Smack in the middle of Cocktail U, in the heart of the school named No. 1 for fun in the U.S., lodged between Drink Till You Sink at Bullwinkle's and Nickel Beer Night at Calico Jack's, there is a very unusual place called Charlie Ward. It is a place where every day is 1951; a place where the only resident not only doesn't have sex, he also doesn't smoke, drink, swear, pierce, cheat, chew, drive by or get busy; a place where every reporter, ankle-taper and drive-thru box gets a "Sir" or a "Ma'am"; a place where the closest thing to trash talk is "Dad, you mind if I take out the garbage?"; a place where hopelessly outdated concepts like respect and decency are trying to get cool again.
You kidding me? Charlie is as square as a pan of peanut-butter fudge. The man won't even do the latest dance crazes.
For instance, Charlie won't do the Tennessee Waltz, the name Florida State fundergraduates give to hopping among the dozens of bars on Tallahassee's Tennessee Street, treating their livers to a thorough rinse and soak. And Charlie won't vogue at the nearby frat house where three coeds paraded as topless dancers at this year's Halloween bash. And he won't mosh at the Metropolis nightclub, where this fall Florida State and Florida A&M football players got into some complicated moshing (some people called it brawling). And Charlie definitely won't do advanced-placement dirty dancing at the nearby Club Park Ave., where police recently had to uncouple and arrest a twosome having sex on the dance door.
Not that Charlie Ward doesn't dance. He does the pretzel on defensive ends and the hustle on linebackers and the stomp on opposing teams' hearts. As a fifth-year senior, he has led the Seminoles to an 11-1 record and the AP's No. 1 ranking, and he needs only one more slam dance over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day to get Florida State its first national championship. And when he's done with that, he'll jump right into the basketball season and try to lead the Seminoles even higher than they went last year, which was to No. 6 in the country and the final eight in the NCAA tournament.
But that's not what is amazing about Charlie. This is what is amazing: Not only is he a great quarterback ("Best I've seen since Roger Staubach," says ESPN's Lee Corso), not only is he the first point guard to win the Heisman Trophy ("Stick to basketball," the late Jim Valvano once told him), not only has he already been drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, and not only might he become the first player ever drafted in the first round by both the NFL and the NBA, but he also has an ego you could fit through a Cheerio.
"I can't tell you all the things Charlie does for people," says Florida State's football information director, Donna Turner. "You just don't know. Like, he's the adopt-a-brother for a four-year-old boy in Tallahassee. He works with teenagers at risk. He's gone to Tampa to talk to kids from orphanages and low-income homes. He's done stuff for the Children's Miracle Network, and the Epilepsy Foundation, and United Way, and Say No to Drugs, and Muscular Dystrophy, and, oh, thousands of others. He's always speaking to schools and churches. He was the student chair of the local March of Dimes last season. He's done stuff for the American Heart Association and the Police Athletic League, and he's gone to old-folks' homes, and...."
"When he's in my class," says Florida State public-speaking teacher Kristina Schriver, "he sort of slips in quietly and then slips out. But it's funny. The students look to him as a role model. Nobody leaves the classroom until Charlie does."
"I'm just so tickled to see somebody around like him," says football coach Bobby Bowden. "He takes you back about 30 years. So much of college football now is about I and me. But with Charlie, it's about we and us"