Some programs are heading into spring practice fine-tuning a well-oiled machine, boasting strong units on both sides of the ball. There are holes to fill at key positions, but teams such as the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide don't have to make any kind of a leap in 2012. They're seeking consistency of excellence, not dramatic improvement.
As we've pointed out repeatedly over the past few weeks, consistency is the key. The national championship contenders don't come out of nowhere. Each of the past 10 national championship participants was ranked among the top 20 in program FEI heading into that season.
That's where teams such as the Florida State Seminoles find themselves. The Seminoles have a strong overall profile heading into Jimbo Fisher's third year as head coach. They have only one ACC title game appearance in the past five seasons but still boast the best overall Football Bowl Subdivision record among ACC Atlantic Division teams in that span. Their overall program FEI rating heading into 2012 is No. 12, seven spots ahead of the Clemson Tigers and only four spots behind the Virginia Tech Hokies.