ARLINGTON, TEXAS | For one father and son, being a Florida State fan spans the generation between Deion Sanders and Jameis Winston.
Markus Smith Sr., grew to love the Seminoles while growing up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C., pulled in by the emotion, style and swagger of Sanders, Terrell Buckley and the rest of the late 1980s and early 1990s teams.
His 12-year-old son, Markus, Jr., has spent the last three years of his life in Frisco, Texas, where his father is a computer programmer. He quickly latched onto Winston as his hero.
"I loved watching guys like Deion play," Smith said two hours before Saturday's Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium, where the top-ranked Seminoles were to play Oklahoma State. "They were good players and they had fun doing it. There was a style to those teams that I fell in love with."
However, Smith gave a nod to his son's favorite player. Both wore shirts that said, "Famous Jameis" on the back.
Smith is one of a number of Texas residents and natives who joined an estimated 15,000 FSU fans (that was the number of tickets the school reported it sold) in watching the Seminoles open defense of their national championship.
Some even partied with Oklahoma State fans in the sweltering high-90s heat in a parking lot mostly devoid of shade. Heather Ramsey of Austin (who was born in the small Florida panhandle town of Sneads) wore her FSU shirt in between two friends who were Cowboys fans, Alyson and Drue Gindler of Georgetown, Texas.
Drue, who is Alyson's daughter, is a junior at OSU and one of the "paddle people," a spirit group at Cowboys' home games who use paddles to whip up the crowd.
"We all have to hope tonight," she said, noting that FSU is a 17.5 point favorite.
Ramsey was trying not to be overconfident.
"She's doing a good job about not getting too cocky yet," Alyson Gindler said.
"I think Jameis will to what it takes to win," Ramsey said.
A t-shirt worn by many fans had an outline of the map of Texas in FSU colors with the phrase, "Texans for FSU."
No Oklahoma State equivalent could be found.
"FSU signed a lot of Texas guys in the past," Smith said, referring to players such as Ken Alexander and Clifton Abraham, who were on FSU's first national championship. "Then you have to stop and consider that for about 10 years, Miami, FSU and Florida dominated the national championship. They attracted fans from all over the country."
Garry Smits: (904) 359-4362.