Florida State led by as many as nine in the first half, but FGCU went on a 12-0 run late, giving the Eagles life.
The Gators are now 40-15 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Pearl, now the head coach at Auburn, ended up getting a three-year show-cause penalty after the NCAA said he provided false and misleading information to investigators about improperly hosting recruits at his home and trying to get others to do the same.
"I hadn't thought about it, and I won't", he said about happy thoughts of being in the field.
Florida Gulf Coast countered a pair of Florida State runs and kept within single digits for most of the second half, cutting its deficit to just five points, 82-77, with 33 seconds left. We'll always remember the 2016-17 Eagles for winning a game with only three players.
"I think it [predictions] is definitely a part of the fun", said White, who played at Ole Miss in '98 when Bryce Drew's buzzer-beater lifted 13th-seeded Valparaiso past the fourth-seeded Rebels.
Forbes had attended Muscatine (Iowa) Community College before graduating from Southern Arkansas, where he played baseball.
While there was plenty of reason for optimism after the win, a tougher looming opponent, Xavier, brought an immediate sense of urgency to correct Florida State's mistakes. "It's beyond me. A lot of the public may not appreciate them for that". Forbes went 61-6 in two seasons there.
This rendition of Dunk City was a little less reliant on rim-rattlers and a little more prone to shoot from three, though.
His ETSU roster features players from all kinds of backgrounds. I've seen great Florida.
"(Bacon) has been our go-to guy all year", Hamilton said. "We have legitimate size at the four and the five".
"Again, you're up 12 in the second half against a really good (Vanderbilt) team - a team that had Kentucky down 19 at Rupp not too long ago", White said. One of the big things we can not let Florida do is get second chances. We can't over-help on Bradford, although he scores it in the paint.
I think it's the hidden element of the NCAA tournament. "All those things, we can do".
Florida State never could get much distance between itself and the Eagles, but it was able to remain in control for most of the game thanks to strong performances from Jonathan Isaac and Bacon. When he opted to return to Tallahassee a year ago, he told reporters that he "didn't want to settle for just getting drafted". Off the court, he tries to make all these jokes like he's a comedian, but he's cool.
That's not ideal when it comes to playing free and easy with confidence. His climb up the ladder offers several life lessons. "You wonder why he gets confidence and makes a couple daggers mid-second half". You've got to look in the mirror.
"As we know, so a month ago with John Egbunu getting us a couple extra possessions a game offensively on the offensive glass, one of the most hard guys in the country to block out, cleaning up some mistakes at the rim, we don't have that luxury", White said. "Fortunately, I'm back to where I wanted to be when this all started".