This came moments after a brief skirmish at midfield when Florida State players took exception to the Gators’ flag being planted in the middle of Doak Campbell Stadium.
The game stirred a lot of emotions, most of them negative for the Seminoles.
FSU’s 41-14 loss to No. 11 UF not only snapped a five-game win streak against the Gators and a 36-year bowl streak but also featured familiar mistakes at a time when the Seminoles simply could not afford to make them.
“Disappointing game. Disappointing season. I think everybody in that locker room is hurting,” FSU coach Willie Taggart said after the loss. “And again, it’s unacceptable here at Florida State. I said it before, we got a program that prides itself on winning and we didn’t get it done.”
Quarterback Deondre Francois choked back tears as well as he spoke after going 14-of-29 passing for 154 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
“Right now, it hurts. It cuts deep right now,” he said. “I went to a bowl game every year that I’ve been here. It hurts not to go to a bowl game. I don’t think I’ve ever not seen Florida State in a bowl game since I’ve been alive. To end the bowl streak and me be the starting quarterback, it just hurts. It’s not a good feeling for me, my family, my teammates, the fans. It’s just not a good feeling right now.”
Entering the game, FSU knew what was at stake.
The Seminoles knew about the legacy of teams before them. They knew they wanted to avoid being the only FSU team in the modern era to miss a bowl game.
According to Taggart, that made the loss to UF that much harder to swallow.
“It was really tough and a lot of tears and guys were hurting,” he said. “We wanted to get it done and we didn’t. So it’s frustrating, disappointing, and again guys are hurting.”
While their pride is hurt, Taggart said the team must lick its wounds and move on. He added the Seminoles need fans to stick by them now more than ever.
“Tell them to have faith,” Taggart said when asked what he would tell FSU fans. “Again, that’s why I was brought here — to build this program back to where it belongs, and I understand their disappointment.
“And I tell all our fans they should be disappointed. This is Florida State University, and I tell them all don’t ever lose our expectation and what we want.
“… So I apologize for the season being the way it is, but we’re going to get there. And it’s not a panic situation, it’s a work situation. We’re going to work to get there and we’re not going to make any excuses about it and we’re going to go get it done.”
Francois echoed these sentiments and said it has to be the last time the Seminoles suffer a losing season.
“[We have to] regroup. Take a look in the mirror, regroup, and just do what we have to do to not feel this way again,” he said.
For Taggart, it will be his first full offseason as head coach, meaning he’ will be able to go out and recruit. He said the evaluation process starts Saturday night as he looks to make necessary corrections and adjustments.
“We’ve got to go to work,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about anything that happened now other than work and see to it that we don’t feel that way again. And we do that by changing some things up. We can’t keep doing the same thing and think we’re going to get different results behind it. But again it goes back to me evaluating our entire football team, our entire program and putting the right people in place to get it done.”