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Friday, January 10, 2014
Friday mailblog: mea culpa, FSU ...

By Heather Dinich

I'm home from Pasadena, Calif., and I'm having a hard time figuring something out:

Are Florida State fans happier about the fact they won a national title, or that I was wrong last season? ...

Asher Hamilton in Tallahassee, FL, writes: http://espn.go.com/blog/acc/post/_/id/50721/fsu-wins-in-unconvincing-fashion

HD: I hear you, Asher. I hear you, Tallahassee. I hear you, NoleNation. Been there, conceded that. Mea culpa. The Noles proved me wrong this season. (So did Clemson. So did Syracuse. So did Boston College. Let's stop there, OK?) So it goes in this game. You call it like you see it on the day of the game. After Florida State beat Northern Illinois, Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated wrote, "this performance in the Orange Bowl should serve as a searing reminder to all the poll voters, magazine editors and bloggers tempted christen Seminoles as a national title contenders: Please don't. If you do, you watched this game blindfolded." Thamel and I were both in Pasadena earlier this week, watching the Noles with their first national title since 1999. Florida State finally reached its ceiling -- and I'm the one who has to duck.

Jeff in Villa Rica, GA writes: Heather, what's the likelihood of this being Johnson's last year at GT. As a fan I can only take 6 to 7 wins so often. Especially with only one bowl win, one UGA win, and one VT and Miami win a piece. He can't beat the better competition in the league and our rival. The 2008 UGA has long since lost its luster and the 2009 ACC title seems so far away. We have had nothing to hang our hats on since then, and I think it's time for our new AD to make his coaching hire.

HD: Yeah, Jeff, it seems like every week Georgia Tech fans lose their patience a wee bit more in my mailbag. I think Vad Lee transferring was the latest big hit to the program, but I think Paul Johnson's lucrative contract will keep him safe. For how long? I don't know, but I wouldn't put him on the hot seat entering this season.

Daniel Charlton in Roanoke, Va. writes: Heather, with the ending of the 2013 season for the Hokies, do you feel like this was a better year than last year? Taking account of the wins and losses it was a better year, but I am not convinced that it was much better than last year. I felt like they needed more drive. It was tough to watch the end of the Sun Bowl, and it took me a while to calm down after that scoring session by UCLA there at the end. I can only hope that they get much better with Leal or whoever the starter may be next year.

Leal
Mark Leal took over for an injured Logan Thomas in Virginia Tech's Hyundai Sun Bowl loss to UCLA.
HD: Yeah, Daniel, I do think it was better than last season, because they weren't under pressure to get to a bowl game in the regular-season finale against Virginia. It was an eight-win season with a winning record in league play, but I understand what you're saying. Keep in mind, though, they were under a new offensive coordinator and still didn't have the playmakers on offense that they needed to really make a difference. I'm not convinced that next season will be any dramatic improvement. It's not like Mark Leal wowed us with his time in the bowl game (12 of 25, two picks, no TDs). Let's see how the QB position shapes up this spring.

Jeremy in Salem, VA writes: As a die hard Virginia Tech fan. I have been very disappointed in them the last two seasons. The QB spot has been horrible, the RBs horrible, the WRs humiliating. The special teams under one of the countries most prolific special teams coaches horrendous. The only consistent thing all season was the defense. After to back to back mediocre seasons, and recruiting classes that have been less than impressive. Is Frank Beamer on the hot seat going into the next season. I love Beamer but I feel that he has done everything he can for the program and the program needs to go another route "Bud Foster." Do you agree?

HD: Two thoughts: 1. I wouldn't put Beamer on the hot seat, but I think it's fair to say his job security is probably the least stable it's been in years, and that's in large part because of the changes in the administration. The second thing is, I'm not convinced Bud Foster is the right guy to replace him. Foster is a great defensive coach, but he's never been a head coach. When the time comes, is a first-year head coach the right direction for the program? I'm not sure, but it's not something Virginia Tech fans need answered right now, either. Trust me: Enjoy Beamer while you can.

Rick Hale in Little River, SC writes: Hey Heather, you got your wish. You got to cover a National Title Winner. What are you going to do now?

HD: Oh, you know ... signing day. Draft. Spring ball. Retire? Nah, there are a few more mea culpas to be had before that, I'm sure ...