Los Angeles — When Michigan and Florida State squared off the in 2016 Orange Bowl, it was a clash between two traditional gridiron powerhouses.
The Wolverines boast the most all-time wins, while the Seminoles have reached the national title game four times and won it all twice since 1998.
On Saturday night, two universities that are known more for their football success will face off at Staples Center with a spot in the Final Four up for grabs.
But don’t tell Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton that it’s a matchup between two “football schools,” particularly given Michigan’s success on the hardwood this decade.
“I think that's one of the most ridiculous phrases that I've heard — football school, basketball school,” Hamilton said Friday, launching into a two-and-a-half-minute response. “The basketball world that I know of, that I live in, never identified them as a football school. As a matter of fact, I don't know if I've ever really heard anybody use that phrase, other than maybe coming from a reporter.
“I just think that's a cliché and that's a phrase that we need to eliminate.”
Hamilton added every school has several sports teams that have had more success than others and Florida State is no different. The baseball team is the second-winningest Division I program with an all-time win percentage of .727 and has reached the College World Series 22 times, and the women’s soccer team has nine College Cup appearances and won the national title in 2014.
However, Hamilton argued nobody would call Florida State a baseball or soccer school.
At Michigan, the softball team is consistently among the best in the nation and the men’s swimming and diving program has won more national titles than any other sport. Meanwhile, the basketball team has reached the Elite Eight three times in the past six seasons and the football team has recorded at least 10 wins just three times in the last 10 seasons.
“I think it's healthy when all the sports are working and being successful,” said Hamilton, who pointed out football weekends are always a boon for recruiting. “Obviously, football seats at Michigan about 100,000 people. So, they're successful. That brings a lot of revenue to the school. They're able to support a lot of the non-revenue sports that gives kids an opportunity to — they raise money to pay for the scholarships for kids that maybe wouldn't have an opportunity to go to school and get their degrees any other way.
“So, I just think that it all works together, and that's part of the college experience. At Michigan, like a lot of other schools, they're supportive of their university. It seems like on the weekends they come back and it's kind of like almost a homecoming every time or reunion on the weekends, which I think is all positive.”
Before his dismantling of the “football school” notion, Hamilton also offered effusive praise for Michigan coach John Beilein, who stands one win away from setting a program record for victories in a season and returning to the Final Four for the first time since 2013.
“I think Coach Beilein is a Hall of Fame-type of coach,” Hamilton said. “He has one of the best offensive systems in the country. He's won at every stop that he's been. He's been extremely successful. He has the ability to identify talent that fits within his system, and they've been extremely effective over the years.”