Over at the Amway Center Thursday night, thousands of Orlando Magic fans will cheer for a young man who has happy feet. Dwight Howard seems bothered by the "culture" of this team and the city, and wants out.
Any cheers will be etched in a sad sense of betrayal: 'Why aren't we good enough Dwight?'
But only a few miles away, a sellout crowd of 66,500 will be shouting and screaming without any disclaimers. There won't be any discontent, expect a sprinkle of frustration here and there. The Notre Dame and Florida State football players are more than happy to be in Orlando for their scrum in the Florida Citrus Bowl, culminating nearly a week-long love fest with the City of Orlando.
The Champs Sports Bowl, like so many others in the holiday smorgasbord of bowls, tends to get lost in the BCS shuffle. It's hard to keep up with who is playing whom and where, especially since the BCS suits decided to slot their games on different nights well into January. Who knows, perhaps there will come a day when the national championship will be staged in conjunction with Valentine's Day.
But the here and now for the Noles and Fighting Irish is all about moving forward despite the disappointments of 2011.
Notre Dame never truly bounced back from an opening-week loss to South Florida. Like all teams that under-achieve, there was lots of self-inflicted silliness. Notre Dame turned the ball over 16 times in four losses. Two fumbles were returned 98 yards for touchdowns.
FSU might have been the most disappointing team in the country given the pre-season expectations. FSU's season went splat it after losing to then No. 1 Oklahoma. So much for the preseason buzz that the Noles would snag their first BCS bowl bid since 2005. Although the Noles rallied from a 2-3 start to win seven of their last eight games, there's still a sense that something was left on the table.
Those are the reasons these teams are here and not there. Now can we all just move along?
Let's drop the obsession with all things BCS and enjoy the moment, shall we?
Players from both teams have enjoyed the perks of their bowl bid, which included a $420 gift card from Best Buy.
The folks from Florida Citrus Sports could not be happier. There aren't even single game tickets left. That crowd of 66,500 will not be an inflated number. "It's that hard of a sellout," Florida Citrus Sports CEO Steve Hogan said.
That's as good as it gets given the glut of games _ 35 games and 70 teams _ and the economic squeeze that is making fans more tight-fisted with their leisurely dollars.
I'm not rolling out the Pollyanna/Chamber of Commerce speech. But it's important to dial down the whining and the discontent. Since everybody keeps score, it's important to note that there will only be one national champion in 2011, and the other teams are going to have to look for some other positive mojo while reflecting on the season.
"Is it disappointing we didn't win more games?" FSU coach Jimbo Fisher asked rhetorically Wednesday morning. "Yes we want to win more games. But for a young football team to deal with criticisms and distractions and all the things that come with not being as successful as you want to be, they never lost faith in each other. They never turned on each other. That group stayed extremely tight."
FSU will be celebrating its 30th consecutive bowl appearance despite all the significant hiccups: Losing quarterback EJ Manuel for all or parts of a game in three of the four losses. A decimated offensive line that featured six different starting lineups. That adds to all sorts of frustration, enraging fans to call out Fisher's play-calling abilities.
"How do you fix the problem?" Fisher said, alluding to his team's struggles.
That's a very legitimate question for next season.
For now, it's all about marching their happy feet over to the Citrus Bowl Thursday night.
Dwight Howard should be taking notes.Copyright © 2015, RedEye