CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Mark Richt's only significant experience as a player in the Miami-Florida State series was in 1982, when four of his passes were intercepted and the Hurricanes lost.
When it was over, someone tried to cheer up an anguished Richt.
That someone was Bobby Bowden, the legendary Florida State coach.
Richt has been involved in this series much longer than most — as a Miami player from 1978 through 1982, as a Florida State graduate assistant from 1985 through 1988, the Seminoles' quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 1990 through 2000, and now as the Hurricanes' head coach for the first time. And in a series where there's been decades of big hits, trash talk and never-forget moments, Richt quickly points out that there's something else linking the Hurricanes and Seminoles as well.
"Mutual, mutual respect," Richt said. "We knew — and I say 'we' when I was at Florida State as a coach — we knew Miami was the real deal, and I think Miami knew Florida State was, as well.
"There were just some monumental wars ... and it was something to behold."
The next monumental moment in this series might come on Saturday night, when No. 23 Florida State (3-2, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) is to play at No. 10 Miami (4-0, 1-0). As of early Thursday, the game was still on, though officials from both schools and the ACC were keeping an eye on Hurricane Matthew and waiting to see if the game could be played as planned.
There are countless ties that bind these programs. Florida State star Dalvin Cook is from Miami, as are plenty of his teammates. Richt has been on both sidelines. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz attended Florida State. It's cliche to say that in a game like this the records don't matter, but ...
"In a game like this, the records don't matter," Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya said.
And he's right.
It's about bragging rights. It affects recruiting. It could knock Miami out of the Top 10, it could knock Florida State out of the AP Top 25 entirely. And though it's an informal title, the "state championship" definitely matters to Florida teams — as evidenced by last season, when the Seminoles lost their bowl game and handed out championship rings anyway in large part to commemorate beating Miami and Florida.
"It feels different," said Cook, who scored go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter to thwart Miami upset bids in each of the last two matchups between the Hurricanes and Seminoles. "It feels different all week. You can just feel it with the coaches and the players. They just know what time it is. It's Miami week. It don't get no bigger than this."
In games like this, coaches sometimes try to hide their enthusiasm.
That didn't apply to Florida State's Jimbo Fisher. The notoriously speedy talker seemed to be going even faster than usual this week, with no explanation needed as to why.
"Looking forward to a great rivalry game with Miami this week," Fisher said. "Miami is a heck of a team, Top 10 team, one of the great rivalries in college football. Looking forward to it."