TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - An estimated 30,000 people descended on the Florida State campus to celebrate the program’s third national championship in school history.
Fans were welcomed onto the field after the hour-long program at the football stadium and hundreds surrounded coach Jimbo Fisher begging for pictures and autographs.
“We love you, Jimbo!” was shouted from the crowd.
“Jimbo, you’re a genius!” followed moments later.
The crowd filled nearly the entire home side of the stands and hung on every word spoken as Fisher, Heisman winner Jameis Winston, athletic director Stan Wilcox and receiver Rashad Greene all took turns speaking on a stage constructed at midfield.
“We didn’t just develop a team, folks,” Fisher said. “We developed a program. We plan on being here for a long time.
“To me, this team dominated maybe like no other team in college football history. . We’re one of the great teams in Florida State history, but I think they’ve become one of the great teams overall because they dominated like no other team. They took no prisoners, felt sorry for no one. We’re here to stay.”
Florida State passed out shirts that read “Crystal Ballin’” and hats with a miniature trophy on them. Confetti was sprayed into the crowd and over the players and coaches on stage. Early NFL entrees Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr., Kelvin Benjamin and Timmy Jernigan all returned to take part in the celebration. Senior Telvin Smith arrived late from training in Miami. Seniors Lamarcus Joyner and Bryan Stork were unable to make it.
“I was told, ‘Man, you’ve got to get this training in, you’ve got to stay,’ but we put a lot of work into what we did this season,” Smith said. “It wouldn’t have been right not to come back and show love to everybody who gave us that same love during the season. It was definitely fun. Always going to be something we remember.
“I had to try to go back and have some family come up. I wanted everybody to come out. This was the last one. My uncles, aunties, everybody came back. It was just great trying to get everybody here.”
Winston easily drew the loudest applause among the players. That happens when the freshman quarterback wins the Heisman trophy and a national championship and is part of a loaded roster capable of repeating the feat with eight returning offensive starters.
Winston and Benjamin beamed and joked on the field as the video screen showed highlights, including the championship-winning touchdown pass between the two in the final game.
“Before ya’ll ask me any questions, just know that we are the champions,” Winston said with a smile. “We’ve got to keep doing it. We’ve won it now. It’s a new year and a new season and we’ve got to keep getting better and it starts now. We’ve got to do it again next year.
“We’ve got to do it bigger somehow because we’ve got to do it again next year.”