Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Florida State Football History

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystOctober 25, 2011

Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Florida State Football History

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    Part of what makes college football the greatest sport in the world is the pageantry and tradition of the different schools throughout the country.

    Despite only playing football since 1947, the Florida State Seminoles have managed to cultivate several unique characteristics that have formed one of the more recognizable brand names in all of sports.   

    An iconic coaching figure, two fierce in-state rivalries, a decade of unparalleled excellence, and a bevy of talented players who transcended the game, are all things associated with Florida State football. 

    Along with having the best helmet in all of college football, the Seminoles have a variety of game rituals that make them one of the true treasures of the sport.

    Here are the five greatest all-time traditions in FSU football history.

5. Tomahawks on Helmets

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    The Garnet and White interlocking spear on a gold background is among the most recognizable logos in sports. 

    Ironically, the current design was introduced in 1976—former legendary coach Bobby Bowden’s first season in Tallahassee. 

    What most people may not know about is the tradition of players earning tomahawk decals for achievements on and off the field.

    Big plays in games are rewarded with tomahawks, as well as scholastic achievements that feature the word “academics” running along the handle of the tomahawk.  

4. Sealed Lockers

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    Florida State has churned out a long list of All-Americans and first round NFL draft picks. 

    However, only eight Seminoles have ever matched the criteria required to have their lockers sealed with their uniforms from their final home games placed in tact for eternity. 

    To earn the reward of having a retired locker, a player must be a two-time consensus All-American or win the Heisman Trophy.

    The prestigious members to earn that designation are:  Deion Sanders, Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Ron Simmons, Sebastian Janikowski, Peter Warrick and Heisman winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke.  

3. Sod Cemetery

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    Bobby Bowden built the Seminoles into a national powerhouse, in part, because of his willingness to travel on the road as heavy underdogs to face some of the country’s most dominant teams in the 70s and 80s. 

    The Seminoles emerged victorious in a number of those battles, and that legacy will forever be remembered thanks to a unique tradition.

    In 1962, dean Coyle E. Moore founded the tradition of taking a piece of turf from opponents' stadiums after a big victory and burying it next to the FSU practice fields in what is now known as the Sod Cemetery. 

    A tombstone is placed above each patch of the turf’s resting place, along with the score and date of the game. 

    With the Seminoles' ascension up the ranks as one of the titans of college football, “sod games” are rare nowadays, and usually come when the ‘Noles are underdogs facing ranked teams on the road.    

2. War Chant

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    Perhaps one of college football’s most awe-inspiring scenes is when 83,000-plus fans pack Doak Campbell Stadium and extend their arms in unison with a melodious battle chant echoing at a fever pitch.  

    The war chant began in the mid-80s during a random moment in a game against Auburn, but FSU’s Marching Chiefs band quickly harmonized the chants emerging in the student section, and a staple identifying the Seminoles program was born.  

    Even though pro teams like the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs would go on to also practice the war chant, its permanent home resides in Tallahassee. 

1. Chief Osceola

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    In a scene that pays homage to the history and lineage of the Seminole tribe and its unconquered spirit, an FSU student portraying Chief Osceola, a famous leader of the tribe, charges the field on an Appaloosa horse named Renegade, and plants a flaming spear at midfield. 

    The atmosphere of that moment during big games, like last month’s clash with then-No. 1 Oklahoma, is an emotional storm of adrenaline that sets the scene for an impending battle.  

    Florida State players walk towards midfield with their helmets raised in anticipation of Osceola planting the spear, and in years past, the tensions mounting between Seminoles players and opponents would often lead to pre-game fights. 

    Simply put, it is a scene that sends chills down the spines of those in attendance, and witnessing it should be on the bucket list of any true fan of the sport.