The only national championship more mythical than the one Florida State won last month is the one that Tennessee garnered last week. The Volunteers, who signed two first-team USA Today All-Americas (wide receiver Marcus Nash and offensive lineman Jarvis Reado) and two of SuperPrep magazine's top five quarterbacks ( Peyton Manning and Branndon Stewart), have the best recruiting class of '94. Florida State, boosted by commitments from linebacker Lamont Green and safety Robert Hammond. USA Today's top defensive player and SuperPrep's top defensive back, respectively, had to settle for a close second.
Before you begin your forearm-bash frenzy, Vols and 'Noles. answer this question: What do Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts, Alabama cornerback Antonio Langham, Texas Tech running back Bam Morris, Notre Dame tackle Aaron Taylor, Arizona noseguard Rob Waldrop and Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward have in common? Correct: Each won a major postseason award in '93—Alberts, the Butkus; Langham, the Thorpe: Morris, the Doak Walker: Taylor, the Lombardi; Waldrop, the Outland; and Ward, the Heisman.
Very good. Anything else? Chew on this: As high school seniors, none of the above made Parade magazine's All-America list. Only one, Taylor, was named a SuperPrep All-America. In 1988, SuperPrep profiled 362 high school seniors but somehow omitted Ward.
An aberration, you say? Since its inception in 1985-86, SuperPrep has listed 1,553 All-Americas. Not one among that army of gridders has gone on to take the podium at the Downtown Athletic Club. Not one of the last 11 Heisman winners was a Parade All-America, either. In fact, of the 100 college players who have been named Associated Press All-Americas this decade, only 17 were Parade All-Americas.
"It just amazes me how much stock people put into all of this." says Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, whose bluest of blue-chip recruits in 1991, Marquette Smith, USA Today's offensive player of the year, recently transferred to Division I-AA Central Florida. "I just don't get it."
In the last seven years, nobody has outrecruited Florida State, and the Seminoles have finished no lower than fourth in the final polls. But what is so great about State, and Tallahassee? As one longtime follower of the Seminoles says, "It's basically Long Beach State with a football stadium."
So what is so great about Florida State? Among other things, having the coeds of Florida A&M, a traditionally black school, about two miles away. That holds out the prospect of a rich social life for black Seminole players. "It's a great school, and we're proud of the way we get along with them," Bowden says of A&M. "But to be honest, I didn't realize how much it meant to our recruits."
He Ain't Irish, Either