Florida State looked like it might continue its
extraordinarily lucky magical run of play since the dawn of 2014 for a little while on Thursday evening. It was 18-13 at halftime, and it could've been 18-16, had Roberto Aguayo — the best kicker I've ever seen in college football — not doinked a field goal to end the first half, squandering a chance to capitalize on Marcus Mariota throwing a pick, and finally matching Jameis Winston's interception total from the first quarter against Florida in his 2014 Heisman campaign.
And even after Dalvin Cook fumbled away the first Seminoles drive of the second half, Florida State came back, cutting a 12-point lead to five points with a touchdown.
Then Oregon scored again. And then this happened:
And with the most hilarious play of Jameis Winston's life done, the floodgates were open. Oregon would score the game's next 20 points — and its final 34 — and handed FSU a gloriously ignominious 59-20 defeat.
This was the worst thrashing in a Rose Bowl since the first one, a 49-0 Michigan shutout of Stanford. It tied the FSU school record for points allowed — which could have fallen had the 'Noles not blocked an extra point. It was FSU's worst bowl loss ever — no surprise, even though the Seminoles did lose by 32 in another bowl game with national title implications, once upon a time — and the worst FSU loss since a 47-0 bludgeoning at Miami in 1976, Bobby Bowden's first year in Tallahassee. It trumped the margin of victory from every single Bowl Championship Series game.
This was, plainly, an epic faceplant. And with most of the sporting world set to mock Florida State — a program that has been winning for long enough that any loss would produce schadenfreude, the Seminoles' cast of prominent principals who have dwelled in the penumbra of potential moral turpitude, and a fan base that has, by and large, handled its spectacular success with things other than grace and humility — the knives were out on Thursday.
And as the 'Noles suffered a death by a thousand
turnovers cuts, the wits of the Internet stabbed Caesar as well as they could.
Some of the image manipulation was tremendous.
Ooh, you almost had it, Jameis. Gotta be quicker than that. pic.twitter.com/a7JZoKg5Sz— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) January 2, 2015
If only Jameis Winston had seen that banana peel. http://t.co/YvhIsGCo5m— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) January 2, 2015
Too soon? pic.twitter.com/jf6Cffq9lb— Tim (@MadeByTim) January 2, 2015
That last one, with a picture of Winston shushing Miami's crowd from earlier this season, is a fantastic table-turn.
The jokes were cunning, and cutting.
It was at this moment that Jameis Winston realized he fucked up pic.twitter.com/sAHYgO3ysT— Steamin Willy Beaman (@JordyLamb) January 2, 2015
When you run into Dr. Robotnik and lose all ya rings pic.twitter.com/LrKUeMkDbB— Trill Withers (@TylerIAm) January 2, 2015
The Vines were strong.
Florida fans got some revenge.
Florida receiver — and Tallahassee native — Raphael Andrades was one of the first to note that two Florida State players blocked each other, using the frog and tea emojis to stand in for the haughty "But that's none of my business" meme.
This got written up all over, just like Florida's infamous instance of players blocking each other against Georgia Southern.
Except FSU appeared to do it twice. In the same game. Even better, right?
Not once but twice in the SAME game pic.twitter.com/aPCufpF3OD— I Hate FSU (@IHateFSU) January 2, 2015
That wasn't true, alas: Multiple screencaps of the same block happened to go viral at the same time.
Still, we reacted with good humor to FSU's tribute to the originators.
Oh, and the score midway through the fourth quarter? We noticed that, too.
C'mon FSU D. Get a stop... I kinda like this 52-20 score.— James Bates (@jb8sy) January 2, 2015
Oregon should score one more touchdown and make the PAT, in my opinion.— Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) January 2, 2015
Plus, #FSUTwitter got a dose of its own medicine.
One of Tomahawk Nation's cast of dozens of writers — one of the ones who has already blocked me, not one of the ones yet to do so — tweeted a screencap of the referee who fell on Winston's fumble grinning as if he were laughing at FSU, and not the play.
And then he realized the error of his ways.
I shouldn't have tweeted that pic. Woof, my mentions full of mouth breathers and schadenfreude.— jmnpb996 (@jmnpb996) January 2, 2015
Because of this my mentions are useless tonight, which sucks. https://t.co/0KN4bY1C0n— jmnpb996 (@jmnpb996) January 2, 2015
So he deleted the picture. Basically, he quit.
It was fitting on a night when even the team's greatest defender admitted that Florida State quit.
And FSU's pretty much quit— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) January 2, 2015
And given past glee from FSU coaches about making 'em quit, well, I think we can take a little joy from this loss.
You know, just a little.
It was kind of unbelievable, after all.
And then there was the ugly reaction: Oregon players chanting "Nooo means nooo" to the tune of FSU's "War Chant."
They weren't the only ones to do that yesterday — Jezebel rounded up tweets noting that Oregon fans did the same in the stands. And I'd wager that at least a few fans at every football game involving FSU have done the same since at least the Seminoles' trip to Gainesville in 2013. (I personally heard the chant there, despite having pleaded with Florida fans not to try to mock Winston with the chant for his alleged rape of a woman in December 2012.)
People who have mocked FSU in this fashion — and who have mocked Winston with jokes making consent a punchline — may think that they're taking the piss out of the powerful, but the unavoidable truth is that the jokes only work by turning something heinous into something humorous in grotesque fashion. Jezebel's Anna Merlan basically nails it here: "These dudes were gloating, and they used an anti-rape chant to do it. This is what trivializing sexual assault looks like, just in case we needed yet another reminder."
Let's put aside the fact that Oregon, of all athletic programs, shouldn't really be trying to score points when it comes to sexual assault by athletes: No one should be trying to score points like this. Yes, it is frustrating to know that Winston's alleged crime, like many alleged sexual assaults, was mishandled, perhaps inappropriately, by both Tallahassee police and Florida State; yes, much of the schadenfreude about FSU losing is about fulfilling a (flawed) narrative arc of supposed crooks and alleged "bad people," Winston most prominent among them, getting their comeuppance.
But the only thing a mocking "No means no" chant accomplishes is undermining of the most foundational idea of sexual consent. Oregon is right to discipline the players involved, and we should all be swift to condemn rape being made into a punchline.
Oh, and as for Florida State players not shaking hands: I was at the 2013 Sugar Bowl. I think I could count the number of Florida players who stayed after the game to pay their respects to Louisville on two hands. Players shaking hands after bowl games, when there are trophy presentations to do (because sponsors need to appear on air), is somewhat rare; faulting FSU players for not doing what most players do is less about FSU than some imagined need to make those handshakes mandatory.
There are plenty of genuine reasons to take issue with FSU. Ginned-up bullshit from an ESPN talking head need not be one of them.