Pride is enough of a prize when Miami, FSU play

The Florida State fight song is playing on a continuous loop in

the locker room. A flag bearing the Seminoles’ logo sways over the

practice field. After one workout this week, an equipment manager

put on the distinctive gold FSU helmet and nearly got beaten by a

group of angry players.

This was not a scene from Tallahassee, Fla. This is what’s been

happening on Miami’s campus this week.

”I hate it,” Hurricanes center Tyler Horn groaned.

No better way to get ready for the 56th installment of the

Miami-Florida State rivalry than stirring up some good,

old-fashioned feelings of disdain for one another.

The Seminoles and Hurricanes play on Saturday in a game that

will register nary a blip in the rankings, have no impact on the

national championship picture and probably won’t even mean much in

the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Doesn’t matter. When it’s `Noles-‘Canes week, pride is more than

enough to get both sides going.

”It’s fun to go into other people’s stadiums and have people

screaming at you, old ladies yelling obscenities to you,” Horn

said. ”It’s a lot of fun.”

The rivalry is as storied as just about any in college football.

Miami-Florida State has impacted the national championship race

maybe as much as any other annual game has in the past 30 or so


You’ve got the Wide Rights and Wide Left and Miami’s Micheal

Barrow just crushing Florida State’s Tamarick Vanover into the

Orange Bowl turf – ”Micheal Barrow separated him from his senses.

Wow!” was Keith Jackson’s call of that play. The Seminoles’

Stanford Samuels returned the favor years later when he drilled the

Hurricanes’ Roscoe Parrish hard enough to send him to Tallahassee

Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Taunting, finger pointing, name calling, just plain old

nastiness – and a whole lot of respect, too.

”You have a lot of guys saying, `I’m going to go to this

program to be better,”’ said Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner,

a South Florida native. ”You get to look and see what the guy who

you grew up with is doing at another program, and now that you are

facing each other, it’s about bragging rights. `Who’s going to win?

This is why I came here. My team is better than yours.’

”Just personal things like that are going to make this game


Florida State (6-3) has won its last four games and is flying

coming into the game, which will see every seat at Doak Campbell

Stadium jammed, but quickly dropped out of the national-title

picture earlier this season. Miami (5-4) is essentially out of any

big-time-bowl picture already and lamenting a slew of missed

chances that could have made this season one to fondly


There’s no trophy on the line, but there may as well be.

Make no mistake, Miami-FSU is always a championship game.

”Pride,” Miami linebacker Sean Spence said. ”This game has a

lot of history. I know growing up, I watched it and couldn’t wait

for it to come on. I don’t think the record or both of us not being

ranked in the Top 25 matters. This is a battle for Florida. This is

Miami against Florida State. This is my last time playing in Doak

Campbell Stadium, and it hasn’t hit me yet, but it’s going to be

something I want to treasure.”

Players on both sides, they’re talking it up.

Coaches on both sides, they’re leery of that. Neither Miami’s Al

Golden nor Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher want their players to make

more out of this game than necessary. In Miami’s case, Golden is

trying to take the approach that every week should be as important

as Florida State week.

”Everybody is flocking and talking about this game and I’m

trying to just keep them back on the process,” Golden said. ”It

can swing one way or the other. … To me, I’m just trying to

develop a consistent team and a consistent approach.”

Many recruits are expected at the game. Many of those recruits

are being wooed by both Miami and Florida State. Some may make

their decisions based on the outcome of the game – a few may decide

to commit to the winning team, a few may commit to the losing team

out of a belief that they can help that school more quickly.

No matter the reason, it’s still a colossally big deal to both


”These are still critical games and rivalry games and it’s

important to people who go to school here and people who are going

to go to school here,” Fisher said. ”That’s one thing that’s

unique about athletics is the rivalry games and it brings out the

best in you. It makes it very important.”

For Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe, Saturday will be a

bigger deal than usual.

Kehoe is in his first season back with the Hurricanes after a

storied quarter-century or so as part of the program, helping win

all five of Miami’s national championships. It hasn’t lost its

lure, and Kehoe insists that even the freshmen and newcomers to the

rivalry already understand what’s at stake, quipping that if they

don’t, ”somebody will hit them in the head with a spear” –

another nod to Florida State’s logo.

”These games are violent, it’s fast, it’s furious, it’s

frenzy,” Kehoe said. ”It’s everything you want in football. …

If you have a win against Florida State, how can you say you didn’t

have a successful year? It’s hard to put those two together. It’s

that important to us. It’s that important to them. I guarantee you

it is.”

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