Where do we draw the line between hating friends and loving enemies? What makes a rivalry so bitter and what makes fans of either side feel so strongly?
For me, the rivalry between Florida State University and the University of Miami is historic, with each play and each game going down in the record books. It seems to almost echo the bitter rivalry between the Confederacy and the Union (obviously not the politics behind the war itself, but rather the ferocity of it.)
Most people would say that it’s just because the schools are in the same state and therefore rivals, but I think it’s something deeper.
Each game is like a battle in the war. Each play in that game is another round of attacks, another chance to scream “charge!” (or the more modern terms of “hike!”). In order to obtain the title of national champion, each battle is fought as if it was the last and most important, as I’m sure it was back in the Civil War.
This rivalry is fueled by the sheer intensity of the battles themselves. The hatred grows with each game and people want to see what happens next. UM and FSU games have the two highest-rated telecasts in the history of ESPN. There is always a lot more at stake during these games, as there was in the 1860s, and it is always an all-out brawl.
Miami and Florida State games are always a bloodbath and something unbelievable is bound to happen. With Gen. Bobby Bowden leading his Garnet and Gold army to the line against Gen. Dennis Erickson, the game with the first Wide Right kick in 1991 seems to be like the Battle of Shiloh, Miami in the lead the first quarter, and then the Confederacy leading in the second and third quarter. Finally, Miami takes over in the fourth and carries through for the win. The tides turning back and forth, but eventually the Union prevails right as the time runs out.
The second Wide Right kick game in 1992 again seems like the Battle of Antietam; Florida State looking to move the fight onto Miami’s turf, just as Gen. Robert E. Lee took the battle up in the northern soil for the first time. Endless attacks and counter-attacks, play after play, the two sides fight, inch by inch until finally Miami comes out the victor. This would lead to five strange occurrences in the next 12 games where FSU lost to a missed field goal, making fans of either side even more intense.
The rivalry is even more fitting to that of the Union and Confederacy because, like the brothers and fathers that fought, each side passes down its own biases and beliefs about the other. Hurricanes and Seminoles fans around the state bicker back and forth about who is better and who will come out the ultimate champion. They argue with the opposite side’s fans and they stick up, even if they are completely wrong, for their fellow brothers in “uniform.” It’s quite amusing that there are even license plate covers that say “A House Divided: Nole/Cane,” in reference to President Abraham Lincoln’s address to the nation.
But with 53 games played, Miami leads the series 30 – 23, and with Monday’s UM and FSU rivalry game coming up, all I have to say is… GO CANES! Let’s make it 31 – 23.