This position paper was originally written in 2012, before FSU's most recent national championship and the rise of #FSUTwitter and #TalkinBoutTheNoles. I've updated where appropriate. Also, unlike other position papers we've done on this blog that speak for everyone, this one applies only to me.
I don't remember exactly when it was for me, but growing up in Tampa in the 1980s, at some point in elementary school, they made you choose. Are you a Gator or a Seminole? What's it going to be?
Those were the only two choices back then. If you picked Miami, everyone assumed there was something deeply wrong with you. And no one born before about 1990 grew up rooting for USF football because there was no USF football.
Most of my classmates picked the Gators, and a lot of them ended up in school there, probably like their parents before them. As always, I was the contrarian, because I picked Florida State. There was something about them that seemed more compelling and fun to watch. Maybe it was Bobby Bowden and his willingness to take on challenges and roll the dice. (The "puntrooskie" against Clemson in 1988 was one of the first really crazy FSU plays I remember.) Maybe it was the uniforms, or Chief Osceola and Renegade, or some of those great Marching Chiefs songs and chants, or maybe there was some kind of underdog factor. But I spent most of my childhood quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, rooting for the Seminoles.
I guess I was channeling my inner 10-year-old hipster by being a Seminoles fan back in the day. They were actually better than the Gators for a few years in the late 80s and early 90s, but before they won their first national title, FSU football was still a little bit punk. They were independent for a long time, it could be hard to find their games on TV, and they weren't the establishment like Florida was. Plus they were one of the few teams that could stick it to the Gators on a regular basis. As a college football fan, I eventually grew to appreciate the Steve Spurrier era in Gainesville. At the time, though, I just thought he was an ass, and I enjoyed Charlie Ward and "the Choke at Doak" and that defense pounding Danny Wuerffel until the echo of the whistle.
Despite all that, I never seriously considered attending FSU. I knew a number of people who were going there from my high school, and my goal after graduating was to never see anyone I went to high school with ever again. (So far, so good.) And my fandom disappeared the minute my acceptance letter to USF arrived in the mail. Now, like the fight song says, for USF I'll always be. But even now, as the Bulls and Seminoles get ready to face off on the football field again, I can't muster up any real hatred for Florida State.
In 2010 Collin explained why he has such dislike for the Florida Gators. It wasn't the losing to them that bothered him, or their money, or their academic prestige. It was mostly the Jorts Nation contingent -- the arrogant, front-running, didn't-finish-high-school, WOOOOO YER GATOR BAIT fans.
Florida State doesn't have nearly as big of a problem with the Daywalkers, at least not where I lived. Most of their fans are connected to the school in some way. They're students, they're alums, they're parents, they're donors... they have some reason for rooting for the Seminoles other than "hey, they win a lot." I will never have any problem with those kinds of fans. There isn't anything even approaching the UF levels of arrogance among the in-person Seminole fan base.
Now, it's very important here to distinguish between in-person FSU fans and #FSUTwitter. In-person FSU fans are still pretty cool. The ones you'll meet on Saturday if you come to the game are fine. Share your tailgate with them, they'll probably share with you, it'll be fun.
On the other hand, #FSUTwitter is a goddamn cesspool. I can sum it up with one picture. Our PBS station in Dallas has a Britcom block on weekends, and one night they showed a program from the 90s called The Vicar of Dibley. In one episode the town sets up a radio station in the church, and the vicar gets accosted on the air by a dumb, dirty old man in a Florida State snapback cap.
This is what #TalkinBoutTheNoles looks like. An argument out of left field that you didn't ask for and don't want to have with a slovenly person who can barely form a coherent sentence. They don't even wait for you to fire the first shot. They'll interject their FSU hot takes into something you said that doesn't affect them at all. They're the worst.
OK, now that we're clear on this, back to my post.
Yes, FSU generally has the advantage over USF in academics (depending on what you measure). However, it's not a sneering, looking-down-your-nose kind of advantage the way it is with UF and their AAU membership and their prestige and their bajillion-dollar endowment. Every spring, USF and FSU are fighting the same battle in front of the Legislature, trying to keep Gainesville from sucking up all the academic oxygen. If FSU is the big brother here, it's not the one who holds you down and gives you noogies.
And yes, FSU has the advantage in athletics, too. Especially in football and baseball. But at least USF can beat them in most sports and it's not considered some huge upset, like it is with Florida. It's a shame the two schools haven't played more basketball against each other recently, because that's been a very competitive series even when the Bulls have been down. Since the Sun Dome opened in 1980, the Bulls are actually 10-10 against the Seminoles. They've only played twice since 2002, though, and both were in invitational tournaments on a neutral court. Let's get this going again, what do you say? USF and FSU, home-and-home. How about it?
Bottom line: Do I want to beat Florida State on Saturday? Of course I do. It would be fantastic. But even if it doesn't happen, after the final whistle, I'll wish them good luck and we'll go our own ways until next time, whenever that is. No hard feelings here. Just don't @ me.