Folks in Tallahassee have been saying it for years, but it’s time for everyone else to catch up with the times. The Florida State Seminoles are one of the most excellent athletic institutions in the whole wide world of college sports. During the 2013-14 school year, all 20 FSU varsity teams qualified for postseason action. Such well-rounded success can be hard to come by in this day and age, even for a school that’s a permanent fixture in the Director’s Cup standings. Somehow, though, the ‘Noles always find a way to come out on top.
As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when the Seminoles didn’t dominate the NCAA landscape. In fact, from 1905 to 1946, FSU was an all-women’s university, which meant that there was no football team to battle in-state rivals such as Miami and Florida. There was a gridiron squad from 1902 to 1904, but they were disbanded and players were forced to attend UF (oh, the horror!) if they wanted to continue chasing after the pigskin. Finally, in ‘47, the ever-popular sport returned to Tallahassee.
While Bill Peterson had an impressive run as head coach of the ‘Noles from ‘60 to ‘70, there’s absolutely no topping what Bobby Bowden accomplished once he took control of the program in ‘76. After his debut campaign saw the ‘Noles finish at 5-6, Bowden got to work turning his crew into contenders. Over the course of the next 33 years, the FSU football team would post -- you guessed it -- 33 winning seasons. In ‘77, Bowden lead the school to its first-ever 10-win outing. Two years later, he introduced Florida State to the entire country with an appearance at the Orange Bowl, the first of back-to-back showings on that national stage.
In ‘93, Bowden cemented his status as a Hall of Fame field general when the Seminoles captured the national championship. However, the “Riverboat Gambler” still craved more. Specifically, he wanted a perfect season, as he famously kept an empty picture frame in his office reserved for a photo of an undefeated squad. The 1999 team delivered on that desire, and Bowden collected his second NCAA crown. The living legend would step down in ‘09, but the gridiron triumphs would continue. Under the watch of coach Jimbo Fisher, FSU nabbed a third title in 2013.
If there’s anyone who can match Bowden in terms of being beloved by a fanbase, then Chief Osceola comes the closest. Since 1978, the fearless warrior has ridden into Doak Campbell Stadium atop his horse, Renegade, and driven a mighty spear into the 50-yard line. It’s one of the most celebrated traditions in all of college sports, and for good reason. This symbolic act drives the 80,000 diehards in attendance wild and prepares them for 60 minutes of war chants and tomahawk chops.
Enthusiasm for the Garnet and Gold is so widespread that pregame festivities can’t be confined to mere parking lots. “CollegeTown” is a veritable hub for football excitement, and on Saturdays in the fall, it’s the go-to spot for anyone passionate about FSU. However, with so many years of staggering success, it’s safe to assume that ‘Noles supporters can be found just about anywhere.