Familiarity intensifies FSU-Miami rivalry

Florida State running back Chris Thompson, a native of Greenville, Fla., grew up a Miami fan. Miami defensive back Ryan Hill, a Tallahassee native, was raised a Florida State fan.

Ever heard the saying familiarity breeds contempt?

“As much as we say we hate that school, to hate a school you have to have much respect for them,” Hill said. “That’s my take on it.”

Familiarity runs deep in the Florida State-Miami series, which began in 1951 and has been played every season since 1969. That’s 41 straight games entering Saturday’s game. A total of 31 former high school teammates will face each other on opposite sidelines, and there are also direct coaching ties. FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was the Hurricanes’ secondary coach from 2001-03, and special teams coordinator/running backs coach Eddie Gran was a graduate assistant at UM in 1990-91. FSU defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot was a graduate assistant at Miami in 2002, and assistant strength & conditioning coach Chris Harvey is a Miami graduate and was a long-snapper for the Canes.

And of course, Miami coach Randy Shannon was a starting linebacker on the Canes’ 1987 national championship team.

“With these types of games, each team might be 0‐10 and you may get a high scoring game, it might be a last-second field goal game,” Shannon said. “You can throw everything out the window when you play Florida State. It’s two teams who are going to play hard and get after each other. It’s also a respect factor. It’s a rivalry, but we respect them and they respect us and we play that way. I can’t tell you what will happen, but it’s a game that you watch and there’s a reason the TV networks put it on primetime. They see two teams that are fairly even and it’s a state game with old time tradition.”

FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, whose father, David, was a defensive tackle for the Noles, doesn’t need any history lessons.

“Obviously you can’t forget the wide left and the wide right,” Ponder said. “It’s an intense rivalry. It’s got a lot of history. A lot of players come out of this rivalry and go to the NFL. It’s different than Florida. It’s a mutual respect for each other, almost a friendly rivalry. But it’s always been intense. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Even some of the younger players remember some of the old school games.

“I was a big Miami fan there for a while,” Thompson, a sophomore, said. “I just remember those big games, most of the ones that were up in Miami, and even a couple down here, like the one when Roscoe Parrish was here, I remember that one. And then when I came here my freshman here, it was kind of a surprise coach (Dexter) Carter actually let me play in that game. It was a real great feeling to be out there and be a part of what I’d been seeing my whole life.”

That sentiment is likely to be shared by many of the players who will be featured Saturday night. Hill said Florida State was always a “dream school” of his.

“You don’t go to [a] school because you’re a fan of that school, you go to that school because you fit in personality-wise and your playmaking ability,” he said. “That’s why I chose the University of Miami.”

He also chose it to beat Florida State.

“Obviously this is a big game for us,” Hill said. “This is why you come to the University of Miami, and it’s why you go to Florida State.”