July 22, 2002
PINEHURST, N.C. –
(AP)Florida State’s glitch of 2001 isn’t expected to turn into a trend anytime soon.
“The talent level is as good as it was here 10 years ago,” coach Bobby Bowden said Monday of his Seminoles, who were picked for an 11th straight year to win the Atlantic Coast Conference football title.
Despite losing four games for the first time since 1983, Florida State received 82 of a possible 86 first-place votes by media members attending the 31st annual ACC Football Kickoff.
North Carolina State, the program that handed the Seminoles their first ACC home loss in a decade last year, was picked to finish second with the other four top votes.
Bowden, who begins his 37th season of coaching with 323 wins, said last year’s 8-4 season was the result of injuries, inexperience and emotional distress over the death of a player in preseason workouts.
All of that baggage is now behind one of the most dominating programs in college football history. Before 2001, the Seminoles had won at least 10 games and been ranked in the top five for 14 straight years.
“I’ve seen nothing but good signs. We’ve got an entirely different attitude now compared to what it was a year ago,” Bowden said.
“Last year, I did not see a drop in our talent, but we were totally inexperienced,” he added. “We had to go through that. There’s nothing like experience and we didn’t have it. I really felt like the games we lost were not in the upset category. It wasn’t a fluke. We simply were not good enough to overcome it.”
ACC Preseason poll Rank Team Votes 1. Florida St. (82) 770 2. N.C. State (4) 642 3. Maryland 572 4. Georgia Tech 460 5. Clemson 434 6. North Carolina 331 7. Wake Forest 298 8. Virginia 275 9. Duke 89 First-place votes in parenthesis
2002 ACC Media Poll
Maryland, which won the league title last year and returns two of the ACC’s best players in linebacker E.J. Henderson and running back Bruce Perry, was selected third by the media with 572 points.
“They’ve got to show they’re not a one-year wonder,” Bowden said of the Terrapins. “Hey, they lost the battle to us, but they won the war and I would have rather liked to have won the war.”
Georgia Tech, now led by former NFL coach Chan Gailey, was selected fourth with 460 points and was followed by Clemson (434), North Carolina (331), Wake Forest (298), Virginia (275) and Duke (89).
The Blue Devils, who own the nation’s longest losing streak at 23, were picked last on 85 of the 86 ballots.
N.C. State’s second-place selection is the highest for coach Chuck Amato, the former Florida State assistant under Bowden who heads into his third year in Raleigh after seasons of 8-4 and 7-5.
“If we can’t handle the preseason expectations we’ll never get to where we want to in the long run,” Amato said. “You have to look at the big picture.”
But could the Wolfpack be overrated?
“When I look at the film it doesn’t look like we should be there,” Amato said of N.C. State’s poll standing. “But I guess we’ve been to two bowl games in a row, and the biggest thing was what happened in Tallahassee. Those things seem to ring a bell to people.”
The Wolfpack beat Florida State 34-28 last November to become the first ACC team to beat the powerful Seminoles on their home turf.
However, Amato has worked with Bowden long enough to know Florida State will come out this season swinging.
“By no means is their dynasty over,” Amato said. “They are still the one we’re all chasing.”