Bradenton FSU, Auburn fans gear up for BCS championship game

vmannix@bradenton.comJanuary 5, 2014 

MANATEE

Ernie Lisch isn't sure he's going to make a friendly wager on the game, but he might after he gets to Pasadena, Calif.

"It depends on who I run into," says the Bradenton attorney, 1973 Florida State University alum and avid Seminoles supporter. "Those Auburn folks are fun."

There will be a few of them there from B'town along with FSU fans from the Friendly City, when the No. 1 Seminoles and No. 2 Tigers tangle Monday night for the BCS National Championship in the Rose Bowl.

California, here they come!

"I've never been to Los Angeles, so it's going to be fantastic," said Auburn sophomore Mary Elizabeth Woodward. "People who have been to the Rose Bowl said it was one of the top three moments they experienced in college."

But what if FSU wins?

"I'll never hear the end of it from my FSU friends," she said.

Most area FSU and Auburn alums will stay here like the rest of us to watch the big game at home, or with friends, or gather at places like Mannatees Sports Grill.

Jake Jacoby, FSU Class of 1958 and a schoolmate of Burt Reynolds, Lee Corso and Stu Gregory, will root for the Seminoles there.

"I've seen good FSU teams and bad FSU teams," said the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee adjunct criminology professor. "But I'm confident they'll win."

So is Ken Christy, FSU Class of 1981, who will be at the game.

"I've got a real good feeling about this game," said the insurance company owner. "They've never seen an FSU team like this. I've never seen an FSU team like this."

Christy's hoping his tickets are better than the ones he had at the 1993 Orange Bowl when FSU beat Nebraska 18-16 for its first national championship.

"I had a better view of the blimp than I did of the field," he kidded.

John Bregger believes in his Tigers' chances, but that's no surprise.

His allegiance goes back

more than 60 years.

The 1953 alum watched Auburn teams coached by Earl Brown when Bregger was a freshman, followed by the legendary Ralph "Shug" Jordan when Bregger graduated in mechanical engineering.

"Even as late as it is, I'll be up watching and cheer them on," the 83-year-old said. "WAR EAGLE! It makes me feel young."

Attorney Joe Harrison, an equally devoted 1977 Auburn alum, will probably catch the game at home, too.

Alone.

When a friend mentioned them watching it together, Harrison suggested it might not be a good idea.

"I said I don't know if you want to watch it with me," he joked.

That goes for Jay Romine, too, though he's got a fondness for FSU.

The retired Holmes Beach Police Chief was an Auburn equipment manager during the Bo Jackson years in the mid-1980s, and the Tigers played the Seminoles regularly.

"It was a great rivalry, a healthy rivalry. Auburn and FSU had a mutual respect, got along great, and I hated to see the series go away," said Romine, now director of Manatee Technical Institute's Law Enforcement Academy. "I've got a couple of FSU friends and we were chiding each back and forth this season, saying 'What if?' This couldn't have worked out any better."

That sentiment resonates with Erin Lisch, whose first outfit as an infant was an FSU onesie.

The FSU communication and sports management major says it probably won't hit her that she's on the way to Pasadena until she's actually on the plane with her FSU alumni mom, Diane, and dad, Ernie.

"I thought we'd do pretty well this season, but competing for a national championship? My senior year? It blows my mind," Lisch said.

They'll be decked out in all their FSU regalia for Monday night's game, and Ernie Lisch is most particular about his outfit: an FSU rugby style shirt with horizontal garnet-and-gold stripes.

He's owned it since 1988 and calls it his "bumble bee shirt."

"It's good luck," Lisch said.

Not every game.

It seems he had a bet with another attorney, a Notre Dame grad, for the 1993 regular season showdown on Nov. 13 between the No. 1 Seminoles and No. 2 Fighting Irish at South Bend, Ind.

The loser of the bet had to sit on the wall outside the Bradenton Financial Center at noon wearing the other team's jersey and a sign.

FSU lost, 31-24, though it rebounded to win the national championship.

"I had to sit there the whole lunch hour with a sign that said, 'ND is #1 and FSU stinks,'" Lisch said. "Traffic was going by and guys were going by yelling at me, some driving around two, three times just to do it again."

So is there another such wager on Monday night's big game?

"I'm trying to be humble," Lisch said. "But we'll see."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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