It’s hard to imagine a transformation of a football program quite so complete as Florida State’s, when you consider what it sprang from just 65 short years ago. To begin with, when President Doak Campbell made the announcement in September of 1947 that a six game schedule was being sought for a newly proposed football team, the school had only just emerged from its former status as the Florida State College for Women. Furthermore, Campbell announced that there were to be no athletic scholarships – “strictly academic” qualifications were to be required for football eligibility – and that a rivalry against the University of Florida would not be in the works “for some time to come.” To the current generation of Seminole fans, such a heretical thought seems about as remote as the time of powdered wigs and wooden teeth, but take a look at the yet unnamed team’s inaugural season’s opponents: Stetson; Cumberland; Tennessee Tech; Troy; and Jacksonville State. (That sixth opponent never materialized, possibly having had its makeshift flotilla from Nicaragua sunk at sea by Caribbean pirates.)
About that nickname that wasn’t there: It wasn’t there because the student body hadn’t yet decided on a name. An election was held after the first game, and the choices consisted of “Crackers”, “Fighting Warriors”, “Rebels”, “Seminoles”, “Statesmen”, and “Tarpons”. With only 30 percent of the student body bothering even to cast a ballot, the “Seminoles” beat out the “Statesmen” by a whopping 111 votes. We can only imagine how well that “Crackers” name would go over today.
But in any event, by the time the next home game had come around, here were the proud and newly minted Seminoles, hoping eventually to give those nasty Gators a run for their money. And while that inaugural season wound up winless, within two short years coach Don Veller had taken the ‘noles to their first bowl game, the poetically named Cigar Bowl. From there it was only a matter of time before joining the SEC and going on to national championships and stompings of the Florida Gators, but remember this: They could have been the Crackers.
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