I was lucky enough to go to a big football school so my experience with the game may be different from those who didn’t attend one. However if you’ve never been to a Rivalry Game in Tallahassee, or Happy Valley, or Eugene I am telling you right now go. The pageantry, intensity, and atmosphere that surround a major college football game is unlike any other sport here on earth. There are a lot of things wrong with our great sport but its flaws somehow get lost in memory like those of a high school girl friend.
I am a proud alumnus of the two-time National Champion, Florida State University. Our great school has produced 2 Heisman Trophy Winners, the most consecutive winning seasons, the most consecutive trips to a bowl game, and the legend of Bobby Bowden. I happened to attend as the Seminoles were digging their way out of a valley that plagued them in the mid-2000s, so it wasn’t always easy being a fan. However, there was nothing better than a Saturday game day.
Even though I was a college football fan before college, I fell in love with the game my freshman year. Waking up in my dorm and rolling out of bed to the sounds of the Warchant is something I miss every day. I would throw on a shirt and go prowling for beer, girls and food, and in Tallahassee there were plenty of all three. I was lucky enough to have a best friend, who being of like mindedness, made for the perfect fellow tailgate hopper. The best part was that every tailgate we raided, everybody was so nice to a couple 18 year olds with no money. Our only common denominator was the garnet and gold we sported.
Games were even better. The roar of the 83,000 fans crammed into The Doak with the chop going is a site that must be seen to be believed. Chief Osceola throwing the spear into the ground before a big game is still one of the most intense moments in all of sports (in fact FSU was fan voted as the #1 College Tradition hosted by ESPN). This moment is something that binds all Seminoles. In fact when my mom (a fellow alumnus) watched our Seminole Chief hand his ceremonial responsibilities over to the walking legend that is Bobby Bowden we both cried (admit it ‘Noles a lot of you did as well).
Florida State is not alone in the great tradition of college football and I know millions of people have had experiences like me. From Eugene, Oregon to Miami, Florida thousands of people each Saturday are experiencing this for the first time. The sense of community that inhabits a college town during a game day in unlike anything you can find in professional sport. It’s not the talent or the money or the battling to be an NFL prospect that makes the game so intense. It’s the personal attachment that you build with your school and is part of the reason I’m still proud to call myself a Seminole.