The warmest thing at Doak Campbell Stadium on Tuesday night was the flame lit atop the "Unconquered" statue. The second warmest thing was the swarm of 2,000 fans huddled together on the opposite side of the stadium, despite temperatures dipping below 30 degrees, not counting the wind.
The Seminoles had rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Auburn 34-31 the night before. Now, the team was coming home.
The crowd was ready when the busses arrived. The players were not. After a week in California and a day of celebration, they were dazed by the scream of cold and the blast of sound from the crowd. On the bus, Jimbo Fisher's wife, Candi, took an awestruck video on her phone.
The crowd did not want to escape the cold. After 14 years of waiting for the Seminoles to win their third national championship, a few more minutes in the freezing air was bearable. Even when the team had slipped inside, some of the fans lingered.
They waited for one more moment, with one more player.
"The fans can have a lot of pride back at Florida State and our players, you see how much they appreciate it," head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That's what it's all about: the players and the fans. Great job by both of them. It's a great day."
Even he seemed unprepared. In a thin white pullover, he waded through the crowd with his team. He stopped only when someone pressed against a barrier and shouted his name, finally turning to survey the clatter surrounding him.
'Thank you!" one fan shouted.
Fisher waved, then darted inside. It still hadn't sunk in yet, he said.
The team walked past the trophy case in the Moore Athletic Center with a pair of crystal footballs inside, soon to have a third partner.
Despite the weather outside, the cold streak was over.
"I know this type of crowd hasn't been in Tallahassee in a long time," junior offensive tackle Cameron Erving said. "It's a blessing to be a part of something special."
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