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Chapter 1: Bowden Bags the Big One

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Seminoles ended the season ranked second in the

Charlie Ward

Charlie Ward helped make history at Florida State during the 1992 and

1993 seasons. In 1992, he became the first black player to start as the

Seminoles’ quarterback. As a senior in 1993, he won the school’s first

Heisman Trophy. Then he led the team to its first national championship.

Ward was known for being both a great runner and a great passer.

His talents were not limited to the gridiron, though. Ward also played basketball for Florida State. And he went on to become better known on the hardwood. The New York Knicks selected Ward in the first round of the

1994 National Basketball Association

(NBA) Draft. He played 11 seasons in the NBA with the Knicks, the San

Antonio Spurs, and the Houston



Ward, sophomore wide receiver

Tamarick Vanover, and other key offensive players returned in 1993.

Florida State came into the season ranked first. And it showed why in its first nine games. No team came within

17 points of the Seminoles. Four of those wins had come over ranked teams, one of which was a 28–10 victory over third-ranked Miami.

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Chapter 3: Peterson's Progress

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Getting Defensive

Bill Peterson became well known for his high-powered offenses at Florida State. But the defense was just as important in the school’s breakthrough 1964 season. The Seminoles’ tenth-ranked defensive unit allowed fewer than eight points per game. It opened the season with three shutouts. The dominant defensive line was given the nickname of “The

Magnificent Seven.” It was so good that people often forgot about the quality of the team’s defensive backs. That is why they became known as “The Forgotten Four.”

One reason for the scoring outburst was wide receiver Fred

Biletnikoff. He was one of the best offensive players to ever play college football. In fact, the award given annually to the best college wide receiver is now named the Biletnikoff Award. Biletnikoff played for

Florida State from 1962 to 1964. In 1964, he set single-season school records with 57 catches, 987 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns. For that, he was chosen as Florida State’s first consensus All-American.

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Chapter 2: Seminoles Start Late

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He Said It

“Do you mean you want to spy on them?” —Florida State President Doak S. Campbell after the team’s first football coach, Ed Williamson, asked for money to scout Stetson’s football squad before the team’s first game

The school soon picked a nickname. The 4,056 students decided to call their teams the Seminoles. The Seminoles were an American

Indian tribe in Florida. The tribe had to fight hard to keep settlers from taking its land and changing its traditions. The students wanted that determination and spirit to be reflected in their sports teams.

It took a little longer for the football team to record its first win. The team’s first game was a loss against Stetson in October 1947. That was followed by four more losses as the young team ended its first season

0–5. But the losing quickly came to an end.

Florida State became a founding member of the Dixie Conference in 1948. The school hired Don Veller to replace Williamson and lead the way. He had played football at Indiana. Then he had coached at both

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Chapter 5: Ups and Downs

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Florida State was back in the

Chris Weinke

Quarterback Chris Weinke attempted just 13 passes as a freshman in 1997. Then he took over as starter in 1998. It was rare for coach Bobby Bowden to let a sophomore start at quarterback. But at 25, Weinke was older than most sophomores after a minor league baseball career. He led the Seminoles to just under 31 points per game that year. That ranked twenty-ninth in the country. While still good, it was low for the Seminoles.

Soon the Seminoles were back to their high-powered ways. Weinke threw for 3,432 yards and 29 touchdowns in 1999. Florida State scored more than 38 points per game that year. Most importantly, the team had its first undefeated season and won its second national championship. Weinke saved his best personal season for last. As a senior in

2000, he threw for 4,167 yards and 33 touchdowns. That was good enough to earn him the Heisman Trophy.

national title hunt in 1996 and 1997.

But the Gators kept the Seminoles from getting back to the very top. In 1996,

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Chapter 4: Bowden's Beginnings

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National champions at the time were determined by polls, such as the AP Poll. The Seminoles went into the Orange Bowl undefeated.

However, their national championship hopes were slim. Three other teams were also undefeated and ranked higher than Florida State. All three would likely have to lose their bowl games for Florida State to claim the title.

None of that ended up mattering. Oklahoma beat Florida State

24–7. But the Seminoles still finished the season ranked sixth in the AP

Poll. It was their highest end-of-season ranking to that point.

Much of the team’s talented defense returned in 1980. Three

All-Americans, Simmons and senior defensive backs Monk Bonasorte and

Bobby Butler, led a shutdown defense. Only one team allowed fewer points per game than Florida State.

The Seminoles finished the regular season 10–1. This time, they had beaten third-ranked Nebraska and fourth-ranked Pittsburgh along the

Chief Osceola and Renegade

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Bowden's Beginnings

In 1962, Florida State sophomore Bill Durham came up with an idea. He wanted a person dressed and painted as a native Seminole Indian to ride into the stadium on a horse and plant a spear at midfield before each game. The concept did not get much attention until Bowden took over as coach. He liked it. Chief Osceola and his horse

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