Thursday, 25 November 2010 21:05
University of Florida and Florida State University were each founded as single-sex colleges—UF was all male and FSU all female. Then in the years following World War II, both schools became coed. With the changeover, FSU created a football team and was eager to play UF. Initially, the Gators resisted.
By Brad McKay
“UF was reluctant because [they] had nothing to win and everything to lose,” says Kevin McCarthy, a UF professor emeritus and Florida football historian who wrote Fightin’ Gators: A History of University of Florida Football. “It would humiliate [them] if they lost to a new team.”
The pressure for the schools to meet on the football field mounted. The Florida state Senate even tried to pass a bill in 1955 to force the two schools to play each other, but the bill was defeated.
University of Florida Gators
- Led by Coach Spurrier and quarterback Danny Wuerffel, the Gators won their first national championship in 1996 over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, after losing the regular season finale to FSU.
- UF has produced three Heisman Trophy players—Tim Tebow, Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel.
- NFL great Emmitt Smith originally played football for UF.
- Steve Spurrier named Ben Hill Griffin Stadium “The Swamp,” saying, “Only the Gators get out alive.”
Florida State University Seminoles
- FSU was the most successful team in the 1990s, with an 89 percent winning percentage.
- Charlie Ward was the first Seminole and second African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
- NFL great Deion Sanders originally played football for FSU.
- The Seminoles were the first team in history to stay ranked 1st from preseason to postseason in the AP.
Finally, “Gov. Leroy Collins urged the two presidents to have their athletic directors schedule a game,” says Norm Carlson, UF’s sports historian, who has been involved in Florida football since enrolling in 1952 and is now a member in the Florida Hall of Fame.
With increasing tension, UF finally agreed to play FSU, but insisted that they would not play in Tallahassee because of the size of their stadium—so the series started out exclusively in Gainesville.
When the series kicked off in 1958, UF easily dominated, winning the first three games. Eventually, with the construction of a new stadium in Tallahassee, the series turned into a home-and-home setup, starting in 1964, with the teams competing for the Governor’s Cup.
As time went on, the Seminoles gained momentum and tied the Gators in game four, and won their first game in game five. Interestingly, this is where “the streaks” started. Over the years, each team has won four to five games in a row, before losing about the same number. The current record has UF leading FSU, at 33-19-2.