Arguments for it include: (1) A far more exciting event for fans (2) A greater challenge for the players (3) A better measure of progress made during the spring, and (4) A welcome new source of income for a cash-strapped athletic department trying to fund a full slate of men’s and women’s sports.
What’s not to like?
Okay, now the fine print. While the game needs to be as real as possible, there should be a few caveats to avoid injuries. Among them, no hits on QBs and probably no kick returns. And we recognize that coaches would probably be less interested in winning and more attuned to trying out different personnel, formations and plays. So, yeah, in some respects it would be more like an NFL exhibition game. But in our book, FSU teeing it up against another D-1 team still beats Garnet vs. Gold.
Remember this is all a fan fantasy at the moment, but dream along with us a bit longer.
So what team is the Noles’ ideal spring opponent?
Our pick would be Auburn. Yep, that team of multiple mascots (Tigers? War Eagles? Plainsmen?) There’s a good argument for an annual home-’n-home spring game with that team of mixed-up mascots. Just a few selling points include:
• Auburn’s a good fit because the spring game opponent shouldn’t be from the ACC or a current or past non-conf. rival. FSU’s all-time record against Auburn is 4-13-1, but the teams haven't played since 1990.
• Driving time between the two schools is about three hours, making it reasonably convenient for fans of both.
• The short trip would also keep travel costs minimal for the teams. In fact, make it a bus ride. And schedule the game for late afternoon so players can roundtrip the same day, ensuring no overnight hotel stays.
• Stadiums at both schools have similar capacity (83,000 seats at Doak; 87,451 at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium), large enough to handle the home team’s fans and visitors.
• The Noles and Tigers recruit many of the same players.
• It would become an annual calendar-marking event for fans; something to look forward to midway between the end of one season and beginning of the next.
We can't overlook one possible negative -- not about the game, the opponent. Some Nole fans are still PO’d about an awkward, ugly game cancellation over a decade ago. Auburn stood up the Noles in 1999, when the teams were scheduled to kickoff the season on ESPN. The Tigers had recently fired Terry Bowden. FSU fans were convinced that Auburn brass didn’t want their kids facing a vengeful Papa Bowden.
But that was eleven years ago and no Bowdens walk the sidelines at either school.
So we ask again. What’s not to like? Whether it’s Auburn, LSU, or (fill in the blank with the team of your choice), a spring game with an actual opponent is just too good an idea to keep ignoring.Though we’re pretty sure the NCAA would beg to differ.