Games We Wish Twitter Was Around For

Well, the Twitter-verse was buzzing last night. Klay Thompson sent social media into frenzy with his 37 point performance in the 3rd quarter of the Warriors’ win over the Kings. Klay set an NBA record and he set fire to our phones, laptops, and tablets.
This got me thinking. What did we do before social media when amazing things happened in sporting events? Did we just read about it in the paper the next morning and then chat about it at school, lunch, or the water-cooler? The instant gratification of being able to talk with hundreds of fans about a sporting event is one of the neatest things about social media, Twitter specifically, in my opinion.
So, my immediate question after Thompson’s performance was, “If I could see Twitter’s reaction for any “Pre-Twitter” game, what would it be?” Twitter was founded in March of 2006. So, I posted this question online and got some good answers. In no specific order, here is my list of the top 10 games I’d love to see try to break the internet.

1. Miracle On Ice

On February 22, 1980, the United States defeated Russia to advance to the Gold Medal Game in the 1980 Olympics. “Do You Believe in Miracles” would have probably been trending for the next week. This game was arguably the greatest sports victory in any sport in America. The reaction for this would have been incredible.

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2. The Play

In 1982 Cal and Stanford faced off. Neither team had a particularly great season, but the winner would have bragging rights for another year. After Stanford kicked a FG with less than 5 seconds left, they kicked off to the Golden Bears. 5 laterals later, the band on the field, and one of the greatest sports calls of all time, Cal was in the end zone and had miraculously come away with the win.

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3. The 2004 ALCS

I couldn’t just pick one game here. The meltdown by the Yankees and the comeback by the Boston Red Sox would have been something trending on Twitter all the way through November. You know the story. New York held a 3-0 lead in the series and led in the 9th inning of game 4. The Red Sox won two walk off games in games 4 and 5. Curt Schilling played through a tough injury in game 6 and the Sox blew the Yankees out in game 7. So many things to talk about in this 4 game stretch.

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4. Kobe Bryant goes off for 81 points

I chose this because it was televised. Wilt scored more, but since there’s no live copy of that, it would have been impossible for people to know about it. Kobe’s performance was live for the world to see. Shot after shot after shot just kept falling into the basket. This would have set a buzz that would have been a lot of fun.

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5. The Tuck Rule Game

There are a lot of things about this game that would have made it fun for Twitter. First of all, who doesn’t love a snow game? This game was just short of a blizzard. We all know what happened. Tom Brady pump faked. He got hit and dropped the ball. What was originally ruled a fumble was reversed to an incomplete pass. The Tuck Rule was born. The reaction to this would have been similar to Dez Bryant’s catch which was reversed in the Cowboys/Packers game this year. Madness.

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6. Steve Bartman becomes a legend… for the wrong reason.

If you think about it, Bartman is so lucky that Twitter didn’t exist when this happened. With the Cubs leading 3-0 in the 6th game of the series and 3-2 in that series, Bartman deflected a ball that Moises Alou was trying to catch in foul territory. Just after that, the Cubs scored 8 runs, won the game, and the series. Bartman had to be escorted away and one would think he kept a pretty low profile in Chicago after that event. Steve Bartman would have been trending for all the wrong reasons if Twitter was around.

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7. The “Non” Push-Off

Game 6. Bulls vs. Jazz. Michael Jordan hit the game winner with 5.2 seconds left. There appeared to be a slight push off, but nothing was called. The Bulls held on for a win after John Stockton missing on a potential game winning 3-pointer. So much would be discussed here. MJ’s 6th and final ring. The game winning shot. The non-call on the potential push off. It would have made for some interesting social media for sure.

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8. The 2006 Rose Bowl

It has been dubbed by many as the “Greatest College Football Game of All Time.” The excitement from this game and all of the stars who showed up so big was magnificent. Twitter was created just a few short months later. But, oh how I wish it would have been around as Vince Young ran towards the corner of the end zone and sealed the victory for the Longhorns.

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9. The Choke at Doak

This game was one that many would have probably turned Twitter off early in the 2nd half. But, for those who decided to continue following (live and on Twitter) were in for a treat. Florida led 31-3 heading into the 4th quarter. The complaining from #FSUTwitter would have been some of the worst that we’ve ever seen. But, after the Noles rolled for 28 straight points, the trolling that would have gone on towards UF fans would have been remarkable.

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10. The Shot – Duke vs. UK

The game itself was good enough to spark the energy of Twitter. 200+ combined points. Overtime. Duke. Kentucky. This game was everything you could want as a college basketball fan. Heck, you couldn’t ask for anything more as a sports fan, in general. But, the end of the game would have sent shockwaves through social media. Duke trailed 103-102. Grant Hill’s full court pass to Christian Laettner was caught. There was a turn and a dribble. Then, Laettner hit a shot that will forever be remembered. He sunk the bucket and Duke won 104-103. Two games later, the Blue Devils won the title. But, it wouldn’t have been possible without the heave and the hoop.

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As much as the pain of 59-20 hurt, it will never compare with the joy that 29-0 brought

Let’s be honest. The way it ended was awful. It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. It was anything but joy. Maybe the worst part is that though the score was hilariously out of hand, the Noles honestly had a chance in the game. Missed opportunities in the first half kept them from having a lead going into halftime. Five turnovers in the second half (which led to 34 Oregon points) killed any chance of a comeback. Though the score didn’t indicate it, FSU had every chance in the world to win that game.

But, one loss has never and will never define the Florida State Football team. In all reality, there have been much worse losses in the last several years. But, we won’t be revisiting those today, thankfully.

Instead of the tragic ending, I chose to focus my attention on the other side of 29-1. I tend to be a more positive person. I see the glass half full almost all of the time. In sports, especially college football, I think we focus too much on “What have you done for me lately?” We get too caught up in what is going on right now; to step back and truly appreciate positive that happened.

I, for one, do not fall into this category. I have always thought of myself as pretty level headed, but I don’t even think one needs to be to step back and admire what FSU was able to do. I don’t need to run through the highlights of the last two seasons for you to, once again, be made aware of them. You know what the Seminoles did. You know the records. You know the trophies. You know the championships. You know the fun. You know the good times. You know the hard times. You know the perseverance. You know the winning.

Well, I propose this to you. Great times are head for FSU football; times that will dwarf the hurt that the Rose Bowl caused. But, it goes both ways. Not only will the near future outshine the present, but so does the recent past. So, I leave you with this thought:

“As much as the pain of 59-20 hurt, it will never compare with the joy that 29-0 brought.”

For that, FSU football, we thank you.

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Every winning streak starts with a loss.

November 24th, 2012. That was the date on the calendar the last time Florida State lost a football game. 676 days ago. A period time that feels like an eternity. People have met, gotten married, and started a family in that span of a time. It had been that many days since the Florida State Seminoles had lost a football game. That streak of undefeated days ended tonight. Admittedly, in embarrassing fashion. But, what a streak it was.

29 games. That’s phenomenal. No matter how you slice it, it’s absolutely remarkable. If you are a Florida State football fan that is reading this, you are so lucky to have witnessed this. If you are not a Florida State fan, you can’t deny the greatness of the feat that this team accomplished.

The games were won in a myriad of ways. One year, blowing teams out. The next, struggling weekly, but always finding a way to come away with the victory. Tonight, that wasn’t the case. Tonight, the team who always seemed to find a way to win, couldn’t pull one more rabbit out of their hat.

It is absolutely soul-crushing to lose a game like FSU lost tonight. But, after winning every game for two full calendar years, the loss that ends your run is going to be excruciating.

Let’s be honest, FSU is no media darling. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a team hated or scrutinized as much as the Noles have been over the last couple of years. The off the field issues, combined with how much the Noles have won, and the monster that is #FSUTwitter have led to FSU being vilified by much of the media.

But, I sit here today, and want you to know that I have NEVER been more proud to be a Florida State Seminole. The pain and disappointment are absolutely horrifying. But, we lost to a better team. What can you do? I have no complaints. I am so blessed to be an FSU fan.

I can’t complain about one thing when it comes to FSU Football.  I got to witness 10 of the 29 games we won on the streak, live and in person. I was able to see us welcome back Bobby Bowden before the NCST game last year. I was able to see a primetime beat down of Miami. I got to travel across the country to see my Noles win it all in Pasadena, which highlighted my sports fandom. I was able to take a road trip to Dallas to see my Noles play in Jerry’s World. I got to see FSU win some of the craziest games ever against Clemson and Notre Dame. I watched Jameis Winston’s final 3 home games against UVA, BC, and UF. I saw game #29 in the streak up in Charlotte, which was a wonderful experience.

There were some pretty funny times as well. I got a pretty good kick out of the Gators Jello Troll that even ESPN got in on. The #BlameJameis hashtag was absolutely remarkable. Heck, that one even got picked up by Rolling Stone. #FSUTwitter was a heck of a lot of fun, as well. You all are the best. Lastly, trolling countless haters after FSU wins was almost as good as the wins themselves.

All in all, this sucks. It’s not fun. There’s no joy in it. However, I’m so dadgum proud to be a Florida State Seminole. I’m proud to be a booster. I’m proud to donate money to the program. I’m proud of all of the times that we’ve come out on top. I’m proud of what this school represents. I’m proud of the good things that this team and athletic department do behind the scenes. I’m proud of the things that ESPN, the New York Times, Michelle Beadle, Bill Plaschke, Pat Forde, and all the media hacks try to spin negatively. I’m proud of the character that is represented by our coach and his incredible family. I’m proud of the things that our school does for the Seminole Tribe. I’m proud to wear Garnet. I’m proud to tear up when I hear the Hymn. I’m proud of #FSUnited. I’m proud of #FSUTwitter (usually.) I’m proud to smile big after wins and I’m proud to cry hard after losses. I’m proud of two straight undefeated regular seasons. I’m proud of the number 29. I’m proud of a National Championship. I’m proud of 3 straight ACC Championships. I’m proud of the Heisman Trophy… and the kid who won it. I’m proud of the haters. I’m proud of the fire and the passion that a 20 year old kid played with game in, and game out. I’m proud that Jameis and the rest of the boys brought that swag back to Florida State. I’m proud today. I was proud yesterday. And you can bet your house on the fact that I’ll be proud tomorrow.

A streak ended tonight. But, every winning streak has to start with a loss. A new streak starts in 246 days. Gonna be fun.

As always, GO NOLES!!!

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From 2,723.3 to 1

Twenty-seven Hundred Twenty-three and Three Tenths. That’s a lot. No matter what you’re counting, that’s a lot. Last year, FSU broke the record for points in a season by scoring 723 total points. 2,723.3 dwarfs that number like AT&T Stadium dwarfs Doak Campbell. What’s the significance of that number? It’s the number of miles that my wife and I drove (round trip) to be in Dallas for Opening Night.

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Eighteen Hundred Fifteen. In the year 1815 the Battle of New Orleans happened. My wife and I happened to stop there on our way to Dallas. Here’s a neat picture of us in front of Jackson’s statue in the middle of the square.

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Sixteen Hundred. On Friday night we went to Billy Bob’s for the Seminole Boosters party. We had a great time. We walked outside at one point and saw a huge bull. They were letting people sit on it for $10. Being the sucker that I am, I paid for my wife to do it. The bull weighed roughly 1,600 pounds. Here’s a link of her doing the Chop, while on the Bull.

Fifteen Hundred Fourty-one. Fourteen Hundred Fifty-six. The Amway Coaches Poll (1541) and the AP Poll (1,456) both stayed true in ranking FSU as the consensus college football #1 again for the 2nd week of the season. The team’s quest to go “Wire to Wire” has stayed intact.

One Thousand Eighty. There were times that I found it difficult to watch the football game on the field due to the full 1080 HD screen that hovered over it. This thing is ginormous. I was in awe just beholding it. Look up the word beauty in the dictionary. I’m sure a picture of it will be there.

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Six Hundred Fourty-five. It had been 645 days since FSU’s last loss. (Now up to 649, by the way.) That’s purely a stunning amount of days. (Compare that to 334 days since the team from Gainesville actually won a game.)

Three hundred Seventy. In one of the worst most shaky games of his college career, Jameis Winston was still able to put up his ridiculous video game numbers. He passed for 370 yards. He threw more passes Saturday night than he ever had in an FSU game. His completion percentage was above average but not typical Jameis. However, he shred Oklahoma State’s defense for nearly 4 Benjamins along the way.

Two hundred Thirty-seven. It had been 237 days since the Seminoles had taken the field and matched up against another team. New and old faces alike had worked through a long summer. It was an offseason in which anticipation and expectations were at an all time high. The 7 months and 25 days ticked by ever so slowly. But, as Roberto put toe to leather on Saturday night, all was right in the World again.

Eighty. Time and time again, when FSU needs a big play there is always one player to which they can turn. Rashad Greene came out of this game as, maybe, the brightest spot. He was fantastic. He pulled in 11 receptions for 203 yards. He was targeted 20 times. He had a 51 yard catch and run that sealed the game for FSU in the late stages. Like he did in the Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, and Auburn games, he made a big play when it counted most and FSU won.

Twenty-eight. When you’re the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, you’re expected to be perfect all of the time. You don’t get a pass on forced throws. Your mistakes are magnified. Jameis Winston certainly wasn’t perfect. But, this run may have been the most exciting of his career (I know, the Boston College Hail Mary.) I’ll shut up about it and just let you watch. (Winston’s Heisman Run)

Eight. Also at Billy Bob’s we got a chance to see Tracy Lawrence. I’m a big country music fan so this was pretty neat to me. Tracy has had 8 number one hits in his career. He sang all of them on Friday night.

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Six. (This one is non-FSU related, so don’t kill me #FSUTwitter.) As you know, we did a road trip for this game. We stopped in New Orleans for a day. After leaving New Orleans, we decided to stop by LSU in Baton Rouge, which was about an hour away. Cara and I were in so impressed with Mike the Tiger. It’s the Sixth one they have had there. If you’re not familiar with his story, I’d suggest Googling it. Very neat. Here are a couple pictures of our time there.

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Five. While in Dallas, you have to EAT. They had some wonderful food. One of the more interesting places we stopped to eat was at a gas station called Fuel City Tacos. They had 5 different flavors, so we got all of them and split them. (Do it Big, right?) They were very good. Definitely suggest it if you’re in the area. (Also, another great place to eat is Joe T. Garcia’s. It’s in Fort Worth. They had some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life. Try it for sure.)

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Four. In Dallas, there is a mall called the Galleria. It’s a pretty neat mall that has 4 stories. It’s sort of high end. We really just went so that my wife could go ice skating. She’s a real champ at it and I’m….. well, I’m a great cheerleader.

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Three. The first thing we did in New Orleans was go to breakfast. This is another absolute must if you are in this city. We went to Café Du Monde for their beignets. OH. MY. GOODNESS. These were phenomenal. They were fried perfectly and then covered in a mountain of powdered sugar. They bring you 3 in a serving. But, I probably could have eaten 7 or 8 of them. So good!

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One. Saved the best for last. One is for so many things. First, one step down; one step closer to our ultimate goal. One is for the first trip to Dallas, but hopefully not the last. One is for Florida State’s current ranking in the polls. But, most importantly one is for 1-0. We came, we saw, we conquered. The Tampa to New Orleans to Dallas road trip was a successful one.

(Here are some other pictures from the trip that I figured I would share with you all.)

Fort Worth Stock Yards

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Got out to College Gameday when it was still dark outside.

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The College Gameday Crew.

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Massive Stadium

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Gosh, she’s so hot!

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Thanks for reading!

Go Noles,

TJ Pittinger (@TJ_Pittinger)

My Journey To The National Championship

As I sit here on this 2 hour flight from Kansas City to Houston, I think I am finally ready to put into words my experience throughout this past weekend. I’ll try to be as concise (and thorough) as I can. I’m not sure who will end up reading this, but even if it’s just me that this is for, I’m more than happy to write it out. So, here we go.

I was sitting at a friend’s house very early on Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida. I had to be in Orlando all day on Saturday for meetings and I was flying out of the Orlando airport the next morning, so Kyle said it’d be cool to chill at his place so I didn’t have to drive home and then back to Orlando. As we sat there on his couch, talking about the game that would take place on Monday night, I got an email from the airline. “Your flight has been cancelled.” No details. No explanation; just that message. I immediately told Kyle that I wanted to go to the airport to see what I could find. We got ready and left at 3 AM. Upon arriving at the Orlando airport, I learned that my flight from Orlando to Houston was still good, but that my flight from Houston to LA was no longer going. Anger, shock, disappointment, and fear struck my body. I had made all plans, spent all the time, invested all the money and this is how it would end.

I got to Houston as normally scheduled, and by the Grace of God, I got on a flight only 4 hours after I was originally supposed to leave Houston. The story of me getting on that sold out flight was pretty cool, also. I just kept complimenting the lady behind the counter and talking about the Lord and she said, “You know what? You’re so kind. Most people today are so mean and rude because of all of the cancellations. I’m going to give you a first class ticket on the next flight to LA, one just became available.” (This is free: Be nice to people, it helps in the long run.)

I landed in LA on Sunday (1/5) at around 4 PM. I went to Budget and picked up my rental car and headed out to a little town called Pico Rivera. I got to my hotel, which was a suite that had been upgraded without my knowledge as well.

At this point, I had been up since 7 AM on Saturday. The smart thing to do would have been to go lay down and get some rest for the big day that would happen on the morrow. However, this is not how I live. I bought a ticket and went to the Lakers. (When in So-Cal, do as the Southern Californians do.) I figured I’m only going to live once, so “Go Big or Go Home.” After my day of travel, going home was not an option.

I got a shower quickly and headed off to Downtown Los Angeles. I got to the game about 5 minutes before the tip. There were a ton of FSU and Auburn fans at the Lakers game, which meant a definite sellout. The environment at Staples Center is like no other NBA stadium. There’s an aura of being on hallowed grounds. The Lakers played well in quarters 1-3. It was a close game going into the 4th. However, Denver capitalized on many mistakes by the Lakers and ended up pulling ahead quite significantly in the final quarter.

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During the Lakers game, both the FSU War Chant and the “F-L-O-R-I-D-A-S-T-A-T-E” chant broke out. What a neat experience that was. FSU fans were taking over Staples Center, and I was right in the middle of it.

I left the game and headed back out to my hotel in Pico Rivera. Before I could go to sleep, I had to make one more stop. A trip to Los Angeles is not complete without at least one trip to In-N-Out Burger.  It was fantastic, and if you ever go to LA and do not go there to eat, you are missing something great.

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Back to the hotel around midnight, and finally to bed, after 42 hours without sleep. Sunday’s events were cool. But, I had no idea what was in store for me in the next 24 hours.

I woke up around 10 AM on Monday; Game Day baby! I had met up with a couple of FSU fans at my hotel that were headed up to the Stadium about the same time that I was. I asked if I could ride with them and chip in for parking. They were more than happy to allow me to ride, which meant I had to pay $10 in gas instead of $50, if I had to go by myself.

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We got to the Rose Bowl parking lot around 1:00 PM. Game time was a little over 4 hours from now. I walked up to the stadium and immediately was looking for the Crystal Ball that sat atop The Coaches’ Trophy. They were giving free pictures with it until 2 PM. I got there at 1:30 and they had already closed the line. I offered the security guard $50 to let me in, which he declined. But, as fate would have it, they let about 20 more people in line so that a few more people could take a picture with it. I was the first of those 20.

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After taking my picture with that trophy, I went to the Heisman House and took my picture with Jameis Winston’s Heisman trophy. Both were very neat experiences. After both of these events, it was time to head back to the car, change into my “game clothes,” and go back to the stadium for the game. I took off the “Title Bound” shirt that Cara’s mom got me for Christmas and put on the same clothes I’ve worn for the last several FSU games. White long sleeved undershirt, #5 FSU jersey, garnet FSU hat, and black sweat pants. It was time to head up to the stadium. I found a plug in and charged my phone up to about 80%, to take pictures and videos.

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Walking into the stadium and having my ticket scanned was a wonderful feeling. I was in, and I wasn’t leaving for many hours. By the time I got to my seat, the National Anthem was about to start. We won the toss, deferred, and kicked off. The game had begun.

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The game started slowly and we did not look good. I was sitting in the middle of Auburn’s section. (Earlier I had paid a scalper $50 to upgrade my ticket from the top row of the stadium to about 10 rows up.) The Auburn fans were very hospitable. They could have given me a ton of crap since I was the only one in garnet amongst all of the burnt orange and dark blue. But, they didn’t ever talk smack or treat me with any disrespect. I think that they knew that their lead was not safe, which would be proven true later.

Down 21-3, things were not looking great for the Noles. The fake punt got FSU’s crowd back into the game. Jimbo made the call of the game with his decision to go for it. We ended up getting a TD to cut the Auburn lead to 21-10 at the half.

In the 3rd quarter, we only managed a FG. However, our defense set us up with a chance to win the game by not allowing Auburn to score a single point  in that quarter. I truly think that the defense that we played in the 3rd quarter is a very underrated and underappreciated aspect of why we won the game. The offense hadn’t quite gotten going yet, but the star studded defense kept Auburn from scoring anything.

The 4th quarter was a wild one. We scored to cut the lead to 21-20. Then, our defense had a huge stop inside the 10-yard line to hold Auburn to a FG. The score was 24-20 Auburn with just under 5 minutes to go. Would this be Jameis Winston’s Heisman moment? Not quite. Kermit Whitfield took the next kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown and FSU had it’s first lead since the 1st quarter. The Auburn faithful were stunned and completely silent. Auburn got the ball back down 27-24. Nick Marshall made a nice play to break a tackled on a 3rd and long that kept their drive alive. Then, later, Trey Mason ran a 37-yard touchdown to the right side gave Auburn the lead 31-27 with 1:19 left on the clock.

Remember that team that hadn’t been tested all year? Remember that QB who didn’t have a Heisman moment? Remember that team that couldn’t come back if they were down late because they hadn’t done it before? Remember those players who just couldn’t compete with the Seriously Entitled Conference? Just checking to make sure.

That team got their test, That QB got his Heisman moment. That team came back even though they never had before. Those players showed the SEC Champs that they could compete with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Winston drove the team down for the winning score by completing short passes and taking what the Auburn defense gave him. One of those short passes turned into a 49 yard pass after Rashad Greene split two converging defenders. All of a sudden, the best team in the Nation had 21 yards separating them and the Crystal Ball. After a couple of short passes and an obvious Pass Interference call on Auburn, FSU was set up with 1st and Goal from the 2 yard line. 17 ticks remained on the clock. Auburn fans knew what was coming. FSU fans knew what was coming. The Nation knew what was coming. A pass from Winston to 6’5” Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left clinched the National Championship for FSU. 34-31 with 13 seconds left.

After an incompletion by Marshall, there were 3 seconds left in the season. A hook and ladder play that ended with Marshall throwing the ball back to Mason (who had blockers and a wall) was the final play of the game. Mason was tackled and the confetti rained down onto the field and into the crowd. It was over. All the work, all the travel, all the anticipation had paid off and we stood as kings of the college football world.

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After the game, I collected up a few souvenirs that people had left behind. I also asked a security guard to grab some of the grass from the turf for me and I also picked up some confetti. After the stadium had cleared, and everyone left, I headed back to the car. We went out that to downtown Pasadena and went to a post-game party with some boosters and alumni.

I went to bed that night at 3 AM. I got up the next morning and sat in LAX until 7:35 PM. I got on a flight from LAX to Kansas City. Went to the Sleep Inn and stayed the night. Got up this morning and am currently flying to Houston, and there I’ll get a flight to Tampa.

This trip has been unbelievable. I received so much support and love from so many friends, family, and strangers. I couldn’t have made this trip if not for a few people. If not for my Aunt Danielle, I could not have afforded flights to and from LA. She let me have a Buddy Pass, which allowed me to fly for nothing. I also have to thank my fiancée, Cara Brookshire. I am marrying her in 52 days and she was more than willing to give me up for a few days to be able to fulfill one of my dreams. Kyle let me stay at his place the night/morning before. He also drove me to the airport and helped me find a flight. My family was very supportive and constantly checked up on me since I was traveling alone.

I really don’t have words to adequately describe my emotions of this trip. It was the time of my life, so far. I wouldn’t trade a single part of it. I wouldn’t change the cancelled flight, waiting on standby, or the tired sickness I feel right now. It all worked together and I saw my favorite team in all of sports be crowned the Champions. It was something I’ll never forget.

Lastly, my favorite quote of the season was Jameis saying, “At Florida State, if we goin’ do it then, we do it big then.” Well folks, “We did it big then.”

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