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Tuesday's question: Which college football program is more likely to reach expectations quicker, Notre Dame or Florida State?

December 1, 2009 |  2:54 pm

Reporters from the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to tell them why they are wrong.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

This one is, to mix my metaphors, a slam dunk. Notre Dame will return to glory as soon as it hires the right coach.  People wondered if USC could ever win big again after going through the Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, John Robinson II and Paul Hackett years. USC had lost its mojo. Really? The Trojans shot back to the top after hiring Pete Carroll. Programs with tradition have the advantage in having that tradition. Once things appear headed in the right direction, the alums come back and droves and usually need sideline passes. It's a different question at Florida State, because it had little tradition before Bobby Bowden. One man built, from scratch, what had once been a women's college. We don't know what Florida State football will be after Bowden no more than we know what Arizona basketball will become after Lute Olson. Notre Dame is built to win and pollsters can't wait to jump on board. When Ty Willingham went 8-0 in his first year in 2001 the Irish rose to No. 4 in the nation, only to lose three of their last five. Since losing Lou Holtz in 1996, Notre Dame has hired Bob Davie, George O'Leary, Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis--each flawed in his own way. Hire the right coach and Notre Dame will win big. Florida State's future is a bigger mystery.

Andrea Adelson, Orlando Sentinel
Florida State will compete for national championships before Notre Dame. Though both programs are in disrepair, the Seminoles are in better shape to turn things around for several reasons. They already have their coach in place. Jimbo Fisher has served as coach in waiting under Bobby Bowden. He is familiar with the players, and can now take charge of recruiting and remake his coaching staff.
They have young players on offense who will be even better next season, while Notre Dame could lose Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate to the NFL. FSU returns quarterback Christian Ponder, who was having a stellar season before a shoulder injury forced him to miss the final three games. Also coming back are running back Jermaine Thomas, and receivers Bert Reed and Jarmon Fortson.
As for intangibles, there won’t be a national glare beating down on Fisher the way it does on Notre Dame. He has fertile recruiting ground in the state, while Notre Dame must recruit nationally. And the ACC is weak and wide open for the taking. If the Seminoles show any ounce of improvement on defense next season, they could be much better than they are today.

Dave Fairbank, Newport News Daily Press

Florida State is better positioned to return to elite status than the University of NBC for three reasons: proximity to talent, geography and conference affiliation. The state of Florida grows oranges and football players in abundance. The college game has skewed south and west in the past 20 years. The ACC doesn’t approach the annual meat grinder status of the SEC, never mind the cyclical rise of the Big 12 or Pac-10 in a given year. Notre Dame is a good job, a top-25 job, but the only people who think it’s still an elite program have AARP membership cards. Sure, there’s the Subway Alumni, 68 million Catholics and Beano Cook, but South Bend, Ind., is no longer the preferred destination of top-shelf talent.