The Garnet and Gold Game is less than a month away! How many people are you taking? Are you from southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia, or northwest Florida near the Alabama line and would go if you had people to go with, or perhaps if you had a ride? Perhaps I can help, and I’ll get to that in a moment.
Having a large, excited crowd for the Garnet & Gold Game may seem irrelevant to the coming season. Whatever excitement that atmosphere might generate would most certainly have died off and become a distant memory by September, right? Maybe not. I believe the Garnet & Gold Game can be used as a selling point for casual FSU fans, or FSU fans that just don't often (or have never) travel(ed) to an actual game. If we bring people who might not usually go to a game, they may have more interest come fall in attending a real game, and help keep our house roaring.
Over the years, I have coordinated trips of large groups of co-workers and friends from our hometown (Dothan, Alabama). The MAJORITY of the folks were not even Seminoles fans! I've brought Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia fans, and even a damned Miami Hurricane to FSU games, and they ALL helped pull for the home team. Don't exclude your non-FSU football friends. These people all went to enjoy an outstanding game day experience and watch a good football game, even if it wasn't their own team. Aside from the large, beautiful stadium, the exciting traditions, the game itself, and the overall game day experience, Doak is appealing to these (usually SEC) non-FSU fans because:
A) Tallahassee is closer to our area than their teams (UA, AU, UGA) or any other traditional, large Division 1 program – the closest at all being Troy University
2) Tickets are almost always cheaper than tickets to Alabama, Auburn, or any of the other popular SEC teams from relatively close to my area
D) Tickets are often easy to acquire, even to the premier games of recent years (Florida, Miami, Clemson, Oklahoma) if you know a season ticket holder or Booster
I know that southeast Alabama isn't the only area this works in. Bring some of these other SEC fans. They pull for our team and help keep Doak packed and rockin'! It also doesn't bother me that to the few that have ever questioned anything about FSU's stadium or traditions not being on-par with the mighty SEC, every single person I have ever brought left Tallahassee impressed.
If you're anything like me, and you don't live near Tallahassee, the offseason is a little too long for me to go without going to visit my favorite place to be in the world. I have to go to Doak at least once within six months. I generally go down for a day in July near my birthday, but the Garnet & Gold Game provides us with an opportunity to visit Heaven when it doesn't feel so lonely as it does when it's empty in July. There's lot's of others there sporting the colors, and it's close to a game day experience without the stress of a possible loss! And the drive home is almost guaranteed all smiles and no long-faces!
Having a large, more exciting crowd for the Garnet & Gold Game not only gets potential game attendees excited about actually attending games in the fall, it probably motivates current players, potential recruits, and even the coaching staff. I know if I were in any of their shoes, it would boost my confidence to see an energized fanbase to seem excited and confidant in what they are doing, what Coach Fisher is doing, and the direction of the program. Some of these players have been subjected to extremely harsh, unfair criticism from "fans" through social media, and for some of them that may be what they remember. Let’s show them some love. Show them we’re not casual fans who only care when they’re winning. Let’s show them we’re with our team even in the fall when there is no opponent to beat.
Why do I have to appeal to the fanbase to fill our stadium when our team is doing better than they were several years ago? I’m preaching to the choir here – we all know the stadium will be packed for Miami, but aside from that, it won’t be surprising if there are empty seats at every other game during the season. Maybe we’ll be able to pack the Doak for a revenge game against NC State. Maybe. Many criticize the Seminoles for having weak non-conference opponents in addition to an unexciting conference slate. I stand firm that FSU has gone above and beyond in recent years, scheduling very tough non-conference games unlike anyone else. West Virginia cancelled last minute last year. I know John Swofford had everyone set for a nine game conference season, then changed back to eight when it was apparent our new part-time member in South Bend would prefer eight, but I’m not sure if that affected this year or next. Regardless, we’re stuck with a home schedule that leaves much to be desired. Lucky us, we not only get to add Syracuse every year, we get Pittsburgh in their first year as well! I say all of this to say that I understand the de-energized attitude fans have about our schedule, but it’s the schedule we’re dealt. We’re still Seminoles. We still pull for our team when they play a weak schedule, just like we did when they weren’t doing well. I encourage us all to do our part to show our displeasure, but let’s do it in the appropriate way while not giving up on our team, showing up to support them, but vocalizing our displeasure to the ACC home offices, Randy Spetman, Eric Barron, and for those of us unhappy with our present conference affiliation, we can vocalize our opinions of conference preference through letters, here on TN, or elsewhere online. We have to show up and support our team if we want them to keep playing their hardest and winning. I’m speaking to myself as well. I’ve been so angry, It’s crossed my mind to not attend conference games and encouraging others to do the same to send a message since we get stuck with Syracuse and Pitt, and skip divisional realignment when the opportunity presents itself. Once I calm down, I realize this is ridiculous. Maybe one day the ACC won’t be our problem, or perhaps our new part-time member will prefer a divisional alignment that coincidentally benefits us as well, but until that day……
I digress. I don't know about you, but I'm more excited about this Garnet & Gold Game than I was last year. Last year I believe many of us were mainly concerned to see how the O-Line managed against a beastly-loaded D. This year, there's a lot more obvious reasons to have interest. I'm very curious to see how the quarterbacks look, and I know many on here will be debating afterward on whether Clint is still the starter going into fall. I want to see how Coker and Winston look. Will the gap be filled after the loss of DHop? How will Coach Trickett have the O-Line looking? What will the new Defense look like under Pruitt, and with the loss of Bjoern, Carradine, Rhodes and others?
Back to one of my original questions: do you live somewhere relatively close to southeast Alabama, and would attend the Garnet & Gold Game if you had a ride, or had someone to go with? Here’s how I might can help. I have a group of people going. We’re going to caravan to Tallahassee on April 13th for the Garnet & Gold Game. Any Seminole is welcome to come. Don’t need a ride, but want to go? Come on, bring your own vehicle. If you would be willing to let someone else ride with you - that would be appreciated, but not required if you don’t want to. I'd like to see others put together groups as I'm doing and get as many people there as we can. I realize we're not going to fill the place up and get the place as electric as a night game with Gameday, but that doesn't mean we can't try. Let’s put some butts in the seats. Go Seminoles, and I’ll see you all at the Doak on April 13th!
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