Shift in Power

The Atlantic Coast Conference is no longer considered a football sissy. Remember the A-C-C is B-A-D references? FSU, North Carolina State, Maryland and Virginia all figure to start the season ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. The ACC hasn't placed four teams in the preseason top 25 since 1993. FSU, meanwhile, opens at UNC Aug. 30, and Tar Heels free safety Dexter Reid awaits the challenge. "They have one of the world's most recognized head football coaches in Bobby Bowden," Reid said.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is no longer considered a football sissy.

Remember the A-C-C is B-A-D references?

Florida State, North Carolina State, Maryland and Virginia all figure to start the season ranked in The Associated Press Top 25. The ACC hasn't placed four teams in the preseason top 25 since 1993.

While the Seminoles have won or shared the ACC crown in 10 of 11 years, they are no longer considered the superior brethren.

The Wolfpack, coached by former FSU assistant Chuck Amato, finished the 2002 season ranked 12th in the AP poll -- highest among all ACC teams -- and have defeated FSU in each of the past two seasons. In 2001, Maryland became the first - and only - team other than FSU to win the league outright since the Seminoles' arrival.

FSU opens its season against at North Carolina Aug. 30. Kickoff is 8 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally by ABC.

"It's a great challenge," UNC free safety Dexter Reid said Sunday from the ACC Kickoff Meeting in Greensboro, Ga.,

"When coach (John) Bunting first got here he always wanted to play the best. I'm very fond of that, wanting to play the best. You have to compete against the best and I'm looking forward to the opportunity. They have one of the world's most recognized head football coaches in Bobby Bowden."

Virginia's Armando Curry also believes the league has closed the gap on the Seminoles. It was the Cavs who stuck FSU with its first league defeat (33-28) in Charlottesville, Va., in 1995. Warrick Dunn came up inches shy for the victory on the game's final play.

"Florida State the last couple of years, they've taken a couple losses and I think a lot of guys now have the confidence now that they can go out and beat Florida State," Curry said Sunday.

"They're not this invincible team that you cannot beat. I think guys are attacking Florida State a little bit more now. They play 'em with a little bit more confidence than they were doing before."

While FSU players have talked of a renewed commitment this summer, Curry says the Cavs also have a different feeling.

I think it has a lot to do with the type of guys we're bringing in," Curry said. "I think they're more athletic, more athletic, football-type players coming in now. (Former coach George) Welsh he did a great job with recruiting and everything, but I can feel it in the locker room that these guys, the guys we have here now, they want to win.

"They're doing whatever it takes to win. They're doing the little things, they're going to lift, they're going to class, they listen to Coach Groh. He's been telling them that all these things count, all these things mean something. They're all gonna be a part of us winning and having a winning tradition."


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