Regular season play for the Seminoles might have come to an end, but I felt the best way to get in the bowl game spirit was to talk about a few of the traditions (and one superstition) that make game days with the Noles special.
Tradition: Breaking the Rock
If you follow FSU Football on social media, then you have probably seen the videos of the team in the locker room taking a sledgehammer to a piece of concrete. This is a tradition Head Coach Mike Norvell brought with him to Tallahassee. While the first two seasons didn’t see a lot of rocks broken, this year we’ve seen quite a few.
The “rocks” are simply concrete pavers spray painted with the logos of the opponents for the season. The sledgehammer used to break the rock has the word “Work” engraved on the side with the “O” being replaced by the Seminole head logo. Strength and conditioning coach Josh Storms chooses who carries the sledgehammer and Norvell picks the player that breaks the rock after the win. Back in September, The Osceola released a story covering the origins of the tradition, the symbolism and in-depth descriptions of the process used to choose individuals to break the rocks. I would check out their article if you want to read more about this tradition.
Superstition: Mike Norvell’s Gray Hoodie
While I spend most of this article talking about traditions, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to talk about one of the superstitions from this season. This superstition comes in the form of Mike Norvell’s game-day attire. For the first four games of the season, Norvell wore a gray Nike hoodie on the sideline. There’s nothing too unusual about that, it’s just a hoodie. Everything was fine until the Noles arrived at Doak Campbell to play Wake Forest. At game time, Norvell was standing on the sideline without the gray hoodie. The Noles would go on to receive their first defeat of the season. While there is no science behind a magic gray hoodie, I will say it was present for the rest of the season. Yes, there were two more losses with the hoodie present, but we did go on to win the rest of our regular season games and are headed to a bowl game for the first time since 2019.
Tradition: Throwing Footballs to Chiefs
In the past, Bobby Bowden would throw hats to the Marching Chiefs when they traveled to games on the road. He couldn’t throw them during home games because of where the Chiefs used to sit. The band’s original home in the South end zone was too high up for Bowden to be able to toss anything up to them. During the last two seasons, Mike Norvell has made this tradition his own.
The band made a temporary move to the North end zone during the 2020 season because of the pandemic and they made that move permanent in 2021. During the 2021 season, Norvell threw some signed hats up to the Chiefs after wins, but in 2022 he switched to throwing signed footballs. This allows him to reach Chiefs throughout the section. The band knows that the moment the game clock runs to start looking for Norvell as he makes his way to the locker room. Nothing is more coveted than those signed footballs. Wins are great but signed footballs are even better.
Tradition: The Sod Cemetery
The Sod Cemetery was born in 1962 when the Noles brought home an 18-0 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Noles were the underdogs in the game. Before they left for the game, Dean Coyle Moore, a Professor and Athletic board member at FSU, had challenged the team to bring home this win and to “bring back some sod from between the hedges at Georgia.” After the big win, the team presented Moore with the sod they brought home. From then on, the team would maintain this tradition and bring home sod from every game they won as underdogs, any game played against Florida in Gainesville and all ACC and National Championships. The cemetery is located right by the football team’s practice field next to the stadium.
Tradition: Singing the Hymn After The Game
At the end of every game, win or lose, the Marching Chiefs play and sing the Hymn to the Garnet and the Gold. This is a special moment for the Chiefs because the song was arranged by Charlie Carter, who composed many of the songs and musical traditions the Marching Chiefs perform. Carter arranged the song to close the 1958 Homecoming show, which birthed the Chiefs’ traditions related to the Hymn. If you have ever stayed after a game, after the team has made its way back to the locker room and the stands are mostly clear, maybe you have experienced this tradition. If not, maybe you will stick around next season and make it a part of your game-day rituals.
A Moment to Remember: Storming the Field
While storming the field is not a tradition at Florida State, it wouldn’t feel right to talk about all these amazing traditions without talking about such an important moment in our 2022 season. FSU fans haven’t stormed the field since 1996. The Noles brought down the No. 1 ranked Gators with a 24-21 victory. In a story covering the event, the Tampa Bay Times reported that fans stayed on the field for about an hour. Many of these fans took pieces of the field’s sod and pieces of the goalpost. The 2022 field storming was similar in a lot of ways but the goalposts were heavily guarded to prevent fans from taking them down. Fans stood and celebrated on the field for about an hour following the game. I’m sure there were many on-field souvenirs taken during that hour.
This field storming wasn’t about beating an unranked Florida, despite what many people on the Internet believe. It was about so much more than that. Yes, fans were celebrating beating their rivals, but they were also celebrating the first winning season since 2019. Many of the undergraduate students in attendance haven’t been able to experience that while they have been at FSU. Many were celebrating the fact that the season doesn’t end here and that there is still a bowl game to be played. For some, it was just simply the excitement of being a part of a season that could become a big part of FSU Football’s history. No matter the reason, it wasn’t just about beating our unranked rivals, even though that felt pretty good.
The Cheez-It Bowl will be the Noles’ first bowl game in the Mike Norvell era and with the season we’ve had, it should be one to remember. The Noles are going bowling for the first time since 2019, and that is truly something to celebrate.