MORE THAN JUST A GAME - FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
By George Somerville
As I tour the South, my take that football is much greater than just a sport in this part of the world has been very much confirmed. For towns which are perhaps hundreds of miles from major cities (& NFL teams) the School (whether High School or College) is an integral part of the Community. It’s a gathering for families, it’s a social occasion and dare I say it….it’s up there with religion. Saturday is for football. Sunday is for church.
It is no different in Tallahassee. I arrived in Tallahassee late on Friday night for Saturday’s game against the Alabama State Hornets which was the final home game of the the season. Expecting a quiet, almost low key build up I arrived to a bustling, raucous campus. Not what I was expecting.
The next day, despite plummeting temperatures the game drew a large crowd to pay tribute to the FSU Senior Class of 2019 who would be playing their final games for the school and leaving as graduates soon.
And this proves why it’s more than just a game.
Florida State Football has had a rough few years. The Jimbo Fisher/Jameis Winston National Championship years are behind them. But be under no illusion, this is a huge football program. And it hurts the people of Tallahassee to have losing record seasons.
So that’s why it’s pretty incredible to see in excess of 50,000 fans turn out for a game against Alabama State, who lets be honest are not the biggest draw you will find in College sports. But that’s not the point. It’s about community spirit. That’s what makes this game different.
As is customary, the senior’s were introduced one by one pre game, along with their families to be presented with framed jerseys marking their final game in a Noles jersey.
The reception Alex Hornibrook, Keith Gavin, Gabe Nabers, Cole Minshew, Dontavious Jackson, Ricky Aguayo and the rest of the 2019 Senior class was pretty impressive, reflecting the effort the players had put into their time playing for the Seminoles.
Time Honoured Tradition
Before the game kicked off I got to witness first hand one of the greatest traditions in college football. FSU mascots Osceola and Renegade prowl the field until Osceola throws his flaming spear into the ground, much to the crowds roar of approval. Having seen this on TV many times, it was spine tingling to see it live, pitch side:
As you might expect, the Alabama State Hornets didn’t put up much of a fight against FSU, which despite their current form, remain a college football powerhouse.
The team has progressed this year, despite Coach Willie Taggart’s firing in October, meaning FSU put ASU to the sword early. In what could have been considered a potential banana skin earlier in the season, the Noles ran out easy 49-16 winners, ensuring their senior class of 2019 received a proper finish to their college careers.
What surprised me about Tallahassee was the spirit of the fan base. It was cold, against an opponent of no real note during a season to forget. But it was vitally important on two counts. It was seniors day and the team was nearing Bowl eligibility. Only last year, FSU broke a 36 year Bowl eligibility streak – the longest in college football – not a record you want to be a part of.
So a final hurrah for your Senior Class and re-establishing a Bowl streak (even if it is one) – it was important for a fan base which has endured tough times in recent years. Congratulations to the 52,857 fans who braved the biting cold (bear in mind this is Florida) to cheer on the Noles. Well done.
The Future Of FSU
It’s easy to forget how big this football program is as Clemson runs away with the ACC Championship yet again.
There is a growing clamour for interim Head Coach Odell Higgins to be given the job on a full time basis. Many huge names from Urban Meyer to Brian Kelly to Mike Leach have been mentioned as the next HC. Whoever is in charge next season will have high expectations of them. But unlike other programs this is not an unrealistic fan base. Saturday against Alabama State proved that. I was impressed.
Feature Image Credit: ChopChat.com
A GLASWEGIAN LIVING IN LONDON, GEORGE IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN WHO FOLLOWS THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. HE PROVIDES CFB CONTENT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN AND IS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.