With Florida State currently on a bye week, the staff of Noles247.com and the Osceola gathered to discuss a couple of the current issues in Seminole athletics. Joining the discussion are Sean Grimm, Tim Linafelt, Bob Ferrante and Chris Nee.
Despite the Seminoles being 8-1, Jimbo Fisher and EJ Manuel find themselves on the outside looking in at this year's BCS picture.
1. What are your thoughts on Florida State and the ACC after how this year's BCS rankings have played out?
Sean – Well, it is unfortunate that it appears like there is a chance that had FSU gone undefeated; they still might not have had a shot at a spot in the national championship with how things are playing out. More than anything, I think this whole scenario just shows how welcomed a playoff system would be. There’s no question that FSU can compete for a national title with the talent on its roster, but it’s unfortunate to think that even if the Seminoles did everything they had to in 2012, there is a chance they would be left out of all of the fun at the end of the year.
In the end, though, FSU didn't take care of business, plain and simple. It's just unfortunate to see everything unfold as it has.
Tim – We confirmed what everyone expected all along -- coupled with a weak non-conference slate, the ACC schedule provides Florida State virtually no margin for error in the race for a national championship. A one-point loss at an OK-but-obviously-not-great N.C. State team has eliminated all but the faintest of hopes for the Seminoles to reach the title game, and FSU finds itself not only having to leapfrog all of the undefeated teams left, but will also probably be lowest on the totem poll among one-loss teams.
Even worse, the Seminoles were ranked behind two-loss South Carolina in the latest BCS polls, suggesting that it may be even more difficult for FSU to get back in the conversation than original thought.
Since a change of conference is now extremely unlikely, FSU hopefully has learned that scheduling two FCS opponents to start the season is simply not an option. They don't have to be world-beaters, but the Seminoles must beat someone with a pulse before going into conference play.
Bob – Florida State (8-1) is ninth in the BCS, which is fair. My only argument going into this weekend is that the Seminoles should be ahead of No. 8 South Carolina (7-2). A two-loss team like the Gamecocks shouldn’t be ahead of FSU. If FSU wins its final three games, the Seminoles should be able to climb past South Carolina and would be ahead of Florida. And you have to think that Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon will not all run the table. Odds are FSU will move up.
Chris – My opinion on the subject is that FSU controlled their own destiny, but was in a situation where a perfect season was likely necessary to earn a bid to the National Championship Game. The ACC isn't a strong conference - considered the sixth strongest conference by conference RPI - and it wasn't going to help the profile of Florida State in any manner when it came to the human factor of deciding what team deserved to be there at the end of the day.
Should FSU make its first Orange Bowl appearance since 2005, the Seminoles would likely be facing off with the Louisville Cardinals.
2. What is the realistic best case scenario for FSU bowl-wise?
Sean – Orange Bowl. I know the matchup with the Big East Champion isn’t necessarily the most thrilling idea in the world, but it’d be difficult to be unhappy with an ACC title and an appearance in Miami in January for the first time since 2005.
Tim – Orange Bowl. Even if FSU were to make the BCS Championship Game -- and it's still an ever remote possibility -- then I would look back on this prediction and still say that it was unrealistic. There's just too much that has to happen for the Seminoles to make it to that game. That said, it could make for an interesting end of the season if, say, LSU beats Alabama this weekend and USC beats Notre Dame and Oregon. But I just don't see Florida State rising above fourth or fifth in the BCS standings.
Bob – FSU appears destined for the Orange Bowl if it wins its final two ACC games and defeats whatever team comes out of the woeful Coastal Division in the league’s championship game. If FSU loses to Virginia Tech or Maryland, the Seminoles could conceivably end up in another BCS game (Sugar?) as an at-large team. But in early November, it appears that FSU will be playing in the Orange Bowl or the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Chris – I think it is the Orange Bowl. The likely opponent is the Big East Champion, which would be Louisville or Rutgers at this point. The BCS picture always appears like it will be a message at the start of November but tends to have a way of sorting itself out over the final month. If FSU makes the ACC Championship Game and comes away the winner, I expect they head to Miami for their second game of the season in Sun Life Stadium.
3. Who has been this year's MVP so far for FSU on the gridiron?
Sean – I’m going to go with EJ Manuel. You just can’t ignore what he’s done on the field this year, as he’s ranking in the top 10 in many statistical categories this year. It’s strange that it appears he still hasn’t won a portion of this fan base over, but I think in retrospect, Manuel will be viewed as one of the more successful quarterbacks to put on the Garnet and Gold.
Tim – Perhaps a boring selection, but EJ Manuel is the pick. He's been calm, efficient and great at times. He's also quarterbacked Florida State to its first 8-1 start in nine years, and will be engineering a lot more "first time since" notes if he and the Seminoles keep winning.
Defensive end Bjoern Werner has emerged as one of the leaders of this Seminole team.
Bob – There are just too many ways to go here. EJ Manuel is an easy pick. Chris Thompson could have been an easy pick. Here are three guys to really think about: Tank Carradine, Cameron Erving and Menelik Watson. What if Brandon Jenkins is injured and there is no backup like Carradine? Offensive lines focus all of their attention on Bjoern Werner. The sack numbers haven’t been there lately for Werner and Carradine, but they are putting pressure on the quarterback. And the two offensive tackles deserve praise. Watson is playing just his second year ever of football at any level and looks like he could play in the NFL one day. And the same can be said for Erving, who has consistently and capably protected Manuel’s blind side. All three are great choices.
Chris – Offensively, it would be a battle between EJ Manuel and the now injured Chris Thompson, but I am going to go to the defensive side of the ball and give the award to Bjoern Werner. His stats are very good and the attention he demands of opposing teams is even better. Werner leads by example on the field and seemingly never takes a snap off. Through nine games, Werner has 27 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss for 84 yards, eight sacks for 69 yards, five pass break-ups, five quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble. He is just an incredibly disruptive force off the edge who has had to battle regular double teams and a lot of his jersey being clutched by opponents.
4. What's your national championship projection after last week's developments?
Sean – I’m going with Alabama and Oregon. Alabama isn’t losing, plain and simple, and Oregon has to like where they’re sitting right now. Even if they should lose to Southern California this weekend, they would likely have a rematch with the Trojans in the Pac-12 championship game – and I don’t see the Ducks losing twice to USC.
Oh, and to set up Oregon, I do see Notre Dame dropping its finale with the Trojans.
Tim – I'm interested to see what happens when Oregon steps up its competition and plays USC. The Ducks will likely have to play the Trojans twice, as well as a tough Oregon State team. I think they'll trip up in one of those three and give us a Notre Dame - Alabama matchup for the national title.
Bob – Just for fun, I’ll go with Kansas State losing one of its last four games (to Oklahoma State or TCU, maybe) and then Notre Dame losing at USC. Alabama vs. Oregon would be a fun game to watch. It would have the same feel of the Auburn-Oregon game of a few years ago. But if the Ducks’ high-powered offense can put up points on Alabama, they deserve to be the national champs. If Notre Dame wins out, I would hate to see how the BCS standings shake out if Alabama, Oregon and Notre Dame are all unbeaten.
Chris – Alabama vs. Oregon. I think it is fair to say Alabama is the best, most complete team in the nation. The Crimson Tide has a safe, confident quarterback who has some great targets this season down the field and a reliable running game due to both capable backs and a strong offensive line. Nick Saban's defense is exactly what you expect of a Nick Saban defense. With Oregon, the Chip Kelly offensive machine is running smoothly with DeAnthony Thomas providing great highlights. I feel Oregon has the best defense they have had under Kelly as well.
Leonard Hamilton likes what he sees in his new faces.
5. What are your expectations for FSU on the hardwood this year?
Sean – After watching the exhibition the other night, it’s pretty clear this team has loads of potential. There are some kinks to be worked out on the defensive end, but these issues should be worked out over time as the new guys adjust to their roles in this system. Offensively, this team will be fun to watch. Aaron Thomas is the real deal and I’m seeing a big year out of Okaro White.
When it’s all said and done, I think it’s reasonable to see another top three finish in the conference for the Seminoles.
Tim – FSU may take some time to completely come together, especially as the newcomers learn the ins and outs of Leonard Hamilton's system. That may lead to a few toe-stubs along the way, but Michael Snaer and Ian Miller might also be able to shoot their way to some victories early in the season. Going off of Hamilton's optimism, I think it's completely fair to expect a fifth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, but defending the ACC crown might be a little too much to ask for with so many newcomers stepping in.
Bob – Everyone seems to focus on FSU losing six seniors but forgets that the team returns three starters – not counting Terrance Shannon. The key is developing depth. FSU will probably struggle early, especially with a non-conference slate that includes BYU, Notre Dame, Minnesota and Florida. But that tough schedule will make the Seminoles better by the time they open the ACC schedule on Jan. 5 at Clemson. It’s tough to see FSU equal the 25 wins of last season, or grab another ACC Tournament title, but this should be a 20-win season.
Chris – I think the team will have some struggles during the early season, but come through out-of-conference play with two to three losses. I think that some of those early season contests will help the new faces on the team mature pretty well before the calendar turns to 2013 and will benefit them in ACC play. I'd pick the Seminoles to finish third in the ACC and once again notch double-digit ACC victories. I believe this team can and will make the NCAA Tournament. This team has the most scoring potential of any team that Hamilton has had at Florida State. From an individual standpoint, I believe Michael Snaer will be a consistent force on both ends of the floor competing for player of the year honors within the league and first team national honors.
6. What do you foresee being the biggest obstacle for this year's hoops team to overcome?
Sean – Integrating all the new faces, no doubt. While this incoming class is extremely talented, it’s still difficult and takes time for a team to mesh. Don’t be surprised if the team struggles every now and then early on as they search for their identity. And of course, like I said, a majority of the issues will likely be on defense.
FSU hopes Terrance Shannon can remain healthy in 2012-13.
Tim – Hamilton's Seminoles have been built on suffocating defense and players buying in to Hamilton's defensive principles. If they don't play defense, they don't play. That's not to say that this group won't be on-board with that, but that scheme takes time to learn, especially for freshmen. If FSU struggles to play defense at the level that Hamilton demands, then the Seminoles had better be scoring efficiently at the other side of the court. Otherwise it could get a little rocky.
Bob – Inexperienced depth, especially with the 7-footers. Kiel Turpin should take over Bernard James’ spot, but the Seminoles may need to redshirt Michael Ojo or Boris Bojanovsky. FSU will need junior-college transfer Robert Gilchrist (who is 6-9) to contribute big minutes as a backup to Shannon. And while Ian Miller may work as a fill-in point guard, coach Leonard Hamilton would love it if Montay Brandon or Devon Bookert can capably distribute the ball once the ACC schedule starts.
Chris – Lack of experience. As many as eight players will be seeing their first significant time on the court for the Seminoles and there will be an adjustment period for that group. One of Devon Bookert or Montay Brandon will have to show that they are ready and capable to take on the responsibilities of being a primary guard. With some verteran leadership such as Michael Snaer and Ian Miller to guide them, the group can learn on the job, but sometimes freshmen/newcomers get caught trying to do more than what is being asked of them.
7. Now that Buster Posey has won his second ring, discuss where he ranks among FSU baseball's all-time greats.
Sean – I’m not going to lie, I’m not that well-educated on FSU baseball history, but there’s no question he has to be near the top, if not at the top. He’s been in the league since 2009 and he already owns a Rookie of the Year title, a batting title, an MVP title, two World Series rings, and he has an all-star appearance. That’s an impressive resumé, no matter how you look at it.
And he’s only just getting started, too. That’s the scary part.
Tim – He's right up there, although I'm hesitant to use his professional accomplishments to calculate his greatness at Florida State. To me, everyone is still behind J.D. Drew. His junior season, where he hit .455 with 31 home runs and 100 RBIs, probably won't ever be topped by anybody. Buster is an extremely close second, though.
Florida State has been blessed with some incredible talent, which makes this a much tougher discussion than I think most people realize. There have been four Golden Spikes winners -- Mike Fuentes in 1981, Mike Loynd in 1986, Drew in 1997 and Posey in 2008. Marshall McDougall and John-Ford Griffin still hold key records. Luis Alicea and Doug Mientkiewicz went on to successful pro careers.
Posey has won two World Series in three full seasons with the Giants.
Bob – As far as what a player did in Tallahassee, an argument can be made for a long list of All-Americans. But no former FSU player has enjoyed this kind of success as an MLB player – and this early in his career. Two World Series rings in three years is quite an accomplishment. He’s handled the Giants’ pitching staff extremely well. Posey has a batting title this season, has been named Comeback Player of the Year and could also win the NL MVP.
Chris – I think it is tough to not give him that top honor. Others that are in the discussion include the likes of J.D. Drew, Mike Fuentes, and Mike Lloynd - all Golden Spikes Award winners like Posey.
Posey, who entered Florida State as a shortstop in 2006, made the move to catcher to improve his team in 2007 and never looked back. He was the heart and soul of the last two FSU teams he was a part of. In 2008, he won the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy, Brooks Wallace Award and Johnny Bench Award. He departed FSU and was drafted No. 5 overall and quickly ascended to the Major Leagues.
Since becoming a regular starter for the Giants he has won two World Series, NL Rookie of the Year, and likely the NL MVP this season in just two full seasons, as the other one was stolen from him due to a horrible ankle injury. I think the best way I can state my case is that there isn't another player that has worn Garnet and Gold on the diamond that I would trade for Buster Posey.