The last time I saw John Feinstein was during the summer, when he was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
That says two things: We are good friends, and he is far better at this typing thing than I.
But that doesn’t mean we always agree, and this morning we don’t.
In this morning’s Washington Post, Feinstein bashes one of his pet piñatas: ACC football. Without a national champion since 1999 and a top-five, end-of-season team since 2000 — Florida State in both cases — the conference is an inviting, and often deserving, target.
But in this case, methinks Feinstein goes a mite over the top.
His essential point is, well, I’ll let him tell you, because the beauty of Feinstein is he never wastes any time getting to the point.
"Welcome to another thrilling season of Atlantic Coast Conference football, where all the games that really matter are played before basketball practice begins.
"Practice starts for college basketball teams this Friday. The ACC football season — except for players, coaches, close friends and family members — ceased to have any real significance late on Saturday night."
Late Saturday night is when unranked North Carolina State rallied from a 16-0 halftime deficit to shock No. 3 Florida State 17-16. The Seminoles’ offense went into a shell, their acclaimed defensive front sacked Mike Glennon only once, and their special teams allowed a blocked punt at the worst possible time.
Bad, bad loss. And as CBSSports.com’s Matt Hinton points out, the continuation of a trend that must frustrate FSU faithful no end: Since 2005, the Seminoles are 1-8 when ranked and playing an unranked underdog on the road.
This is yet another season in which Florida State appeared poised to reclaim the ACC dominance and national relevance it enjoyed from 1992-2000 under Bobby Bowden. Now, Feinstein believes, the Seminoles can’t, rendering the ACC a national outsider for the next three months.
But maybe Florida State can, and perhaps Clemson, too. It won’t be easy, and sure, the odds are against. But hear me out.
Both 5-1, the Seminoles and Tigers are Nos. 11 and 13, respectively, in this week’s coaches’ poll. The coaches are a dubious source, but the poll is a component of the Bowl Championship Series standings.
Clearly, neither team has any margin for error. This isn’t the Southeastern Conference, where a two-loss team — see LSU in 2007 — can backdoor into the national title game.
Florida State and Clemson also need teams ranked above them to lose, perhaps more than once. If two or more from among unbeatens such as Alabama, Oregon, West Virginia, Kansas State and Notre Dame remain so, the ACC is toast.
But in college football, weirdness often prevails.
In 2007, for example, Ohio State was No. 7 in the BCS standings on Nov. 11 and had only one regular-season game remaining. But subsequent losses by each of the top six — LSU, Oregon, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and West Virginia — elevated the Buckeyes to No. 1 and the championship game.
Florida State and Clemson, a 49-37 loser in Tallahassee last month, have ample time to impress pollsters and computers. Plus, each has a potential marquee regular-season finale, at home: No. 6 Florida for the Seminoles and No. 3 South Carolina for the Tigers.
Win out, and it’s certainly possible for either team to crack the top five by late November. That strikes me as relevant — Virginia Tech was 11-1 and No. 5 entering last year's ACC championship game — even if the top two is unattainable.
Feinstein is right. ACC teams have come up small in many non-conference games this season. Virginia Tech appeared disinterested in a 35-17 defeat at then-winless Pittsburgh; Miami lost to Kansas State and Notre Dame by a combined 93-16; Georgia Tech flopped, at home, to Middle Tennessee State by three touchdowns; Boston College fell at winless Army, Duke by 37 at Stanford.
Not exactly what commissioner John Swofford and the league’s coaches had in mind when they said that only non-conference success would repair the ACC’s football image.
But is the season already a lost cause, before Ol’ Roy and Coach K even start practice? Is Feinstein spot-on as usual?
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.
After reading the above, Feinstein emailed a typically classic retort that merits the last word:
"Dear Commissioner Swofford: Outstanding effort on this by you. Now, can you please write a blog explaining that Obama really WON the debate last Wednesday -- it is no more of a stretch than this!"Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times