January 1, 1999
By Matt Rehm
TEMPE, Ariz. – Until Friday, the Fiesta Bowl press conferences were exercises in mutual admiration, as both teams seemed careful not to give the other any bulletin-board material. But apparently, Tennessee receiver Peerless Price’s New Year’s resolution was to be more blunt, as he spoke out about the fuss made over his Seminole counterpart, Peter Warrick.
“I’m just tired of hearing about him and what he’s going to do in this ballgame,” said Price. “But I’m fine with the press I’m getting. I don’t really care, I’m just going to show everybody what I’m about in the game Monday night.”
Asked to elaborate on his frustrations, Price said, “I’m tired of hearing about what he does and what he’s going to do and this and that. I’m just tired of hearing it.”
Price also bristled at the suggestion that the Seminole secondary was among the nation’s best.
“These guys are good, but they’re not Deion Sanders,” said Price. “I’m not going to be afraid of them.
“People say they’re the number-one secondary in the country? I haven’t seen it. I know they have the number-one ranked defense in the country. But our receivers are going to do a good job. We’ve been doing a good job all year. We’re not going to change anything for these guys.”
DON’T MESS WITH SUCCESS: FSU free safety Dexter Jackson said the Seminoles won’t tinker with the formula that brought them this far, either.
“Our base defense is a man-to-man, press defense,” said Jackson. “It’s not a matter of trying to contain them — we’re just going to try to put a man out there one-on-one.”
Still, Jackson said he has tremendous respect for the Vols’ receiving corps.
“They have three guys that can beat you,” said Jackson. “They’re great receivers. All of them are athletes; all of them make plays. You have to do your job, don’t bite on their fakes and try to keep them in front of you. If you can keep them in front of you and make the tackle, you at least make them line up and play again.
“The key to Tennessee’s receivers is putting them on the ground, because after they catch the ball anything can happen.”
However, FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said the key for his unit will be stopping the Vols’ rushing attack, which led the SEC at 211.3 yards per game.
“The biggest thing for us is stopping the run,” said Andrews. “We’re going to bunch some people up and try to stop the run as best we can. That’s doesn’t mean they’re not going to gain some yards running the football. But the main objective is to win the game, and if we can stop the run and limit the big plays, we might have a chance to do that.”
Price, though, said he has heard all of that before.
“Everybody coming into our ballgame has said they’ve got to stop the run, but nobody has done it yet,” said Price. “So we’ll see Monday night.”
GREEN BACKS THE BCS: FSU linebacker Lamont Green has a simple message for those who would extend the college football season to install a playoff: count me out.
“If you think about it, guys in the NFL play 16 games in the regular season, and it’s hard for a guy to make it through a season,” said Green.
“The media want to see a playoff system and the fans want to see a playoff system, but they’re not thinking about the players. We have to go to school every day. We have a lot of requirements that professionals don’t have. We have to be eligible to stay in school. By the time you go to school and you have practice and study halls — you can’t do that for 16 weeks. So I’m totally against a playoff system. I think the BCS is the best thing that could have come about for college football.”
Green said playoffs might work for smaller schools, but not for big-time programs in Division I-A.
“I would say that’s totally different, because of the level of competition,” said Green.
“In Division I-A, you’ve got bigger guys, faster guys, better athletes that are banging into each other on every play. After a while, your body just wears down. A lot of guys come to college to have a chance to play professional football, and playing 16 games would really wear a player’s body down more than playing 11. You think about teams that are in the national championship picture every year like Florida State, if a guy plays 16 games every season for four years, that’s a lot of wear and tear on his body. I think a lot of pro teams wouldn’t want a guy that’s all beat up.”
Green said that the current BCS process captures the best of both worlds, matching up the two best teams while keeping the season a reasonable length.
“Even if we weren’t playing in this game, it’s about time a national championship was decided by the number-one team playing the number-two team,” said Green. “Even if Florida State wasn’t here, just by me being a football fan, I would have wanted to see number-one play number-two.”