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The History behind the Epic Gators vs. Seminoles Grudge Match

The University of Florida and Florida State University are the oldest universities in the state of Florida, and are ranked as the number one and number two schools to attend in the state. Each year, the Jacksonville movers at All My Sons witness thousands of aspiring college students moving to Jacksonville or Tallahassee and surrounding college towns in order to attend one of the two prestigious universities in North Florida.

Although both universities have numerous sports teams that excel and beat records each year, the focus remains on the competition between the Gators and Seminoles football teams. During the college football season, practically anyone who lives in the north Florida area can be heard discussing the current season and upcoming grudge match, while sporting their team of choice’s gear and planning their extreme tailgate or backyard barbecue for friends and family. If you are moving to Jacksonville, moving to St. Augustine, moving to Tallahassee, or anywhere in close proximity, one thing is for certain – you better get ready for the grudge match.

The first Florida-Florida State game was played in 1958. Florida leads the series 34-23-2 and in the beginning, the Gators dominated the game. However, since Bobby Bowden’s arrival, the rivalry has become relatively equal, being tied 4-4 over the past eight meetings and 11-11-1 over the past 23 meetings. Since 1974, the rivalry has been 21-21-1. In fact, from 1990 to 2000, every meeting between UF and FSU has left both teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press rankings.

What many college football enthusiasts and local Jacksonville residents do not know about the rivalry is that the two teams were formed off the foundation of one university, which is where the rivalry originally came from.

Florida State College was one of the predecessor institutions of Florida State University, which sponsored a varsity football team from 1902 to 1904. During that time, the college won the state championships. In 1905, the Buckman Act was passed, which abolished coed colleges in the state of Florida. Florida State College turned its Tallahassee campus into an all-female college, which ended the football program. The Buckman Act made many changes to Florida colleges and universities, so as separate female colleges were designated, four smaller colleges were abolished and the funds were used to create the University of the State of Florida for males – located in Gainesville, Florida. During this time, nearly all men in the state of Florida moved to Gainesville in order to attend the state’s most prized male college.

When Florida State College was turned into an all-women’s college and the University of the State of Florida was created for males, former football coach for FSC, Jack Forsythe, became the first new coach for the male university. In 1909, University of the State of Florida was shortened to the University of Florida. The football team led by Forsythe quickly became official and sponsored each season leading up to the year 1943, when World War II crippled the man power even in intercollegiate athletics.

In 1947, the State of Florida Legislature revisited the state’s university system in the aftermath of WWII. WWII claimed the lives of many men who were even students at UF, causing the state to have to revisit legislation in order to maintain admissions and revenue. The new legislation turned the University of Florida into a coeducational university, as well as the Florida State College for Women, dropping the “for Women” from the name. The former women’s college immediately created a football team, whose team and coach demanded games against the former all-male college, the UF Gators.

However, University of Florida administrators refused to see Florida State University as a fair challenge team due to lack of funds and an education program that was seen as less than esteemed as that of UF – the state’s flagship university at the time.

In 1955, a bill was proposed in Florida Legislation that would mandate the schools play against each other; however, it dragged its feet and was eventually rejected. It wasn’t until Florida Governor LeRoy Collins personally requested University of Florida President J. Wayne Reitz to schedule a yearly football series between the two universities that the Gators vs. Seminoles Grudge Match officially began.

The yearly Gators vs. Seminoles Grudge Match is one of college football’s most televised and highly anticipated sporting events. If you are moving to Jacksonville, Gainesville, or Tallahassee, this is the one game you will want to freshen up on if you are not caught up, because you can bet that your Jacksonville movers, new neighbors, and even local grocery store clerk will be talking about it.