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Florida State Seminoles' Gano earns Champs Bowl MVP

ORLANDO — Florida State senior P/PK Graham Gano wasn't exactly feeling a big game against Wisconsin was in the offing on Saturday.

"I warmed up horribly," he said.

Yeah, not a problem.

Gano, the Groza Award winner as the nation's top kicker, showed he can punt a bit, too. His first three went out of bounds at the 3, hit and died at the 1 and then went out at the 1.

He didn't just pooch those either.

They went for 46, 44 and 45 yards.

"This guy right here kept us in the there (at the outset)," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said, adding he's not had a punter perform like that.

That's why he was named the Champs Sports Bowl MVP.

"I can't remember having a punting performance like today," added Gano, who averaged 48.2 yards on five punts. "It really has a lot to do with the other guys. Zack (Aronson) snapped the ball well and I didn't have any pressure so the guys blocked really well."

The one time he got some pressure, he drew a roughing the punter call (he jokingly told a television reporter that she should look a bit closer at the replay when she suggested he feigned contact) that led to a Seminoles' touchdown.

Though he didn't have a field goal, he hit all six of his extra points and averaged 63.3 yards on kickoffs (including three touchbacks), essentially giving the Badgers' special teams little opportunity to be special.

"This might be my favorite (trophy)," he said of the MVP. "I wasn't expecting it all. I'm pretty excited."

For good measure, he was selected to dig up the piece of sod that FSU will bury in its Sod Cemetery to immortalize the win.

Only human: The officials had a tough sequence early in the third quarter when they initially ruled that S Jay Valai forced a fumble on a pass to WR Bert Reed and recovered it at the FSU 25. Upon review, Reed was called down for a 3-yard loss on the first-down play from the 28. But the down marker had moved to the 33, so instead of a second and 13, FSU had a second and 18. Oops.

What's next?: With the next four-year cycle for the BCS set, conferences, television networks and the non-BCS bowls can begin negotiating new deals, too.

So what's next for the 8-year-old Champs?

Executive director Steve Hogan said the game will evaluate its league tie-ins. The Big Ten has been a good fit, more so than the Big 12, but bringing the same school to town for either the Champs or the Capital One isn't necessarily ideal.

He would also like to see if the Champs might get a higher pick of teams (it gets the fourth from the ACC and the fourth or fifth from the Big Ten) and it's possible it could consider a relationship with the Big East. That might be interesting for USF.

"We're in total evaluation mode," he said. "We're very happy where we're at, but to go to the next level, does that mean some other arrangement or does it mean what (staying with what) we have and improving picks."

Familiar face: Former standout FSU QB Danny McManus was in the press box scouting the game for his old Canadian Football League team, Hamilton. "I'm looking for some players who would like to come up north and see what snow is like," he said with a laugh.

Florida State Seminoles' Gano earns Champs Bowl MVP 12/27/08 [Last modified: Saturday, December 27, 2008 11:02pm]
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