Divided Allegiance

TALLAHASSEE – Ann Bowden – wife of Bobby and mother of Tommy – always has it tough when Florida State squares off against Clemson.

Running a close second when it comes to divided allegiances is Jarad Moon. Moon, an all-ACC center in his playing days at FSU will be in a tough spot Saturday when the Seminoles host N.C. State in their home finale. Father-in-law and Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato will be pacing the sidelines.

There is an easy way out for Moon, who has been married to Amato's daughter Selena for five years.

"I've got this black and white shirt," Moon laughed. "In block letters across the chest it just says 'STATE'. That way, no matter what happens, I'll just say, 'Go State.'"

The plan for Selena, who grew up in Tallahassee and graduated from Florida State, is a little more partisan -- it would be hard to pull against her dad.

"Her heart is with her father," Moon said. "It sort of puts me in a tough situation. Either way I lose."

Wife and father-in-law had the upper hand in 2002 when the ‘Pack became the first ACC team to notch consecutive victories against the Seminoles. FSU owns a pair of victories since.

Victories were almost a certainty for FSU back in 1996, when Jarad and Selena met at a Bourbon Street bar one evening before the Seminoles tangled with Florida in the Sugar Bowl for the national title.

"They say you meet the best girls in church," Moon said. "I met the best girl in a bar."

Moon and fellow offensive linemen Jason Whitaker and Billy Rhodes settled in before a guitarist on stage broke out with a rendition of David Allen Coe's "You Never Even Called Me by My Name," a Moon favorite. The freshman center wanted to dance and Selena was in the right place at the right time.

"Jarad loves that song and he loves to dance," Selena said. "It was fate. We danced and had a great time."

They began to date and Moon vividly remembers his first encounter with Amato – then the linebackers coach at FSU – outside of practice. When he arrived at the house to pick up Selena for a movie, he was given a choice of chatting with mom in the kitchen or dad in the living room. Moon chose Amato, who was grading linebackers from a scrimmage that day, and immediately regretted the decision. After a stone-cold stare and a short silence, Moon made his way to the kitchen.

Maybe it wasn't such a great idea to date the assistant head coach's daughter.

"People questioned my decision some," Moon said. "They said I must have been real brave or real stupid. But I guess I get the last laugh on that."

There was one advantage for Amato.

"He knew where I was and what I was doing all the time," Moon said. "I didn't want to have my legs broken. I'm sure he could make a phone call."

Mingled at the wedding was Selena's predominantly Catholic family from Pennsylvania and Jarad's family, most hailing from the Panama City area where the Moons now live. "You Never Even Called Me by My Name" was played at the reception.

"I couldn't imagine what her family was thinking," Moon said. "Here I was, a southern boy in a room full of the Sopranos looking on with a David Allen Coe song playing."

Like they do for most Florida State home games, the couple will make the short drive to Tallahassee to root on the Seminoles -- or simply ‘State'. With the other meaningful state university in his family in town to take on the Seminoles, only Jarad will be pulling for the garnet and gold.

Maybe they can reserve a seat for him next to Ann Bowden.

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