As a lifelong college football fan, I’d always wanted to visit Florida State. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go visit such a legendary college sports institution? The Doak? Unconquered? This is huge! FSU was always on TV growing up, and always good, too. Bobby Bowden is a legend. THE NFL is stacked with former Seminoles, to the point where it’s like you’re watching Florida State Saturdays and Sundays in the fall.
Now add in a reputation for being a hearty party school, chock full of beautiful people and sunshine. Oh, and they’re the reigning national champions. AND they’re playing a conference rival in a big nationally televised game. This has all the earmarks of an epic tailgate, right? And it was… a good time. But not an explosive, unforgettable occasion. Let me explain…
Last thing we want to do is sound spoiled by the fact that we see a different pregame party every Saturday. Lucky us! It’s our job, and we absolutely love it. And it’s not like we had a bad time at FSU. It was fun. But the reasons why Florida State will stick with us aren’t all flattering. Yes, we met some great fans. Hundreds and hundreds of football fans who love their team and love their Tallahassee and their tailgate. They respect the history of FSU football, and appreciate how far they’ve come in a fall from glory back to the top of the heap. And they shared their tents and treats and bites and beverages with us. All tasty. All very much appreciated. And yes, Florida State is a ridiculously good-looking school. It seems like a factory that just produces beautiful people all decked out in garnet and gold. Honestly if I went to school there, with football and frats and games and gorgeousness aplenty, I don’t know how I’d get anything done.
But… there was an incident the week leading up to FSU/Clemson where the Florida State QB, Heismann winner Jameis Winston, screamed a profane internet-popular phrase in a student union, and was subsequently suspended for it. This shouldn’t have affected the tailgate at all… except for the fact that dozens of students and alumni felt the need to constantly scream this expression, out loud, in front of our cameras, in the middle of countless interviews, all Friday night and Saturday afternoon long.
Hey, we’ve all used colorful language before. And I’ve heard worse while watching football. But this became a running aggravation that, in addition to making our job more difficult, gave an unflattering look to a fanbase on top of it all. It’s always a bummer when a couple of rotten, or over-served, apples, spoil the fun. And on the whole we had a good time. But this wasn’t the look FSU would want. Not the way they’d want to be known. Several tailgaters approached us and apologized for their fellow revelers’ behavior. They needn’t worry. We couldn’t include that profanity in our show. But like all the humidity, and all the dead bugs on our windshield from the long drive from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, this just kinda stuck with us.
So, yeah, expectations can be a burden. And again, we had fun. Sweaty, silly fun. Florida State is a good time. And I’d love to go back and catch another game there. Just hopefully not when feelings of entitlement and invincibility and inebriation empower a bunch of bros to act like imbeciles. I wish I had the authority of FSU coach Jimbo Fisher to suspend those fools for the game, too. Chop on, FSU! You do remain Unconquered in many ways. And now it’s on to The Big D for Arkansas/A&M for Team TGF!