Granted it was only a Spring Saturday in both Tallahassee and Gainesville, but for the Seminoles and the Gators fan bases, they needed it.
Willie Taggart came from his one season at Oregon (and previously USF) promising to put some “pep back in the step” of everything associated with FSU, particularly after 2017 petered out with a 7-6 year.
And so far, his biggest accomplishment over his first five months is that he has rallied everyone from alumni, to students, to a mass of former players to get back involved with the program.
Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium was proof.
First, in comparison to last April and around 10,000 Noles fans that came to Jimbo Fisher’s final Spring Game, FSU announced that they not only sold over 40,000 tickets, but with students (who were free) included, Saturday had over 53,000 in the house.
Take a look at what “revival” looks like:
— Karen (@TroeUwaii) April 15, 2018
Further, and this is equally impressive, Taggart lobbied and worked hard to get former players to embrace the Seminoles efforts, again. And that, too was a rousing success, as a turnout of over 300 strong of former Noles jammed the sidelines and the end zones to be close to it all Saturday.
Here’s an interesting perspective from FSU radio broadcaster Tom Block:
I've been to every FSU spring game, or most anyway, since '89. Nothing like yesterday has ever happened. There was plenty of buzz in '13 for Jameis, but that was for 1 player. This is for the whole enchilada.
— Tom Block (@_TomBlock) April 15, 2018
Meanwhile in Gainesville, Dan Mullen’s attempt to bring Gator fans back around the program was also successful on Saturday. Their “Pack the Swamp” movement has been ongoing for the last month, and as we wrote, Mullen even took two going personally to fraternities and sororities over the past couple of weeks recruiting students to come back to the games.
The first indication that his campaigning was having a positive effect came prior to the spring game from one of the Gators long time beat writers:
Huge Gator Walk crowd today outside The Swamp. Bigger than during the regular season last fall.
— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) April 14, 2018
Then once the crowd began to pour into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium it was obvious that there was a spark back, even, again, in a Spring game situation.
The Gators also announced over 50,000 at their game Saturday and this look at the Swamp verifies that the Orange and Blue faithful are embracing what the former Mississippi State head coach (and Florida offensive coordinator) is trying to instill:
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) April 14, 2018
So while the results on the field Saturday aren’t significant themselves, no one can deny the two programs that have won a combined four national championships this century demonstrated that they have rejuvenated most of their fan bases.
And that’s good for the state and the sport of college football.
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