Yesterday and today, Florida State's campus offers welcoming assurance
By Charlie Barnes, Executive Director - Seminole Boosters
There are times when the spirit yearns to be renewed, the Human spark to be refreshed. For many Seminoles and for many Americans, this is such a time.
Our University and the cool green hills of Tallahassee has always been a place to nourish renewal of the spirit. On campus, yes, new buildings confuse the old familiar trails, but much of the core remains as it was for us, and for those who were here before us. Look at old photographs of Florida State University and Florida State College for Women students in an earlier day. The trees are still there; the same landscapes can be seen with brick and stone facades rising up in the distance, and we know those places. They were here before us. They welcomed and embraced us in our youth, and they will be here after us to warm the lives of men and women not yet born.
You may have walked down Landis Green to the Library at twilight. You may remember the buttery yellow light from the street lamps near the old Sweet Shoppe, or the sweet scent of cut grass on game day. The Marching Chiefs used to practice on their field near the stadium on Saturday mornings, and the thump of the drums and the brass could be heard across the campus.
You might recall a time when students gathered outside the locker room on Saturday to greet our football players as they came out after the game. Burt Reynolds was "Buddy" then, and just a regular guy. In the 1960s, T.K. Wetherell lived in Smith Hall and walked, perhaps as you did on bright days, to classrooms among the buildings that still stand in a broad apron down the gentle slopes from Wescott. I wonder how often in the past year he's stared out the window of his office in Wescott at Florida's Capitol looming on the next hill, and thought how comforting of the spirit it might be to just once stroll anonymously back along the old paths.
On a beautiful spring day in 1994, Jerry Kutz wrote of the joy he felt as he stood atop the grandstand at Dick Howser Stadium watching the #1 ranked Seminole baseball team trounce an ACC opponent, and turning his head to watch, at the same time, spring football drills being undertaken by the defending 1993 National Champions. As a fragrant breeze rose, he could see across Pensacola Street the magnificent, newly bricked grand towers of University Center glowing gold in the afternoon sun.
Where Wescott stands is the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida. Our architecture reassures us with timeless grandeur; its cool niches offer a calming languor letting us pause to breathe. We take time to remember all that this place has meant to us across our lives.
Our University leadership is in transition. Our alumnus-President - his football letter and Ph.D. parchment both garnished with the same garnet & gold colors - is stepping down. Our beloved football Coach, who will forever be identified with us as we will with him, is turning the pages of the final chapter. Our Hall of Fame baseball Coach came here in 1964 as a Seminole player and has been Head Coach for 30 years.
There is a lot of harsh noise about Florida State right now in the newspapers and on the Internet. Much of it is caustic and destructive but it will be endured. We've been through trying times before and emerged triumphant, and so we will again. Don't pay much attention to the noise. It will pass, and it will pass so soon that you may find you can't remember all the details a year from today.
In the National Championship game in the Sugar Bowl in 2000, I sat with a large group of friends, and we were very excited and animated as the game progressed early on. Our Seminoles jumped to a big lead over the hapless Virginia Tech Hokies.
The mood changed sharply as Virginia Tech fought back. If you recall, the third quarter was awful, shocking. Virginia Tech went ahead as the fourth quarter began, and our once-merry band of fans was raging against everything that seemed to be at fault with our Seminoles. Threats were made, and dark promises.
But one fellow kept smiling. He's a communications entrepreneur from Louisville, Ky., named Sherman Henderson. Sherm told everyone to be calm. "It's going to be all right," he said. "Trust me; we'll win."
Loud voices demanded to know, "Why?" Why did he think we were going to win?
Sherm just kept smiling, and said, "We'll win because we're too good to play that bad for this long."
And of course Sherm was right. What he said was right about the Sugar Bowl game nine years ago, and it's just as right today about our University. We are too good, too strong, and there are too many alumni who love the school for the current unpleasantness to have any lasting effect.
These are stressful days for many Americans. You may be one who counts yourself among that number. Know that here is always a place to welcome you. Return here, to the time machine that offers respite from the day's concerns. Enjoy once again the fellowship with your friends of college days. Refresh your spirits with the game and the colors and the noise and the grandeur and all the joy.
Come to the football games this fall. Close your eyes. Feel the sun and breathe in the sweet air. Life doesn't provide us so many days that we can afford to discard our memories of the best ones.
Life is good at your university. Come home again this fall.