA is eighth, Tennessee 14th and Kansas State 62nd.
But there will be discontent if the top three teams finish unbeaten and one is left out of the Fiesta Bowl. “It’s going to hurt somebody’s feelings pretty
bad,” Bowden said.
“If you pick the top four teams, you’d still have some controversy because No. 5 would be mad,” he said. “I don’t care how many numbers you go to, the
next number is mad.”
But Bowden, a proponent of the bowl system, said he could support a four-team playoff.
“With a four-team playoff it would only be two games,” he said. “Have it within the bowl structure and be through with it by January 1. Anything
more than that, I think is infringing upon education.”
Following its Sept. 12 loss, Florida State has reeled off 10 straight victories, allowing no more than 14 points in any game. It leads the nation in total defense by a wide margin, allowing 214 yards a game.
And unless two of the three teams ahead of him fall Dec. 5, Bowden will again have to settle for something less than best. But he supports the system.
“To me it’s as good as we can get unless we have a playoff,” said Bowden, who likes the bowls and the controversy that surrounds picking a champion.
“Before we couldn’t get a 1 versus 2 if the 1 or 2 was in the Big Ten or the Pacific Ten because they were committed to the Rose Bowl. But now we’ve solved