From the annual March Madness fiasco that ends up in the trash after the first four hours of play, to the passion project of my childhood, where I pitted every character from Toy Story against each other until Slinky Dog inevitably came out on top, brackets have always held a special place in my heart. So, what better way to tackle the wackiness of what was Florida State’s 2017-2018 school year, with a bracket. Inspired by one of my favorite annual articles – Rembert Browne’s yearly “who won,” that particular year which was discontinued after 2016, but dates back to 2011 – I will be putting events, individuals, achievements, and villains against each other to come up with the metaphorical, “winner,” of the FSU 2017-2018 school year.
Before we hop into the madness that is the art of, “bracketeering,” I probably need to set some things straight first. The bracket includes 32 contestants/players, broken up into four regions. Each region is named after a Tallahassee bar and is themed based on occupants, style, and overall vibe. For instance, Level 8 will represent the region featuring “Distinguished Institutions.” This ranges from notable individuals (spoiler – Hurricane Irma is acting as an individual here), to actual institutions, to technological applications, to organizations on campus that performed particularly well. The other three regions are pretty self-explanatory as Madison Social encapsulates the “Tailgate Region” hosting everything sports, Proof Brewing showcases achievements throughout FSU’s school year, and the famous Bullwinkle’s Saloon entertains the rag-tag group of everything, and everyone that falls in between.
Now, how will this bracket be presented to the public? Starting Monday of finals week each region’s analysis and winner will be released until it is down the the last four. Then on the Friday, May 4th an article will be released encompassing the battle between the final four and a winner will be announced. Another thing about this bracket is that it is FSU focused, so don’t expect to see Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum or FAMU’s epic Homecoming making the cut. Most of all, I want to remind our lovely readership that no matter how terribly you disagree with the way this bracket unfolds – it is just an article, an extremely arbitrary article that is meant to have fun with the chaos that encompassed the past 8 months. And if you do have any comments, don’t be afraid to leave one below. So read, have fun, enjoy yourself, laugh, and let the past year flash in front of you for one last time before you graduate, hit the beach for the summer, head out of town for your prestigious internship, or stick your head above the water in just enough time to grab a breath of air before you head back to classes for the summer grind.
So, in classic Steve Harvey fashion, let’s meet our contestants.
Honorable Mentions: The FSView, Cold Weather, The Big Event, The Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, WVFS Tallahassee, Marches, and the Black Student Union.
Level 8 Region (Distinguished Institutions) Round One
(1) John Thrasher vs. (8) Canvas
Back in 2014, President Thrasher was appointed by Florida State’s Board of Trustees with an 11-2 vote. I was only a Freshman here at the time, but what I remember most about the appointment of Thrasher was the controversy that surrounded the former state senator. The chant “FSU is not for sale,” rang through some groups of students immediately after his election, fearing Thrasher would disregard Florida State’s liberal arts programs only to focus on STEM and Business programs. As the years went on, Thrasher slowly proved himself as a viable University President through several ice cream socials, checks on politicians (Rubio and Trump), and the shitshow of what was FSU’s fall of 2017. As for the fall of 2017, one of the few bright spots (or dark spots, depending on how much you liked Blackboard) that distracted from the dismal football season, chaotic Greek Life, and Jimbo’s unspeakable transgression was the introduction of the much more user-friendly interface, Canvas. Canvas replacing the blocky and at most times just downright confusing Blackboard brought simplicity to the lives of many FSU students and faculty. But, with that being said, that’s kind of where Canvas’s reign on this year ends, as for Thrasher, he easily trots into round two, as I feel his run in this bracket is just beginning.
Winner: John Thrasher
(4) Jawole Willa Jo Zollar vs. (5) Club Downunder/Union Productions
The 4 versus 5 matchup is always an intriguing one, in any bracket, as this one consists of someone who is probably vastly unknown outside of FSU’s school of dance against one of FSU’s staples that was on the brink of destruction. Luckily, for Club Downunder they bounced back with a stellar year in bookings, with acts including Hippo Campus, The Drums, Saba, Chris D’elia, Of Montreal, and many more. Although CDU & Union Productions made the cut for a spot in the upcoming new Union, they are going against one hell of a dancer. FSU Professor Jawole Willa Jo Zollar was awarded a lifetime achievement award in October of 2017 at The Bessies – the Tony’s of the dance world. I’ll just leave at that for this round. At first look at the contestants in this bracket, I truly was rooting for a run by CDU, as they pulled off amazing show after amazing show this year, but when you are going up against the likes of a Bessie winner, it doesn’t look so favorable. Any other region, and CDU would have made a run.
Winner: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
(3) Stacy Pierre vs. (6) Students Demand Action
If you don’t know who Stacy Pierre is, then let me introduce you – she is a first-generation FSU student from Miramar, Florida, she is also a woman of color, and she is also FSU’s newly elected Student Body President. Now, if you do know who Stacy Pierre is, then you probably know of the controversy that surrounds her party’s election. This particular controversy is going to be a common theme throughout this bracket, so strap in. Although not entirely her fault, recent light has been shed on an alleged deep conspiracy within SGA, FSU’s Administration, the FSU secret society Burning Spear, and Tallahassee politics. This will all be tackled in a little more detail later in the bracket, but if you’d like to enlighten yourself, check Pierre’s opponent’s statement about his loss here. Because of this conspiracy, it puts Pierre in a little bit of a disadvantage, especially when she was going up against a very underrated 6-see, in Students Demand Action FSU. FSU’s chapter of the gun safety advocacy group, Everytown, exploded onto the scene after the tragedy that took place on Valentine’s Day at Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They helped lead several marches onto the capitol to demand legislation to counteract gun violence, including one with students from Stoneman Douglas. Students Demand Action FSU dominated the Florida State activism scene this semester, as they gathered around a tragedy to try and shape something somewhat decent out of it. They will be moving on.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to learn more about Stacy Pierre and her accomplishments as a student, please click here.
Winner: Students Demand Action FSU
(2) Hurricane Irma vs. (7) FSUPD
Just after the tragic death of Pi Kappa Phi’s Andrew Coffee, and just before John Thrasher’s announcement on the suspension of Greek Life, FSUPD ran through most if not all of the fraternity houses associated with FSU. The mission was to find one thing – drugs. And find it did they ever. Rumors spread far and wide about the FBI being involved as well as the amount of cocaine found, but to stick to the known facts and to not turn this into a piece totally based on speculation, two FSU fraternity members were arrested: Pi Kappa Phi’s Daniel Martin, and Phi Delta Theta’s Garrett John Marcy. Finding things to arrest frat-bros for is something that can be done on a daily basis, hence the low seed. The FSUPD goes up against Hurricane Irma – a storm which knocked out school for a week and had everyone throughout the state of Florida collectively shitting their pants. So yeah. Easy win for Irma.
Winner: Hurricane Irma
Level 8 Region (Distinguished Institutions) Round Two
(1) John Thrasher vs. (4) Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar started her career as a dancer when she was a young child, but she didn’t know she could make a living off of it until she began college at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. According to Florida State University News, Zollar got to Florida State in 1975 to pursue a Master’s in Fine Arts, as she studied under FSU dance department chair, Nancy Smith Fichter. “She wasn’t the traditional, perfect ballet or modern dancer. She was much more than that, she was beyond that,” said Fichter, who Zollar credits for making her feel at home in the racially hostile times of the 1970s. Zollar put into practice her desire to invoke social change through the art of dance, as she founded the Urban Bush Women 33 years ago – a dance nonprofit used to shed light on untold and underrepresented stories of disenfranchised people throughout the dance world. Zollar’s accomplishments should be praised, as her Bessie award was well-deserved, but President Thrasher’s year was probably the busiest of his careers. A couple friends and I ran into Thrasher at the Busy Bee off of I-10 just days after the fall semester. None of us had ever met him, but since a few of us were sporting Florida State gear he decided to strike up a conversation. He mentioned he just got done testifying in front of a grand jury who was tasked with the investigation of the death of Andrew Coffey. This is why Thrasher is moving on – he was able to put aside one of the most tragic things to happen in Florida State’s history and ask a few random students about the experience at FSU, their plans for break, and what they were studying. In a bracket of who has had most influential life throughout their years, Zollar would have had laps on Thrasher, but in a bracket pertaining to this school year, Thrasher’s run is just beginning.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to learn more about Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and her accomplishments as a faculty member at FSU, please click refer to the Florida State University News article above.
Winner: John Thrasher
(2) Hurricane Irma vs. (6) Students Demand Action
Students Demand Action’s second march was the widely participated, March For Our Lives taking place March 24th. At the end of the march, they held a rally which included many different speakers including Tallahassee Mayor and Florida Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Leon County Superintendent of Schools Rocky Hanna, Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate Matthew Harris, and many others. The march and rally were powerful, uniting, and hopeful, but is it enough to take down Florida’s Hurricane of the decade? In Tallahassee, Hurricane Irma was a flop. I personally fled up to North Carolina to spend some time with my brother, and while there his house lost power longer than my apartment in Tally, where my roommate was bracing himself for liftoff. Because of Hurricane Hermine a year before, Tallahassee was ready – except for one pivotal thing that makes up so much of FSU’s culture, the football team. Florida State’s football team faced a 21-day stretch without a game to play because of a Irma, a 21-day stretch where freshman QB, James Blackman had to wait week after week after week to make his first collegiate start, and a 21-day stretch that may have caused Florida State’s disaster of a football season in 2017. Was the week off of school worth it? Although Students Demand Action took hold of Tallahassee for three weekends out of the spring semester, Hurricane Irma offset everything; the storm messed with academic scheduling, personal scheduling, and what is debatably the most cherished time of the year, football season. Irma beat FSU into the ground during the first couple weeks of Fall. It was a fun run for Students Demand Action and the early cinderella of the bracket, but Hurricane Irma is a force to be reckoned with. She powers on.
Winner: Hurricane Irma
Level 8 Region (Distinguished Institutions) Winner to the Final Four
(1) John Thrasher vs. (2) Hurricane Irma
This one will be quick, because based on the principle on why Irma squeaked out a victory against Students Demand Action, it is actually her biggest weakness in this matchup. Football. Football. Football. If there is one thing that can distract the Greeks from one of their own (yes, John Thrasher was in a fraternity – check out his Wikipedia page) banning them from activity, and non-Greeks from reinstating them just as quickly, it’s the solution to the question that plagued everyone’s mind at the end of Fall semester, “Who’s gonna replace Papa Jimbo?” President Thrasher, along with the help of Athletic Director, Stan Wilcox put everyone’s mind at ease with two words: Willie Taggart. That’s right, if Hurricane Irma destroyed football in 2017, Thrasher and Co. may have saved it for FSU for years to come. Thrasher heads to the Final Four.
Winner: John Thrasher