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Rant, Rave

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 14, 2003

Preseason polls a product of flawed thought process

The problem with preseason college football polls: In ensuing weeks, too many voters are incapable of making fresh judgments. The polls do not adjust to reflect how teams actually play.

Too many voters are unable to base their rankings on performance. Instead, they "lock in" to their preseason ranking - which is an educated guess before teams actually play - and are burdened by three dead-wrong codes: a team can drop in the rankings only if it loses; a team that loses must drop; and teams that win must stay put or move up.

Those flawed codes were in effect after the Miami-Florida game in the Orange Bowl, a thriller decided with about 10 seconds left. The 'Canes eked it out, and since it was only the second game of the season, it should carry a lot of weight in the rankings.

Florida entered ranked No.18 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, Miami was No.3. Florida clearly outperformed its ranking in almost clinching the upset, yet, inexplicably, the Gators dropped to No.20. Miami, meanwhile, moved up. Ordinarily Miami's move up would be bogus, but in this case it is okay since then-No.2 Ohio State did not play near the level of its ranking in barely beating middling San Diego State.

Preseason polls are not necessarily bad. But if the pollsters won't base their subsequent rankings on what actually happens on the field, then maybe the preseason polls need to be eliminated.

Opponents aside, 'Noles are dominant again

Florida State is Florida State again.

Go ahead, scoff that North Carolina is as soft as its powder blue uniforms. Snicker that Maryland lost at Northern Freakin' Illinois. Smirk at Georgia Tech's depleted roster and true freshman QB.

Then start listening for the war chant, because the 'Noles are back.

We're talking on the field. Bobby Bowden's inane denial of his team's off-field problems and his misdirected anger is subject for another story. On the field, between the lines, the Seminoles are roaring back to prominence. The defense is sneering and hyperaggressive once more, the offense is layered with game-breaking skill players with brute force (Greg Jones), whippet quickness (Lorenzo Booker, Chris Davis) and pure speed (Craphonso Thorpe, P.K. Sam).

The only thing possibly holding FSU back from national title contention, besides injuries and bad luck, is its biggest problem from the past two years: quarterback. To minimize Chris Rix's mistakes, the coaching staff has severely simplified the play calling, working around his mental limitations and limiting turnovers. It hardly holds FSU back, though, since the skill guys are so good and the new offensive line is solid.

With Miami appearing vulnerable, a new favorite for state supremacy in 2003 has emerged. Meet the new 'Noles, same as the old 'Noles.


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  • SEC: Georgia stifles South Carolina
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