6:12 PM EDT, October 15, 2013
Jimbo Fisher refuses to root against Alabama or Oregon or any other team ranked ahead of his Florida State Seminoles in the national polls.
The man who has rebuilt FSU into a national power says it goes against everything he stands for to cheer when another team fails.
"I never root for another team to lose," Jimbo told me earlier this week as his No. 5-ranked Seminoles prepared for Saturday's Southern Super Bowl against No. 3 Clemson. "I don't operate that way. You're talking about coaches' lives, careers and futures. I never have — ever, ever, ever — rooted for another team to lose. I don't like that, and it's not me. If we do what we're supposed to do, everything will take care of itself."
You have to admire Jimbo's class and dignity, but he is being a foolish dreamer if he thinks everything will take care of itself in this — the final season — of the BC-Mess system. Ridiculous as it may seem, there's the strong possibility that the winner of FSU-Clemson could run the table and still not have a chance to play for the national title. Most of the so-called experts have already declared that if Alabama and Oregon remain unbeaten, those teams would play for the national championship.
Why? Because of a bunch of factors that have absolutely nothing to do with what has actually transpired on the field this season. The only reason Alabama and Oregon have a leg-up on either FSU or Clemson is because they started the season ranked higher, they're conferences are considered stronger and — in Alabama's case — because the Crimson Tide are the two-time defending champs from the high-and-mighty Southeastern Conference.
Now ask yourself: What does any of this have to do with who has been the most impressive team THIS season?
I submit that if Florida State marches through its schedule, the Seminoles deserve to be in the championship game just as much as Alabama and Oregon — if not more so.
If everything goes according to script, the Seminoles will have had a more impressive victory (Clemson) than Alabama (LSU or Texas A&M) or Oregon (Stanford or UCLA). Not only that, but they will have beaten undefeated Miami, Florida and probably either Virginia Tech or Miami in the ACC title game.
That might be more impressive than Alabama beating Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia/South Carolina/Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Or Oregon beating Washington, Stanford and UCLA.
When Jimbo was asked if he'd be upset if his team went unbeaten and was left out of the national championship game, he replied: "You would disappointed with something like that, but that's not something you can worry about right now. We're just trying to play well this week."
It would be too bad if an undefeated FSU or Clemson gets left out of the national title game, but, then again, the ACC would only have itself to blame. It's been well-documented how embarrassing the league has been in big games against the powerhouse conferences over the years. In the past 15 years, the ACC's record in BCS bowl games is an abysmal 3-13 — and that includes FSU's victory over Northern Illinois in last year's Orange Bowl.
"I was in the ACC for 10 years and you hate to say it, but it doesn't stack up," former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden told me a few months ago. "All you can go by are statistics, and those are black and white. There's been a pattern of consistency. … In games of relevance and significance, the ACC has fallen short. … It's happened so many times that [the ACC] has lost its legitimacy."
This is the year either Florida State or Clemson could return the league to relevancy and put ACC football on the national (championship) map.
If only they get the chance.
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