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Monday, November 20

Florida State rests its case

During college football's Rivalry Weekend, we saw several contests remain undecided until the final moments. But in the game of the day, Florida State showed once again that it is the most talented team in college football.

Marvin Minnis, Chris Weinke
Marvin Minnis, left, and Chris Weinke helped Florida State extend its unbeaten streak at home to 52 games.

Led by a collection of highly skilled veteran seniors, FSU rolled to a decisive 30-7 victory over the Florida Gators, creating a scenario where there could be some controversy and debate over who ends up squaring off at the Orange Bowl for the national championship.

Florida State's regular season has ended, while Oklahoma still has to face Oklahoma State on the road at Stillwater and then a rematch against Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. Miami (Fla.) closes out the regular season Saturday against a banged-up Boston College squad at the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes, like the Seminoles, don't have to concern themselves with a conference championship game.

If all three teams remain unbeaten over the next two weeks, either Miami or Florida State will be shutout of the national-championship equation. That's when the outcry for a playoff system will begin. Keep in mind, though, the past few years things have been settled without any debate as to who is involved in the national championship game. This was the result of upset victories in the Big 12 championship game by Texas A&M over Kansas State and Texas over Nebraska.

I've always been in favor of a 16-team playoff system. However, I must admit, the argument about the success of the BCS formula has definite validity. Even with a playoff, some may argue that injuries that were the result of an extended season caused a particular team not to be operating at peak efficiency. This would also lessen to a certain extent the importance of the regular season.

Currently, every Saturday from mid-October through early December takes on a playoff atmosphere. This year, the majority of key games that were billed as must-see turned out to be tremendously exciting matchups that often were decided late in the fourth quarter.

In the final analysis, there will be arguments regardless of how the final rankings are determined. My approach now is this: Instead of wasting time debating the issue, realize that we are witnessing the most riveting and electric college football season I can remember in a long time. Just sit back and enjoy the great action that awaits.

Bobby Bowden a class coaching act
Speaking of enjoyment, I don't know if you will ever find a coach at any level who gains so much pleasure from his job than legendary Hall of Famer Bobby Bowden.

On Saturday, coach Bowden joined Larry Beil and myself for a live segment on "College Gameday" on ESPN Radio. This was after he spent time with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit on the set of "College Gameday" on the TV side.

While some coaches act like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, coach Bowden takes everything in stride, appearing to truly love every second of each day. And folks, he does it all with supreme class and dignity. What strikes me time and again with coach Bowden is that he actually has the ability to gain a total appreciation for everything that transpires before, during and after game day as well as during the offseason.

Each week, I watch as many of the college coaches' shows as I possibly can. Without question, Bobby Bowden's is the one I look forward to the most. He takes you through the highlights of the past week's game, always pointing out the hometowns and high schools of the Seminoles' players. The relaxed yet enthusiastic way he discusses college football and the Seminoles with his excellent co-host Gene Deckerhoff definitely adds to my appreciation and love for the game.

Terps in market for new coach
Maryland athletics director Debbie Yow relieved Ron Vanderlinden of his head coaching duties Sunday after the Terps concluded a disappointing 5-6 season.

In Vanderlinden's defense, the Terps were hit hard by a few key injuries and also didn't have talented senior running back Lamont Jordan at full strength and operating at an optimal level in a number of games. Vanderlinden left the Maryland program with enough talent to turn things around fairly quickly.

Instead of wasting time debating the BCS issue, realize that we are witnessing the most riveting and electric college football season I can remember in a long time. Just sit back and enjoy the great action that awaits.

Keep in mind that in their 13-10 loss to North Carolina two weeks ago, they did everything but win the game on the scoreboard. A victory there, and the Terps may have been playing in a bowl game. That was also the case last year when they lost a heartbreaker to Virginia in the regular-season finale. A win there and they would have also gone "bowling."

As you can see, there is a very fine line between success and paying the price with the loss of your job. Vanderlinden, a class act who made sure the Terrapin players were getting it done in the classroom, could have led the Terps to back-to-back winning seasons and bowl opportunities. Instead, after his fourth straight losing season, Vanderlinden is no longer the Terrapins head football coach.

Over the last 14 years -- or since the successful Bobby Ross era -- the Terps have enjoyed just two winning seasons. They were 6-5-1 in 1990 under Joe Krivak, ending the campaign with a 34-34 tie against Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. In 1995, Mark Duffner led the Terps to a 6-5 record. But during Ross' five seasons at Maryland, the Terps won three ACC Championships, finishing second once.

Here's how things went for the Terps under Ross:

  • 1982: 8-4 overall, including a 21-20 setback to Washington in the Aloha Bowl. The Terps were 5-1 in the ACC for a second-place finish. They ended up ranked 20th in the AP poll.

  • 1983: 8-4 overall, including a 30-23 loss to Tennessee in the Florida Citrus Bowl. They were 6-0 in the ACC, winning the Conference championship.

  • 1984: 9-3 overall, but this time around they defeated Tennessee 28-27 in the Sun Bowl. Again, Ross led the Terps to the ACC Championship, finishing the season ranked 12th in the AP poll.

  • 1985: 9-3 overall, along with a second consecutive bowl victory. This time, they defeated Syracuse 35-18 in the Cherry Bowl. In the AP poll that year, the Terps were ranked 18th to close things out.

  • 1986: This was Ross' last season. The Terps finished with a 5-5-1 record.

    Even before Ross, the Terps enjoyed a great deal of success under head coach Jerry Claiborne, winning ACC titles in 1974, 1975 and 1976. In '76, the Terps finished the regular season with a perfect 11-0 record, before losing to Houston in the Cotton Bowl 30-21. That year the Terps ended up being ranked the 8th-best team in the country, according to the AP poll.

    Over the years, Maryland has sent a number of talented football players to the NFL -- Randy White, Boomer Esiason and Kevin Glover, just to name a few -- proving that you can recruit the type of talent that is necessary to not only challenge for the ACC title but also become a force in terms of the national picture. Remember, though, that when Ross was winning ACC championships, Florida State was not a part of the conference.

    Whoever becomes the new head coach at Maryland will have a great opportunity to re-establish the Terps as a winning football team that is capable of moving back into the top 25. I can tell you this, Terrapin fans can't wait until Byrd Stadium at College Park is buzzing with excitement like it was during the Bobby Ross and Jerry Claiborne eras.

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