OP, it's good to see you're using the most recent available data from U.S. News and that you've sought out 2010 data. Unfortunately there are still many assumptions that people end up making about the data, so I wanted to share some insight.
First, UTK reported an unusually high percentage of the class (92.9%) in bar admission-required jobs. On the surface this appears a lot stronger than FSU's 78%, but because this difference is so drastic it warrants investigating further. Unfortunately I can only offer up some plausible reasons.
For starters, often the person reporting this data to U.S.News is a non-attorney, sometimes only working part-time, and with a background in HR (as opposed to something outside of law that would indicate they are concerned with data collection, such as statistics). They are often hostile towards data collection because it is outside of their specialty and distracts from what they consider to be the real part of their job, which is recruiting employers and keeping students motivated in the job search. This means they tend to complete the work hastily, without much concern for accuracy.
Secondly, aside from the pressure to report a high overall percentages of graduates employed both at graduation and 9 months out, both of which impact the school's U.S. News ranking, these employees can basically do what they want without fear of retribution or scrutiny. Not surprisingly, they might fill in the gaps by making assumptions that are favorable to the school and to their ability as a career services official. This would include assuming that all grads employed in law firms and government are in bar admission-required jobs, which may be what happened at UTK. Were at least some of the government jobs bar admission-required? Certainly. But all of them?
Unfortunately it can be nearly impossible to tell based on these percentages alone whether or not one school really did outperform the other. For all we know, the career services/placement official at FSU took extreme care to only report people who were actually in bar admission-required jobs, while the same person at UTK just listed everyone for a particular job category because of either an unofficial office policy (which is closer to an ethical breach) or because they were rushing through it. Looking at their websites, FSU's Placement Office contains 2 attorneys and one non-attorney, so it's possible that the person collecting data has done the whole law school thing and is bound to a certain degree of professionalism. On the other hand, UTK's data collection person is a non-attorney. That's not to say she is unaware about these problems... she was actually one of only around a dozen to respond to our request for information last year. The fact that she clearly didn't examine our request carefully and mistakenly believe we were asking her to reveal the starting salaries of individual employers is beside the point. But her response did tell us something about hiring trends at UTK:
[E]mployers are not obligated to establish a common starting salary, and increasingly they may negotiate salaries with individuals as they are hired. If an employer hired individuals within the same class but at different salary levels, disclosure of salary by employer name would place UT in a position to reveal information that is otherwise confidential between students and their employers. The Career Center requests, but does not require, its graduates to disclose personally-negotiated salary data that is not commonly known and announced by the employer.
As the letter from UTK indicates, salaries at small employers are increasingly being negotiated individually (which basically means they are lower now than they were). If this trend continues, starting salaries in three years from now could actually end up being significantly worse than what they were in 2009, which was the best year on record for entry-level hiring. What we derive from the U.S. News data is that just 12.5% of FSU grads were known to be making 70K or more, while just 20% of UTK grads were known to make 70K or more. Despite this fact, both schools inexplicably advertise median salaries of 70K for that year, which is certainly misleading and perhaps worthy of filing a complaint with the ABA. Similarly, 19% of FSU grads and 30% of UTK grads were known to be making 60K or more, based on the reported 25th percentiles.
Absent full employer lists for 2010, which would allow you to determine for yourself whether the outcomes are desirable, a risk-averse applicant should probably cut these figures by at least half. Therefore, someone choosing to attend FSU this year might want to plan out their future assuming that they have a less than 10% chance of making 60K or more, while a UTK applicant might assume they have a 15% chance.
I admit this is not entirely fair to the law schools and the education they provide, nor is it fair to the graduates who do not earn this salary but still obtain highly desirable work (like clerkships or rewarding PI work). For many people like the OP, a small-firm setting that pays less than 60K may be exactly what they were hoping for. But it should still give you at least reason to pause before making a decision to spend three years out of the workforce earning zero income and gaining no work experience. It really isn't a great return for someone who isn't passionate about wanting to practice law.
OP, g'luck in making your decision. Given that you seem set on only pursuing one of these two options, I would recommend first deciding where you want to live (and hopefully work) after law school and then go with the school in that region. Just be prepared for the very likely probability that you will not be practicing law, given the volatility of the market and the fact that we are dealing with a much different hiring climate than just a few years ago.