Aug. 22, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the 30th time in Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden’s 34 seasons, the Seminoles will open the season with a national ranking.
Florida State earned a No. 18 ranking in the Associated Press preseason poll, released Saturday. This time last year the Seminoles were unranked for the first time since 1982, though they finished at No. 21 after authoring a 9-4 record capped by their Champs Sports Bowl romp of Wisconsin.
Bowden didn’t hesitate when asked if the preseason ranking – on the heels of last season’s finish – reflects the direction the program is headed.
“I hope so and think so,” Bowden said, during a break from watching film of Saturday’s scrimmage. “If we can stay healthy and the kids continue to get better, it would be hard for 17 teams to be better than us.”
No program in the country has made more appearances in the AP preseason poll than Florida State under Bowden, dating to inaugural season in 1976. Not even Penn State. Joe Paterno may be one-up on Bowden for the all-time victories lead (383-382), but his Nittany Lions are one preseason poll appearance behind the Seminoles with 29 over the past 34 seasons.
“I had never thought about that stat,” Bowden said of the 30 preseason poll appearances. “It’s not bad. Of course we always want to be better.”
Of course, it’s how your team finishes that matters most. To that end, the Seminoles also stand tall under Bowden’s guise, as FSU has followed up the previous 29 preseason rankings by finishing the season as a ranked team 25 times. That includes the Seminoles’ precedent-setting 14 consecutive finishes as a top-five team (1987-2000).
A daunting schedule, which opens with Miami at home on Sept. 7, stands in the way. Four of Florida State’s opponents – No. 1 Florida, No. 15 Georgia Tech, No. 20 BYU and No. 21 North Carolina – earned preseason rankings. Five others also received votes.
“If you win you can climb the ladder with that schedule,” Bowden said.
The No. 18 AP preseason ranking comes after Florida State picked up a No. 19 ranking in the USA Today Coaches poll.