FSU Adopts Seminoles as the Nickname for Athletic Teams

Students to Name FSU Athletic Teams
Taken from The Florida Flambeau; November 7, 1947

Five Out of 100 Entries Remain for Final Vote
Election time for choosing the name of Florida State University's athletic teams has been extended through five o'clock this afternoon in the hall of lower Westcott.

Five names resulted from the preliminary elections held Monday and Tuesday to determine the final quintet of cognomens listed for the student voters. These names: Crackers, Seminoles, Statesmen, Tarpons, and the Fighting Warriors, came out of these elections from a list of over one hundred entries.

The final elections were previously scheduled to culminate with a public announcement of the winner yesterday afternoon after the voting machines were closed at five o'clock, but the machines arrived a day later than expected and the committee in charge of the elections extended the time twenty-four hours.

FSU's Teams Now Seminoles
Taken from The Daily Democrat; November 9, 1947

The gridiron team you'll see rushing out on Centennial field daubed with war paint and clad in garnet and gold uniforms, when Florida State University has its next home football game, November 22, will be called the Seminoles.

In commemoration of the tribe of Indians whose descendants still live in the Florida Everglades, the name was chosen by the FSU student body in final elections Thursday and Friday.

Only about 30 percent of the students voted on the six names selected to be run off in the election, and 381 of these cast the deciding vote for Seminoles.

Statesmen was runner-up with 271 votes. Other names in the contest were Rebels, 107 votes; Tarpons, 107 votes; Fighting Warriors, 68 votes; and Crackers, 54 votes.

The FSU athletic teams were finally named after three weeks of contributions narrowing down and voting. The only conflict which may arise from the result, students say, lies in the fact that the University of Florida yearbook is named "The Seminole."

excerpt from Fred Pettijohn's "In the Pressbox"
Taken from The Daily Democrat; November 9, 1947

Florida State University students, after one false start, finally selected the nickname for their athletic teams -- the SEMINOLES.

The college voters had turned the name down once when they rejected an original ballot of six names that contained the honorable Indian name. The second time, however, appears to have held the charm.

The selection certainly gives FSU a distinct title. There are no college teams that bear the name that we know of, and as yet no high school bearer has been revealed.

New nicknames, especially when applied to a school, team or group are apt to appear ill-fitting, but they take on polish with constant usage, and are mellowed, aged and honored with time.

The name Seminoles can, and will be just as good a name as Florida State University will make it in the years to come.

The Green Wave, Crimson Tide and Golden Tornado were all new, uncomfortable, inappropriate and some-what far-fetched to many fans and students in the years before they became so closely associated with interesting, colorful and successful athletic teams.

Okay Seminoles, take over from here!

Editorial Comment
May 10, 2002 by Andrew Brady

Fred Pettijohn, writer for the Daily Democrat wrote the following in his column back on November 9, 1947: "Okay Seminoles, take over from here!"

And so they did.

The Seminole nickname has risen meteorically to rival any in college athletics in distinction, tradition and popularity. But, its beginning was rather humble. When the time came to choose an official designation of their sports teams, less than 1,000 students turned out in November of 1947 to cast a vote. Of these, 381 students were enough to elect "Seminoles" as the winner. Could those 381 students have imagined the fascination that their choice would lure in the not-too-distant future? In 1994, Doak Campbell Stadium expanded to a capacity of more than 80,000 fans. Only 47 years and 12 days passed between an afternoon when 100 fans witnessed Florida State University play their first game as the Seminoles ... a 6-0 heartbreaking loss in Lebanon, Tennessee to Cumberland University ... until Chief Osceola planted his flaming spear into the center of Doak Campbell Stadium in front of 80,210 warchanting fans minutes before kickoff of the game now famously known as the Choke at Doak. Six years after that, Florida State's 2nd Heisman Trophy winner, Chris Weinke, led the defending national champion Seminoles to a 30-7 thumping of our rivals in front of a record crowd of 83,042 fans. This, compared to 5,436 Tallahasseans who were still unsure of their team's nickname as they watched the Seminoles lose to Tennessee Tech on Centennial Field a week after returning from Cumberland.

If none of the 381 students who plodded to the Westcott Building in 1947 were in attendance in 2000 to witness Florida State's 17th win against the University of Florida, certainly a few were among the 43,000 who jam-packed Doak Campbell Stadium in 1964 to witness the Seminoles' first-ever victory against the Gators. When those students pulled the lever in favor of our noble nickname, such a feat was unimaginable. In fact, it took a decree by the State's Board of Control many years later to force the first matchup in 1958.

As unimaginable as a victory over the boys of Florida was to the charter class of our co-educational institution, even more stunning would be a future decree by the Board of Whatever to remove the nickname that they chose. It is true that out of the six names voted on in that 1947 election, only one would be politically correct by today's unreasonable standards. Of Seminoles, Statesmen, Rebels, Fighting Warriors, Crackers, and Tarpons, some group somewhere would oppose the mere candidacy of each except Tarpons (and that's assuming PETA wouldn't object). But in 1947, each were obviously acceptable, and the students chose the one most befitting of their university. Just as easy as it is for politically correct groups to criticize Florida State for our nickname, or to bundle our university into the same catch-all collection of "insensitive" institutions such as the Redskins, Braves or Indians, would be our supporters to show a lack of respect for the indian tribe that we represent. But, we haven't taken the easy way.

The students, faculty, alumni and friends of our university have lived up to the words written in the Daily Democrat when the nickname was first announced: "In commemoration of the tribe of Indians whose descendants still live in the Florida Everglades ..." In the years since the vote was taken and the accompanying article was written, but beginning well before politically correctness concerned us, the University has taken great strides to represent the Seminole Indians in a positive manner. For that, our university is commended and respected by the tribe, and it's members take pride in Florida State's endeavors.

Because of the tremendous success of our athletic teams in such a brief span of history, the Seminole nickname is one of the most recognizable in all of sports. For this, Pettijohn may have been prophetic when he wrote: "The name Seminoles can, and will be just as good a name as Florida State University will make it in the years to come."

Florida State University has indeed made good of the Seminole name ... but to much greater levels than what Pettijohn foresaw.