Monday, May 18, 2009

Cemetery celebrates legendary

Ok, so not genealogy related but I used to spend many afternoons at the FSU football practice field when I was a kid. The sod cemetery was a big deal then and it is good to see they are continuing the tradition.

From the Tallahassee Democrat.

Cemetery celebrates legendary FSU tradition
By Douglas Mannheimer

Cemeteries are places which often bring tears and feelings of sadness.
Not so with FSU's newly refurbished Sod Cemetery, located on a plaza between Moore Athletic Center and the Seminole football practice field.
This cemetery celebrates one of the legendary traditions of college football.

In 1962, the Seminole football team was preparing to play the University of Georgia at Sanford Stadium.
At the end of practice on a Thursday afternoon, Dean Coyle Moore, long-time professor and athletics board member, spoke to the team.
He challenged them to win this difficult game away from home and "bring back some sod from between the hedges at Georgia."
On Saturday, October 20, 1962, Florida State earned a surprising 18-0 victory over Georgia, against the odds-makers.
After the game, team captain Gene McDowell pulled a small piece of grass from the football field. The team presented the sod to Dean Moore at the next football practice.
Dean Moore placed the grass on his parlor mantle. After a few days, Mrs. Moore told him this had to be moved.
Coach Bill Peterson and Dean Moore decided to bury the sod near the practice field and place a stone and bronze marker as a symbol of the "underdog victory" in the road game.
The tradition of the sod game was born.
Since that time, each week before leaving for games away from home in which Florida State is the underdog, all University of Florida road games, and all conference championship and bowl games, Seminole captains gather their teammates at the cemetery to tell them about this tradition.
In 1979, Dean Moore asked me to foster the tradition as Keeper of the Sod Cemetery.
It's been a grave duty.
Through 2008, Seminoles have won 82 sod victories, away from home, against the crowd and against the odds.
Eighty-two grave markers recount the year and scores of these wins.
Victorious captains have never failed to retrieve the sod, although sometimes with problems.
In 1988, Sugar Bowl Captain Odell Haggans exuberantly cut an eight inch square of artificial turf from midfield. FSU was pleased to pay the $500 repair bill.
In 2006, captain Buster Davis had the sod shipped back to me. He reasoned, "Doug, I didn't think it would be good for me to go through Miami airport security with a plastic bag full of grass."
I couldn't argue with Buster's caution.
On home game days, the Sod Cemetery grave markers of an opposing team each receive flowers in that team's colors "to remember the departed."
Next Labor Day, nine orange and green wreaths will honor the Miami Hurricanes.
If you want to feel better some afternoon, this local cemetery can bring joy to any Seminole heart.
Douglas Mannheimer is a Tallahassee attorney and a past Chairman of Seminole Boosters.

No comments: