By now, you probably know what Phil Steele thinks about the 2013 Florida State Seminoles. According to the ESPN contributor and football guru's 2013 Top 5 rankings (subscription required), Florida State will finish the season ranked third nationally.
Steele, like many, has been hyped up on Florida State for the past couple of years. In addition, the Seminoles are usually the most underperforming team in the nation when it comes to expectations meeting reality. That is not to say the Seminoles won't have a great 2013, or that the 2012 season wasn't remarkable—it will go down as one of the best in school history.
What I'm saying is, despite all the accolades, Florida State hasn't made it to the BCS National Championship Game in 12 years.
That comes after appearing in the first three BCS title games under legendary coach Bobby Bowden.
In ESPN's recently released College Football Future Power Rankings (subscription required), Florida State is considered to be the seventh-best team in football over the next three years. Despite the high rating, though, Fisher received the lowest grade of the coaches whose programs were put in the Top 10.
He was given a 6.6 rating, while every other coach received at least a 7. (Nick Saban received a perfect 10, Ohio State's Urban Meyer received a 9.4, and Florida's Will Muschamp received a 7.2.)
What does this mean? It means Florida State probably has the best program with the worst coaching. Fisher has been criticized for conservative play-calling (N.C. State, anyone?) and not letting his former offensive coordinator James Coley call plays.
Combine Coley's departure to Miami and defensive coordinator Mark Stoops' leaving for the Kentucky head job, and the Seminoles seem to be unable to reach Steele's ranking (even with an easy schedule) in 2013.
Despite suffering massive offseason losses in terms of personnel and coaches, the Seminoles have a reason to be optimistic about this fall. The Class of 2012's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback, "Famous" Jameis Winston, redshirted last year while current first-round draft pick and Buffalo Bill E.J. Manuel captained the offense.
Unlike Manuel, who had a tendency to get nervous throughout his career, Winston has impressed fans and the press alike with his willingness to be in the spotlight. His confidence inspires confidence from the congregation at Doak Campbell Stadium. Florida State might finally have found its first elite quarterback since Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
Many people see Winston as a future Heisman Trophy winner, and I think he will at least make the top five on the ballot two years from now.
His confidence can get the Seminoles through a schedule that has relatively few minefields, the exceptions being the season opener at Pittsburgh, at Clemson, a home game against Miami and at Florida. The emerging star should be able to get the Seminoles through at least three of those games.
A 12-1 record with an ACC title will get the Seminoles into the Orange Bowl, where their ability to win will largely rest on the opponent they play (for example, Stanford or Oregon instead of Northern Illinois). The upcoming Seminole corps won't finish as high as No. 3 in the polls, but it won't be outrageous to see the Seminoles land at around the fifth spot in the final polls for the first time since the Dynasty Era.
It's all up to you, Jameis. Make this season famous.
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