New Era

FSU coaches and administrators say they are satisfied with the new football and basketball format drawn up by the Atlantic Coast Conference Wednesday. The football schedule, approved in meetings that included athletic directors, senior women's administrators and faculty representatives, maintains eight conference games against the same eight schools in the next two years. "It's good," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "Again, I wish they would get a 12th ballclub where you could have a playoff."

Florida State coaches and administrators say they are satisfied with the new football and basketball format drawn up by the Atlantic Coast Conference Wednesday.

The football schedule, approved in meetings that included athletic directors, senior women's administrators and faculty representatives, maintains eight conference games against the same eight schools in the next two years.

The changes are necessary with the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech -- both start conference play in 2004.

"It's good," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said following Wednesday's practice.

"Again, I wish they would get a 12th ballclub where you could have a playoff. I thought it was very fair. I had no idea how they were going to do it because geographically, you don't know if they wanted everybody down south, or everybody up north, or how they are going to do it."

With a mind towards a future playoff game in football and the addition of a 12th member, two divisions have been set up. FSU is in Division A with Maryland, Clemson, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. Division B features Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech.

For the first two years of the new conference format, FSU will not play Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in football. It is very likely the two teams would be added to FSU's schedule in 2005 and 2006.

Bowden admitted it would be nice to play both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech the next two years, but he understands the issue's complexity.

The Yellow Jackets and Seminoles have developed a budding rivalry due in large part to proximity, while the Hokies are one of FSU's oldest rivalries. The two have met 31 times since 1955.

"Well, you could about say that about a lot of them," Bowden said.

"It would be nice if you could play that team or that team. You couldn't the way they got it divided. Of course, we will, I am sure, overlap at times. You are just not going to play them all at the same time. It will be a change.

"That's (FSU-Virginia Tech) one of our oldest rivalries. Miami (46 times since 1951), Virginia Tech, of course Florida (47 times since 1958). Miami, we've probably played most. Then probably Florida. Then Virginia Tech is probably right there... we used to always play Virginia Tech when we were independent. We will get them soon enough."

The schools in each division will play every year, but will rotate against the schools in the opposite bracket. There is one exception as each school is matched up with a primary partner in the other division, meaning the two will play every year regardless of the rotation.

UM is FSU's primary partner.

Dave Hart, FSU's director of athletics, also was pleased with the news.

"I just know anytime you go through a process that's as arduous and this difficult, everybody is not going to come out totally satisfied," Hart said.

"That's a given going into the process. I am pleased with the results, both for the conference and pleased personally. I would rather have kept playing Georgia Tech. You can't have it all. That's true of everyone in the conference. Everybody had to give up something to make this work. ... there's varying degrees of satisfaction."

The decision to have a championship, if it becomes available, will be made at the ACC meeting in Greensboro, N.C., in December, ACC commissioner John Swofford said. The conference did not discuss adding a 12th team during its two-day meetings, and Swofford declined to discuss further expansion afterward.

Hart, however, admitted the hope is to add a 12th team but the window of opportunity "that exists will not be there long-term."

The league also announced that its men's basketball teams will play a 16-game conference schedule in 2004 and 2005, and its women's teams will play 14-game conference schedules, meeting each team at least once. All 11 league teams will play in the conference basketball tournaments, with the top five schools earning a first-round bye.

"It appears the ACC has come up with a fair and equitable schedule that I am sure will satisfy the many different criteria that has been set for our league," men's basketball coach Leonard Hamilton said

"It gives us a chance to maintain our non-conference rivals, and satisfies our commitments to all of our television contracts."

Added woman's coach Sue Semrau:

"We're looking forward to the expansion of the ACC. The addition of Miami, another school from the state of Florida, is especially exciting and it will also be interesting having both Miami and Virginia Tech as two of our four permanent partners. The 14-game schedule allows us more flexibility and the best opportunity to become the top rated RPI conference in the nation."

Hart was glad the conference was able to reach an agreement concerning the new format.

"I think everybody is very pleased, if not somewhat surprised, that we were able to complete and announce the scheduling process for football, and men's and women's basketball," Hart said.

"That includes a football divisional format should we reach our goal of an ACC football championship game, not to mention the ongoing possibility, at some point, of becoming a 12-team conference, which was the original intent."

The meetings marked the first time that officials from Virginia Tech and Miami have participated since they agreed to join the ACC in June. The schools do not become voting partners until July 1, 2004,


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