In 1907, one year after the University of Florida fielded its first football team, Austin Miller was enrolled at the University of Virginia. His father, Phillip Miller, owned and operated a Gainsville drug store that was a popular hangout for university students. While visiting his son in Charlottesville, the father decided to order some banners and pennants for the University of Florida from the Michie Company, which manufactured similar items for other colleges. The Millers saw samples of the Yale bulldog and the Princeton tiger and they realized that Florida had no nickname. They came up with the 'Alligators' because no other school used the name and the alligator was native to the state. The name stuck.
The nickname for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field was coined by none other than Steve Spurrier at the end of the 1991 season. Spurrier said, "The swamp is where Gators live. We feel comfortable there, but we hope our opponents feel tentative. A swamp is hot and sticky and can be dangerous."
We Are the Old Boys From Florida
Between the third and fourth quarters, the Florida band strikes up the song "We Are the Old Boys From Florida." All of the Gator fans lock arms and sway back and forth to the music.
Florida fans mimic the chomp of a Gator at key times during each game. The band strikes up the ominous music from Jaws as fans clap their hand up and down (like a alligator's mouth). The song gets faster and faster and by the end, the clapping takes over.
From the earliest days of the school, Florida State athletic teams have used the Seminoles as their nickname. The school says the use of the name is not meant to degrade the Native American tribe. Former FSU President Dr. Dale W. Lick said, "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. Florida State has proudly identified its athletic teams with these heroic people because they represent the traits we want our athletes to have."
Chief Osceola and Renegade
The tradition was born on September 16, 1978, against Oklahoma State when a student, wearing native-American clothing, led the team from the tunnel riding a horse. Three horses and nine different riders have actually appeared at a game as Osceola and Renegade. In addition to those, there have been 16 horses trained in the Renegade program, including Tonka and Spiderman, who are the understudies to current Chief Osceola mount, Sharky. The original Chief Osceola and Renegade were Jim Kidder and Reo. The original horse was donated by Tallahassee veterinarian Dr. Jerry Deloney, but the horses and riders have been trained by local businessman Bill Durham for over 15 years. The clothing and rigging that Chief Osceola and Renegade wear were designed and approved by the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida.
The War Chant
The current Seminole War Chant is a descendant of a popular Seminole cheer from the 1960s called "massacre," which was led by Florida State's band the Marching Chiefs. During Florida State's 1984 contest against Auburn, the Marching Chiefs began to perform the cheer. Some students behind the band joined in and continued the "war chant" portion after the band ceased. Some students even added the "chopping" tomahawk motion. The student section continued the cheer and by 1986, it was a stadiumwide phenomenon.
The Sod Cemetery
Florida State Dean Coyle E. Moore founded the tradition of the sod game in 1962 after the football team captains brought back a piece of turf from Sanford Stadium after beating Georgia in Athens 18-0. The sod was buried in the corner of the Florida State practice field as a monument to the road victory. At first, the 'Noles only buried grass from road upsets. But as FSU became more successful, the criteria changed. Sod games are now road games in which Florida State is a significant underdog and bowl games. Each piece of sod is buried in the cemetery and a tombstone is placed above it with the score and date of the game.