One really underrated thing about Florida State being good at football over much of the last decade, and really good for that short span when Jameis Winston’s respect for Jimbo Fisher’s offense was greater than his respect for anything else in Tallahassee?
Florida State got the hate that Florida has gotten for the better part of three decades.
The Seminoles did plenty of other things worth ire, of course. Winston’s many publicized misdeeds, alleged and confirmed, earned him and his team plenty of spite, both fair and unfair. The rest of the Seminoles contributing to FSU’s rap sheet didn’t help. The new and terrifying cultural phenomenon of sneering dismissal of outrage and retrenchment in the reprehensible finding its patient zero in #FSUTwitter definitely didn’t help. And Florida State playing the 2014 season with a horseshoe up its hindquarters and rabbit’s feet around its neck was just infuriating.
But the Seminoles, at their peak, got hate for being good at football.
2012 FSU was the first Seminoles team to look like the old Seminoles teams under Bobby Bowden in a decade or more, even if its regular season ended with a bit of comeuppance. 2013 FSU was more than a match for the lowly ACC prior to Dabo Swinney’s fortification of Clemson, and got to annihilate the worst Florida team in decades to trick FSU fans into thinking it had achieved on an all-time level despite having to luck up and come back against the SEC’s second-best team to win a national championship. 2014 FSU spent an entire season playing chicken with karma and the point of inflection between being good and lucky before the bird came home to roost in a beatdown administered by Ducks.
(That metaphor totally works.)
And in that brief three-year period, before FSU went back to a 10-win season featuring massive faceplants and a lesser campaigns that led to the first departure of a national title-winning coach for another coaching job in decades, FSU was hated. The spite practically reached the levels reserved for Florida in the mid-2000s, and Miami before the Gators, and all three of the Sunshine State’s Big Three in the ‘90s.
This year’s game (noon, ABC) presents Florida with a chance to keep rising toward that level of national villainy.
The Gators beating this bad Florida State team — one that is 5-6 and not 2-9 because Samford stopped throwing effectively, Bobby Petrino threw when he shouldn’t have, and Steve Addazio punted when he shouldn’t have, mind you — will not make them villians, except to those wearing garnet-and-gold glasses that persuade them that FSU is somehow a hero. But this would be a start of a shift of power toward the Gators in the state, one that they could build on in years to come.
It would be a fifth win for Florida over Florida State with Dan Mullen on the Gators’ sideline, keeping his record against the Gators’ most proximate rival spotless.
It would bring vindication for Florida seniors who came to Gainesville with the Gators floundering and have finally been part of a turnaround that seems like it might have legs.
It would bring satisfaction to Florida fans who have dealt with the toxic mix of arrogance and stupidity that has infected the FSU fan base since the program’s Faustian bargain in 2013.
And it would be way, way better than the reverse.
For Florida, on this Saturday, it is time to snap.
Time to snap the streaks on the line.
Time to snap the spear.
Time to snap like the greatest villain of recent comic bookery, if possible, and to begin reshape this world in its image.
I’m not saying Thanos was right. But I am saying it can be cool to be the villain.