No, the special time I refer to is the annual unveiling of the FSU football team motto, edition 2002. That's right. That introspective word or phrase which propels our boys with reckless abandon toward Tempe.
Personally, I've never been a big fan of having a team motto. More times, than not, they end up coming back to bite you near the hip pad. We, at Florida State University, have become quite adept at coming up with catchy mottos, which, for all I know may completely explain our success.
For the purposes of this column, however, we'll assume that's not the case. We've had some doozies. There was 1998's "Discipline to the Desert." A fine motto in September as it laid out the projected destination of that team. Come January, it appropriately morphed to "Debacle in the Desert" after our lads were assessed more penalties than an early withdrawn IRA.
Of course we had "No Excuses" as a motto. I've got to think that every team has had that motto at some point or other (Along with "There's no "I" in Team"). The problem I have with that one is it implies that you're expecting something to go wrong. At least when the inevitable DOES happen, you don't go around crying about it. I guess that's a noble motto if you're trying to teach accountability to young men, but I'm not sure it wins you any more games.
Take "Debacl … errr ... Discipline to the Desert." Does anyone really think that in the third quarter of the '98 Gator game ‘ol Rooster stepped into the huddle and lifted his jersey as said: "Remember this boys?" Probably not if he valued his life.
Perhaps the best motto of all time, of course, is the dearly departed "I will hold the rope." Taken from some fable I still don't understand, it was again an effort to preach accountability (I think). Unfortunately for the 2001 ‘Noles, it was more like "Would someone please throw me a rope?". Now, just as I don't credit mottos for driving more victories, nor do I fault them for eight and four seasons or demolitions of dynasties (Wonder if Ming had a motto?). We would have lost four games, last year if our motto was "Don't Tread on Me." I'm pretty certain at no time, last season, did Chris Rix scream "Hold that Rope" to his trailing charges (Unless, of course, he followed it with "While I tie this end around my neck!).
I never hear about other programs adopting mottos. I suppose they do, but I've never seen a "Gold Bicuspids Equal Championships" T-shirt under a University of Miami football jersey. Maybe they just don't promote it like we do. I think the University of Nebraska has it right. They don't silk-screen mottos on their T-Shirts, they just color them. Playing well for the Nebraska defense can gain you admission into the "Black Shirts." It is a hallowed honor for Husker defenders.
It sounds a lot like an Iowa chapter of the Hitler Youth, but that kind of thing plays well in mid-west, I hear. It's a pretty ominous sounding club to be in when you stomp West Texas Technical School for Cow-Nuns 400 to 2. The real genius of the Black Shirt, however, is its versatility when you get your molars kicked out by a Miami player wearing the aforementioned "Gold" T-shirt. A few white flags might have been more appropriate for the Black Shirts on that night.
Now, this year, we've unveiled what might serve to be the most talked about motto of them all: "Let's Roll." Of course, the reference is to the Todd Beamer quote on the ill-fated flight 93 on which heroic actions of passengers probably saved many more lives than were lost.
I love Bobby Bowden. I really do, but I can't for the life of me think of a reason that using this quote, especially after so little time has passed, is a good thing for FSU. If anything, this motto, which for reasons I've already mentioned, will become a distraction more than its intended use as motivation. I don't see this as a good thing.
We already get our fair share (and probably someone else's share) of bad publicity over the use of a Native American "mascot." I think Bowden's intent is pure in that he believes using this phrase somehow honors those who perished. On the contrary, I believe, it trivializes what has become a national symbol for true, everyday Joe, American heroism. This motto should be left in the public consciousness, not worn under shoulder pads. If we HAVE to have a motto, I'd much rather we use some over-hyped cliché. Maybe "There is no "I" in Team" would be a good choice.
I don't know that I've ever heard The University of Florida promote a motto (Well, there was that short lived "Never FSU Never" effort).I think that's a good thing. Mottos should be on coins, and flags, not T-Shirts. To me, when you select a motto to go on a T-Shirt, you join the long list of mottos I came to despise in the 70's and 80's…Gems like:
Keep on ‘Trukin' – Which if you said this while standing in front of my truck is exactly what I'd do.
I'm with Stupid – Yes and Stupid is with Supercilious Moron.
Divers do it Deeper – I'd actually accept this motto -- if it was worn by a Skydiver.
You see, mottos are never as cool as they originally sound, not to mention they give your rivals a whole new lexicon from which to harass you. Think of how thwarted the "No Excuses" team must have felt when it really DID have an excuse. Just awful, I bet.
Just to show, however, that I'm not the "Grinch who stole mottos" (Plus the realization that regardless of what I think, we'll have another silly motto, this year), I've compiled a list of mottos I would put on my shirt for this season:
UT went to the Fiesta and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt.
I love New York. Unfortunately, there aren't any bowls played there.
If that's puke I smell, this must be New Orleans!
Our Twelfth Man is a deaf/mute.
Back only: If you want to see, stand the &%$#@ up!
Viva la Hefner!
I will hold up the wall.
If you're a cop, what are you doing with those rubber glov ... AAAAHHHHH!!!
La Naranja Bowl esta en muy nasti-o part-o town-o
There! I say if you're going to have a motto, make it clear and relevant. Any of you who've been to football games with me, will understand-o.