St. Petersburg Times Online: Business
 Devil Rays Forums
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
tampabay.com

 

 

 

printer version

For FSU, same sadness, but deeper

shelton
SHELTON
E-mail:
Click here

Archive
By GARY SHELTON, Times Sports Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 13, 2002


MIAMI -- The place was usual. The pain was familiar. The position was the same.

The tears, however?

The tears were all new.

Xavier Beitia, the latest victim, moved slowly down the sideline, away from the moment and the misery. It didn't matter. Pain this deep, this distinct, follows a man.

All you need to remember about FSU-Miami Saturday was in the twisted, tortured face of Beitia. His lips were drawn tight, and his eyes were downcast. Tears poured unchecked down his cheeks.

This was the face of raw, relentless agony, and looking at it was much like looking into an open wound. Teammates, one after the other, attempted to console Beitia without success. Time, a half hour, and an hour, could bring no solace.

This was the picture of overwhelming, complete suffering. Surely, you might think, that pain such as this would be unique.

For FSU, however, the real pain is how familiar it feels.

For the Seminoles, Beitia was merely the latest kicker to follow the trail of tears that has defined this series. It has been a pain felt by others, by Gerry Thomas and Dan Mowrey and Matt Munyon, other kickers just wide of great moments.

"Walking off the field, it felt just like that other year," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "And that other year. And that other year."

Usually, devastation occurs one play at a time. Doug Flutie threw one Hail Mary against Miami. Lindsay Scott went 80 yards against the Gators once. Cal ran The Play once. Rockne gave the Gipper speech once.

Four times, Bowden has lost like this. Does any coach deserve that?

"I don't," Bowden said. "I know I don't."

Oh, FSU has won a few games in this rivalry, too. But Miami seems to win the ones that rip the heart of out of FSU and leave it in the grass. FSU has rarely taken something precious away from Miami.

For most of Saturday, it seemed on the verge of doing so. The offensive line of the Seminoles manhandled the vaunted Miami defensive line and Greg Jones ran for 189 yards. Even after Miami came from 13 points down to take the lead, FSU was in position to knock the Hurricanes from the No. 1 ranking, to end its 27-game winning streak, to hand coach Larry Coker his first defeat.

For FSU, this was a chance to reestablish itself two weeks after most of us left it for dead. This would have ranked with the Seminoles' greatest upsets, a day they went down to Miami and kicked in the door. This would have answered every critic.

"They're good," Bowden said. "But we're not exactly in the gutter."

All of that was in front of Beitia as he stood, 43 yards from the goal posts, with one second to play.

He's a fine kicker, Beitia, known around the FSU program for his love of the craft. Unlike most players, Beitia has chosen to remain at Burt Reynolds Hall because of its proximity to the stadium.

As kickers go, Bowden said he wouldn't trade Beitia, who played at Jesuit High, for any kicker he has had. Maybe that explains why, as Beitia lined up for the kick, all the ghosts did not flood into Bowden's memory. Bowden said he had no doubts.

"What I thought was that if it didn't get blocked, we win," he said. "It never occurred to me he might miss."

On the field, holder Chance Gwaltney turned to Beitia and warned him. "When you make this, we're going to tackle your a--."

But the snap from Brian Sawyer was too low, and though Gwaltney was able to get the ball upright, the flow seemed to be affected. The kick sailed to the left.

Bowden started onto the field to congratulate Beitia. No, he was told. The kick missed. He turned and walked toward the locker room, again. He turned and asked a police officer next to him.

"To the left?" he said.

Yes, he was told. To the left.

How will you remember this game? By the way Jones ran? By the way Ken Dorsey threw? By Miami's comeback? By Bowden's decision not to go for two when he was ahead 26-14?

Or by the tears that would not stop?

We tend to forget how much this hurts. We follow the winners around and sing their praises, or we become jaded by expectations and entitlement, and we forget how much this game can mean to a 19-year-old sophomore. At that age, it is not overstatement to suggest the game is his world.

Understand Beitia's pain. He was led from the team locker room, weeping, into the training room by chaplain Clint Purvis. Each of FSU's captains went to console him. So did various other players. And coaches. So did Beitia's parents.

And it didn't matter. The pain did not ease. Even as Beitia moved to the bus, and the fans applauded, he wept.

"I've been here 14 years, and I've never seen it affect anyone like this," Purvis said.

Somewhere, Thomas can relate. He missed a 34-yarder in 1991 as FSU lost. And Mowrey, who missed a 39-yarder the next year. And Munyon, whose 49-yarder would have tied the score two years ago.

Pain such as this lingers, haunts. It is the pain of denying teammates a goal they have suffered for, that they have earned. It is a wound reopened every time another kicker suffers the same fate.

For a player, it feels as if no one has ever hurt like this before.

For a program, it hurts as much as ever.

Back to Times Columnists

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
 

Times columns today

Mary Jo Melone
  • Will resolve stay strong when our soldiers die?

  • Helen Huntley
  • On money

  • Jan Glidewell
  • Snapshot of our times pushes kids to the back

  • Bill Maxwell
  • Colin Powell bamboozled

  • Philip Gailey
  • Those spineless Democrats

  • Martin Dyckman
  • Amendment 1 could prove deadly for kids

  • Robyn E. Blumner
  • President seems unable to bear the sight or sound of dissent

  • Hubert Mizell
  • What if Naimoli named me manager of the Devil Rays?

  • Gary Shelton
  • For FSU, same sadness, but deeper

  • John Romano
  • Scowls of old might spark aimless UF

  • From the Times Sports page

    College football
  • This 1 left
  • Bulls prove to be ready for prime-time players
  • Tigers keep Gators reeling
  • Orangemen honor deceased tackle
  • Around the state: Golden Knights break into win column in MAC
  • Hybl has tough day in victory
  • Sooners stage comeback to beat Longhorns again
  • Big 12: Buff runs for 309 in win over Kansas
  • C-USA: Second quarter sparks Tulane over Cincinnati
  • Crowd's cheers lift Bulls
  • Despite early frustrations, Dorsey keeps composure
  • 'Canes leave win to fate
  • Jones-led ground attack sustains Seminoles until fourth
  • FSU Quotebook
  • Miami Quotebook
  • ACC: Injured tailback keeps N.C. State unbeaten
  • Big East: Pitt moves but can't score enough on ND
  • Big Ten: Michigan keeps Penn State searching for answers
  • SEC: Dawgs edge closer to SEC goal
  • Pac-10: Ducks outgun Bruins to remain undefeated
  • Gators continue one trend, Tigers end another
  • Called on to carry club, UF defense falls flat

  • NFL
  • NFL Game Day: Week 6
  • Injuries, defense hurt Bears

  • Baseball
  • Giants miss a chance to gain a stranglehold
  • Angels within a win of first World Series berth
  • Thome waits for an offer from Indians
  • Yankees are hoping to build on (insert smirk) early playoff exit
  • NLCS: Benes has new view after injury
  • ALCS: Mays just sticks with strengths

  • NHL
  • Panthers earn win with 10.2 left in OT
  • NHL Slapshots

  • NBA
  • Miami stops Orlando in final minutes

  • Sailing
  • Round-robin 1: a few surprises

  • Gary Shelton
    Gary Shelton
    Gary Shelton
    Gary Shelton
    Motorsports
  • Stewart happy to finally be on top

  • Et cetera
  • Highs & lows
  • Sports briefs

  • Preps
  • Santa Fe overwhelms IRC
  • Plant quiets nemesis with two-game win
  • Big kicks decide races in favor of Raider, Shark
  • Believe the hype: Kerry Allen is fast
  • Amerman emerges and Lyons cruises

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report: Tournament insider

  • Letters
  • Series with no Yankees incomplete

  •