The Burn List: A Weekly Countdown of FSU Twitter's Favorite Targets

BCS National Championship - Florida State v Auburn

Nothing, it seems, is safe from the wrath of FSU Twitter. For the uninitiated, FSU Twitter (or #FSUTwitter, as it’s more commonly referred to online) is the group of maniacs Florida State fans that dwell on the popular social media site Twitter and publicly excoriate anything that’s even perceived as insulting to their beloved Florida State University.

Nothing is safe from these denizens of Florida State-related social media justice — they are equal opportunists when it comes to who gets attacked. And in much the same way as having an impure thought is as good as acting on it in the eyes of Catholic dogma, it takes even less to be marked a sinner in the eyes of #FSUTwitter.

The best way one could describe the rapid judgment (and unblinking retribution) that has made #FSUTwitter what it is today is with a scene in the film, “300.”

Just replace the word, “Sparta,” with #FSUTwitter, do that half a dozen more times and you’ve got your average run-of-the-mill Tuesday on Twitter.

No FSU’s isn’t the biggest fan-base in the country, and if you want to extend the metaphor to absurdity FSU is still Sparta to the SEC’s Athens. But, not unlike the Spartans of antiquity (or the Frank Miller version), that doesn’t make #FSUTwitter any less fierce. Quite the opposite actually.

So with that in mind, we’re rolling out a new weekly feature here at ChopChat, ‘The Burn List,’ a weekly countdown of the top people/news-stories/websites that has #FSUTwitter frothing at the mouth. This is (though I shouldn’t have to point this out) largely done in jest. So let’s not take this too seriously…

4.) Rhett Lashlee

Did you know Auburn has an offensive coordinator? Get this, they actually have two. One is Dameyune Craig who is a monster on the recruiting trail and really only holds that title for those purposes. The other is Rhett Lashlee, a former quarterback who also doesn’t call the plays because much like Jimbo Fisher does at Florida State, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn calls the offense for Auburn.

That leaves Rhett plenty of time to say things he ought not, like this:

“We could’ve executed much better and really named our score in that game, and we didn’t,” Lashlee said to reporters last week. “We let them hang around and we ended up losing the football game.”

Oh you poor, poor man. #FSUTwitter isn’t going to take kindly to that.

Before we get started, a few things. Despite being a very charitable way to look at this game from Auburn’s perspective, this line of logic is far from unfamiliar to most coaches. Jimbo Fisher himself is no stranger to it. Go back and look up the press conference from after the NC State game two years ago and you’ll hear Fisher saying something similar — albeit in a much more genteel way.

But (hopefully) these are the things you learn as you mature. At 30, Jimbo — who has no shortage of confidence — may have been just as brash (ironically at that age, Fisher was also coaching at Auburn). And in 18 years when Lashlee is Fisher’s age, he may have by then learned not to share those kinds of statements publicly.

From a completely philosophical standpoint, almost every team would win every game if they executed properly. That’s like a politician losing an election and then saying that he would’ve won if more people had just voted for him. Of course you would have, but there’s a multitude of reasons that didn’t happen — chief amongst them what your competitor did.

What Lashlee doesn’t get into when he says that his team should have executed better is what really happened in the second half. Sure, the Auburn defense lost momentum heading into the intermission after FSU used a fake punt to spark its own offense. But in the second half the Auburn offense stopped being as productive because Florida State simplified things and stopped getting caught off-guard by the Tigers’ quick-snap.

Go back and watch the first half of the national title game and pay specific attention to Auburn’s tempo. They were executing at a no-huddle pace despite the fact they were huddling. This was made possible by the fact they were eschewing football convention and huddling just a yard or two off the line of scrimmage. In turn, they were able to break quickly, line up and snap instantly.

Florida State had no clue what to do with that. FSU’s defense is vastly complicated, it relies on calls and checks at the line of scrimmage before the play and the entire unit needs to be on the same page and communicating efficiently for it to work. If you take away the ability to make those pre-snap calls and checks, the defense is going to struggle. That’s what Auburn was doing early.

Just look at the first series when Terrence Brooks gets caught flat-footed on a deep route and Auburn narrowly misses an early TD. You can see Telvin Smith turn around pre-snap to help Brooks on the call, but by then it’s too late. Auburn has FSU right where it wants and the Tigers get a man to come open deep.

Those kinds of breakdowns occurred regularly throughout the first half and helped Auburn build its lead. And it wasn’t just against FSU, either. That’s the same tactic that helped the Tigers hang a bunch of points on Alabama and again against Missouri in the SEC Championship game. Even in a defensive-minded conference like the SEC, if you can catch a defense before it lines up right or makes it checks you’re going to have success.

In the second half FSU adjusted. Whether or not Lashlee wants to credit the Seminoles for those adjustments is irrelevant, just turn on the tape. Suddenly the defensive calls had been simplified, the checks were fewer and FSU was basically lining up and playing it like they saw it, with no frills. Auburn didn’t go into the locker-room at the half and forget how to run its offense. Florida State went in and simplified their scheme, focused on lining up quickly and let their athleticism start speaking for itself.

The rest is history.

3.) Deadspin

Ah, Deadspin, the site people love to hate but can’t seem to live without. Deadspin started as a fairly logical counterpoint to ESPN and has evolved into a TMZ/ESPN/Huffington Post hybrid. Some of the content is great, some of it is highly questionable. Lately a good portion of it seems geared towards Florida State’s litany of off-field problems.

And oh is #FSUTwitter pissed.

It started in earnest when the Jameis Winston sexual assault allegations surfaced late last year. Now, I’ll be honest, I was writing for the Miami Herald at that point and covering the story was an obligation for everyone. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t what most of us got into sports-journalism to do, but it had to be done. I’m not going to attack any reporter or website for doing their/its job.

But that didn’t stop #FSUTwitter from attacking, and the level of their vitriol amped up considerably when Deadspin let Adam Weinstein — who once taught at FSU — pile on with a piece about how FSU is broken across the board, and not just in regards to their accused star quarterback. That article gave way to more FSU hit pieces like “Why I Believe Jameis Winston’s Accuser” and “I Was Shot and Raped by an FSU Player. I Still Cheer for the Seminoles” along with a whole host of other entries that certainly gave the impression that Deadspin had it out for Florida State.

The truth is far less sinister.

Deadspin has it out for clicks and traffic. How quickly a website who’s origin was bemoaning the lack of journalistic integrity at ESPN turned to running click-bait and traffic-driven content itself when it came to a major news story like Jameis Winston’s. That continued into this week when the site posted a photograph of an artistic creation by a Florida State art student that showed Winston being fellated by a frat brother and sodomized by a female with a Heisman shaped strap-on (I may go to hell just for writing that sentence). Straight click-bait.

Don’t take Deadspin too seriously though, because they sure don’t. The article directly above the aforementioned work of art was titled “These Neat Compression Shorts Have a Helpful Dick Pouch.” Seriously. That’s hard-hitting stuff right there.

Besides, going on Twitter to complain about the death of journalism is like standing out in your backyard spraying an aerosol can overhead and complaining about holes in the O-zone layer. You… may be contributing to the problem.

2.) Jeremy Fowler

Jeremy Fowler has never been particularly beloved amongst the Florida State fan-base. And his most recent Jameis Winston-related offering did little to improve the already icy relationship. Writing for CBS, Fowler comes down hard on Florida State for not suspending Jameis Winston for a football game next season over Crab-gate. This sentiment, coupled with the fact Fowler is a UF alum, hardly plays well with Florida State fans and they have been quite clear about that fact on Twitter. 

“A grocery staff isn’t the only thing catching up to Winston, who, along with teammates, was reportedly questioned by police in 2012 after windows broke near Doak Campbell Stadium from an alleged BB gun fight. Also reported in 2012, a Burger King employee called police alleging Winston stole soda.”

That’s hardly the rap sheet of a hardened criminal — two alleged food-related thefts and a potential BB gun shoot-out at a local apartment complex. That’s more Eddie Haskell than it is Eddie Gein. Fowler tip-toes around what he’s really trying to say, which is that Winston got away with sexual assault and now carries a crass disregard for the rule of law in Tallahassee. Instead he says all these incidents simply weave into the “Winston tapestry” and are indicative of something more troubling.

The soda, the crabs, these stories are a bit silly as stand-alones. But copy/paste Winston’s off-field list onto the reputation of another Seminoles player, then ask, would that player miss at least one game as a result?

Had Fowler done ANY research — as opposed to relying on his own ‘conventional wisdom’ — he’d have found another player that shares Winston’s own initials, James Wilder, who was actually arrested several times and never missed a game due to a suspension. Wilder was suspended briefly during the off-season — as is school policy with any felony arrest — but reinstated once his legal situation played out and never missed a game (incidentally, that doesn’t really help FSU’s case).

But considering that fact, Fowler comes off as far more biased against Winston. The crux of his position: ‘FSU doesn’t want to suspend its star quarterback.’

No, of course not. This isn’t exactly an Earth-shattering revelation either.

Fowler, who covered UF during Aaron Hernandez’ tumultuous tenure, should be no stranger to the lengths a top-ranking football program will go to keep a valuable contributor on the field. In fact, Fowler likely would have gained credibility (and come off as far less biased) had he drawn a parallel between the people who continued to enable Hernandez at Florida and the group he is accusing of enabling Winston at FSU. He doesn’t though, which is even more odd considering he could’ve twisted the knife on Urban Meyer (who once famously lit into him at a UF practice) just a little more by alluding to the Hernandez example.

It’s not even that Fowler is wrong — his is a valid opinion, whether FSU fans like it or not — it’s the way he feigns naiveté. This is major college athletics, it’s your job to keep up with this, you’re supposed to be ‘an expert.’ Let’s not act so shocked.

In the end, it was Fowler’s colleague, Gregg Doyel who provided the most objective take. Jameis Winston is a Seminole because they promised he could play two sports. He doesn’t look at baseball as a joke, it matters to him. Not to mention he’s the closer on a top ten team with College World Series aspirations. This was not a suspension from the bowling team. Doyel said it all brilliantly in his article, but still took his fair share of heat from #FSUTwitter just for writing on the same website as Fowler. No mercy.

1.) FSU Art Students

Ok, really just one art student specifically — Lena Weissbrot, the one who created the aforementioned Jameis Winston work. Before I get into any kind of formal critique let me first offer my own credentials. I have a bachelor’s and a masters in creative writing, I’ve had poetry published (under a pseudonym) and I have the utmost respect for art. But I’ve always found if a piece begs the question — is this art? — the answer is typically no.

Without getting too philosophical about what is and is not art, the kind of work that was created regarding Mr. Winston — by an artist who had previously received taxpayer money in the form of grants — does far more harm to the continued emphasis on art education at the collegiate level than it does good. Regardless of the social statement she was making (her artist statement seeks to justify misandry), one look at a piece of art like that is all that most conservative politicians need to continue pushing forward on the de-funding of the arts. Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, seeks to push a STEM-education agenda that focuses more on business education along with the maths and sciences — disciplines he feels better prepares Florida students for the job market — and that comes at the expense of liberal arts education.

Producing a piece like the one Weissbrot (who goes by @FellatiaGeisha on Twitter) created does not really help any of her peers or the art programs at FSU. It offends, it shocks and it creates the wrong kind of waves. I’m not really kidding when I say a lot of older, more conservative politicians (who happen to make decisions that affect the collegiate landscape in Florida) already think that the only thing most art students ever do is get naked, cover each other in paint and take bad sepia-filtered photographs of it. And if you already hold a negative perception of art students, this kind of work doesn’t exactly change that. If anything, it just verifies those curmudgeonly beliefs.

It’s practically a gift. ‘Why should our tax dollars be paying for this?’ And even the staunchest supporters of art and free speech are going to think twice before going to bat to defend something that even the artist admits is (purposely) tasteless.

It also embarrasses the university and further muddies the the Title IX discussion on campus (imagine if Winston had painted that picture about a female). Not to mention it has #FSUTwitter in a tizzy.

Unfortunately, #FSUTwitter is playing right into this artist’s hands. She wanted attention and notoriety and last night she got it in droves. But now it’s the Florida State art department that will likely pay for her creative license. And it may end up paying with its funding.


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