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Tomahawk Nation History Flashback: Florida State Football’s First Two-Headed Quarterback

Jimmy Jordan and Wally Woodham — the duo behind FSU’s first undefeated regular season.

FSView & Florida Flambeau

Recently, in the comment section of Kevin Little and CoachAB’s outstanding video breakdown of Florida State Seminoles football’s freshmen quarterbacks Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker, long time Tomahawk Nation member Nole99 first brought up the possibility of going with a two-headed quarterback like the Nole’s have done in the past:

Just keep developing. Good to have two guys like this in our future! Anyone old enough to remember Woodham and Jordan? What was it, Wallyjim Jordan? Jimmywall Woodham? Something like that.

Our very own legendary hillbillycracker quickly mashed his keyboard, smacked that reply button and posted this response:

I ‘member, it was Wally Jordanham, right?....kidding...but when “the starter” wasn’t hitting on all cylinders, the other would come in and light a spark….worked most every time.

Time and again, through the two years Woodham and Jordan have jousted for the quarterback position, FSU coach Bobby Bowden has used one as his “starting pitcher” and the other as his “relief fireman.” Oft times Bowden has resembled Cincinnati Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson, the “Captain Hook” of baseball managers, jerking either Woodham or Jordan from the game on the basis of his evaluation of their play.

-Gerald Ensely, “The quarterback situation: battling for the top spot,” Florida Flambeau, Nov. 22 1978

Here’s my own recollection of the back and forth:

“It did not matter who started between Wally or Jimmy. We were so fickle at that time that if Wally started and we were not doing good we would start chanting “Jimmy, JImmy, Jimmy…” and Bobby would eventually cave in and bring on Jimmy.

If Jimmy started and he struggled, we would start chanting for “Wally, Wally, Wally…” and Bobby would eventually cave and bring in Wally.

We really didn’t care who was playing between the two, as long as we were winning.”

Here is a more complete history of these two fine young men and friends, teammates, and competitors, from their time at Leon High School through their careers at Florida State.

From the always fantastic,

In the seventies, over at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Coach Gene Cox was fielding some very powerful football teams that featured exceptional passing quarterbacks. Two of the best to come out of that program were Wally Woodham and Jimmy Jordan. Woodham, in 1974, his senior year at Leon, set the national high school passing record for a single season at 3,560 yards, was an All American and the State of Florida’s Prep Player of the Year. The following season, 1975, Jordan broke that national passing record and set a new one at 4,098 yards, was also an All American and Florida’s Prep Player of the Year. At the end of their high school careers, each of them accepted football scholarships to play at FSU.

Wally Woodham and Jimmy Jordan

Woodham got to FSU first in 1975 when Darrell Mudra was the head coach. He played sparingly that first year and red shirted during the 1976 season which was Coach Bowden’s first at FSU. Jordan got to FSU in 1976, Bowden’s first season, and backed up Jimmy Black at quarterback that first year. Consequently, the 1977 preseason began with Woodham and Jordan competing for the starting job. That competition never ended during their tenure together at FSU as both made major contributions quarterbacking the Seminoles. In time, it was accepted that neither would win the job outright but that they would share it. One or the other would start a game and sometimes the offense would bog down. The other would then be inserted into the game and inevitably jump start the offense into action. For FSU fans, those three seasons 1977, 78 and 79 were wonderful and among the most exciting ever.

In 1977, with Wally and Jimmy sharing quarterback duties, FSU’s team went 9-2 during the regular season including the first victory over the University of Florida since 1967. During the regular season, Woodham led the team in passing for a total of 1270 yards and 8 touchdowns. Jordan had thrown for 1139 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 37-9 victory over the Gators at Gainesville in the last game of the regular season was a classic. In that game, both Woodham and Jordan played vital roles. Woodham started and passed for the first touchdown. Jordan came in later and passed for three more touchdowns. It was quite a show.

The successful season gained FSU an invitation to the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando against Texas Tech. It was FSU’s first bowl game in six years. In that game, FSU led by the running of Larry Key and passing of Jordan and Woodham demolished the Red Raiders, 40-17. Jordan was proclaimed the most valuable player of the game.

In 1978, despite an excellent 8-3 season including wins over Miami, 31-21, and Florida, 38-21, the Seminoles were not awarded a bowl bid. Keep in mind, there were not as many bowl games then so it was not regarded the same way as it would be today. Both Woodham and Jordan had excellent years. Jordan passed for 1427 yards and 14 touchdowns while Woodham passed for 1322 yards and 9 touchdowns.

The 1979 team, led by the passing of Woodham and Jordan, reached heights that FSU had never before attained with an undefeated, untied, 11-0 regular season and a first ever date to play in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day. During that special regular season, Jordan passed for 1173 yards and 13 touchdowns while Woodham had 940 yards and 5 touchdowns. Even a loss to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl did not diminish the spirit at FSU. The team finished the bowl season as the sixth ranked team in the entire country according to the Associated Press. It was the highest ranking that a Seminole team had ever finished a season up to that point.

Following the 1979 season, Jordan played professional football for a couple of years and Woodham went into business. Both were admitted into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985 during the same induction ceremony.
Nov. 22, 1988 issue of Florida Flambeau
FSVIew & Florida Flambeau

*If you haven’t watched this video, you are missing out on 4:46 of pure Garnet and Gold FSU History.

**Special shout out to the hillbillycracker for turning me on to the You-Tube video which became my inspiration to write this story. If I lived near you my brother, I would buy you a 12 pack of Bud beer.