I'm not getting tricked by Florida State this year, even though every time I look at the roster I wonder why I don't have the Seminoles ranked higher. They're going to have to prove it on the field, but it's hard to see why they wouldn't. Jenkins and Werner are pass-rushing monsters, and the linebackers and secondary should be ultra-athletic. If the offensive line isn't snake-bit by injuries the way it was last year, FSU could prove me wrong in a much more entertaining way.
— Andy Staples has FSU 17th in his pre-season power poll
This surprises me. I respect Staples a lot because he does a lot of research. But I also know from my work on national recruiting just how hard it is to have a handle on 40 teams, much less 120 D1 squads.
Florida State was unquestionably better than South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas State, and Clemson last season. I also believe FSU was better than Georgia, Michigan State, Arkansas, Michigan, but that's debatable.
And FSU brings back more than any of those teams.
At some point, football analysts and fans will catch up to baseball. I'd take the 9-4 2011 FSU squad over the 10-4 2010 FSU squad every day of the week, just as smart baseball fans would take the team with the bad close-game luck over and a better run differential over the team with the close run deferential and lots of close game luck.
The 2010 FSU squad was blown out twice (game mathematically over v. Oklahoma at what, 37-7? and v. Virginia Tech at 41-24). It was 2-2 in single-score games.
The 2011 squad had zero blowout losses. Its four losses came by 10, 5, 5 and 1 point. It was 1-3 in single-score games.
It's called variance in close games, and in small sample sets like a 12-game football season, it produces strange outcomes.
That's why focusing on the performance as opposed to the outcome is so important when measuring a team's progress. A lot of people will continue to not realize this, but the team got better in 2011. The football team was substantially better. It was.
The national media is going to focus on record over resume because they don't have an enormous staff to look into all of these things regarding every team. That includes Staples, though he is one of the best in the business.