One of the worst things about the Bowl Championship Series in some years was having to wait until the last minute of a title game to determine whether a team even deserved to be in it.
One school could run roughshod through a weak conference … but what did that prove?
Last year, Florida State basically took the rest of its league to the ACC — Atlantic Coast Cleaners.
Led by quarterback Jameis Winston, the Seminoles dismantled their schedule, team by team. The closest game was a 14-point win at Boston College.
The toughest game was supposed to be a showdown at Clemson, and Florida State won that one 51-14.
The Seminoles unhinged three nonconference foes — Nevada, Bethune Cookman and Idaho, by a combined score of 196-27.
Archrival Florida, of the SEC, was decimated by injuries and was no match in a November game, losing 37-7.
Then it was on to the Atlantic Coast Conference "title" game, where Florida State disposed of Duke, 45-7.
It took the final 13 seconds of the season, in fact, to prove what could only be suspected since September: Florida State was all that.
The Seminoles' thrilling win over Auburn in the title game at the Rose Bowl ended the SEC's streak of seven straight titles.
Florida State was the best team.
"How about that, man," Winston reflected this summer. "Taking the rein from the SEC?"
This year there are no secrets. Florida State may be just as good last year, and the ACC may be weaker.
The nonconference schedule has definitely been upgraded; Florida State opens against Oklahoma State in Texas and hosts Notre Dame on Oct. 18.
Florida should be much improved, too, after going 4-8 last year.
Yet nothing short of injury, implosion or a subpoena issued to the starting quarterback should interfere with Florida State's trip to the first four-team playoff.
What other obstacles could possibly await?
"I think sometimes great players, great teams, greatness in general, can be dethroned, for lack of a better term … from boredom," Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher said this summer.
So there you have it: The Seminoles' toughest opponent may be the Seminoles.
Fisher says if a team ever loses "that hunger to be great, somebody is going to pass you up."
Florida State was so deep last year that losing a few star players shouldn't diminish its output. At running back, the Seminoles lose Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. but return Karlos Williams. Kelvin Benjamin is gone from the receiving corps but Rashad Greene is back.
The defense loses two stars, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, but is otherwise stacked two deep with players some other schools would cheat to get.
The X-factor is Winston, the returning Heisman Trophy winner. He had 4,057 passing yards last year and 44 total touchdowns. The only thing that came close to stopping him was a sexual assault allegation that was dropped two days before the ACC title game against Duke.
Winston says he has matured despite an off-season incident in which he was caught shoplifting crab legs from a supermarket. He was cited by authorities, and he was briefly suspended … by the baseball coach. (Winston is the Seminoles' closer in two sports).
Winston can look forward to getting pummeled with crustacean jokes at opposing stadiums this year, yet he has so far proven to be impervious to outside distractions.
"I have teammates that are counting on me," Winston said this summer. "So, yes … I have learned."
The countdown so far: 16. Notre Dame, 15. Mississippi, 14. Stanford, 13. Louisiana State, 12. Michigan State, 11. USC, 10. Baylor, 9. Georgia, 8. South Carolina, 7. Ohio State, 6. Auburn, 5. UCLA, 4. Oklahoma, 3. Alabama.
Follow Chris Dufrene on Twitter @DufresneLATimesCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times