Rix Happens

Chris Rix was a fine quarterback and a good man but when Florida States’ football machine suddenly went south, he shouldered much of the blame.  Here is the story.

The “Rix Happens” t-shirts were a succinct expression of fan discontent. The verb to happen implies a lack of intention, the randomness of an event. Accidents, acts of God, and yes, shit, happen. That, of course, was the point, to make Christopher Charles Rix’s name a four-letter word. The moniker even lent itself to abuse. R-I-C-K-S would not have had the same punch. X is vulgar, the rating on pornography, but also marks the spot, is a crossroads and an indicator of mystery as in X-files or X-factor, or even the unknown: solve for X.

The t-shirt was clever if mean-spirited, but almost genteel compared to what followed news articles on-line. After any article on Florida State football the anonymous comments section—the hairy anus of the internet—came streams of invective laced with expletives and unburdened by common decency, directed at a man who for much of his time as starting quarterback could not legally purchase alcohol.

In 2001 Chris Rix was the quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles. He was a freshman who burned his redshirt during Chris Wienke’s senior season, a Heisman-winning campaign that ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the national championship game. According to some reports Weinke had not been especially helpful to the younger QBs on the team, but that really didn’t matter because no freshman was going to be starting. Bobby Bowden had been the head coach at FSU since 1976 and had never named a freshman quarterback; he had never had the need. But in 2001 FSU football was about to head south and a 19-year-old kid was going to shoulder much of the blame.

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