TALLAHASSEE — While the 300 or so fans at the Tucker Center on Saturday were far less than those who came out for ESPN's College GameDay ahead of the Florida State-Oklahoma football game in the fall, they brought plenty of spirit for the school's first visit by the basketball version of the pregame show.
Justin Huntman, a freshman from Coral Springs, and two friends were first in line at 12:30 a.m. despite the fact that the doors opened at 8:30 a.m. He had a spot in the front row, directly behind the desks with ESPN analysts Rece Davis, Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps (with pink tie and highlighter), Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale.
Why so early? Because they wanted to be on College GameDay, of course.
"Big Seminole fan," said Huntman with a smile and enthusiasm that belied his lack of sleep.
Next to Huntman were two other freshmen who lined up at 6:50 a.m. Zach Snow of Jacksonville and roommate John Bariso, a Boca Raton native, taped an FSU flag to a wooden 2-by-4 wrapped in garnet duct tape and waved it throughout the two-hour-long broadcast.
"We're Marching Chiefs," said Bariso, referring to the Seminoles marching band. "So we don't get to have this student body experience during football season."
There were a few Tar Heels fans in attendance, including Beverly Whisnant, the mother of Seminoles freshman guard Terry Whisnant II. The elder Whisnant played football at UNC, so Beverly had a sign split diagonally with Tar Heel blue on one side and garnet and gold on the other. It read, "I love UNC but my heart's w/Whisnant."
"We've always been Carolina fans," said Beverly, who grew up in Durham, N.C. "But now that he's a Seminole, we're a divided house."
Two FSU students won $1,800 from State Farm as a consolation prize in the weekly halfcourt shot contest. Both efforts fell short of the $18,000 grand prize for making the shot.