In our 4th installment of “The Opposing View” for 2008, we do a little Q&A with the garnet and gold. That’s right, our old Metro buddies from Tallahassee.
Niemo interviewed Jeff Johnson, the Sports Director for fsurules.com, a web site that covers everything about our tomahawk choppin’ rivals. We’d like to thank Jeff for being a good sport and for taking the time to answer our questions.
First, Niemo lobbed a few basketball questions before he got into the questions we really want to know, like who’s a worse offensive coordinator: Jeff Bowden or Bryan Stinespring? Then, Niemo adds some classic stories of times he has crossed paths with noles over the years.
Q: What are florida state’s strengths and weaknesses as a team this year?
fsurules: This is a veteran FSU team, led by three senior guards and a very experienced junior. They play really good on-the-ball defense, but struggle on the boards. They win games when they can control the tempo and get to the foul line. When they lose it’s usually because the other team controls the glass and takes FSU out of their offensive game plan because of their lack of depth.
Q: How much has the departure of Al Thornton, and injuries in the low post, hurt the team?
fsurules: While you can look at the numbers in regards to Al Thornton not being on this team, his real value was in the hustle and energy he brought to the players around him. He just brought the players around him to another level. These types of intangibles can’t be replaced very easily — it shows this year when FSU has been prone to long scoring droughts, and when FSU has been in close games. As for the injuries in the low post, it hasn’t been as crippling as some would suggest because it was a weakness to begin with. When you start three guards, you’re going to have problems rebounding the ball.
Q: This Florida state team reminds me a lot of last year’s Virginia Tech team in that fsu is loaded with upperclassmen, especially at the guard position. How good are these guards compared to VT’s Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon?
fsurules: I see a lot to similarities in this team with last years Virginia Tech squad. Dowdell improved every year he was at VTech and they asked so much of him on both ends of the floor, which is very similar to FSU’s Jason Rich. Both guards (Rich and Dowdell) are extremely good defenders and do well on the boards for their size. As for Gordon, he could compare very favorably to Tony Douglas. Both of these players were asked to run their respected teams, but neither is a true point guard.
Q: In fsu’s first season in the ACC, they finished 25-10 overall. Over the next 12 seasons, the noles only had one 20-win season, had a losing record nine times, and lost 10-plus games in ACC play all 12 years. What caused the huge drop-off?
fsurules: I don’t normally like to use the word “fluke” in regards to a season, but that first season was a dream scenario for FSU. They had landed a hidden gem in recruiting with Bob Sura, and even Charlie Ward wasn’t a big basketball recruit. When you can land two quality players like that and combine them with big-time recruits like Douglas Edwards and Sam Cassell, as well as role players, that is a good recipe for success. That team played extremely well together and showed no fear against any opponent, even beating UNC at Chapel Hill that year. Since then, FSU hasn’t been able to find that type of winning chemistry, nor have they been able to develop that type of talent. Keep in mind that there were FOUR first round NBA selections on that team. Those types of teams don’t come around very often.
Q: Virginia Tech has had success in their first three seasons in the ACC, similar to what fsu saw early on. What do you think VT could do to help maintain this success that fsu didn’t do?
fsurules: The easy answer would be to continue to recruit the type of athletes who fit their system. The Hokies play solid defense and I think that is their calling card in the ACC. Of course coaching stability is very important, and I think Seth Greenberg has done a good job in his four years as head coach.
Q: Tech fans cringe any time the Sean Dockery 40-footer to beat VT at duke in 2005 is brought up. Do nole fans feel a similar pain when the Les Henson 88’3″ shot at the buzzer to beat fsu in 1980 is brought up?
fsurules: No, fortunately for Seminole fans we don’t bring back many memories from our Metro Conference days and most of our fans weren’t around back then. We have more recent memories of losing close games to keep us up late at night.
Q: If interest in fsu football is a 10, what is it for basketball? Any chance the noles get into basketball like the gators have?
fsurules: Florida State struggles to sell out the Leon County Civic Center on a regular basis, so I would give the fan support a six. Of course, winning changes everything, and our fans have showed that when the team is winning on a regular basis they come out for the games. Step one is making the NCAA Tournament!
Q: How do you see this game turning out?
fsurules: Virginia Tech has been a good home team over the years, and history says that FSU has struggled on the road in the ACC. The Hokies have very versatile players who will give FSU problems on the offensive end of the floor. I’m not sure FSU has anyone that will contain Deron Washington, who I really like as a player. Last year’s game was a high scoring affair, and so I see this one being a low one.
fsurules Game Prediction: VTech 69, FSU 61
General/Fun/Smack Talkin’ Questions:
Q: The Hokies have really struggled against fsu in seemingly every sport. And basketball has been just as bad as football, with VT losing 12 of the last 14 against fsu. However, VT snapped their 12 game losing streak in football this Fall. Could this be a changing of the tide in the rivalry?
fsurules: Again, most of the history between the schools is from the Metro Conference days, and both of these programs have changed dramatically since those days. When people think of this rivalry, they automatically think the more recent football games — especially the 2000 Sugar Bowl. That said, I see VTech winning this basketball game and starting their own winning streak over FSU in basketball.
Niemo’s Note: Is he trying to play Jedi mind tricks on us or put a reverse hex on us???
Q: Since joining the ACC for football, VT has two conference championships and a division title in four seasons. Tech is 28-6 in ACC play and 15-1 on the road in football. Is Virginia Tech the new fsu of the ACC?
fsurules: As impressive as the Hokies have been in only four years in the conference, I doubt we will ever see the type of dominance that FSU had in their first nine years. There is too much parity in the conference, and the level of play is much higher than it was during the 90’s.
Q: I think the ACC is the worst BCS conference in football by far, even worse than the Big East. No wonder you guys rolled through this conference until we joined. Why do these other teams stink so bad?
fsurules: One of the benefits of FSU’s dominance in the 90’s was the desire for all schools to compete at a different level in football. Athletic Directors wanted so badly to compete with FSU, that they started enhancing facilities and bringing in more booster money. If you look around at all the teams, their stadiums have really been upgraded to help bring in better recruits and more fans. The only problem is that all these efforts haven’t brought back the results most were anticipating. Take a look at the Pac-10 conference and notice how their level of play has changed in the last six years that USC has dominated. I think this is a fair comparison.
Q: Who’s a worse offensive coordinator: Jeff Bowden or Bryan Stinespring (VT’s current OC)?
fsurules: Asking any FSU fan — except Bobby Bowden — about Jeff Bowden will bring all types of negative comments. Jeff not only was a terrible coach on the field, but he didn’t even recruit very well for an offensive coordinator. Stinespring has shown that he can recruit, which automatically makes him better than Little Bowden.
Q: If you’re in an airport, and someone says they went to “Tech” – what do you think?
fsurules: Unfortunately, the first thing I think about is Michael Vick. It’s sad that one athlete can cast such a negative aspect over a program, but since he is the most famous alum of the program I automatically think of him and that 2000 Sugar Bowl. For the record, that is still one of the best performances I have EVER seen from one player.
Q: What do you hate more: the gator chomp or Sebastian the Ibis doing “c-a-n-e-s canes”?
fsurules: FSU fans may have two rivalries, but most of the hatred is directed toward the Gators. Keep in mind that FSU and Miami hadn’t had much success in football until the 80’s and before then they were the whipping boys for the Gators. We simply hate the Gators like you guys do uva.
Q: I was checking out the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the Top Schools for 2008 and fsu was #12!!!…in the ACC. I guess all those kids taking Internet-based classes are really pulling your ranking down?
fsurules: I guess being voted one of the best “party” schools in the country has some direct affects on the academic side. As a FSU alumni myself, I am disappointed in the recent academic issues at FSU and the negative shadow it’s cast upon this University.
Niemo’s Note: While fsu is at the bottom of the ACC in the US News rankings, it is pretty amazing that all 12 ACC schools are the top 120 of all national universities.
To see past Opposing View articles, click here. We have done Q&A’s with uva and two with duke already this season, including one with ESPN analyst and former duke blue devil, Jay Bilas.
Random Niemo fsu Story: When I was down on Bourbon Street for the 1999 National Championship Game, this smoking hot nole was up on one of the balconies. She said she would only show her boobs if we all started doing the tomahawk chop. Well, the guys on the street were at least 80% Hokies, but I’ll tell you this: I chopped like I’ve never chopped before, as did the rest of us. It was worth it.
Random Niemo fsu Story 2: I was in Key West for Spring Break one year and this table of fsu girls stopped us. They challenged us to a beer chugging contest. Their best girl against our best guy. We accepted. Their best girl promptly destroyed one of our lesser guys (we were trying to be nice). Plus, he was a gator, so he can’t really drink. So we put our best Hokie against her. One 12 ounce cup of beer: mano-y-womano. Off he went, chugging with all his might. The female-nole actually sat there and waited until he was halfway done, then picked up the cup of beer and literally poured it down her throat. no gag reflex, no nothin’ but an empty beer cup. They truly are a #1 seed party school.