Interesting Time

<b>Florida State </b> players will be gearing up for exams when they return to class next week following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. FSU coaches, meanwhile, will be gearing up for the December recruiting push as signing day begins to come into focus. Local players like Madison County linebacker <b>Eugene Hayes</b> are high on the Seminoles' wish list. And, last but not least, the bowl lineup will soon be coming into focus for teams across the country, including FSU.

The Atlantic Coast Conference still does not have a league champion with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Of course, Florida State remains in the equation, even if the Seminoles (8-3, 6-2) are in no mood to smile after losing to rival Florida last Saturday in their regular-season finale.

No. 11 Virginia Tech (8-2, 5-1) can take another step closer to the league title and Bowl Championship Series berth with a home victory over rival Virginia (8-2, 5-2) on Saturday.

The Hokies close the regular season at Miami (8-2, 5-2) next Saturday. The Hurricanes are off this weekend after waxing Wake Forest 52-7. A loss against Tech would end UM's hopes of securing a spot in the BCS.

FSU, meanwhile, is left regrouping. FSU coach Bobby Bowden's feelings haven't changed about sharing the ACC title.

The Seminoles have been invited to one of the four major bowls in 14 of the past 17 years -- six Sugar Bowls, five Orange Bowls and three Fiesta Bowls.

FSU beat Virginia Tech 30-17 in the Gator Bowl following the 2001 season -- the Seminoles' lone bowl victory since winning the national title in 1999 after beating the Hokies in the Sugar Bowl.

"It would mean something," Bowden said of earning a share of the ACC title.

FSU has won 11 ACC titles (nine outright and two co-championships) since joining the conference in 1992.

"That would be meaningful but I don't know if it will happen," Bowden added.

"It would be meaningful since you lost the national championship and you don't know what chances you have at the BCS now. That would be meaningful.

"But, again, it's one of those things where somebody else has to do it for you."

FSU is on the outside looking in after losing to Miami, Maryland and Florida, ending a chance of posting consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time since 1999-2000 -- which marked the end of the program's unprecedented 10-win season streak at 14.

The ending has left Bowden and staff open to second-guessing.

When Bowden was asked about the quarterback play of Wyatt Sexton and Chris Rix following the Florida loss, his answer could have easily covered the entire team.

"The only way you're judged right is if you win the game," Bowden said.

"If you win, whatever you did that night is right. When you lose, it's open for debate."

While the debate amongst fans at the moment centers on Bowden's coaching staff, assistant coaches are gearing up for an important recruiting push.

FSU has five commitments at the moment -- defensive end Justin Mincey of Fokston, Ga.; kicker Graham Gano of Tate High School; linebacker Dan Foster of Blakely, Ga.; running back Russell Ball of La Marque, Tex.; and linebacker Matt Dunham of Columbus, Ga.

Also, linebacker Anthony Kelly, who originally signed with FSU in 2003 but attended Jones Community College, plans to enroll at FSU in January.

Kelly, who selected FSU over Central Florida and South Florida two years ago, is the brother of Seminole freshman quarterback Xavier Lee.

Kelly took his official visit to FSU last weekend.

Bowden expects FSU to sign its share of quality recruits. The feeling is the Seminoles are in need of an influx of skill players, especially at receiver.

Locally, FSU's wish list includes receiver Fred Rouse of Tallahassee Lincoln and linebacker Eugene Hayes of Madison County.

Rouse and the Trojans were eliminated from the high school state playoffs last week by Pensacola, while the top-ranked and undefeated Cowboys are at home tonight against Starke Bradford in a Class 2A state semifinal game.

"Different things motivate different players," Bowden said.

"The fact that we could use some help there might mean a kid wants to come here. Not might -- there will be some kids who want to. There are plenty of kids out there."


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