WESLEY CHAPEL, FLORIDA — WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- Several months of controversy and the loss of the Heisman Trophy winner have done nothing to diminish the respect Florida State receives in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Some publications have predicted that the Seminoles will repeat as national champions, so it comes as little surprise that they were the unanimous selection of the media that cover the conference to finish atop the ACC for the third straight year.
The Seminoles are 16-0 after two years in the ACC, and could surpass Maryland's record for consecutive conference wins (21, during 1973-77) Oct. 29 against Duke.
Coach Bobby Bowden's off-season concerns haven't been limited to maintaining that streak or priming a replacement for departed quarterback Charlie Ward, however. A Sports Illustrated investigation uncovered an array of illegal benefits given to nine Seminoles players by agents, and other Florida State players got into legal difficulties of their own.
Maryland, selected to finish seventh in the ACC, has as settled a quarterback situation as any, because junior Scott Milanovich returns with some of the best numbers in the country.
Junior Danny Kanell, who took over for the resting Ward and led Florida State past the Terps last November, is the front-runner.
North Carolina's Jason Stanicek beat out Milanovich for second-team honors in the ACC, but he'll again be challenged by Mike Thomas. There are full-fledged quarterback controversies brewing at North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, and the returning starter at Wake Forest, two-sport standout Rusty LaRue, is mending a wrist fracture.