With Miami week upon us, I've noticed the question of rivalry has arisen. It seems that each of us holds other teams in different statuses concerning the question, some arguing that Clemson has overtaken the Hurricanes as rival number two. And there are some who have been around longer than others, which further complicates matters. To hold certain opponents with greater contempt is a matter of personal choice. I graduated in 1985, so my outlook is different from those who graduated both earlier and later, and I have my own personal twists. Rival number 1 for me is the Florida Gators
, always has been and always will be and there's not even a close second. I root for the Gators to lose every time they play, even when a win might benefit the Seminoles on paper. I root against Tim Tebow
because he is a former Gator. I root against Steve Spurrier because he is a former Gator player and coach, but this weekend, I will be rooting for Spurrier because priortiy one for me is to see Gator fans dejected.
For me, it works like this, in the animal kingdom a gator is known for their disproportionately large mouth. Even if you kill the gator and preserve the skull, that mouth is still as big as it ever was, but the difference is, dead gators don't make no noise. Gators to me seem to be constantly bragging, constantly taking shots against FSU, refusing to admit, even in defeat, those years when our team is superior. Florida State is the oldest public institution of higher learning in Florida, but the Gators, whose school was an offshoot of ours, insist on looking down their noses at us and treating us like second class citizens. They denigrate us based on our noble history, providing education to women when sufferage was in its infancy. They treat us like our degrees are somehow less dignified than their own, and they throw up the "We're in the SEC which means any team in our conference can beat any team in yours and any SEC win is a superior one." Forget the fact that we beat them head to head, they rationalize that by saying that we wouldn't have done that had we played an SEC swchedule the rest of the year. Forget the fact that Vandy or Kentucky or Ole Miss or whoever happens to stink up the field the same way some of our ACC teams do.
They have a wide fan base, they are disbursed throughout the country, and they are very vocal and obnoxious as a rule. They stole their first national championship from us and they are despicable. In my view, they are unparalelled as a rival and always will be.
Miami is a different sort of rivalry. Miami, like FSU, was a school that didn't get much respect until the 1980's. They earned it the same way we did, by beating the best teams on the road. The Orange bowl was not the place you wanted to play the Hurricanes, EVER. I don't know if the record still stands, but they held the NCAA record for consecutive home wins there. I attended a game, I don't remember the year, but it was our opener, we were ranked #1 and they were ranked #2, and I travelled to the Orange bowl to see the Seminoles get whipped 31-0. I endured taunts by the Miami fans after the game until I managed to find my vehicle, which I had paid $20 to park in some shady looking guys yard, and travel back to the hotel. The NCSU loss hurt this year, but that loss hurt worse. I didn't even speak for two solid days. Miami fans can be obnoxious, but the difference is, I've always seen these teams as having mutual respect for one another. I root for Miami during the weeks when we don't play them. I recognize their strong tradition and they always have talent that somehow goes under the radar. Some of my all time favorite Seminoles have come from Miami, Marvin Jones
for one. Miami has cost us several national championships and the only way to beat them is to play a full four quarters of football. Yes, they are rivals, but its a different sort for me. Florida State Miami was THE game every year for probably ten years or more, and it always seemed to be close.
The Clemson game doesn't have the history that Miami or UF does, and generally, we have prevailed against them. NCSU when Amato was there, that was another rivalry and in my mind, NCSU is a bigger rival than Clemson. To me, NCSU is always a gotcha game. But for me, the number two rival is a totally different team. It's Oklahoma. I don't know the last time (if ever) we have beaten Oklahoma. They destroyed our hopes two years running, stole a championship from us the year that Richt checked out before the game, and besides, Bob Stoops used to coach at Florida and he's just as arrogant as you would expect a Gator to be.
I guess my point is, that Miami would be mentioned as a rival by probably just about every Seminole fan, and aside from Florida, would be the only team to hold that distinction. Because of history, I'm not counting this weekend as a W until the game is all the way over. I've seen us let them back into the game on more fourth quarters than I want to remember. It's that sickening feeling, like there's a script that each team must play. My hope is that Jimbo decides to deviate from the script, get away from that Miami scores 20 in the fourth quarter to go up by two points, we get the ball back with 2:30 left on the clock, drive down the field, stall, then have to kick a field goal last second to win it. Let's score a lot of points and keep their receivers defended, tackle their runners, not allow third down conversions, build a big lead and KEEP PLAYING all the way through the fourth quarter. If rivalry includes having an uneasy feeling every time you play someone, Miami certainly fits the bill.