With three college football programs—Florida, FSU and Miami—that have won national titles in the past 30 years, it’s easy to see how fans and students would create memorable traditions surrounding their beloved schools in the Sunshine State. Here are our favorite college football traditions – and one more from a school that was just too cool to leave out.
Florida State University
Chief Osceola and Renegade
Before the start of each home game, “Chief Osceola,” a student selected based on academic performance and character, rides into Doak Campbell Stadium on a horse named Renegade and plants a flaming spear into the turf.
The tradition reportedly began back in 1978 when Bill Durham, a former FSU student, pitched the idea to then-coach Bobby Bowden, who was looking for a new tradition to establish for Seminole fans. With approval from the Seminole Indian Tribe (which helped design the outfit), Durham ran an ad in the student newspaper and received 168 applicants to be the first rider. Chief Osceola debuted at the 1978 season opener against Oklahoma State.
By the way, the horses used are Appaloosa, known for their colorful spotted patterns on their coats.
University of Florida
Mr. Two Bits
Before the start of each Florida Gators home game, the crowd is led in a cheer by a whistle-blowing fan or cheerleader. “Two bits! Four bits! Six bits! A dollar! All for the Gators, stand up and holler!”
The tradition began in 1949 when a Gator fan named George Edmondson (an insurance salesman from Tampa) grew discouraged that fans at Florida Field were booing the home team during the season opener against the Citadel (the school Edmondson actually briefly attended before joining the Navy for World War II). The Gators rallied to win the game, and fans insisted that Edmondson return to lead the crowd for future games.
Known from then on as “Mr. Two Bits,” Edmondson always wore a distinctive if odd outfit: a long-sleeve yellow dress shirt, orange-and-blue tie and seersucker pants. After leading the cheer for decades, Edmondson retired in 2008 and passed away on July 2, 2019 at the age of 96. The cheer is now led by a student or a Gator celebrity.
By the way, a bit is an eighth of a dollar, so eight of them really would be one dollar.
University of Miami
When the Hurricane players take the field at home games, they run through a cloud of smoke that appears at the end of the tunnel. Would you believe this tradition actually dates back to the 1950s?
UM transportation director Bob Nalette is credited with the creation of this tradition using fire extinguishers. He welded a pipe to the extinguishers so he could shoot the “smoke” across the tunnel. His original setup also included flashing lights, hurricane flags and the sound of an actual hurricane being played over the sound system of the Orange Bowl. The flags, lights and Orange Bowl are gone, but the rest of the tradition remains today.
University of Central Florida
On the Friday before UCF’s homecoming football game, students charge into the Reflecting Pond on campus while cheerleaders and the marching band cheer them on. It’s the only time of the year students are allowed to be in the pond.
The Reflecting Pond itself was completed in 1967, a year before the school opened. It was actually created to solve a terrain problem on campus: It sits on the site of a former dried-up pond that became a muddy pit after each rain shower.
In 2011, UCF received a best campus tradition award from the National Association for Campus Activities for a video that showcased Spirit Splash.
Ring in the Fountain
While not a football tradition, the “dipping of the ring” at Stetson is just too fun not to include. At the DeLand campus, students are eligible to receive the official university ring upon completing 62 hours of credit work. Once a student receives the ring, the tradition is to dunk it in the waters of Holler Fountain. Legend has it that if new ring wearers ignore this tradition, they’ll lose the ring and never graduate.