One of the great things about joining the ACC for Louisville fans has been getting to know some of the best traditions in college football while visiting the membership of our new league. This week it’s Florida State where the Cards haven’t visited the 82,300 seaat Doak Campbell Stadium since 2000.
Nicknames, Mascots, and Colors
Florida State once wore purple and gold colors and when FSU was named Florida State Female College in 1905 the football team actually had to attend the University of Florida. (See the Buckman Act of 1905 which made FSU all-white female, University of Florida all-white male, and Florida A&M all-black). The student body at that time then decided to select crimson as a school color. Eventually that crimson was blended into its original purple to create ‘Garnet’. FSU has been “Garnet & Gold” since October 1947 when Florida State went back to being co-ed after the Buckman Act was reversed by the Florida legislature and later the U.S. Supreme Court.
Note: Florida State was founded as the West Florida Seminary and during the Civil War was re-named the Florida Military & College Institute before reverting back to West Florida Seminary and then eventually Florida State.
Florida State does not have a ‘Mascot’. FSU calls themselves the Seminoles and works closely with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to make sure that tribal imagery is authentic. In 1947 the student body watched two FSU football games before demanding that the school require a ‘symbol’. Seminoles won out over Statesmen, Rebels, Tarpons, Fighting Warriors, and Crackers. The Seminole Tribe is native to the region and FSU proudly identifies with the tribe and the tribe’s values.
FSU is extremely sensitive to the misuse or Seminole Indian symbols & traditions and has cultivated several traditions with the tribe directly with the tribe’s involvement. Florida State has a task forced to review every aspect to determine what may be offensive so as to maintain it”s good relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
FSU is sometimes also referred to as simply the “Noles” a shortened version of “Seminoles”.
Osceola & Renegade
One of the most special traditions in college football is Osceola & Renegade. There are few more visually rich spectacles that when Osceola plants a spear at midfield prior to a Florida State Football game.
The tradition began as an idea held by Bull Durham, FSU c/o 1965, for 16 years until the 1978 home opener when Durham obtained the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida for Osceola. Osceola is ‘a great Seminole warrior who rides the Appaloosa horse (Renegade)’. Chief Osceola is dressed in authentic regalia designed by the ladies of the Seminole Tribe. Bill Durham & his family supply the Appaloosa horses and a team of volunteers named the “Renegade Team” help bring this tradition to life.
Osceola strides into atop of Renegade Doak Campbell Stadium prior to the coin toss of every FSU home game (and some bowl games) and plants a flaming spear on the mid-field logo. To become “Osceola” the student must maintain excellent grades and be of good character. The ritual ignites the FSU faithful prior to each game and is a salute to the perseverance and integrity of the Seminole people.
Florida State’s Marching Band is ENORMOUS. Exceeding 400 members since the 1980s the Marching Chiefs attempt to create the ‘Wall of Sound’ during football games. Sports Illustrated (yeah I know, not the week to drop them in) once recognized the Marching Chiefs as the ‘band that never lost a halftime’. FSU’s band is a sight to see and is an unmistakable force inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
Warchant & Tomahawk Chop
The ‘Tomahawk Chop” & “War Chant” is a MAJOR part of the traditions at Florida State. The sound and the swinging arm motion has been adopted by the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the Marching Chiefs during a 1984 game vs. Auburn that started the tradition. The current ‘War Chant’ that accompanies the ‘Chop’ is the first part of a much longer cheer used in the 1960s by the Seminole named “Massacre”.
The chant & chop was not in a great melody during 1984 and was contained within the student body during the 1985 season. However, by 1986 the phenomenon spread to the rest of the stadium. The best traditions happy naturally and that applies here.
Officially Florida State University does not use the term ‘Tomahawk Chop’. The school’s official statement regarding the tradition is:
“It is a term we did not choose and do not use. Our university’s goal is to be a model community that treats all cultures with dignity while celebrating diversity”
The Sod Cemetery
“SOD GAMES” are games in which carry a great amount of importance for Florida State. National Championships, Road Underdogs, Road Games vs. Florida, ACC Championship Games, and Bowl Games. When FSU wins a “Sod Game” the Seminoles cut out a piece of turf from the field on which the game was played and take that sod back to Tallahassee and plant the turf in the “Sod Cemetery” complete with a headstone.
The tradition has carried on for 6 decades and began in 1962 when FSU professor Dean Coyle Moore issued a challenge “Bring back some sod from between the hedges at Georgia”. The Noles knocked off the Dawgs 18-0 in Sanford Stadium when team captain Gene McDowell pulled a small piece of grass from the field and presented it to the professor at the next practice in Tallahassee. Professor Moore and FSU coach Bill Peterson buried the sod on the practice field and a monument was placed to commemorate the win…..the rest was history.
FSU Captains are tasked with burying the opponent’s turf in the Sod Cemetery outside the gates of the practice field a tombstone is placed above each patch of the turf’s resting place along with the score and date of the game. It certainly is a unique tradition.
When an All-Time great Florida State Seminole plays his last game, his locker is sealed inside the FSU locker room as he left it…..Forever. The sealing of lockers began after Deion Sanders senior season in 1988. To have a locker sealed a player must be a 2-time consensus All-American or a Heisman Trophy Winner.
FSU currently has honored Ron Simmons, Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Sebastian Janikowski, Peter Warrick, and Jameis Winston. Current Kicker Roberto Agauyo also should meet the criteria as his career concludes.