Next up in our Tomahawk Nation Member Memories series, we present a historical perspective from long, long time FSU alum and USAF veteran Paul Ort, FSU Class of 1957.
Passing through time it’s obvious that the real Florida State Seminole fans don’t just come and go.
Ask anyone who has been around Florida State over the past 50+ years (or ~65 years in Paul’s case), and they will tell you there is something remarkable about FSU and Tallahassee.
From the people you meet, the things you observe, and the type of characters it attracts, even if you can’t put a finger on what makes FSU unique, it is still there.
Tomahawk Nation has been gathering a collection of memories from fans, old and new, big and small, through all walks of life, to share their stories from their experiences in Tallahassee, and from being a Seminole fan.
Between 1949 and ‘52, I visited both Florida State University and the University of Florida.
In Gainesville, I saw a lot of boys on sidewalks with beer cans.
In Tallahassee, I saw young men and women hurrying around between beautiful old vine cladded brick buildings.
In ‘53 I was an FSU freshman novice in the Marching Chiefs. Our director, Manley Whitcomb, had just been hired away from Ohio State by Doak. This man who worked our tails off was later revered as one we would march off a cliff for!
Burt “Buddy” Reynolds (#20 front row right) called him the Vince Lombardi of college band directors.
While establishing a uniform arm swing Whit told us to bring the empty right hand up with the left knee in a 90-degree motion.
In ‘55 the cheerleaders copied this action, but over their heads while doing a nice butt swing. The motion became the TOMAHAWK CHOP!
Don’t let anyone claim otherwise!
Related: Starting the series.
The University of Florida administration, however, was reluctant to treat Florida State University as an equal, less for reasons of intercollegiate sports rivalry than for reasons of limited state funding for higher education and the perception that Florida State’s demands for a greater share of those funds might undercut the University of Florida’s role as the state’s historic flagship university.
As the impasse dragged on, a bill was proposed in the Florida Legislature in 1955 which would have mandated that the two schools compete against each other in football and other sports.
While the bill was voted down, Florida Governor LeRoy Collins personally requested to University of Florida president take the lead in starting a yearly football series between the two state universities. Reitz agreed, and the schools negotiated a contract that began their football series in 1958, the first available opening on the Gators’ non-conference schedule.
One of the stipulations in the first contract was that all games be played in the Gators’ home stadium, Florida Field in Gainesville, because the Seminoles’ home field at Doak Campbell Stadium had a capacity of under 20,000. The first six games in the series were all played in Gainesville. Florida State initiated a series of expansions to Doak Campbell Stadium, and beginning in 1964, the game site has alternated on an annual home-and-away basis between Gainesville and Tallahassee.
We had very little depth in football, and we lost many games in the second half. I remarked that we never lost a halftime show. That became the Chiefs’ motto!
Later, after 2 rare night football games in a row, this strange sounding tune emerged from the frat blocks in the east stands. It was said that 3 drunken Theta Chis made it up. During the second night it spread all the way over to the high seats in front of the press box.
Then the chop got added. I get goose bumps recalling how that great tradition just developed on its own. Soon the Chiefs picked it up and became the leaders to get it started.
Later, I also flew for the Air Force out of ROTC and will never forget the ‘64 game. I couldn’t make it, so sent my tickets to my parents.
My Dad said a gator near them was so upset over the loss that he threw up!
By the way, the first students at UF in 1906 when they opened were mostly transfers from Florida State College, that temporarily was a college for women.
UF’s 1853 claim is a farce.
My intent is to set the record straight. There have been so many versions of all this with NO witnesses cited.
Scott Atwell and I compared notes many years ago. He went from sports reporter to Director of our ALUMNI ASSOCIATION.
I also had a conversation on this with Bill McGrotha and Bernie Sliger while flying to a game.
Paul Ort, Class of ‘57
Related: 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.
I would like to thank Paul for his contribution to the TN Member Memories series and for sharing his experiences with the Tomahawk Nation Community.
Please check out these other previously published TN Member Memories:
- TN Member Memories: Flying High with Mike of the People-Family Fun Night at the FSU Flying High Circus with Mike Norvell
- TN Member Memories: Top Gun 2: Crawdaddy Style [with a bonus FSU Mother’s Day Military Memory]
- TN Member Memories: Grassy’s Excellent Swimming & Diving Adventures
- TN Member Memories: A band geek shares how he became an FSU fan
- TN Member Memories: A Florida State Seminole fan’s first visit to Campus
- TN Member Memories: The time FSU fans set fire to Florida Gators football field
- Unfortunately, this will be the last TN MEMBER MEMORIES published for the time being due to a lack of contributions for this series.
- However, if you have a story you would like to submit to share with us for publishing consideration, feel free to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Really, I’m only talking about 200 words or so. Seriously though, I’m tapped out.
- If you have a story you think might be worthy of sharing here on Tomahawk Nation, it probably is.
- We would love to share it with the Seminole Nation.