Despite only playing football since 1947, the success the Florida State Seminole football program has had over that time makes their brand one of the more recognizable names in the sports world.
Below are 8 things you should know, what to look for, and what to expect, when attending a Florida State Seminole football game.
1. FSU’s Relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida
The Florida State University Seminoles DO NOT have a mascot.
Instead, FSU has the privilege of using a historic symbol that admires, honors, and respects the Seminole Tribe, the only Native American tribe never conquered by the U.S. Government, and the only tribe in America that never signed a peace treaty.
FSU has worked together with the Seminole Tribe of Florida for over 70 years, and FSU will not engage in any activity that does not have the approval of the Tribe.
In 2005, the Seminole tribe put in writing an unprecedented and historic public declaration in support of FSU. The tribe are full participants in university activities, and their leaders have publicly stated that they feel the FSU family is part of their family.
2. Doak Campbell Stadium
Doak Campbell Stadium is the largest continuous brick structure in the USA, and the second largest brick structure in the world after the Great Wall of China. Doak Campbell’s three million bricks enclosing the steel structure makes it the 49th-largest stadium in the world, the second-largest stadium in the ACC, and the 18th largest stadium in the NCAA.
FSU first began playing at Centennial Field (now Doak) for the inaugural 1947 season for three seasons. With a capacity of 15,000 in 1953 to a record crowd of 84,525 against Miami in 2005, Doak Campbell Stadium has risen alongside the Florida State football program to the top of the college football world.
In 2004, longtime FSU head coach Bobby Bowden’s name was added to the stadium name to become Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
For the complete history and a pictorial look at Doak through the years, please visit Doak Campbell Stadium through the years-A deep dive into where the Seminoles call home.
3. Osceola and Renegade
In 1978, with the full endorsement of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, FSU started a new tradition of a Seminole warrior riding a horse during home games. Osceola and Renegade became one of the most iconic, beloved, enduring, and a nationally recognized symbol for FSU. This incredible pageantry is special and unique to Florida State.
Just before kickoff, the greatest tradition and opening in college football occurs. Osceola, armed with a flaming spear while riding Renegade, leads the football team from the tunnel and charges down the field. Osceola hoists the spear up and down and circles the Seminole logo. Once there, Renegade rears up and Osceola plants a flaming spear into the turf as a tribute to the Seminole Tribe, and as a sign to start the game.
The regalia worn by Osceola is designed for authenticity and approved by the Seminole Tribe. In 2011 ESPN’s SportsNation voted Osceola and Renegade the best NCAA Football Tradition in the country.
4. The War Chant
During the 1960’s, members of FSU’s Marching Chiefs band chanted the melody of a popular cheer called “Massacre” which was basically the longer version of the current war chant.
The current form of FSU’s War Chant dates back to a 1984 football game when the Marching Chiefs began to perform the cheer. Students joined in and continued the “war chant” portion even after the band had stopped playing. During the 1985 season, the students continued the War Chant and by the 1986 season the War Chant became a FSU tradition. The Marching Chiefs then added their special brand of musical accompaniment and the result is the unmistakable chant you hear today.
5. The Tomahawk Chop
Intertwined with the War Chant is the “tomahawk chop.” The tomahawk chop is a term that FSU did not choose and officially does not use. Former FSU President Dale Lick discussed the war chant in a 1993 column for USA Today: “Some traditions we cannot control. For instance, 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 teams’ fans and named the ‘tomahawk chop’? It’s a term we did not choose and officially do not use.”
Basically, it’s tens of thousands of arms with open hands chopping back and forth in unison to the thundering beat of the Marching Chiefs’ drums and brass. Also, doing this motion outside of the stadium helps you spot, identify, and acknowledge a fellow FSU fan anywhere in the country.
When the 80,000 FSU fans in the stadium combine with the unmistakable sound of the War Chant drums and brass, and the spectacular sight of an entire stadium of fans chopping with their right arms (it has to be the right arm, no lefties), you get one of college football’s most awe-inspiring, unforgettable, and incredible scene that one cannot put into words.
When the Nole fans put the War chant and the Chop together, it looks and sounds something like this:
6. Marching Chiefs:
The Marching Chiefs consists of students from almost every academic department within the University. The Chiefs have averaged 400+ members every year since the 1980’s when they became the world’s largest marching band and presently have 420 members.
Recognized as the “band that never lost a halftime” by Sports Illustrated, the Chiefs have performed for audiences at the International Trade Fair in Damascus and for the World Football League in London. In addition, the Chiefs perform at all home and select away football games as well as the annual post-season bowl game.
The War Drum: The ominous sound of the War Drum can be heard all the way up to kickoff on the massive drum outside the main stadium gate. The drum is also played 24/7 in the student union for a week leading up to a rivalry game.
The Skull Session: Two hours before kickoff, the FSU Marching Chiefs play music and entertain FSU fans before the game over at the Dick Howser Baseball Stadium. The idea originally was for the Chiefs to get the music into the bands skulls before the game so they can focus more on the marching and visual performance during the game.
G.B.U. After the pregame warm ups, the FSU players line up shoulder to shoulder at midfield, raise their helmets, then walk from the middle of the field to the endzone while the Marching Chiefs play the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” then they head into the locker room while holding their FSU helmets up high over their heads. This tradition was retired in 2010 but has since been brought back as of the 2020 Football Season.
7. GARNET AND GOLD
Florida State’s school colors of Garnet and Gold date back to the Florida State College championship football teams of 1904 and 1905. In those championship seasons, FSC donned purple and gold uniforms.
When Florida State College became Florida Female College in 1905, the football team was forced to attend the University of Florida. The following year the FFC student body selected crimson as the official school color of 1905. 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.
Tailgating at Florida State is serious business. If you bleed garnet and gold you will want to get to the stadium when the gates open 5 hours before gametime. Tailgating is an essential part of Florida State football, and tailgating on game day at FSU is as good as it gets.
The parking lots turn into a sea of garnet and gold early on as cars fill the lot and students and alumni flock to their favorite tailgate spots. SEC schools love to brag about their tailgates, but they have nothing on the Seminole faithful. FSU fans love to throw back some beers, cook some food on the grill, have fun, and party, often in a wild and raucous pregame atmosphere.
If you are planning to attend a FSU football game and tailgate, come prepared to eat good food, drink, and party as hard as you want to. But don’t forget that you are there to attend a FSU game, so don’t go too wild so you won’t miss out on any of the game day experiences described above, or the game itself.
For more info, check out 5 things that set Florida State’s tailgate experience apart-Tallahassee brings the heat!