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    Posted July 16th, 2009: 3:09 PM

    FACT IS FEW PRIORITY SEATS OPENED THIS YEAR

    Florida State's ticket office has been hit with a record number of request s by Seminole season ticket holders to relocate their seats.  The list of seat change requests that is normally less than 200 pages was over 400 pages before the ticket office printer finally finished and better communication probably would have avoided the situation.  
        
    While season ticket sales do trail last year at this time by about eight percent, very few of the seats that have not been renewed are in the Priority 1 section.  In other words, fans were not turning in seats between the 30s; they were forgoing the less coveted variety.  In fact, the few Priority 1 seats that did come open have already been reassigned based on the point system.  
        
    Some of the confusion likely stems from positive information released last week about ticket sales.  Of the new ticket buyers for this season, 21 percent of them have never been ticket holders before.  That is encouraging news indeed as it shows the increase in new ticket holders is ahead of schedule.  However, the fact that season tickets trail last year's total left many with the impression that lots of room to improve seats occurred this year.   Both the ticket office and Seminole Boosters are doing all they can to help fans.  Seats have come open, but the vast majority of them are not an improvement for current season ticket holders.
        
    While on the subject of ticketing, I'm not sure FSU student or fans have grasped yet that we have changed the student seating in Doak Campbell beginning this year.  FSU's student body had been divided between the majority of the seats in the north end zone and some in the south end zone in the recent past and we learned that many students who received tickets in the south either did not come or squeezed into the north.  Well, the students will all sit together in the north beginning this year and we have switched them to general admission seating.  Our hope is that the G.A. seating will encourage students to get to the game early and increase the atmosphere and we know they will all enjoy sitting together.  However, the Student Seminole Boosters organization sent out an incorrect message when they said they will be the only student group allowed block seating.  No blocked seating will be reserved for any group so home field advantage will be at a premium this year.  I can't wait.


    Posted July 9th, 2009: 2:38 PM

    NIKE TO FINANCE OVERSEAS BASKETBALL TRIPS

    We are releasing today that our men's and women's basketball programs will make overseas tours to play games this summer.  The men will travel to Spain and about the same time the women will be taking off for South Africa. 

     It is important for Seminole fans and friends of Florida State University to be aware that the entire trip is being financed by Nike.  Given the historic economic crisis that all schools within our state university system are facing it is also important to know that it was not an option to suggest that our teams stay home and extract a cash value for the trip.  Nike's promotion of their products internationally ties closely with both college and professional team exposure.  We are pleased Florida State was selected for these high-profile trips and had we turned them down, which we have done in the past for other reasons, the tour would have gone to other college programs.

    Now that how they are getting there is clear, the additional practices and games could have a tangible effect on both the programs.  Coaches beg for extra practice time and the tours will give both staffs a significant amount of time to evaluate the progress of returning players and provide a head start in implementing offenses and defenses they may use during the season.  At a minimum, the tours will put both programs a good two-to-three weeks ahead of schedule when they begin fall practice in October.  The benefits could be even greater as Coach Hamilton alluded to the fact that there is a strong correlation between programs able to make summer trips and success the following season.

    Just ask yourself whether Mickey Andrews would like to put his young defense through a practice game or two this summer or if Mark Krikorian would like to gather his soccer team for an extra week of drills?

    The athletic experience will be great but the educational component will have an even more long lasting impact on the lives of the players and coaches attending.  It is certainly unlikely many of the players on the trip would be exposed to Spain or South Africa were it not for athletics and that is one of the undervalued experiences that major college athletics offers.


    Posted June 25th, 2009: 9:25 AM

    DOUGLAS HAS RIGHT ANSWER THEN AND NOW

    The NBA draft is right around the corner and I know all Florida State fans have their fingers crossed that beloved basketball star Toney Douglas will go high and to the right team.  All that is certainly out of the fans control and the draft is close enough that it is really out of Toney's control now, but a small pre-draft entry in The Sporting News last week proves that Toney's head is still in the right place.
                
    The on-line version of the magazine culled 8-10 potential NBA draft picks that ranged from those predicted to go among the first three or four picks to some that may not hear their names at all.  They asked each a few questions and posted the answers in a Q&A style that the publication pulls off so well.
                
    I'm sure Toney was asked more than one question, but the one they posted his answer for alongside eight other college basketball stars was..."what is your best memory from your college days?"  
                
    Some of the potential NBA selections pointed to games in which they scored their career high, several pointed to key wins that moved the team along in either conference or the NCAA tournament, still others talked about single moments.  Just one mentioned that his very best memory of college was the day he got his degree and that guy was our own Toney Douglas.
                
    Now, those of us along press row at the Tucker Center had enjoyable debates over the last three weeks of the season trying to assess Toney's place among the all-time greats in FSU history.  You should remember Toney was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.  He was named to the cliquish ACC first team and earned a spot on the All-America third team.  In broader terms, one could suggest that he revived Seminole basketball at a time when interest could have waned.  He certainly taught a young basketball team how to win and reminded an entire league what a complete player looks like.
                
    It is ironic and somewhat telling that a college senior would have to bring us all back to earth about what is really important.  He's got all the trophies mentioned above.  He played in the ACC Tournament Championship game with a grin on his face a mile wide.  He literally carried his team into the NCAA Tournament.  But by his own admission it was carrying his degree that has meant more to him than anything else.
                
    We all hope that the NBA is in the future for Toney Douglas, but if not he has done his part in getting the education that can provide for this future.  Seems Toney can still lead Seminoles even after his playing days.


    Posted June 18th, 2009: 3:25 PM

    FACTS DON'T GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY

    The media has been filled daily it seems with a report on the status of the NCAA Committee on Infractions' response to Florida State's notice of appeal.  While it is natural and appropriate that the topic would be of critical interest to the media, the suggestion of a scheme cooked up between FSU and the NCAA to keep the document out of their hands is more than inaccurate - it's irresponsible.

    All news sources as well as the authors of the legal action filed by media sources had access to the same document I have read dated November 2008 that spells out in - for once - plain English that the NCAA's own policies and procedures ONLY allow for this document to be posted on their Web-based custodial system.  

    The excerpt from the Infractions Appeals Committee's Policies and Procedures Guide says..."after the institution/individual has filed a notice of appeal; the institution/individual will be provided access to the custodial file through the Web-based custodian system."  It goes on to say "These materials may only be reviewed by the individual and authorized representatives of the institution/individual (including legal counsel).  Duplication of material is prohibited..."

    The point is that this has been the NCAA's long-standing policy - a fact that seems to have been at best overlooked in many media reports as well as the legal action.  Whether it is an appropriate process is fair debate but the tone of the lawsuit that includes the word "scheme" definitely suggests otherwise.

    I'm told that before the age of the internet and the free flow of information between computers, the NCAA policy was that they would literally lay the documents out on a table at their offices in Overland Park, Kansas (now Indianapolis) and a representative of the school was allowed in the room to read them, but could leave with nothing.

    So, FSU and the NCAA are getting beat up in the media and sued in the courts over a system that Florida State has no control over and one that has been in place for years at the NCAA.

    One might suspect that would be an important point to include in the story.  The motive for some of the media excluding it is a bigger question.


     

    Posted June 10th, 2009:  3:22 PM

    JUST THINK ABOUT IT - THREE NATIONAL TITLES IN A ROW

    Twenty Florida State student-athletes began boarding flights to Fayetteville, Arkansas yesterday to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet.  The students packed light as is the nature of their sport but at least one had to explain to the airline rep that he would be checking a javelin - probably listed as a spear on the plane manifest.  One other thing the FSU contingent would take with them on the flight was a great big target on their back - and that comes from unprecedented success.

    If you are a regular reader of Seminoles.com, and you should be, you realize that the travel party to the national title is not as big as it was supposed to be.  The East Regionals peeled off almost sure points for the Seminoles when some of FSU's stars failed to qualify for the national title meet.  The fact is at one point this season some were projecting that Florida State had a realistic chance to win both the men's and women's national titles this week.  While both teams are expected to stand on the podium as Top Four finishers in the country, it is now unlikely that the men will pull off a fourth consecutive national title and the women their first since the `80s.

    The irony is that the mathematical diminishing of the Seminole's chances for a four-peat, quad-peat, or whatever you want to call it really should serve to make all sports fans realize what an unbelievable feat winning back-to-back-to-back really has been.  The line is just that fine in winning a national title.  Florida State crossed that line first for the last three years and the fact that we likely will not this year should be enough to make us reflect on how remarkable the past three years have been.  One could argue that if just a single event in the East Regionals had gone as previous performances and times would indicate they should then the Seminoles would be listed as at least co-favorites to win a fourth straight.  Should not that reality cast an even brighter light on those three national title trophies already glowing in the Moore Center Trophy cases?  Could one not argue that FSU's accomplishments over the last three years were even more stunning given they were just a single event, maybe a false start, perhaps a dropped baton exchange, even a pulled hamstring away from not bringing home a title?

    Florida State has a number of athletes who will likely compete for a national championship in their event and the teams will finish among the best programs in the country at the national title meet.  And maybe things will fall our way and we can come home as number one in both the men's and women's championships.  But maybe we should look at this week's meet and the accomplishments of both programs over the last three years with even more pride and awe.

    By the way, you can watch the live stats from the championship meet at www.ncaa.com/loc/ncaa-c-otrack-loc.html along with information on heat sheets and starting times of events.


    Posted June 1st, 2009: 9:53 AM

    BASEBALL REGIONALS MAY BE FLORIDA STATE AT ITS BEST

    Florida State hosted a baseball regional for the 27th time this past weekend and there may be no finer example of what Seminole Athletics, Florida State University and Tallahassee are all about than this nearly annual ritual.

    First of all, it is no small achievement just getting an NCAA Regional.  Your team has got to be very good, your stadium has to be rather nice, your town has to be perceived as accommodating and your reputation absolutely must be sterling.  I am relatively certain the first three elements are true, but I can guarantee you that the last one is a fact.  And the nice thing about that is there is plenty of credit to go around as to what makes an NCAA Regional in Tallahassee so special.

    It must begin and probably really ends with the baseball itself.  No program has been as consistently successful as Florida State's since the first Seminole pulled on spikes in 1946.  But it takes more than a good baseball program.

    The ballpark itself must meet the rather detailed examination of umpiring crews, visiting coaches and opposing fans.  Not without its quirks, Dick Howser Stadium has managed to stay ahead of the national pack and is one of the finest overall facilities in the country. A nod of the cap to eager ground crews, volunteer tarp pullers who almost make you feel like you're missing the fun if you're not out there with them.  And generous dugouts and top quality accessories make it a place that visiting teams like to, well, visit.

    A good program and a nice park go a long way, but the atmosphere at Florida State games is what pushes us over the top.  Where else in the country do home fans give an OPPOSING pitcher, who has just shutout their own beloved team sending them into the dreaded loser's bracket, a standing ovation?  Just ask Bucknell's starter from last year against FSU.  Where else could a pair of visiting players feel at ease enough to grab a wireless microphone and carry on a 10 minute imitation of the TV show  Crocodile Hunter at the pitcher's mound during a rain delay?  Where else gets a letter from a visiting radio announcer who admits that in 30 years of calling baseball he's never had more fun or seen a better atmosphere than he had at FSU - and that was after his team played just three games?

    Opposing fans feel welcome at Dick Howser.  Opposing teams feel like they have as good a chance as any other team in the bracket. Opposing coaches feel like there is someone ready to answer every question. And history would tell us that the NCAA feels this might just be college baseball at its best.

    I can tell you that working the long hours of an NCAA baseball regional has been a labor of love for a long time for employees in Seminole Athletics.

    So, a tip of the cap to 11 and a dugout full of stars for getting us here.  A nod of approval to grounds crew and facility staff for the spit and polish.  A salute to the fans that make it come alive, and a sincere thanks to the NCAA for letting us show off for yet another weekend.


    Posted May 26th, 2009- 8:37 AM

    NCAA May Clear Out The Lanes

    A recent dinner with ACC dignitaries dating at least 50 years back found me at a table with ACC supervisor of basketball officials John Clougherty, who was a long time basketball official who has worked some of the most important games in college basketball history.  It was both one of the longest and shortest dinners I've had in that it was to short to hear all his stories his on college basketball.  It was too long because a former ACC basketball coach slipped into the chair next to him and proceeded to remind him of every controversial call made by him or any other official in the past 20 years.  The latter is an exaggeration, but the former is true.  Clougherty is that rare official with an engaging personality and quick wit who makes time just seem to fly by.

    Granted, the ACC could find basketball talk to talk about in the middle of tie football in the fourth quarter, but it was interesting to hear the back and forth between coach and official and particularly timely as the newspapers carried stories when we returned of a couple of basketball rule changes one of this could have real impact.  

    Ask most officials what the toughest basketball call is and they'll admit it's the charge-block particularly around the basket.  In fact, you hear it more in the NBA than around college hoops but floppers - i.e. defensive players who fly back arms flailing at the slightest contact - are among the least popular among those blowing the whistles.  Well, help may be on the way.  The Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committee has forwarded a recommendation to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel scheduled to meet in June that would change the rule for contact under the basket.  In layman's terms, the rule change would make it illegal for a secondary player to slide over in front of the rim to try to take a charge from a player he is not guarding.  

    The call would be easier in that just in front of the rim and under the basket any contact with a second defender would be block every time.  Somehow, I'm guessing it won't be that clear cut--but it should be easier.

    There is another proposed change in the relatively infrequent circumstance that a player is fouled and injured on the play to the point that they can't shoot the free throws.  The current rule allows the coach of the team shooting the free throws to pick whichever of his players he/she would like to take the shots.  The new proposal would leave the selection of the player to shoot the foul shots to the other coach and he would choose from the four remaining players on the court.  Now, I'm no expert but this would seem to play into the hands of those coaches with the "make `em pay" philosophy.

    I'm sure all will turn out well and there is no truth to the rumor that Leonard Hamilton has been talking with Dekoda Watson about walking on next year!


    Posted May 19th, 2009 - 9:42 AM

    NFL Draft Recap

    Watching the proliferation of media stories and web content devoted to the NFL draft over the last two months left me realizing that two of the most inexact, clandestine and secretive elements of athletics - particularly football - seem to have fueled the most rabid following - college recruiting and the NFL draft.Everette Brown, Panthers.com

    I chuckled when I searched websites two days after the draft to see if I could find a ranking of who had a mock draft that came anywhere close to the real thing. It was pretty hard to come by. What I did find are the following quotes by the same NFL draft guru regarding our own Everette Brown. Two weeks before the draft, "one guy that did help himself by leaving college early is FSU's Everette Brown who could go as high as fifth in the draft and certainly will be selected in the first round." Now, the same person said the following on draft day following Brown's selection in the second round - "he (Brown) would have benefitted from staying in school another year. He would have been bigger and had better numbers going into the 2010 draft." Huh?

    The truth is there are no experts on either the NFL draft or college football recruiting. It used to be just the guys at the barbershop or your neighbor down the street who fancied themselves as more in the know than anyone else, or at least you. Now it's electronic signatures like 49ersforever, or nothingbutnoles, or ACCguru on websites that purport the same level of insider stuff.

    When any discussion of the NFL draft comes up I always remind myself that each of the teams has a vested interest in lying to one another, the player, the player's agent and sometimes even to people within their own organization. But being on the inside of college athletics, it is agonizing to see great players of outstanding character "slide" on draft day because the stop watch did not show the right time or his head did not quite reach where team's had hoped on the tape measure. Meanwhile, guys can have a reggae party on the 50 at the Combine or hold up a liquor store on the way out of town and as long as they were the right size and speed they apparently won't budge on those draft boards.

    As for the college recruiting end of it, I like to remind Seminole fans that the highest drafted player we have ever had - ever had - came to FSU as a walk-on. In fact, Andre Wadsworth was so underweight as a junior in high school that his own teammates wondered if he was playing the right sport.

    It is truly ironic that the two times in the life of a football player when he needs the clearest head and most reliable information are the exact times in which the drone from experts is the loudest and the incoming information is most suspect. The senior year of high school and the junior year of college can be a nightmarish time for a prospect truly trying to determine the best future for himself. One can only hope that they don't rely too much on the experts to help them make these heavy weight calls.

    Oh and by the way, there are already 2010 mock drafts available and somewhere there probably is a website ready to tout a fifth grader as the next great college quarterback.

    The information contained in this blog is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of the Florida State Department of Athletics or The Florida State University.  Content of this blog may not be used without written permission of the author.

     

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