Would a Florida State victory put the Seminoles 'back on the map'?
There are so many immediate rewards on the line in Saturday's ACC championship game between No. 12 Virginia Tech and No. 20 Florida State, and players on both sides have tried to remain focused. But we'd be remiss to overlook how the outcome of this game could affect the long-term perceptions of both programs.
Earlier this week, I wrote about how Virginia Tech's players believe a measure of respect is at stake against the Seminoles, especially with the lingering criticism that the Hokies fail to rise to the occasion when the national spotlight shines on them.
But down at Florida State, the Seminoles are also seeking a new narrative on their program after three 7-6 seasons in the past four years. They've already won the battle for Florida -- with victories over the Gators and Miami this year -- and according to linebacker Kendall Smith, a win over Virginia Tech would announce the tomahawk chop's rebirth under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
"This game is definitely going to determine whether or not they put us back in the spotlight of taking over the ACC," Smith said. "In the past, Florida State was very successful with taking over the ACC, and by us going against Virginia Tech, which has been very successful in the ACC in the past four to five years, we've definitely got a chance to -- this is going to help with recruiting, with everything. This is going to show the world that, okay, if we win this game at Florida State, we're back on the path."
Added Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder: "I think obviously we're trying to get ourselves back on the map and become relevant again. To beat Florida and win the state of Florida and make it to the ACC championship game, it would be big if we won it. Obviously we want to make it to a BCS bowl, and very few teams get to make that. So if we do, hopefully people would start to take us a little bit more seriously."
Earlier this week, Beamer was asked if he could ever imagine what it would be like around Blacksburg if his program were to finish with a 7-6 record three of the past four seasons. The coach paused for a second and just said, "Don't wanna imagine it."
But it's not as if the Hokies are buying into the Seminoles' underdog rhetoric. Virginia Tech is, after all, 1-7 against Florida State during the Beamer era. Beamer even hummed the "nah nah na na na" and did the tomahawk chop motion during his weekly press conference to demonstrate just how well known the Seminoles remain in the current college football landscape.
“That’s probably the biggest misconception, just because they weren’t in the top 5 doesn’t mean they fell off the map," offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. "Maybe they weren’t competing for the national championship, but there’s a lot of great teams that aren’t competing for the national championship year in and year out. But I don’t think they’ve fallen off the map. Were they off the map in the top 5? Maybe so. I think they’ve been a lot closer to being the Florida State that we know and I think they know also.”
Both teams, though, have pretty compelling and redemptive story lines heading into this one. And there's a lot of program momentum that could be gained with a victory.
| December 3, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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