You may have won the BCS National Championship, Florida State. But you just lost the House of Representatives.
That piece of wood buried deep inside the custom-made gavel that will symbolically enforce every edict issued by the Florida legislature for the next two years? It isn’t from Chief Osceola’s spear, it’s from the Toomer’s Oaks.
That’s because Rep. Steve Crisafulli, the state of Florida’s new Speaker of the House of Representatives, though a Central Florida graduate, is a hardcore Auburn fan. As in his Golden Retriever’s name is Aubie. One of those.
We’re told Crisafulli’s staff, who kept the gavel a surprise until it was presented to him Wednesday at his swearing-in ceremony, may have actually looked into procuring one of those $40 million Toomer’s gavels. They ultimately went with the much more fiscally responsible tiny Toomer’s sliver option that, what with being formed out of wood from orange trees planted by his father and grandfather in the 1930s, has even more sentimental value. (Can’t see the video? Try here. And you can watch the entire ceremony here.)
“He (Crisafulli) is a fan—he’s an out and out fan,” says Florida Rep. Clay Ingram, who though having attended and played for Florida State (he was the long snapper on the Seminoles 1999 National Championship team) is an Auburn supporter himself thanks to deep family connections. Ingram says there are three Auburn fans in the Florida House of Representatives: Himself, Crisafulli, and Rep. James Grant, student equipment manager at Auburn in the early 2000s.
Ingram says the three call themselves “the Auburn Caucus.” Crisafulli’s rise to the speaker’s chair was a major coup for the Caucus, putting it in an unprecedented position of partisan pigskin power.
“Most (of his fellow representatives) are either Florida Gators grads or from Florida State,” Ingram says. Outgoing speaker Will Weatherford, who presented Crisafulli with the gavel, is the older brother of former FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford.
“Now they (Florida State fans) have to hide those feelings, not talk as openly,” Ingram jokes. “It was kind of sore subject around here after the (2013) national championship.”
But if his speech after being sworn in is any indication, Crisafulli won’t lord it over them.
“Yeah, that Auburn piece meant something a couple of weeks ago,” he joked, referring to Auburn’s current two-game losing streak.
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More on Toomer’s Corner:
* Toomer’s Corner rollings didn’t start with Punt, Bama, Punt
* Did Auburn students celebrate Bear Bryant’s death by rolling Toomer’s Corner?
* Aerial shot of the final rolling of the Toomer’s Oaks is possibly the most viral Auburn photo ever