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Jan 05

Seminoles, Idols, and War Eagles

bcsI became a Florida State fan in the mid 1970’s when I played football for a team called the “Seminoles” and I took a liking the new FSU coach, Bobby Bowden.

There are four FSU – Auburn games I remember:

1984: Reluctantly, I went to a wedding of a friend that started during the game. After the ceremony–much of which was in Latin, so I was already antsy– and this was before smartphones and miniature radios– I quickly scooted out to the car and tuned in the radio just in time to hear FSU lose at the end of the game in a forty-something to forty-something “whoever gets the ball last wins” game. Note to self at the time: never set a wedding date in the fall without checking football schedules.

1985: My girlfriend at the time was an Auburn student and FSU got beat, badly. I’m pretty sure she was at the game. A few days later a sympathy card arrived with an Auburn postmark, bearing the image of an orange tiger paw print.

1988 Sugar Bowl: FSU won, big game. I later had several roommates from Auburn, a couple of whom were at the game in the end zone and still swear Deion Sanders got away with interference.

1999. Don’t remember that one? That’s because though it was scheduled as the season opener for both teams, Auburn abruptly canceled the game just 7 months before it was to be played and replaced FSU on the schedule with Appalachian State. Why? Because Auburn had just fired Terry Bowden, and Auburn was terribly afraid Terry’s dad, FSU coach Bobby Bowden, would deliver an epic whupping for the ages in retaliation for what many considered a poorly handled termination. Florida State went on to win the national championship that year, and Auburn had a mediocre season.

My prediction for this year? FSU by a margin of a score or two. Maybe more if they can figure out how to stop Gus Malzahn’s offense. If they can’t…could be a long night and a big party where Toomers Oaks used to bloom.

I took college football too seriously back in those days.  I’ve mellowed and matured with age and have much bigger fish to fry in life.   It’s not like I’m still getting up at 5 AM, putting on pads and going through two-a-days in the hot August Florida sun.  Those guys have something big to celebrate and be proud of if they win, and something to be disappointed in if they lose. Not me, sitting on the couch running on the treadmill while eating nachos carrots and drinking coca-cola water.

I’m still pulling for FSU and I’ll be watching the entire game, enjoying every minute of it.  Even though I am an FSU fan, I have immense respect for Auburn’s head coach and his philosophy.  But 15 minutes after the game ends I will be sound asleep regardless of the outcome.  It’s not the idol it used to be. Or so I like to think.  We’ll see.

Josh Riley

Husband, father, teacher, coach, business management consultant, real estate guy, program manager, children's discipleship leader, weatherbug, writer, speaker, workshop presenter, 176 other things and founder of

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