HOME ~ College Football History
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.
Chief 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
Bill Durham, a 1965 graduate of FSU, envisioned the idea of Chief
Osceola and Renegade when he was a sophomore on the Homecoming Committee
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 - Heroic Symbol At Florida State
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. Other athletic teams
are called Patriots or Volunteers in the same way -- they use a symbol
that represents qualities they admire.
Recent critics have complained that the use of Indian symbolism is
derogatory. Any symbol can be misused and become derogatory. This,
however, has never been the intention at Florida State.
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. Chief 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.
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 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.