July 30, 1997
The Atlantic Coast Conference preseason football predicting wasn’t anything new, it was all Florida State.
Despite being ranked behind North Carolina in several national publications, five-time defending ACC champion Florida State won out over the Tar Heels in a close preseason vote by media members who cover the league on a regular basis.
The Seminoles, who have won at least 10 games in each of the past 10 seasons and are 39-1 in ACC games, received 45 of a possible 65 top votes for 565 points. North Carolina, with arguably the best defense in the nation, had 20 top votes for 536 points.
“It’s like the old Yankees, you’ve got to beat them,” Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary said of the Seminoles.
North Carolina’s 20 top preseason votes are by far the most any team has received in chasing the Seminoles since they entered the ACC in 1992. Clemson got five first-place votes the first year Florida State was in the league, while Virginia got one No. 1 vote each of the last two years.
Tar Heels coach Mack Brown said: “I honestly think that Florida State has to be picked No. 1 until someone in the league can consistently beat. They deserve it. They have tremendous depth each year and they have won each year they have been in the ACC.
“Florida State will continue to be good, I don’t see that changing, but what I think you’re seeing is the rest of the league is improving and trying to get closer to Florida State because Florida State is not dropping back.”
Florida State senior middle linebacker Daryl Bush said he was a bit miffed by all the preseason talk about North Carolina possibly being better than the Seminoles. Florida State won its game with North Carolina last season 13-0 in Tallahassee, Fla. The two teams meet Nov. 8 in Chapel Hill this time around.
“Yeah, it seems odd if you want to know the truth. It’s an opinion,” Bush said when asked about all of North Carolina’s preseason publicity. “It’s hard to say before the season. Are they better than us? We’ll know after the game.
“I would be making some money if I could figure out why people think they are better than us,” Bush added. “I don’t know why all of the sudden everyone thinks North Carolina is so good when we’ve always known they were that good. We’ve always seen them as a competitive threat to us ever since I’ve been here.”
While Florida State, 11-1 last season, and North Carolina, which finished 10-2, appear to be the league’s top two teams, Clemson was picked to finish third for the second straight season. The Tigers received 449 points.
Virginia, the only team to knock off the Seminoles in five ACC seasons, was picked fourth with 372 points. Georgia Tech was selected fifth in the preseason poll with 339 points, followed by Maryland’s 216, N.C. State’s 214, Wake Forest’s 138 and Duke’s 96.