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An unwelcome rematch

Annual rivals FSU and Miami aren't thrilled with an Orange Bowl pairing.

BRIAN LANDMAN
Published December 8, 2003

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has been down this road before and it's no more enjoyable.

He surprisingly learned Sunday that his No.9 Seminoles will play No.10 Miami for the second time this season in the Jan.1 Orange Bowl. He had a bowl rematch of a regular-season opponent, Florida, in the 1995 and 1997 Sugar Bowls.

"I'd rather not replay a team that we played during the regular season," Bowden said. "I'd rather not play a rival (again). Miami is a rival. Florida is a rival. When you play Miami and you play Florida, there's more pressure involved than when you're playing a Michigan or a Kansas State or somebody you don't know."

Miami coach Larry Coker, excited to be playing in his first Orange Bowl, isn't enamored of a rematch, either.

"We're not playing for a national championship, so it would have been a great opportunity to see someone from out of the area; a Big Ten team, a Pac-10 team, whatever," he said.

He saw enough of the Seminoles in his team's 22-14 win Oct. 11 in Tallahassee, a turnover-marred game in which a driving rainstorm turned the field into a quagmire. (FSU scored a cosmetic touchdown on the final play.)

But wait. There's more of FSU-Miami to come. Soon. The teams also meet as ACC brethren for the first time on Labor Day in Miami to kickoff the 2004 season.

"I don't know if I would have agreed to that if I'd known we were playing them in the bowl. That's too close," Bowden said.

FSU athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement he is pleased about a BCS berth and a trip to the Orange Bowl, but agreeing to move their regular-season game to September "led to assurances a rematch would not happen."

Coker said the bowl rematch will take much of the pizzazz out of next fall's game.

"I don't think that's particularly good for college football," he said.

So how did this happen?

After the Fiesta Bowl designated Big 12 champion Kansas State as its host team and the Orange followed by naming Big East champion Miami its host, both wanted Ohio State.

"From our standpoint, we made the effort to try to get the best possible game we could possibly get, to understand what's good for the Hurricanes and what's good for Florida State," Orange Bowl executive director Keith Tribble said.

The Seminoles, notorious for not bringing fans en masse to a game that doesn't impact the national championship, weren't feeling the love in that room.

The Fiesta owned the selection right, however, and stuck to its first choice to pit the surprising Wildcats against the next highest-ranked team, the defending champion Buckeyes, who also have 30,000 alumni within a day's drive of Tempe, Ariz., Fiesta Bowl president John Junker said. The Orange exercised that right last year to land Southern California and Iowa, much to the chagrin and anger of the Rose Bowl, underscoring the reality that there is little cooperation among the bowls. BCS commissioners chose not to intervene.

"We talked about it at great length," BCS coordinator and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said. "There is not a great desire to unravel unless we can help both parties or help one party and not hurt the other. We felt here, by making a switch, we were going to negatively impact one bowl game. All we would be doing is transferring the problem from the right hand to the left hand."

Yeah, yeah.

Bowden has heard that before.

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