Seminole Boosters hosted a meet-and-greet featuring offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham and quarterback McKenzie Milton on Wednesday, May 12 in the Dunlap Champions Club to promote the upcoming football season as well as Seminole Booster membership.
Dillingham sold the power of the fan.
“If you are a prospect and we talk to that prospect about a game day experience, we can sell, ‘There is not a team in America with a better game day experience than right here in that stadium,’” Dillingham said. “However, in order for us to have that experience, we have to have every butt in those seats possible.”
Dillingham offered the football version of the chicken or the egg conundrum. “What came first, a sold out crowd or recruits?”
You guessed it; Dillingham said it’s the crowd, and specifically you, who produces recruits.
If you build the crowd, the recruits will come.
“You get a sold out crowd and our prospects see our fans and our players coming out and every one in every seat doing this (showing the Seminole Chop). There’s not a better environment in college football,” Dillingham said. “I’m excited to see it for the first time because last year we had 25 percent capacity. I’m excited for a home field advantage and not necessarily for the guys on the field but for the future of the program. We are telling every top prospect we have, who is not deciding early, to official visit Notre Dame.”
“Why?” the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach asked the crowd. “Because there should be no other stadium in America that has a better game day feel than right here.”
And he’s right. Notre Dame vs. Florida State. Night Game. The Sunday of Labor Day weekend. The kickoff of the college football season.
“But who makes that happen?” he asked. “It has nothing to do with me. It’s you guys, girls, peers, people you know, who make that happen. That’s where we have an advantage over every team in America: You all.”
Fair enough but neither he, nor Norvell, have been waiting around for the crowds to gather. While FSU went two recruiting classes without a quarterback signing, Norvell and Dillingham have already signed two promising high school quarterbacks in less than 18 months and the best transfer quarterback in the portal.
As Dillingham was wrapping up his pitch, he handed the mike to Milton, who won 38 games at the University of Central Florida and finished 7th in the Heisman voting in 2018 before sustaining what could have been a career-ending leg injury.
For two years he rehabilitated the injury, running UCF’s scout team in 2020, before transferring to FSU in time for spring football practice, where he looked good as new throughout 15 practices, albeit while wearing the customary green, non-contact jersey.
Milton told the crowd his choice of FSU came down to confidence in the coaching staff and the university’s brand.
“Coach Norvell and his staff, they are the right guys for the job,” he said. “They are the best overall staff I have been around going into my sixth year of College Football. They have a vision. Everything is high intensity. Guys are coming to work. They have a plan. There is always a rhyme and reason for everything we are doing day in and day out. Just know we are in the right hands with these coaches. They are going to get this thing going. These players, we are busting our butts every day to get it right to put on a show for you.”
Milton had one more thought to share that was very compelling to a crowd comprised of past and current season ticket holders.
“One thing I have also learned in these five years I’ve been in college is one athlete, one quarterback, we are just one cog in the wheel of success,” Milton said. “What I mean by that is the sum is always greater than the parts. Coaches, players, nutrition staff, strength staff, fans, Boosters, we all make this thing go. We all make Florida State go. We are all in this together.”
He’s right, of course. College athletics is a three-legged stool. Coaches and players make up one leg. Administration and staff the second leg. The third leg is comprised of season ticket holders and Boosters. It takes all three legs for the stool to stand. If one leg or the other is weak, or short, the stool will topple.
Athletics director David Coburn gave the prospects in the crowd two good reasons to buy. One was an attractive seven-game home schedule, which includes Notre Dame, Miami and dangerous ACC foes North Carolina State and Louisville. He also talked about an improved Florida State football team bolstered by as many as eight transfers, who will likely start and are draftable.
Seminole Boosters, Inc., president Michael Alford spoke on the importance of the annual fund and ticket sales to funding a successful program, including providing opportunities for numerous student-athletes who are the first in their family to attend college. He noted the annual fund drive is currently at 75 percent of an ambitious goal of 13,000 members.
“People are really stepping up,” Alford said. “We rank about four or fifth in the ACC in terms of donors but first in number of alumni. We really need to get out and promote what I call the ‘Power of One.’ Please go and get a friend, an alumni, a casual fan and come and join the Boosters. Because it really does make a difference.”
Alford explained the annual fund is how athletics is able to support the 550 plus student-athletes to provide them the resources they need to earn a very meaningful degree while picking up some championship rings along the way.
“Those resources we are able to provide them while they are here truly makes the difference and come from the Seminole Booster annual fund,” Alford said. “We not only change their life but we are changing the expectations of generations of their kids to go to college.”
Alford also reported on the proposed football operations building with the pledge count now up to $50 million after visits with donors in South Florida last week.
“Coach Norvell and I visited some other facilities and made the determination that we want to do something that will serve the test of time and represent Florida State the way it should be represented,” Alford said. “We want it to be the very best facility in the country.”
Alford took questions on a number of topics, drawing the night’s biggest laugh when he promised, the football operations building would serve the student-athletes’ needs “without gimmicks.”
The crowd-pleasing line of the night goes to Milton, who concluded his pep talk by saying: “I want to see you all September 5th. Sold out. Everybody in the stands and we’re going to put in on Notre Dame. I look forward to seeing you there, alright?”
If you would like to attend the next donor appreciation event on Monday, May 17 at 51 on Madison, or would like to help FSU by contributing to the Seminole Booster annual fund and/or by purchasing tickets, call 850.644.1830.