Florida State's coaching staff opened its annual hideaway meeting this morning as coach Bobby Bowden eyes the start of two-a-day practices Aug. 5.
Once again, FSU is the preseason pick of the Atlantic Coast Conference media to win the league title, a position it's held every year since joining the league in 1992. However, there is a twist as four teams -- FSU, N.C. State, Maryland and Virginia -- garnered first-place votes for the first time since 1990.
Bowden, meanwhile, says he's also in a much better frame of mind following a summer of rest and relaxation. Admittedly angered by media reports that Bowden felt questioned his integrity, the veteran coach is excited about the upcoming season.
"Am I over it? I'm trying to straighten it out; it's a new season," Bowden said at the annual ACC Kickoff Meeting Monday in Greensboro, Ga. "I've about gotten my anger behind me, and I'm ready to go."
One of Bowden's main priorities is restoring FSU to the main stage among college football's elite. The Seminoles face a 12-game schedule with Colorado, Miami, Notre Dame and Florida as the non- conference opponents.
"The thing about every season is that it's a new season," Bowden said. "You notice how happy all the coaches are. We're all undefeated right now. For the last two years, I've had to face the reality of losing games for the first time in a long time, and I don't like it."
One of the first items scheduled to be discussed between the staff today was injuries. The most notable name on that list, of course, is tailback Greg Jones. Jones says he expects to be fully recovered from knee surgery when the Seminoles open their season.
Jones returned from the ACC Meetings Monday in time to run stadium ramps with his teammates. Jones' recovery remains on schedule, though he scored just under 80 percent on his recent Cybex test (strength).
"Some days I walk with a limp and I think I still got a ways to go,'' Jones said. ""It's not healing as fast as I want it to, but it's coming along.''
Also, reserve offensive lineman Matt Heinz will probably have back surgery next week after meeting with team physicians Monday afternoon. Heinz saw action at the guard position in three games last regular season (Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Florida).
In other news, Bowden said defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, suspended for the Sugar Bowl and subsequently arrested and charged with felony grand theft (he pleaded to a misdemeanor), has been reinstated. Travis Johnson's legal woes still remain unresolved -- he was arrested in April on sexual assault.