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Why I’m Not Heartbroken (A Follow Up from Saturday Morning Hype)

We just had a big-time college football game, a new generation got to experience the feeling, and losing it wasn’t the end of the world.

USF Student Section vs FSU, 2016

So we lost. It happens. Our defense played a poor game (to put it lightly) against a pissed-off Florida State team.

It happens.

But what doesn’t happen is the students coming together like they did on Saturday. Not in my time, at least. The closest thing I’ve seen to that is the NCAA women’s basketball tournament game vs. Louisville (and damn was that fun).

Saturday was fun. Mother of God, Saturday was fun. I was uncharacteristically subdued at the tailgates, and inside the stadium until the team came out. The roar when USF came out of the tunnel gave me one of the biggest shots of adrenaline I’ve ever had.

Of course, it’s nothing compared to the roar on the first play of the game. I couldn’t hear the fight song, and I’m right next to the band. I couldn’t hear a damn thing, and nor could anyone else. It was glorious euphoria, and one that the current students of USF have never experienced.

We can argue day and night about what went wrong later in the game, but what I will never back down from is what that game meant for the program, regardless of the result. The students knew we were facing a top-15 team, and it was unlikely to go our way. They stayed for what was more than reasonable. Hell, when Florida State started singing on their way out of the stadium, the remaining students (and I had no part in this) responded with a South Florida spell out that drowned out the FSU “Woo!”

The students are proud of the program again. They’re proud to support the team. They’ll show out for homecoming vs ECU (Student Government, don’t make the shirts purple again...) and the stadium will be surfin’.

Despite Saturday’s result, USF has turned the corner. They still need to avoid “Northwestern in 2013 syndrome” (hype, hype, hype, loses big game, falls off a cliff), but I’m writing this on the assumption that USF will manage to beat Cincinnati and get back on track. The students recognize that now.

I’m not heartbroken about the loss. If it takes this loss to spur our team to a conference title game, then I’ll take it all year, every year. USF still won on Saturday. The echoes of the past came alive, even for a moment, and the students now have an idea what it was like at the height of 2007. We can roar louder than Florida State when we have a reason (the first play was probably the loudest play of the day, if you disagree, you’re wrong #internet #rosetintedglasses).

What happened on the field is one thing. What happened in the stands is another. FSU might have won on the field, but USF won in the stands.

P.S. Screw these noon kicks. ECU is starting at noon. That’ll ding the attendance, because as great as the experience was, that sun was brutal.