No. 1 comes to town with a flurry of fans and the national title

From Buffalo to Syracuse to root for Florida State.

From Buffalo to Syracuse to root for Florida State.

When the defending national champions come to town still undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country, it’s a big deal to me.

So my dear wife Karen and I walked up the Syracuse University hill 90 minutes before the noon kickoff Saturday to take in the atmosphere. I had a pretty good inkling that Florida State Seminoles supporters would be out in good numbers.

Seminoles maroon and gold amid Syracuse orange and blue.

Seminoles maroon and gold amid Syracuse orange and blue.

Sure enough, the quad on one side of the Carrier Dome had plenty of fans wearing the Florida State colors of maroon and gold to contrast Syracuse’s orange and blue.

When I asked one family if they follow the team from Tallahassee, “not anymore,” one of them offered, revealing that they’d driven for this one from Buffalo.

There were young Seminoles fans, too.

There were young Seminoles fans, too.

Parents brought along a younger generation to root for the No. 1 team from Florida State.

The Seminoles fans seemed to appreciate the Syracuse traditions, standing politely and even smiling when The Pride of the Orange marching band first played on the steps of Hendricks Chapel and then strode through the middle of the quad on this Homecoming Saturday.

Please do take our picture.

Please do take our picture.

Closer to the dome, a group of four Florida State fans, including a woman wearing a traditional headdress, amiably agreed to stop and pose for a photograph.

In fact, they seemed proud to be asked.

The No. 1 team in the nation warms up, and their fans press as close as possible to take pictures.

The No. 1 team in the nation warms up, and their fans press as close as possible to take pictures.

Inside the dome, the Seminoles were still warming up on the field.

I hustled down the stairs to the lower level, down the ramp, and worked my way amid the Florida State fans pressed against the rail to get as close as possible to the players. Many were taking pictures. I took a photo of them taking photos.

Florida State on offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at quarterback.

Florida State on offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at quarterback.

When the game started, there was no doubt in my mind that the presence of Florida State made for a better experience, in the stands and on the field.

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston started at quarterback for the Seminoles despite another round of legal troubles. The ESPN scroll on Saturday morning told of how Winston again faces school accusations of improper behavior with a woman that could lead to his dismissal from the team. He’s been down the legal path before. First time out on the field, the small SU student section chanted “No means no,” obviously directed at him.

Still bogged down in the Red Zone, but perhaps with more bounce in its Orange step.

Still bogged down in the Red Zone, but perhaps with more bounce in its Orange step.

After that, though, everybody concentrated on a game in which a valiant though overmatched Syracuse fought hard before falling 38-20. True freshman A.J. Long carried a bounce to his step and no fear at quarterback replacing injured Terrel Hunt. A few officiating calls seemed to go so egregiously wrong against Syracuse that head coach Scott Shafer practically shouted off the head ref’s ear. It might have been closer if those calls had gone the other way.

Long threw a couple on interceptions, one when he should have just cannoned that thing out of bounds under pressure and another when his arm was hit as he released the ball. But, really, if the true freshman continues to get most of the snaps — and reshirt freshman QB Austin Wilson left the game in the second half with what looked could be possibly a concussion — and improves with other true freshmen Steve Ishmael at receiver and Ervin Phillips at running back also getting better beside him — maybe another few victories in this next stretch of games are possible, and Hunt may not be handed the ball when his leg is healed without some serious thought behind that decision.

Florida State was never really threatened, really, but the dome buzzed with feeling and maybe even the seeds of hope, especially compared to the flat, listless feeling the week before in a completely hopeless loss to Louisville.

Have you ever attended a game where the defending national championship participated, and if so, what sport? How about seeing the No. 1 team in the nation come visit your town, and did you welcome a lot of visiting fans that came with them? Do you think a chant such as “No means no” goes past the boundaries of how fans should behave at a sports event, and do you think Jameis Winston should have played or been held out after the police investigation was announced?

38 thoughts on “No. 1 comes to town with a flurry of fans and the national title

  1. I never know what to say on these sports posts, Mark. I’m glad that my Floridian brothers and sisters posed nicely for your awesome photos. But I’m ashamed of the No means No violator who was on the field. I actually think he should have been fired or kicked off the team when that happened. It’s always embarrassing that Florida is the home of so many nationally known criminals. It makes the rest of us look bad. On a serious note about my views on sports and lawbreakers, I think when you choose to put yourself in a career where people look up to you (just as musician, actor, or sports player), you are calling yourself a leader because you know you’re being idolized by kids who look up to you. So when you have that kind of power and ignore the law, I think there should be harsher penalties than the ones that might be imposed on John Q. Public. For example, and I know a lot of people will hate me for saying it so I’ll apologize in advance, but when that Phelps dude got busted for smoking pot, I don’t think he should have been allowed back to compete in the Olympics after that. The message he sent was “break the law and do drugs, but don’t worry, because you can still be a winner like me.” If he was just a private citizen doing that in the privacy of his own home, I might not agree, but it wouldn’t necessarily be my business to disagree with his choices, either. I just hate that kids look up to these people and they abuse and exploit that power by ignoring the law. Sorry. I’ll climb down from my soapbox now. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • That is a strong opinion on role models and the law, Rachel. I’m not going to agree that they be held up to stricter penalties. I do agree that they must know that they are under a magnifying glass for youth and thus must shoulder their fame and responsibilities with much concern.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re probably right. I think I was just in a grumpy mood when I wrote that because I had just heard about a singer who got a slap on the wrist for breaking the law because of their name. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • However, while I agree that I was wrong to say they probably shouldn’t be penalized more harshly, I do still think they should be fired IF the offense would have made John Q. Public lose his “regular” job. Such as if it’s a sex crime or drug charge, a lot of regular people would have been fired, so I don’t think a sports player should be kept on just because he’s an asset to the team.

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  2. Mark, I’m not a football fan (*gasp*) but I do bleed orange for basketball. Thanks for the recap of the game, and like Jim said, I’m just glad it wasn’t a blowout. The “No Means No” chant was inappropriate, in my opinion–it doesn’t belong in that venue at all. Their energies would be better spent in being active in campus and community groups that address this serious issue. Great pix and good rundown of events–thanks!

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    • That is an interesting take, Ermigal, that the chanting students best channel their efforts into real life solutions to a critical on campus problem. Thank you very much for sharing that here, neighbor.

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  3. sorry that your team lost, but it does look like a lively event, and that the fans on both sides added to the atmosphere of fun. your pictures and words really portrayed this feeling, and i love to mingle with the rival fans. as for the player in question, i don’t believe in giving a pass to anyone who exhibits behaviors that are unacceptable and illegal and hurtful, no matter their age or status.

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    • It was quite lively, and the faithful Florida State fans added to the fun, you are right about that, Beth. The player in question will have to face the consequences in another hearing, if the latest news accounts are correct, and his school may face questions about the way it handled the initial inquiry, as well as other athletes’ alleged misdeeds, too.

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  4. Cool photos Mark and an exciting looking experience. I rarely attend finals games as the ticket prices are higher and there is usually a waiting list for tickets. Looks like there was an excellent turnout. Sounds like you had a good time, even with the loss.

    As far as the derisive remarks are concerned – I have a hard time getting worked up about that. The young man chose to make his living with fame – and public adoration. If he breaks the unspoken contract with his fans and still expects to get his paycheque, the he’d best be prepared to be booed and dissed. Maybe he’ll think about that before he commits his next offense.

    Very real and lively post Mark. It felt like I was there.

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    • That’s one of the dilemmas, Paul. Someday he’ll get a big paycheck, but this is a college game, and this is still a college kid, all of the fame besides the point. I wonder if that changes the way you feel, my friend?

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      • Yes actually it does. I don’t believe that amateur atheletes should be heckled or treated with derision. For me they still fall into the category of “children”. Good point Mark, I had forgotten ot was college

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      • I thought it might change things, Paul. I think EVERYBODY needs to treat people with respect in dating and sexual situations, and college athletes in the public eye do get cheered, and the flip side is this type of jeering for bad behavior.

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  5. Mark, it looks from the photos like a decent size crowd and it sounds as if the mood was relatively upbeat. Keeping it that close against the nation’s top team is respectable indeed. A lot of games against No. 1 end up as ugly blowouts,

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