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Football Kickoff Luncheon

Friday, Aug. 21, 11:30 a.m. — Civic Center

Good afternoon! Welcome! It’s great to see you all here today!

This is such an exciting time of year! On Monday, nearly 42,000 students will begin classes. That’s four times larger than the enrollment when I was an FSU student in the 1960s!

As the semester begins, it is so exhilarating to see students from all walks of life return to campus to pursue their academic dreams.

Of course, fall also means football, and I couldn’t be more excited about this season! These guys right here are a group of elite student-athletes, and they’ve been working hard this preseason. I know they will be ready to get that first win Sept. 5 in the season opener against Texas State!

And I have complete confidence that Coach Fisher and his staff will lead this team to accomplish great things this year.

In fact, I really need to thank Jimbo for taking us to Pasadena the past two years. But, Jimbo, the truth is … the Rose Bowl is starting to get a little bit like “been there, done that” for the Seminoles.

You know, Jean and I have always wanted to visit the desert, and I think I speak for everyone here when I say a trip to Phoenix in January sounds good! Am I right?!

Seriously, I know Jimbo will do his best to get us there. That’s because he is building on a legacy that really began in the ‘60s when I was a student.

Back then Bill Peterson was coach, and we can credit him with bringing the pro-style passing game to college football. It was “Coach Pete” who put Florida State on the national map.

Under his leadership with then-assistant coach Bobby Bowden, Fred Biletnikoff became our first consensus All-American in 1964. We’ve had 35 consensus All-Americans since then, including our superb kicker Roberto Aguayo.

My senior year, Coach Pete led the Seminoles to victory against the Gators for the first time ever — a memory that I still cherish!

I’m sure I’m not the only one here who has fond memories of watching games in our old erector set stadium. But I think we can all agree today’s 82,000-seat stadium is a vast improvement, and we are continually making upgrades to Doak Campbell.

Andy Miller and the Boosters are always looking for ways to enhance your game-day experience, and — thanks to them — we’ve got new club seating in the south end zone, sky box improvements and renovations to team facilities in the works.

There will be some changes in traffic patterns this year, so I encourage you to allow plenty of time for travel and parking. Plan to arrive on campus early and enjoy some of the pregame events on Langford Green.

The campus and surrounding areas are growing in other ways, too. I’m sure a lot of you have been enjoying College Town and all the new Gaines Street establishments.

Soon we will have a new Arena District that will center on a new hotel and convention center, as well as new training space for the basketball team and new academic buildings.

Everywhere you look, there is excellence, on the field and off.

We are making some strategic investments now that will pay off in years to come as we pursue our goal to become recognized among the Top 25 public universities in the nation.

We have top-notch faculty whose research is recognized around the world. Our students are better than ever, and they are winning top national awards and fellowships. Our retention and graduation rates continue to rise.

This is going to be a great year at Florida State University, and you can help us to be even better.

Let’s show the world something that I know to be true — that we have the best alumni, boosters and fans anywhere in college athletics!

Good character is not just something we expect of our student-athletes, it’s something we should all practice.

If you wear the garnet and gold, please uphold the values of our university by showing respect for others on game day and every day. That means welcoming our visitors to campus and proving that we can win with class.

Together, I know that this is the year we can bring home another national championship!

Thank you, and Go Noles!