There's no question Florida State should be good in 2011, but how good? Top 15 good? Yes. Top 10 good? Maybe.
My colleague Mark Schlabach has the Noles at No. 7 in his way-too-early Top 25 for 2011. I'd probably rank them ahead of Ohio State, and Oklahoma State, and considering what some of the teams ranked ahead of them have to replace, I'd have them ahead of Stanford, too. So yes, it would appear that heading into 2011, Florida State has the potential to be a top 10 team. In addition to what other programs around the country have to replace, here are three reasons why FSU deserves to join the top 10 this offseason:
1. Almost everyone from the Atlantic Division champs returns. Former quarterback Christian Ponder will be missed, but EJ Manuel is more than capable of taking over the offense. The key is filling the gaping holes left on the offensive line by Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon. It's going to be tough to find two better tackles, though, than Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders. The defense should be even better in the second season under Mark Stoops.
2. Ridiculous recruiting. Florida State could close with the best class in the country. And yes, if they're good enough to play, they will. Right now the Noles have the No. 2 class in the country, including 10 ESPNU 150 commits. This class has depth and speed.
3. Jimbo Fisher. The changes he has made -- on the field and off -- are working. The staff has quickly transformed Florida State to the top-ranked team in the state. With 2010 wins over Florida and Miami, the balance of power is shifting back to Tallahassee. The pieces are in place to keep it there this year.