I had an opportunity to talk with Governor Rick Scott this afternoon for about five minutes. The Governor will be in attendance at Saturday's Florida-Florida State game to take in the action and help promote the 'Visit Florida' tourism initiative. He was gracious enough to talk to me for a few minutes about this weekend's game earlier today.
"I think it’s going to be a close game," said the Governor. "For Florida State to win they’re going to have to do what they’ve done all season, great defense. I had lunch [on Monday] with Jimbo Fisher and they’re going to have to beat them on offense. But they both have good special teams, so it’ll be a fun game."
Scott isn't about to take sides or pick a winner, as the leader of the state he's not trying to alienate any voters with a Gator chomp or a Tomahawk Chop.
"Are they a Florida football team? I like all of the Florida football teams," joked Governor Scott. "I like both of the teams and they both have a legitimate shot. This is great for Florida, it’s great to have two teams with these records. I’m glad Florida State is going to the ACC championship, I wish Florida was going to the SEC championship, but hopefully FSU is going to win the ACC championship in Charlotte. EJ Manuel has had a great season and Driskel has had a great season over at the Gators. Gilleslee has had a great season as a running back. I like watching the games, I’ve been to a few of them. I don’t think I’ve been to a game as the governor that either of these two teams have lost, so this will be interesting."
Obviously that ends this weekend. In Scott's mind regardless of outcome though, the state wins big time when both programs are ranked highly.
"It’s great for tourism, it’s also a great way to promote our state," said the Governor. "As we know, all of us follow college football so having both Florida and Florida State in the top ten is great just for gaining notoriety for our state. But on top of that having this great game late in the season like this where they’re both 10-1 is also [big]. I think we’re going to see a lot of people here this weekend, I’m looking forward to the game. I know Florida leads the series but I think either one can win this weekend."
I also had a chance to ask Rick Scott about a potential move by Florida State out of the ACC. As a public university in a cash-strapped state, I expected Rick Scott to have a different take but he's supportive of whatever FSU needs to do long-term with its athletic programs.
“I want both Florida and Florida State to have great football programs, so the way I look at it is Florida State needs to do what they can do to make sure they have a successful football program," said Scott. "Both of them need to be in conferences where they can raise the money they need to have great teams. I’d like them both to be undefeated every year until they meet.”
The knee-jerk reaction may be that there are better things to fundraise for (than a massive ACC exit fee), but credit Scott for having the foresight to realize that the price up front may enable a program to be more lucrative in the long run. If the Seminoles want to switch conferences this offseason, the governor's office isn't likely to object.
I also had a chance to ask Governor Scott about the work Jimbo and Candi Fisher have done for the Kidz First fund, he was highly complimentary.
“I think it’s great what’s he’s doing. I think someone like Coach Fisher, what [he’s] doing to use his position to help kids I think it’s outstanding," said Governor Scott. "We have so many individuals like that around the state that use their position to raise money and take care of- in a variety of ways- take care of kids.”
If you want more information on the Kidz First fund, click here.
For more on Visit Florida, follow this link...
I'll be back later tonight with lots more FSU coverage...