A few weeks ago a column on the sports page addressed the changing nature and behavior of sports fans. And after Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick's touchdown during Saturday night's game, a lot of the ugliness discussed in that piece was in full view not only for the 47,900 in attendance, but the nationwide audience watching on ESPN.
For a while, things looked okay in Cavalier country. Thomas Jones had broken the Virginia rushing record. The Cavs led Florida State 7-0, and also had a 10-7 advantage at the half. Most importantly, the Virginia fans -- long criticized for apathy -- were rocking the house.
The crowd gave me goosebumps on several occasions -- on every one of Chris Weinke's interceptions, on the Virginia touchdown, and most of all, on Jones's record-breaking 71-yard run.
And the throngs of Virginia followers at Scott Stadium kept up that enthusiasm for much of the game. Unlike many previous contests, where the fans would cheer loudly for a big play then become quieter than a mime at open mic night, those in attendance maintained a steady interest and seemed ready to crank up the volume for the pivotal third down by the opposing offense.
The fans stuck around in the third quarter when FSU went ahead on Weinke's second touchdown pass to Marvin Minnis, this one from 20 yards out.
Even when the Seminoles quickly widened their lead to 11, a vast majority stayed in the stands, although one "fickle trickle" began to filter through the gates near the corner of Alderman Road and the Aquatic Fitness Center.
But after Warrick scored from midfield on a screen pass, the exodus truly began. Some of those who stayed decided to make a little bigger impact, not with their cheers, but something a lot more dangerous.
Members of the Florida State team began to walk along the sideline, showboating in front of the student section and talking trash.
The fans responded by throwing trash. The Seminoles scattered. Police and event staff poured into the stands. The scene culminated when one blue-blazered individual was escorted out by police, in front of the unblinking eye of the TV camera. If one of the FSU players or coaches had been seriously injured, imagine the public relations disaster.
It's incidents like these that give Virginia fans a bad reputation. Frankly, it made me embarrassed to say I attend the University. It is completely unacceptable to throw things onto the field of play in any sport. Ever.
I don't care if the 'Noles decide to start a victory bonfire and provide some of Thomas Jefferson's documents for kindling, there's no excuse to let loose with a bottle barrage.
That doesn't condone what the Florida State players did, either. They should know better, and shame on Bobby Bowden and his staff for allowing his athletes to incite the situation, which is what they did.
But what the 'Noles did doesn't matter. It's one thing to have a reputation as being apathetic, it's another to have a reputation for having no class or for being dangerous, two qualities that describe Saturday night's disgrace perfectly.
Let's keep up the solid turnout and loud cheers, and leave the throwing to the guys under center on the field. Otherwise, just stay at home.
Throwing things at your TV is a lot safer, if not equally idiotic.