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Athletics Gain Popularity

Sports at Florida State University had grown in popularity in the late 1940s. In 1950, the university built a football stadium with a seating capacity of 15,000. During halftime at the first Homecoming game held in the new stadium, the facility was named in honor of Doak Campbell and the FSU fight song debuted. In keeping with students' selection of "Seminoles" as the name of their football team, "Marching Chiefs" was selected as the name for the university band. Today the Marching Chiefs are recognized as one of the finest bands in the United States.

In 1953, the university hired Tom Nugent as head football coach. In his second season at FSU, Nugent took the team to the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas -- the first time any Florida football team was invited to an out-of-state bowl game. One of the Seminole players was Buddy Reynolds, a freshmen from West Palm Beach, who is now better known as film and television star, Burt Reynolds.

Nugent led the Seminoles to one of their best seasons in 1958, ending with a 7-3 record, beating Tennessee 10-0, FSU's first win against an SEC team. 1958 also marked the first time the FSU Seminoles played the University of Florida Gators, inaugurating one of the greatest rivalries in collegiate sports. To round out the year, the Seminoles made their first appearance on national television during the Bluegrass Bowl in Lexington,Kentucky, an indication of the remarkable growth of the FSU football program.

It was FSU basketball, however, that gave the Noles their first athletic victory over the University of Florida. Led by Coach J.K. "Bud" Kennedy, the basketball team won its fair share of games. Another outstanding program was baseball, with an unbroken string of winning seasons during the 1950's. FSU dominated the schools in the Southeast in swimming, volleyball, golf, tennis, and gymnastics. Under coach Hartley Price, the gymnastics team placed several members on the US Olympic teams in 1948 and 1952, and brought home the national championship in 1951.

Source:

  • Wills, Martee & Morris, Joan Perry. Seminole History: A Pictorial History Of Florida State University, Jacksonville: South Star Publishing Company, 1987.


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