2010 Gator Bowl Recap Bennett Style
Posted by William Kristoph
(Note from NoleCC: This is a guest post submitted to ScalpEm.com by Bennett. Check him out on Twitter http://twitter.com/ben_nett where he comments on tons of stuff from FSU sports to Pop Culture.)
2010 Gator Bowl
The 2010 Gator Bowl created memories for thousands of people. Including me. ItÂ has created a new memory for the most of the 84,129 fans that made the trip fromÂ all across the nation to see this game. And we all know the reason that theyÂ came from everywhere: the man that recruited them and made them known in theÂ football world, the man who after his last game has won an ourstanding 389 gamesÂ in his career, the man that built Florida State University: Bobby Bowden. ThoseÂ are just a few of the many accomphishments he has achieved in his career, oneÂ that if any other people have a chance to have a better one than him, you canÂ count them on one hand.
Every single person, the City of Jacksonville, theÂ people putting the Gator Bowl on, the fans, the current players of FloridaÂ State, the former players of Florida State (over 300 who played under CoachÂ Bowden) and even West Virginia University. Every single one of these people madeÂ this moment special. First, the city of Jacksonville. Before the game, the groupÂ I was with for the game arrived at the stadium. As most who went to the gameÂ expirienced, it was a little too rainy and cold to stand outside and enjoy beingÂ there for 4 hours. So we made the walk from the stadium over to downtownÂ Jacksonville to camp out in the Hyatt for a little just to warm up and getÂ organized before going into the stadium (unfortunatally, it was the WestÂ Virginia hotel, so I was surrounded by Mountaineers!) Everything went fine,Â though. But that’s not how the city of Jacksonville helped make the day of BobbyÂ Bowden’s final game special.
As I walked from the stadium to the Hyatt, thereÂ were alot of buildings and businesses that lined the streets. And I would sayÂ 90% of them had some sort of banner, sign, or gesture to thank Coach Bowden. IÂ thought this was great. Probably most of the owners who put the various signs upÂ had no affiliation with the team, the university, or anything about the FloridaÂ State Seminoles. But they all realized how much of an impact Bowden had on soÂ many things, and they put those signs up because they knew that. Some of themÂ probably didn’t want to, some of them might of even been a fan of another teamÂ that made them strongly dislike the Noles. But they still knew that it was theÂ right thing to do for this great man, and for that they deserve aÂ congratulations.
For obvious reasons, the people who put on the Gator Bowl madeÂ this a special day. Before the game I bought the program that they were selling,Â but I didn’t even get a chance to look at it until after the game. And that’sÂ when I realized how good of a job they did of thanking Bobby Bowden for all hisÂ accomplishments in the program. And I still haven’t looked through the wholeÂ thing. And obviously, they came through in the pregame ceremony by showing theÂ cool look-back at Bobby Bowden’s career and pulling some strings with the localÂ Jacksonville car dealership to give him a brand new car (although they probablyÂ could have done better than a Camry. Haha!) But all in all the Gator Bowl did aÂ good job of fulfilling Bowden’s wish by having his last bowl game in Florida vsÂ his former team, West Virginia. And they did a great job of making the game forÂ Bowden memorable.
I can’t say enough about the fans. They went above and beyondÂ on getting to this game. And when they got there, they weren’t grumpy or anxiousÂ for the game or only came for the game then left. They were in the parking lotÂ early in the morning, many showing up for the Bobby Bowden walk-in to theÂ stadium, many tailgating, and all if them being very nice to each other. We wereÂ waiting in a huge line to get into the stadium (before we found a shorter one)Â and while we were waiting an FSU tailgater offered us free access to all ofÂ their food and drinks! I also loved all the signs people made having phrases forÂ the letters CBS, or just signs that were saying how much they love Coach Bowden.Â My favorite was the one of the ones with phrases for the letters CBS, and theyÂ had it hung on a fence before the game. At the top it said “Going Out…” AndÂ then for the letters CBS it said “Coach Bowden Style.” I thought that was reallyÂ cool.
But beyond how nice they were, the effort they put in to show theirÂ appreciation, the most important thing that they did was simple: they went toÂ the game. The total attendance for the game was 84,129; Looking at the croud, IÂ would say 65,000+ were supporting Florida State. The fact that so many came toÂ Jacksonville from everywhere and had the whole stadium looking mainly garnet wasÂ a salute to Bobby Bowden in a way many people didn’t think was. It was nice toÂ see so many fans, after the struggles to put people in the stands for the lastÂ two home games of the season for FSU, show up and stay to watch Bobby BowdenÂ walk off the field, address the crowd, and recieve the Gator Bowl trophy afterÂ the game. That made me feel very good as a Seminole fan seeing all the fans doÂ that.
The current players at Florida State were one of the biggest roles inÂ making Bobby Bowden’s last game special, and they pulled through big time. TheÂ team indeed played great in the BYU game, but given the circumstances that wereÂ on the Gator Bowl and all the pressure that the players probably felt wasÂ resting on their back, I have no doubt or regrets in saying that this was by farÂ the best performance by the Seminoles this season. If every team played likeÂ their record-setting coach who built their university was coaching his lastÂ game, there would be 30 undefeated teams in college football. And it was aÂ complete team effort. Every single player on the team had somewhat of aÂ contribution to the win. But there are three main players who really left everyÂ single thing on the field, gave their all and more, and each knew at theÂ beginning of the game they weren’t going to let Coach Bowden lose his last game.
And they are: EJ Manuel. He had already started three games for the Noles, but IÂ would put money on thinking this kid was nervous out if his mind before the game. But he stayed cool throughout the game, made big plays, and was the leaderÂ of this team to bring them to victory. He was awarded the Gator Bowl’s MostÂ Outstanding Player award, and he deserved it, but I think that there were twoÂ other players that might have deserved it more:
Jarmon Fortson. He had 3 or 4Â great catches that were OK throws by Manuel, but he caught them with pureÂ effort. He also caught one or two short balls, and made something out of himÂ because he put the effort into it. I’m pretty sure we’ll all remember his oneÂ handed catch as one of the best catches we’ve seen, especially if you wereÂ there. That ball was way overthrown, and was on its way to being intercepted.Â But he went up and changed people’s couple of words on him from “Can’t catch aÂ ball” to “Did you see that great catch he made?” And deservingly so. Me and theÂ people by us were freaking out, jumping up and down looking at each other thinkÂ ”Did you see that?” and “I can’t believe he caught that!” As we screamed just byÂ impulse “Oooh!!! Oohhh!!!” Some people were probably saying the catch was luckÂ or something ridiculous like that, but honestly, if Coach Bowden wasn’t coachingÂ his last game, I don’t think Fortson would have made that catch. And if youÂ believe that, it’s great to know that the Seminoles players cared about BobbyÂ Bowden so much that they can make plays for him that they hadn’t made at anyÂ other time in the season.
And last but definitely not least, Greg Reid. AfterÂ the game he played, I don’t think anybody would have been surprised if they gaveÂ him the MVP of the Gator Bowl to him. Greg Reid played as good of a game, andÂ probably better, than any Seminole has played in the last 3 years. He was givenÂ very few oppurtunities to make a play or help his team, and every singleÂ oppurtunity he got he ceased. Most of the time the West Virginia kicker kickedÂ the ball away from him or the Mountaineer punter punted the ball away from him.Â But every time the ball did come to him, he made something out of it. He tookÂ two within 20 yards of a touchdown! Heck, one of the ones he took inside the 20Â was off of a squib kick! And he played great on defense too. He made a huge playÂ in the 4th quarter by getting to the quarterback and knocking the ball down. AndÂ after everything, Greg Reid has NFL talent, and if he wanted to, he could enterÂ the NFL Draft this season and be picked in the 1st round. But hopefully forÂ Florida State, he’ll stay in Tallahassee and go to school, because they could noÂ doubt use his big plays for the next three years. Great job Greg, great job.
TheÂ fans definitely did a great job of getting a ton of fans to the game, but allÂ the former players of Bobby Bowden who came to the game might of gave them a runÂ for their money on which group had a better turnout. 300 plus players- wow.Â That’s great. You see how much Bowden did to people who had never even beenÂ coached by him, which is the majority of us. And look how much we care aboutÂ him. These guys obviously thought he was a great coach (which he obviously was)Â and- there’s really not much to say about this. The fact that 300 and more ofÂ them came to this game should say enough.
And last but not least, probably theÂ only people who pulled out the short end of the stick in Bowden’s finale, WestÂ Virginia University. If I was on their team and I knew how much everyone on theÂ opposing side was anticipating this game and how hungry the players were to sendÂ Coach Bowden out on a win, I would not go into the game with the mindset thatÂ WVU will win. But they accepted the invitation to play in the bowl, and theyÂ came. Bobby Bowden couldn’t have gone out on a win, obviously, if the NolesÂ didn’t have an opponent to beat. And West Virginia fans, you probably feel likeÂ you didn’t have anything to do with Bobby Bowden’s last game being special, butÂ you did. Bowden even kind of said it when he said he was nostalgic when he heardÂ WVU’s fight song. Thanks for coming to play FSU and everything else you did.Â Plus, I liked the thank you page you put in the Gator Bowl program to BobbyÂ Bowden!
This article was a thank you to Bobby Bowden, but mostly, everyone.Â Thanks for the memories, 2010 Gator Bowl, and everyone who helped make them. GoÂ Noles.