The dream is dead.
The glory has ended.
The players will return to campus, enjoy a brief pep rally, then fade from color to black and white. It happened to Mouse McFadden, it happened to Fennis Dembo, it happened to Taylor Coppenrath. It happens to them all. I’ve seen it before, I’ll see it again.
And yet …
This feels different. Florida Gulf Coast wasn’t Cleveland State or Wyoming or Vermont. It was a school 98% of us had never heard of; a school that didn’t exist until 1997; a school in its second year of March Madness eligibility. We’ll be talking about this one for a long time. It’ll be a reference point for one coach after another after another. “You guys don’t think we can win. Well, lemme tell you about Florida Gulf Coast in the spring of 2013 …”
I’m sad the run has ended, because without Florida Gulf Coast, the tournament no longer interests me. I’m numb to watching Duke-Louisville or Florida-Michigan. It’s dull and repetitive; big-money, big-booster teams featuring myriad players only in college as an NBA gateway.
But I’m also not sad, because the magic was real and lasting and amazing. No matter what becomes of Chase Fieler (European pro, accountant, dog walker), we’ll all recall that dunk against Georgetown—the dunk heard around the world. Most important, I’ll never again sleep on a No. 15 seed. I’ll never again think a team has no shot whatsoever.
Thanks to Florida Gulf Coast, I’m a changed man.
Well, not really. But I’m a changed fan.