Prior to Saturday's thrilling clash between the Top-ranked Sooners and 5th-ranked Seminoles, the game was billed as likely the most electric Tallahassee atmosphere since #1 UF and Danny Wuerffel invaded Doak in 1996.
All the elements were in place: a unanimous #1 opponent steeped in college football history, an 8pm kickoff time, the first visit by ESPN's hype machine "Game Day" in 8 years, and a hungry Seminole fan base ready to taste relevance again.
Everybody saw the freight train of inevitability roaring down the tracks adjacent to Gaines Street, including both members of the Sports Media and "sports bloggers" (Sports Media's punk cousin). The foretold explosion occurred on an improbable 3rd & 28 prayer that instantly claimed a spot in FSU folklore. How does that moment rank among the most frenzied moments in Doak's memoirs? I dare you to name one greater.
Please follow me after the jump (go ahead and jump!) and participate in the poll.What makes a moment "the most frenzied"? There's a variety of factors that we'll need to consider:
A) The opponent: Was the moment against a hated foe? (Spurrier's Florida) A national powerhouse? (Oklahoma, Dan Marino's Pittsburgh) Or just a tough opponent under close circumstances? (Joe Hamilton's Georgia Tech, Phillip River's N.C. State)
2) The timing: Does the play's excitement overcome the timing of the moment? Casey Weldon hit Lawrence Dawsey for a 76-yard TD vs. UF....but on only the 2nd play of the game. A field goal in a defensive struggle isn't the most exciting play, unless it's a walk-off kick like Dustin Hopkins' 55-yard Shot of Redemption last season.
D) The score: The closer the game, the louder the crowd. Many people believe last year's UF game was seriously loud. I disagree. If Willie Haulstead's TD was to tie the game instead of put FSU up by 4 scores, we'd notice a difference.
and most importantly, and what this article is about...
Green) What did the moment mean to you? The volume of the audience can be measured, but the gravity of the experience cannot. These memorable plays evoke passionate emotions and unforgettable bonding moments, nearly impossible to duplicate anywhere else in life.
I posed this question to the wise authors of Tomahawk Nation: Can you recall a more hysterical moment at Doak than when Rashad "Dash" Greene scored?
FSUed harkened back to a 1978 clash with The University of Florida, a game which I knew little about:
This was the famous "Gator Bowl snub" year when we somehow got left out in the cold on a bowl bid despite a 7-3 record entering the Florida game.
Doak didn’t even sit 50,000 back then, but the crowd was bloodthirsty – because of the bowl snub and because of the chance to beat the Gators for the second time in a row (which had never happened) and in Tallahassee for the first time since 1964.
I was only 12 at the time, so my memory is a bit shaky, but the main thing I remember is DE Willie Jones starting that game like a man possessed. He forced fumbles, made tackles and had a staggering FIVE tackles for loss.
On UF’s first possession, Jones forced a fumble on a sack and I would bet the farm that 48,000 have never made more noise. FSU raced to a 21-0 lead.
The Gators tied it at 21-21 at the half before FSU pulled away for a 38-21 victory as Mark Lyles (one of the most underrated Noles ever) ran for 100 yards and two scores.
Incredibly, FSU finished 8-3 but did not play in a bowl game.
FSUed's parents had 3rd-year coach Bobby Bowden sign the front page of the Democrat following the huge victory.
This exact frame was shown to Bobby during a recent speaking engagement in North Carolina, nearly 33 years later. Bobby immediately commented on the 2 players shown carrying him off the field, and knew exactly what they were doing nowadays. FSUed's 3 children witnessed this touching, nostalgic moment in amazement with their father.
Thank you, FSUed. And note, betting the farm is no longer practiced. We've switched to Bodog.
I'd long placed 2 moments at the top of the heap, Peter Boulware's blocked punt in the aforementioned 1996 UF game, and Ronnie Lewis' touchdown catch against the Canes in 1987. This is the play preceding Danny Manus' failed 2-pt conversion, and happened to be the first game I ever attended. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was too young (6) to grasp what I experienced. I can only imagine how my mother protected me and my 2 brothers from the pandemonium that ensued. As someone once told me, this play was one where "everybody somehow ended up 4 rows down from their seats during the chaos, then eventually scrambled back up once the euphoria began to calm down"
Watch the video at 5:50 in. FSU was on the cusp of its first national title, and the momentum of the mid-late 80's came to a head here:
TN extraordinaire, NoleThruandThru, goes back six years to find his top moment against Miami in 2005 Although the game was a slop-fest and both head coaches were in the process of flying their respective programs into the mountainside, it was still a big Doak moment.
.....has anyone mentioned the Miami Muff in 2005? That was easily the loudest moment I experienced in my time at FSU, but I would also say the delirium involved was pretty high.
6 straight losses, a history of Wide Whatevers, Mike Irvin flipping off the student section with middle-finger U's pregame, all the frustration came out in that single moment when the muff happened. I was in the front row of section 7 for that game and nearly all of us had close calls of falling over the rail during the mosh that ensued. Hell of a night.
Hard to argue with the volume and released frustration here. Even though we find out later that our celebration implied, "WE SUCK LESS!"
The 1994 "Choke at Doak" featured a trunk load of special moments for grizzled FSU old-times like myself, but TRMNole rightfully dubs James Colzie's interception as the crescendo of insanity.
And "insanity" is the only way to describe that game. Each successive big play compounded the general mania overtaking Doak on that cool afternoon. Our 1st TD was like seeing a 4-year old jump behind the wheel of a car. The 2nd TD was the child driving the car. The 3rd TD was the child driving with extreme precision and skill. And James Colzie's interception was seeing the car turn into a purple elephant and blaze across the sky at Mach 3 speed.
As TRM puts it:
Colzie's pick in '94 - dammit, I just got goosebumps while typing that, and I think it was going to be a pretty moving statement. Definitely mosh pit status, and I remember ripping off my T-shirt for no good reason (there's never a good reason for me to remove clothing), and thankfully the shirt was returned to me after traveling... I really don't know where it went or how it got back to me.
The most amazing part of that moment was the fact that I was able to view the entire play live in slow-motion. (No worries - we're not going there.) I was a freshman at FSU in '94, and long story short, I had a grade-A, certified man crush on James Colzie. Alright alright, awkward I know, but anyway, I was accustomed to watching him on defense, and while that play was in motion, I watched Colzie make his cut towards the middle of nowhere, and suddenly all the noise in the universe got sucked into a vacuum and the only sound you could hear in Doak Campbell was a shout from the student section nervously exclaiming, "C o o o o l l l z z z z i i i e e e ! ! !" BOOM!!!!!! I promise you if there had been that much instantaneous chaos in '87 (Ronnie Lewis catch), the erector set would have come crashing down.
Speaking of man crushes, TRM and myself are secretly President's the other person's respective fan club.
Colzie's interception is at 6:17 of the video. The "vacuum" mentioned above is tangible in the clip.
Here's some quick mentions that could easily argue for #1 all-time:
Dustin Hopkins' game-winner vs. Clemson last year.
Dustin nailed the nick, Craig James nailed the reaction. "I tell you watch just happened: the depths of frustrations from the last 2 losses just went through the FOOT of the kicker, to the exuberance and the thrill of victory".
Our debacle in Raleigh on my birthday, followed by Hopkin's shank vs. UNC a week later, and I felt the frustration. During the timeout prior to the kick, I was repeatedly shouting, "REDEMMMPPPTTTIOOONNNNN!!!! (redemption) at the top of my lungs, ala William Wallace's last line in 'Braveheart'. FSU's only walk-off regulation win in my lifetime was uber cathartic.
(No video for the Hopkins kick, because there's literally hundreds on Youtube with varying levels of profanity/jubilation)
Dexter Carter, first play from scrimmage in 1989 vs. Miami
Sandwiched between the failed 2-point conversation game and some painful Wide Rights, this game gave FSU temporary relief from Little Brother Syndrome.
Ward to Frier in 1993 vs. Miami
How much celebration was due to the Wide Right 1 and 2 counter punch, and how much celebration was seeing a white boy from Live Oak outrace Bob Marley's kin? We'll never know.
Dan Marino's 1980 Hissy Fit
This moment "out kicks my coverage", but Doak was charged with 10,000 volts that October evening. The 3rd-ranked Panthers of Pittsburgh left Tallahassee with their NFL-rich roster and a bushel of sour grapes. The pinnacle was Marino's loss of composure during the frenzy. My friend Jim is a long-time TN reader, and longer time friend. Here's his take:
...there were back to back penalties because an offensive lineman jumped, then Marino yelled at the ref because of the noise. He drew a flag, took his helmet off and threw it straight down. Another flag! The noise continued to escalate as he became more agitated. He never cooled down and we stayed on him like Cameron Crazes...It maxed the Spirit Spear for over 2 minutes. The spear would've blown on Saturday (Rashad's TD and punt in North end zone.)
And now we get to Saturday night.
You were there. You felt it, you lived it, you bathed in it. Even if you couldn't afford the luxury in person, you felt the moment through your high-definition television set.
After a year of licking our Norman wounds, FSU found itself trailing to the nation's best in the fourth quarter, trailing to a team owns us historically. We've lost 3 of our top wide receivers and our QB is wincing in pain on the sidelines. What are the odds Rickety Clint Trickett pulls magic out of his size 6 and 5/8ths hat? Before "the play" I was shouting "CHUCK IT!". To whom? It didn't matter.
Then it happened. The premonition of preposterous pleasure rang true. Temporary psychosis overtook Seminole Nation at approximately 11pm on Saturday, September 17th. I jumped, I screamed, I did 360's, I punched the air and somehow missed the mass of bodies swarming all around. The greatest moment at Doak? It certainly was for thousands of Noles. TRMNole witnessed one life-changing moment in particular prior to the touchdown.
My only other crowd story from Saturday night came minutes earlier when I realized that Doak had turned the corner and that the sophisticated electronics on the Spirit Arrow had been removed 20 years earlier as a preemptive measure for this exact night.
The OU drive inside their own 10 that got stuffed and the ensuing penalties that kept backing up the OU punt attempt. Nice kid sitting directly in front of me. You heard, you felt, you were a part of that crescendo of energy, and so was he. And it was just before the last punt attempt that this kid stopped. He took himself out of the moment.
In stunned, wide-eyed amazement, he passed his glance over every screaming face in the stadium. He was completely captivated by the scene. Nothing to do with, how is this happening at Doak? Rather his look simply said, just what the hell is going on here? What am I a part of? Then he uttered in the most sincere, dead-panned, awe-inspired declaration I've ever witnessed a young man come to terms with: "Holy shit."
Yesterday, I asked my older brother seated 2 sections over to relive the scene. We went berserk side-by-side as youngsters during James Colzie's INT, but I wasn't lucky enough to share the moment this time:
I just looked for flags, looked for flags, then put my head in my hands and sat down, i wouldn't have been able to scream as loud as i wanted.
....as i sat, i literally felt about 20-25 different hands rubbing against me
Here lies the beauty of these moments. Unbridled camaraderie. Unlimited high-5's and bear hugs with total strangers. Where else can you experience this? (Don't say Mykonos)
Rashad and Scooter Haggins demonstrating the proper way to hug a stranger, broken hand be damned.
And when you're not surrounded by total strangers, you're surrounded by those you know and love, creating unforgettable memories and bonds.
Our uncle Jorge and his 14-year old son Jorgie (our cousin) drove up to Tallahassee for a chance at Saturday Night glory.
Jorge said Jorgie was crowd surfing after Rashad scored...
Jorge saw the TD, looked back at the field, then looked up and Jorgie was surfing.
Think those 2 will ever forget that? 20 years from now, it won't be the score they care about.
So now that you're ready to think about your craziest, loudest, most euphoric moment inside Doak Campbell Stadium, don't forget to factor the intangibles. I'll let TRM take the mic one last time:
As far as Saturday night when Greene broke free, oh man, what can I say? My dad cried...Never seen that before. He kissed my wife's hand and gave me the "I wish we did this more, SON!" hug, and my only concern in the world at that moment was that he might drop dead before seeing the tying kick. Truly a moment I'll never forget.
(No word on whether TRM and his dad "had a catch" in the parking lot after the game)
Not my video, but still the moment of truth:
So how was your Saturday Night? Where does it rank, and what's your #1? Imagery, metaphor, and detailed anecdotes required.