FSU is enjoying a two-week break following Saturday's regular-season ending win at Florida. The Seminoles (10-2) clinched their first 10-win season since 2000 and continue their climb up the polls with a bowl victory.
"We did exactly what we wanted to do," Pope said.
"Like I was telling Mike (Boulware), we have the talent to come back and put Florida State back with 10 wins and maybe back in the top five after the bowl game. That says so much for the younger guys. We had two down years and we had some things happen, but it's all how we finish this year.
"We fought back through adversity. Some people had us losing four games this year. It's good to get those 10 wins back for coach (Bobby) bowden and the coaching staff to get Florida State back to the top."
The Seminoles' season will end in either the Fiesta or Rose Bowls. FSU has spoken with bowl organizers for both games, as well the Orange Bowl, which has indicated it will select hometown Miami as its conference representative.
"The opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl is very real," FSU Director of Athletics Dave Hart told boosters Monday. "It looks like the Rose or Fiesta. We literally will not know for certain until Sunday (when pairings are officially announced)."
The Rose Bowl would feature a FSU-Michigan matchup. The Rose could opt, however, for the SEC champion (Georgia or LSU), or try to take Texas. The Fiesta Bowl, which gets the first pick because it loses Oklahoma as its conference tie-in, has indicated it wants Texas. That makes an FSU-Texas game in the Fiesta Bowl as another attractive option.
Pope, meanwhile, simply wants to enjoy a regular-season finale that included heart-stomping wins over North Carolina State, clinching the Atlantic Coast Conference title in the process, and the Gators.
"Those last two games are probably the most exciting in my career," Pope said. "After (Saturday) I needed somebody to come help me take my pads off (laughing)."
Pope also is all smiles about the Seminoles' future, especially at linebacker.
While FSU starters Pope, Allen Augustin and Michael Boulware where effective this season, many FSU fans felt underclassmen A.J. Nicholson, Ernie Sims and Sam McGrew were better suited for the starter roles. Augustin and Boulware also battled hurts this season and saw limited practice time towards the end.
"It was one of those things is the guy behind you always going to make you play better," Pope said.
"If he's playing well, he's going to make you step up your game even more. When I was coming off my injury, I was like, ‘A.J., I am going to make you play harder.' I am trying to push him to come out there and play better than me.
"All the young guys look up to guys like me and Michael (Boulware). Being here at Florida State, that's the thing -- when you go in and play, you have to go out and play like a first team. I don't care if you are third-team, fourth-string, whatever, when you get in the game you have to play like a first team.
"When you come out of high school, everyone is all-this and all-that. You have to push yourself to get better and better every day. I was looking for some big things (this season) but I had some few injuries but everything happens for a reason."
"No doubt those (younger) guys are going to be fighting for playing time next year. It's up to them to keep the legacy going."