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FSU Football History and Traditions



FSU Football
FSU football dates back to the early 1900's. Most people think that FSU football started in 1947 when the University went back to being co-ed. Purists, like myself, NOLE the REAL truth! FSU (aka. Seminary West Of the Suwannee) first fielded a football team in 1900. By 1904, FSU had won our first State Title. All that was prior to the racist Buchman Act passing in 1905 which made FSU an all white female school, UF an all white male school, and FAMU an all black school for the next 40 years. Prior to that, from 1858 to 1904 Florida State was co-ed with the exception of the 4 year period of the civil war where it was an all male military school. Originally, FSU was an all male school for it's first years of existence from 1851-1857. History lesson completed.

Garnet and Gold
Florida State's school colors of garnet and gold are a merging of the University's past. In 1904 and 1905 the Florida State College won football championships wearing purple and gold uniforms. When FSC became Florida State College for Women in 1905, the football team was forced to attend an all-male school in Gainesville. the following year, the FSCW student body selected crimson as the official school color. the administration in 1905 took crimson and combined it with the recognizable purple of the championship football teams to achieve the color garnet. the now-famous garnet and gold colors were first used on an FSU uniform in a 14-6 loss to Stetson on October 18, 1947.

Osceola and Renegade
Perhaps the most spectacular tradition in all of college football occurs in Doak Campbell Stadium when a student portraying the famous Seminole Indian leader, Osceola, charges down the field riding an Appaloosa horse named Renegade and plants a flaming spear at midfield to begin every home game. Bill Durham, a 1965 graduate of FSU, envisioned the idea of Osceola and Renegade when he was a sophomore on the Homecoming Committee in 1962. He didn't get any support for the idea until Bobby Bowden came to FSU as head coach. In the fall of 1977, Durham's idea began to materialize. Durham sought and obtained the approval of the Seminole Tribe of Florida for the portrayal of Osceola and during the opening game of 1978 against Oklahoma State, the legend of Osceola and Renegade began. Since that time Osceola, in authentic regalia designed by the ladies of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and Renegade have opened every home game with the traditional planting of the spear, appeared in many major bowl games, and performed on national television on numerous occasions. Bill Durham and his family supply the beautiful Appaloosa horses and, with the help of the Renegade Team volunteers, continue to bring this spectacular tradition to those who love Florida State University.

Seminoles - A Heroic Symbol (Not a mascot)
Florida State would play two football games in 1947 before students demanded the school acquire a symbol. While details conflict, most believe the account of a student body poll is accurate. the Florida Flambeau reported that "Seminoles" had won by 110 votes over "Statesmen." the rest of the top contenders in order were "Rebels," "Tarpons," "Fighting Warriors" and "Crackers." In the 1950's, a pair of students dressed in "Indian" costume and joined the cheerleaders on the field which eventually evolved into the majestic symbol of Osceola and Renegade that FSU enjoys today. the history of the Seminole Indians in Florida is the story of a noble, brave, courageous, strong and determined people who, against great odds, struggled successfully to preserve their heritage and live their lives according to their traditions and preferences. From its earliest days as a university, Florida State has proudly identified its athletic teams with these heroic people because they represent the traits we want our athletes to have. Over the years, we have worked closely with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure the dignity and propriety of the various Seminole symbols we use. Osceola, astride his appaloosa when he plants a flaming spear on the 50-yard line, ignites a furious enthusiasm and loyalty in thousands of football fans, but also salutes a people who have proven that perseverance with integrity prevails. In the early 1980s, when our band, the Marching Chiefs, began the now-famous arm motion while singing the "war chant," who knew that a few years later the gesture would be picked up by other team's fans and named the "tomahawk chop?" It's a term we did not choose and officially do not use. Our university's goal is to be a model community that treats all cultures with dignity while celebrating diversity. I have appointed a task force to review our use of Seminole Indian symbols and traditions. This study group will identify what might be offensive and determine what needs to be done. Our good relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is one we have cultivated carefully and one we hope to maintain, to the benefit of both the Seminoles of our state and university. Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman James E. Billie expressed this point in these words: "We are proud to be Seminoles, and we are proud of the Florida State University Seminoles. We are all winners."

The War Chant
Florida State's "war chant" might have begun with a random occurrence that took place during a 1984 contest with the Auburn Tigers, but most Seminole historians might remember it to be a tradition that holds over thirty years in it's evolution. with the popular Seminole cheer of the 1960's, "massacre," led by members of the Marching Chiefs chanting its melody, so was the first stage of the current popular Seminole cry. In a sense, "massacre," was the long version of FSU's current "war chant". During a very exciting game with Auburn in 1984, the Marching Chiefs began to perform the cheer. Some students behind the band joined in and continued the "war chant" portion after the band had ceased. the result, which was not very melodic at the time, sounded more like chants by American Indians in Western movies. Most say it came from the fraternity section, but many spirited Seminole fans added the "chopping" motion, a repetitious bend at the elbow, to symbolize a tomahawk swinging down. the chant continued largely among the student body during the 1985 season, and by the 1986 season was a stadiumwide activity. Of course, the Marching Chiefs refined the chant, plus put its own special brand of accompaniment to the "war chant", and the result exists today. By the time the Atlanta Braves started with it, the chant and the arm motion generally were associated with Florida State's rising football program. the Kansas City Chiefs first heard it when the Northwest Missouri State band, directed by 1969 FSU graduate Al Sergel, performed the chant while the players were warming up for a game against San Diego. Such a powerful cheer, FSU's "war chant" can be linked to Atlanta's and Kansas City's resurgence in their own respective leagues.

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