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FSU-Miami in tact despite expansion storm

11/9/2011

So Florida State and Miami aren’t ranked this week heading into their rivalry game.

We get that. Old news. But at least the ACC has Florida State and Miami.

Kansas and Missouri have officially broken up. Pitt and West Virginia? Divorce pending. Texas and Texas A&M? Separated. And of course you’ve heard about Nebraska and Oklahoma. They’re history. Literally.

There should be a new category on Facebook so rivals can update their conference status, along with their relationships.

While the rest of the collegiate landscape continues to shift like an earthquake under our feet, the ACC has managed to do what other conferences are failing to: Expand while simultaneously preserving its revered rivalries. The ACC has bolstered its strength with the additions of Pitt and Syracuse without losing decades of tradition within the current 12-team membership. It’s a difficult and delicate task these days, but ACC commissioner John Swofford deserves credit for his balancing act.

On Saturday, Florida State and Miami will meet for the 56th time in a series that began in 1951 and has been played every season since 1969 – 42 straight games entering Saturday. Since Miami joined the ACC in 2004, Florida State has a slight 4-3 edge in the series. A total of 18 games have been decided by four points or less, including seven since 2000. It’s a series that has had some of the most entertaining and memorable finishes in college football, and one that became synonymous with “Wide Right.”

It’s a series that belongs in the ACC, and one that could have been in jeopardy had the ACC not increased its exit fee to $20 million. Florida would have done everything in its power to keep FSU out of the SEC, but until the dust settled, rumors ran rampant. All the more reason fans should continue to enjoy Saturday’s game in Tallahassee, even if neither team is leading its respective division or in contention for a national title. With Missouri’s recent decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, a rivalry against Kansas that has roots in the Civil War is in jeopardy. Those teams first met in 1891 and have held the distinction of being the sport’s oldest series west of the Mississippi River.

Now?

Missouri will compete in the SEC East and try to “find” a rival in the West division.

Florida State and Miami need to look no further than across the field on Saturday to find theirs.