An Interview with Peter Kerasotis

An Interview with Peter Kerasotis

An Interview with Peter Kerasotis

Part of the problem is that there is so much turnover on a newspaper the new people don’t understand the history of the community…Everybody is from somewhere. As a newspaper we should be plugged into where people go and what they do with their lives…You need to have people with institutional knowledge and strong connections with these people, so they feel comfortable returning phone calls.

Everybody considers themselves an underdog inherently as a human being.

If you had a job where every day your picture was put on the quantity and quality of work you do – not only for the community, for the whole world – you would understand pressure. It doesn’t matter if you have a headache or home problems or whatever it is that divides your attention. My father died this year and I’m doing a lot for my mother who is still grieving. We have lives away from our work. But if you have one off day everybody can see it and respond to it. How would they like it if everyday their picture was on everything they did?

Peter Kerasotis: Interviewed on October 16, 2007

Position: columnist, Florida Today

Born: 1958, Brooklyn

Education: University of Florida, 1983, journalism.

Career: Dallas Times Herald 1983, Today Newspaper 83-85, LA Daily News 85-89; Florida Today 1989-

Personal: married

Favorite restaurant (home): Carrabba’s Italian Grille, Merritt Island “Italian the way Italian ought to be – my wife and I went I went to Italy and kept saying ‘this isn’t as good as Carrabba’s’”

Favorite restaurant (road): “Wherever with fellow sportswriters – it’s who you’re with”

Favorite hotel: Marriott “for the points”

Peter Kerasotis excerpted from Florida Today, October 6, 2007:

When my family moved to Merritt Island in 1966, one of the first places my dad took me was the Little League field, and the first kid I became aware of was Clint Hurdle.

Clint had a presence. Always did, growing up.

As kids, you wonder what you’re going to be one day. None of us ever wondered about Clint. He was going to be a major league baseball player. Given the odds, that seems silly now, that we thought that back then. But that’s just the way it was, and not only in our minds.

When we were talking the other day, Clint’s dad, Big Clint, pulled out a school paper his son wrote when he was a third-grader at Mila Elementary School. The sentences were declarative, the message straightforward. Clint didn’t just want to be a baseball player, he was also specific.

He wrote about wanting to be like Babe Ruth, because then he would be a great baseball player. He wrote about wanting to hit 62 home runs, because then he would have one more than Roger Maris. He wrote about wanting to steal more bases than the record 104 Maury Wills stole in 1962. He wanted to win the triple crown five times, so he could be better than Mickey Mantle.

It was all spelled out. He didn’t want to just make it, he wanted to make it big. And it wasn’t all talk, either.

During his teen years, when other kids were heading to the beach, it was a common sight to see Clint on a baseball field, hitting pitches delivered from Big Clint, with mom Louise and sisters Bobbi Jo and Robin shagging balls, the family French poodle running around and loving it all.

“One thing that set him apart for me,” said his high school coach, Chuck Goldfarb, now the Cocoa High athletic director, “is that not only was Clint by far the most talented player I ever had, but also the most dedicated and hard-working. Sometimes you have one or the other. Clint was both.”

He was one other thing, too. Smart.

“He was as smart as I was when it came to knowing baseball,” Goldfarb said. “Now that might not be saying much, but he was only 16.”

So when Clint was 17, just finishing his senior year at Merritt Island High, and the Kansas City Royals made him the highest-drafted player ever out of Brevard County, none of us was surprised.

When he made the major leagues only two years later . . . or the cover of Sports Illustrated, touted as baseball’s next phenom . . . or hit .294 on the 1980 Royals’ American League championship team . . . or hit .417 in the World Series that same year . . . again, no surprise.

We saw it coming, all of it.

What we didn’t see is this. What we didn’t see is that maybe Clint’s real baseball calling wasn’t as a player, but as a manager…

Q. Does Clint Hurdle still have a presence in your area?

A. His family is still here – his dad and mom and sisters and nieces and nephews. He does a charity here – his daughter has a rare form of mental retardation. He hasn’t lived here since he left as a rookie, though he’s always had a local presence since he left. He comes back and speaks to the high school baseball team. For years he and a local community college coach ran a baseball academy.

Q. Is there interest in him?

A. Lots of guys who played with him or against him live here. Lots of guys who went to his baseball school are still living in the community.

Q. So you’ve got a local angle to the Rockies’ story?

A. That column was buried. Part of the problem is that there is so much turnover on a newspaper the new people don’t understand the history of the community.

Everybody is from somewhere. As a newspaper we should be plugged into where people go and what they do with their lives. I try to maintain contact with lots of players from here. Wilbur Marshall for example – I’ve know him since high school and we were at Florida together. When he didn’t make it onto the Wall of Fame at Florida I wrote a column ripping them for overlooking this guy. They wound up righting the wrong and putting him on the Wall – the Ring of Honor. Wilbur invited me to be on the field at the ceremony.

Tim Wakefield is from this area and has a huge local presence. He funds a school for challenged kids and has donated to a local college.

You need to have people with institutional knowledge and strong connections with these people, so they feel comfortable returning phone calls. Bruce Bochy is from this area. I talked with him about Barry Bonds and got some insights that I don’t think any of the beat writers in San Francisco got. Bruce and I went to the same junior college.

Q. Personal connections are important to the job you do?

A. Yes – and being able to nurture those connections. When Wakefield gave up that home run to Aaron Boone in 2003 I think I was the one guy in the media he felt comfortable talking to. You have relationships with people. They trust you with highs and lows and that was a low. The following year, if not for him, they wouldn’t have won the World Series.

Wakefield’s career started as a power hitting first baseman. He was about to be released in the minors when a coach saw him goofing around with the knuckler and asked him to try it. Here’s a guy who knows how to overcome adversity and to not stay down.

Q. What’s your circulation area?

A. It’s called the Space Coast. We’re where the Space Center is. It reaches north to Daytona Beach and south to Vero Beach. Brevard County – the 321 area code, where they launch rockets. Our circulation is near 100,000, but it bounces up in the winter months.

Q. What is the meat of your sports coverage?

A. We’re in a unique position – equal distance from Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville. NFL-wise, we have leaned toward Miami because of the history – there are a lot more Dolphins fans than Bucs fans and Jags fans. We do try to cover those three, as well as Florida and Florida State college-wise. We have a lot of alumni from UCF, which started as Florida Tech University. It’s on the east side of Orlando, close to us because of the Space Center. Most UCF fans grew up as Gator fans or Seminole fans and maintained allegiance to Florida or Florida State or Miami. Now with USF rising it has its own stadium and wants more coverage. We’re in a unique position – centrally located. We’ve got to be a jack of all trades. We have a beat writer in Gainseville covering the Gators and we have a beat writer in Orlando covering the Magic.

I’m a columnist who tries to merge all three – national, state and local columns, being that I’m from here. I like the local stuff – I grew up here. But I don’t like it to the exclusion of what we need to maintain statewide and national coverage.

I know there’s a movement and editors are drinking from the same Kool-Aid. It’s the Internet mindset. What I hear from local fans, they don’t want just local coverage – they like colleges and the Magic and Devil Rays and Marlins.

Q. Are your editors pushing for more local coverage?

A. That’s the impression I get. The budget is being cut. I’m not to travel as much this year to NFL and college games. This Saturday will be the first Florida State-Miami game I won’t be sent to as a columnist. Which I disagree with.

Q. How do you maintain an authoritative voice without going to the games?

A. That’s what readers are wondering. We had an AP story on Florida State-Alabama. Readers complained. Our editor’s response was that AP coverage was perfectly acceptable for a game 2 1/2 hours away. I disagree. I think we’re better than that.

Q. Is it strictly a budget issue?

A. They claim it’s budgetary. I think it’s a lack of attention to those areas. You don’t let an AP story appear in your paper from a Florida State-Alabama game in your state. That goes beyond budget.

Q. USF is a big story – how will you cover it?

A. I went for the USF-UCF game. I’ve gotten no indication we should turn our attention to USF. The only thing you hear is that times are changing and we’re not going to do as much as in the past. If we’re not covering the traditional schools as much, then I don’t know what’s going to happen with South Florida. I certainly have voiced my opinion.

I wrote a column last week comparing USF and UCF to the rise of Florida State and Miami twenty years ago. It was buried on the bottom of the sports section beneath a prep swimming advance. I have to believe there’s more interest in a rivalry like USF-UCF, with a lot of alumni here, than a prep swimming advance.

Then the game column appeared on 1-A. So they’re still sorting out what’s important and what’s not as editors.

Q. How is it being played elsewhere?

A. Orlando played it huge – UCF was a local school. The Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times are blowing it out. Sarasota and Bradenton as well. Ft. Lauderdale was there. It’s snuck up on everybody this year – everybody has got to rethink what to do and reevaluate priorities.

Q. How good of a story is it?

A. It’s a Cinderella story. USF has been in existence 11 years. Jim Leavitt’s first office was a trailer. He bought the first washer and dryer out of his own pocket and turned down an offer to go to Alabama. He’s from St. Pete and he’s committed to his hometown college. He’s slaying SEC and ACC schools – it’s a Cinderella story.

Q. Why do people like Cinderella stories?

A. It’s universal. Everybody considers themselves an underdog inherently as a human being.

By the way when you root for the story it doesn’t have to be Cinderella – sometimes the best story is Tiger wining the golf tournament.

Q. How much attention do you pay to golf?

A. Every year I’ve covered the Bay Hill, which is now the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I’ve gone to the Masters every year – but it was touch and go the last couple of years. I hope it’s still a go – it’s one of my favorite things to cover.

Q. Is golf a good writing sport?

A. Yes. To me what makes anything good is people. I focus on people. People relate to people. I refer to what I do as thinking about outside the boxscores. People know the numbers and the scores. You’ve got to give them something more than what they know – the sights and sounds and emotions. You’re there as their representative. What I try to write about is what they would talk about if they went out with their buddies.

Q. Who do you read?

A. Florida’s got the best sportswriters in the country – across the board. Columnists up and down the state are outstanding. Mike Bianchi (Orlando Sentinel), David Whitley (Orlando Sentinel), Martin Fennelly (Tampa Tribune), Gary Shelton (St. Petersburg Times). John Romano (St. Petersburg Times), Dan LeBatard (Miami Herald), David Hyde (Sun-Sentinel). Smaller columnists like myself all think we’re as good as the metro guys. Roger Mooney (Bradenton Herald ), Pat Dooley (Gainesville Sun)/ I like to read all the guys around the state.

Outside the state I like Bill Plaschke (LA Times) – I worked in LA for four years. I covered the Rams for the LA Daily News in the 80s. I was competing against a lot of people in a major market. You do not sleep well at night.

Q. Are the job pressures invisible to the readers?

A. I think so. They say ‘you have such a great job’. It is good, but the deadline pressures and competitive pressures are enormous. The thing about the Internet now is that it magnifies every little mistake. I wrote a column about the Dolphins today that mentioned a 1985 game and had it in the wrong stadium – and I got hammered. I had the Dolphins playing the Bears at Soldiers Field instead of the Orange Bowl and people think you’re a dolt. If you had a job where every day your picture was put on the quantity and quality of work you do – not only for the community, for the whole world – you would understand pressure. It doesn’t matter if you have a headache or home problems or whatever it is that divides your attention. My father died this year and I’m doing a lot for my mother who is still grieving. We have lives away from our work. But if you have one off day everybody can see it and respond to it. How would they like it if every day their picture was on everything they did?

I have a college degree, I’ve won APSE awards and I’m at the top of my profession, but when I tell people what I make – friends I’ve know for years – they’re absolutely dumbfounded. They cannot believe it. When I tell them my Christmas bonus is a $25 gift certificate at a local grocery store they don’t know whether to laugh or cry for me.

Peter Kerasotis excerpted from Florida Today, October 11, 2007:

Close your eyes and it is the ’70s.

Bell bottoms, platform shoes, disco music. And, oh yeah, two football programs nobody took seriously.

Miami and Florida State.

Goodness, there was a time when administrators at Miami — which, back in the day, announcers had to distinguish by saying, “Miami of Florida” — almost shuttered its football program.

Seven national championships and four Heisman Trophy winners later, and it’s safe to say UM and FSU have been the country’s two most successful college football programs the past quarter century. Not only that, but they’ve also been the best rivalry in college football during that time.

Open your eyes and it’s ’07.

Is anybody still not taking the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida seriously?

If so, take note. This Saturday, two Florida universities are meeting in a sold-out stadium. One is the state’s highest-ranked team and the other has the state’s best running back — who is gaining Heisman Trophy ground with every game.

And get this, neither school is Florida, Florida State or Miami.

Ladies and gents, welcome to Generation Next. Welcome to South Florida and Central Florida, two directional schools who are heading north in a fast way. Especially South Florida…

(SMG thanks Peter Kerasotis for his cooperation)

October 6, 2007

Hurdle’s success no surprise to us

When my family moved to Merritt Island in 1966, one of the first places my dad took me was the Little League field, and the first kid I became aware of was Clint Hurdle.

Clint had a presence. Always did, growing up.

As kids, you wonder what you’re going to be one day. None of us ever wondered about Clint. He was going to be a major league baseball player. Given the odds, that seems silly now, that we thought that back then. But that’s just the way it was, and not only in our minds.

When we were talking the other day, Clint’s dad, Big Clint, pulled out a school paper his son wrote when he was a third-grader at Mila Elementary School. The sentences were declarative, the message straightforward. Clint didn’t just want to be a baseball player, he was also specific.

He wrote about wanting to be like Babe Ruth, because then he would be a great baseball player. He wrote about wanting to hit 62 home runs, because then he would have one more than Roger Maris. He wrote about wanting to steal more bases than the record 104 Maury Wills stole in 1962. He wanted to win the triple crown five times, so he could be better than Mickey Mantle.

It was all spelled out. He didn’t want to just make it, he wanted to make it big. And it wasn’t all talk, either.

During his teen years, when other kids were heading to the beach, it was a common sight to see Clint on a baseball field, hitting pitches delivered from Big Clint, with mom Louise and sisters Bobbi Jo and Robin shagging balls, the family French poodle running around and loving it all.

“One thing that set him apart for me,” said his high school coach, Chuck Goldfarb, now the Cocoa High athletic director, “is that not only was Clint by far the most talented player I ever had, but also the most dedicated and hard-working. Sometimes you have one or the other. Clint was both.”

He was one other thing, too. Smart.

“He was as smart as I was when it came to knowing baseball,” Goldfarb said. “Now that might not be saying much, but he was only 16.”

So when Clint was 17, just finishing his senior year at Merritt Island High, and the Kansas City Royals made him the highest-drafted player ever out of Brevard County, none of us was surprised.

When he made the major leagues only two years later . . . or the cover of Sports Illustrated, touted as baseball’s next phenom . . . or hit .294 on the 1980 Royals’ American League championship team . . . or hit .417 in the World Series that same year . . . again, no surprise.

We saw it coming, all of it.

What we didn’t see is this. What we didn’t see is that maybe Clint’s real baseball calling wasn’t as a player, but as a manager.

Some 32 years after he went off to make his mark as a player, Hurdle is sitting atop the hottest story in all of sports, manager of the amazing Colorado Rockies, winners of 16 of their last 17 games, one win away from going to the NLCS, five wins away from the World Series and nine wins away from a world championship.

Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Not if you’ve seen how these Rockies play. Smart, hustling, unselfish, brimming with confidence — all of it, if you know Clint Hurdle, flowing from their manager on down.

In retrospect, how did those of us who grew up with Clint, sat in class with him, played ball with and against him, not see this coming?

It wasn’t just that Clint had talent, he also worked the hardest, and was a straight-A student, too. Even now, he’s a voracious reader, and whenever we talk, one question I usually ask him is, “What have you been reading lately?” He’s turned me on to a lot of great books and authors.

Back in 1975, when the Royals drafted him, John Schuerholz, the current Atlanta Braves GM, was with the Royals, then a fledgling franchise. Scheurholz had some innovative ideas. One of them was an aptitude test for prospects. The player who graded the highest ever? Clint Hurdle.

People forget, too, that Clint played football, a quarterback in high school, and that he signed to play both football and baseball for the Miami Hurricanes. Perhaps he, and not Jim Kelly, would’ve started the Canes’ reputation as Quarterback U.

“Even when he was playing midget football, he had such a good head on his shoulders,” said his dad, Big Clint. “He had such a good, quick mind. He had an ability to weigh all the situations and then know what the other team was going to do.”

At Merritt Island High, Mustang offensive coordinator Travis Akin not only allowed Hurdle to audible as his quarterback, but he was one of those rare players whom Akin actually allowed to call his own plays.

“Clint had something special about him,” Akin said. “Some quarterbacks, you’d have to talk with them about leading. Clint was a natural leader. He wasn’t cocky, but he was confident. When he got into the huddle, he took charge.”

Back then, in the mid-’70s, Merritt Island was not only coming off a state football championship in 1972, but the year before only lost one game, to eventual state champion Fort Pierce Central. The Mustangs were a power in the ’70s, but in Clint’s senior year, the team lost two games, inexcusable to many fans.

“One thing I’ll always remember,” Akin said. “At our banquet, Clint got up in front of everybody and said, ‘I’m not Jimmy Black, and Roger Lee isn’t Leon Bright. But we did the very best we could do, and we enjoyed playing.’ “

Jimmy Black, the quarterback who preceded Hurdle at MI, went on to become Bobby Bowden’s first starting QB at Florida State, and Leon Bright, the Mustangs’ dazzling running back, went on to an NFL career.

Clint had an ability, even then, to rise above the fray, and when you see him now, in the pressure cooker of baseball’s postseason, calm except for that poor overworked wad of gum in his mouth, you see the same Clint.

Well, you see the same Clint, but you see him differently now. We all thought we’d see his greatness come as a player. What we are seeing instead is one of baseball’s great managers.

Contact Kerasotis at 242-3694 or at HeyPeterK@aol.com
. Listen to him Friday mornings from 8:45-9 on WMEL-AM 920.

College football History repeats with the rise of the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida

Close your eyes and it is the ’70s.

Bell bottoms, platform shoes, disco music. And, oh yeah, two football programs nobody took seriously.

Miami and Florida State.

Goodness, there was a time when administrators at Miami — which, back in the day, announcers had to distinguish by saying, “Miami of Florida” — almost shuttered its football program.

Seven national championships and four Heisman Trophy winners later, and it’s safe to say UM and FSU have been the country’s two most successful college football programs the past quarter century. Not only that, but they’ve also been the best rivalry in college football during that time.

Open your eyes and it’s ’07.

Is anybody still not taking the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida seriously?

If so, take note. This Saturday, two Florida universities are meeting in a sold-out stadium. One is the state’s highest-ranked team and the other has the state’s best running back — who is gaining Heisman Trophy ground with every game.

And get this, neither school is Florida, Florida State or Miami.

Ladies and gents, welcome to Generation Next. Welcome to South Florida and Central Florida, two directional schools who are heading north in a fast way. Especially South Florida.

Not only is USF 5-0 and ranked fifth in both major polls, the Bulls could conceivably run the table this regular season. The toughest part of their schedule — which resulted in victories against Auburn and West Virginia — is behind them and only one currently ranked opponent lies ahead. That would be Cincinnati, though unranked Rutgers, Louisville and Pitt could pose problems.

And, of course, UCF could, as well.

But, yes, USF might go undefeated. And unlike Urban Meyer’s Utah Utes three seasons ago, the Bulls are in a BCS conference, which also means a legitimate, honest-to-gosh shot at a national title. Also, unlike Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators, South Florida beat Auburn this season. And in Auburn, too.

South Florida as national champions.

Can keyboards type that sentence without incurring an immediate blue screen of death?

If you think such a notion is improbable, perhaps you’ve forgotten our homeboy Kenny Calhoun, and how the Titusville native’s big mitt batted down a 2-point conversion pass, preserving a 31-30 win for Miami over a powerhouse Nebraska team that rode into the ’83 Orange Bowl on a 22-game winning streak, seemingly invincible.

That week, John Underwood wrote this in Sports Illustrated, “If you missed Monday night’s game, you missed an emergence . . . Down went Nebraska’s 22-game winning streak, and up went the burgee of a team that may well be the next great name in the game.”

True to Underwood’s words, it was the first of — count ’em — five national championships for Miami.

There was one other thing about that Nebraska team. It had a Heisman Trophy winner by the name of Mike Rozier at running back.

Which brings us to UCF.

How’s that?

Well, have you seen Kevin Smith and the way he runs the ball for the Knights? Don’t look now . . . well, then again, please do look, because the kid has 860 rushing yards in five games. At this pace, he’s racking up enough yards to take him from Orlando all the way to New York City’s Downtown Athletic Club.

A Heisman Trophy winner? From UCF? People posed the same question marks about Miami and a New York kid named Vinny Testaverde, until he picked up the coveted award in 1986.

Yeah, there are a lot of similarities when you look at where USF and UCF are today and where Miami and Florida State were yesterday.

There’s also a lot of similarities between USF and UCF.

Both are metro colleges struggling to emerge from commuter school images. Though, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, I have a theory about that. Maybe a generation or two ago, kids were intimidated by cities. Not today’s generation. All things being equal, I think many kids today would prefer to play for a school attached to a big city, rather than a small college town.

More comparisons?

Well, both have coaches with big-time cache, just as big as Florida, Florida State and Miami. It wasn’t too long ago when Notre Dame hired UCF head coach George O’Leary. Three years ago, Notre Dame tried to swoop in and hire Urban Meyer before Florida could ink his name to a contract.

Before going after Mike Price, Alabama tried to hire USF head coach Jim Leavitt. In fact, Leavitt still keeps Alabama’s contract offer in his desk, as a memento. There was a time, too, when Alabama tried to hire Bobby Bowden away from Florida State.

If you ask Leavitt and O’Leary today, both would tell you there’s no other program where they’d rather be, and actually mean it. Leavitt, especially, is committed to building USF’s program into a national power. A St. Petersburg native, he was with the Bulls when the football office was a trailer, back when he pulled out his own wallet to buy the team’s first washer and dryer.

He isn’t going anywhere. But USF is. So is UCF.

Don’t think so? Remember what they say about history. It tends to repeat itself.

Minus, we hope, the bell bottoms, platform shoes and disco music.

Contact Kerasotis at HeyPeterK@aol.com
or 242-3694. Listen to him Friday mornings from 8:45-9 on WMEL 920-AM.

Sports columnist Pete Kerasotis is a native of Merritt Island and a graduate of Merritt Island High and the University of Florida. His cutting-edge columns focus on nation, state and local issues.

n 1966 Cape Publications founded the TODAY newspaper – a daily newspaper serving Brevard County. Over the next 20 years, TODAY continued to grow and add more products and services to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. To reflect the changing times and keep up with the county’s growth, on August 26, 1985, we officially changed our name to FLORIDA TODAY.

In 1986 we moved from a building in Cocoa into our current location at Gannett Plaza. A 28-acre National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Gannett Plaza is a safe haven for the birds, animals, reptiles and plants that have always made their home here. Surrounded by nine satellite dishes, our facility is an impressive 191,000 square foot building made of glass and steel.

As a member of the Gannett
Company’s extensive list of daily newspapers, we are also one of more than 30 print sites for USA TODAY
, the nation’s newspaper. We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Our main plant in Melbourne is centrally located within the county and we maintain a presence throughout the Space Coast with bureau offices in Titusville, Palm Bay, Merritt Island and Sebastian.

y Jack Carey, USA TODAY

In the continuation of one of the most tumultuous college football seasons in recent memory, the first edition of the Bowl Championship Series standings features two teams at the top not expected to be anywhere near there when the year began.

Ohio State (7-0), which opened the season ranked 10th in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll and appeared to be facing a big rebuilding effort after last season’s national runner-up finish, is No. 1 in the BCS.

BCS STANDINGS: South Florida snares second place behind Ohio State

COACHES’ POLL: Ohio State leaps to No. 1; LSU falls to fifth

In second place is a team — South Florida — that started its football program a decade ago and wasn’t even in the top 25 in the preseason.

USF (6-0), which has beaten Auburn and West Virginia, is second in the BCS despite being ranked third, behind the Buckeyes and Boston College, in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll and Harris Interactive rankings, which comprise two-thirds of the BCS formula.

But the Bulls are first nationally in the other component — the computer ratings, despite having played Florida Atlantic, Central Florida and Division I-AA Elon. BC (7-0) has also played a I-AA team (Massachusetts) along with North Carolina State, Army, Bowling Green and Notre Dame.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings will meet for the national title Jan. 7 in New Orleans.

Analyst Jerry Palm, whose website, CollegeBCS.com, approximates the standings, believes USF can get to the title game if it finishes 12-0. “But they don’t control their own destiny, I don’t think, because they’re not No. 2 in the polls. That computer gap is going to close (if BC or No. 4 LSU win out),” Palm says. “But it is doable.”

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