I was born in Indianapolis but also spent time in Alexandria, Ft. Wayne and Chicago before moving to Jacksonville the Summer prior to second grade. Up until that point, my football loyalties had been tied to the Bears, as I walked around the house in my No. 34 Walter Payton jersey almost every day and made the trek to Soldier Field with my dad once or twice.
But then I was in attendance for my first college game, the 1982 Gator Bowl between Florida State and West Virginia, and the Seminoles suddenly were my new team after a 31-12 mauling of the Mountaineers that featured Billy Allen returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
A decade or so later, I arrived on campus in Tallahassee as a freshman in the Fall of 1993, moved into Room 407 at Smith Hall and went on to pledge the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. In the classroom, I majored in finance. Outside the classroom, I was published on several occasions in the Florida Flambeau and FSView, comptroller of the student body as a junior and also a candidate for homecoming chief as a senior.
As far as football goes, my time at FSU was an embarrassment of riches. Freshman year, Charlie Ward won the Heisman Trophy and helped deliver Bobby Bowden his long-overdue national championship. Sophomore year, I refused to depart from Doak Campbell Stadium despite a 31-3 deficit to rival Florida and was rewarded with a furious 28-point comeback for the ages, although I maintain to this day that the 'Noles should have gone for two and the W after the final touchdown -- the Gators were destroyed mentally and physically, so anything in the playbook would have worked. Junior year, I watched proudly as a good friend and former teammate, Andre Cooper, caught 71 passes for 1,002 yards and 15 TDs, including three scores and a 2-point conversion in a 31-26 victory over hated Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl. Senior year, I stormed the field after the 24-21 upset of No. 1 Florida, almost getting pounded into the turf when the first goal post came crashing down from above.
My journalism career didn't officially start until the Summer of 2000, when I covered the Florida Little League All-Star State Tournament as a lowly stringer for the Tallahassee Democrat, which was the first time in my life that I'd received a paycheck for something I actually enjoyed.
Fast forward a bit, and I was named publisher of Bear Report and BearReport.com on the Scout.com network. I was one of the credentialed members of the Bears media from 2006-10, covering Chicago's two postseason appearances in that time, and also a fixture at annual NFL events like the Senior Bowl, Super Bowl and Scouting Combine. Additionally, something I'm very proud of, I became a voter for the Heisman Trophy in 2009, when I was one of only 26 people in the entire country to put sixth-place finisher C.J. Spiller atop his ballot.
2011 is my first season on the Florida State beat after moving back to Tallahassee from Chicago, and since I've always had a soft spot for Capital City, I plan on it being the first of many.
Away from the game of football, I'm married to my beautiful wife Andrea, who was once homecoming queen at the University of North Florida. Every guy that meets her says the same thing: "You outkicked your coverage." We have the two best beagles of all time, Derby and Indy. Derby is named after the Kentucky Derby because Andrea is from Kentucky, and Indy is named after the Indianapolis 500 because I'm from Indiana. I most enjoy listening to Led Zeppelin, playing golf, watching "Mad Men," eating oysters and drinking Jack Daniel's.
If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to send me an e-mail.
P.S. I want to take a moment here and express my gratitude to our recruiting guru, Geoff Vogt, who has been nothing but a gentleman throughout this transition. He's welcomed me with open arms and lobbied to help make this happen since we first started talking about it quite some time ago. This should be a perfect situation for both of us, as he gets to do what he does best and I get to do what I do best, and we think the end result will be a better product for the subscribers that pay their $9.95 per month and help make NoleDigest.com what it is today -- and what it will be tomorrow.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
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