Against the Grain II

FAMU and FSU fans must put aside the differences born in the segregation era

Vaughn Wilson

For decades, FAMU and FSU fans have had some feuds.

The root of the issue came specifically when talk of FSU taking over FAMU and absorbing their programs was elevated in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, the taking of FAMU’s law school in 1965 by the Florida Legislature was the kindling to the eruption in mistrust, combativeness, and general dislike of FSU by FAMU fans.  

The loss of the law school with funds transferred across town was a great hindrance to FAMU and FSU relations. It is no wonder FAMU fans in general do not trust or like FSU.  The fear of FSU merging with and overtaking FAMU is real to this day.

On the athletics side 1991 was all the fuel needed for FAMU and FSU officials to never try to rekindle major sporting events among the two schools.  A basketball game between the Rattlers and Seminoles at the Leon County Civic Center ended with an all-out brawl that saw FAMU have to forfeit the game.  It was ugly.  It was very ugly!  Sitting in the stands, I was in total shock at what I saw transpire.

On the other side of the relationship are some good partnerships.  In the mid 1980s through the early 1990s, FAMU and FSU football players were very tight.  The two teams were full of Florida players, meaning former high school teammates were on both squads. It turned out to be very beneficial. 

Hinton “Goo” Battle helped orchestrate a “Celebrity” basketball game between the Rattlers and Seminoles at Tully Gym. The players decided to donate all door revenue to the Big Brother/Big Sisters of the Big Bend. At the time, herb Reinhard was the president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. They would arrange to handle the logistics of the game and collect all funds for the charity.

In those games were FAMU All-American Terry Beauford, Rod Jackson, Tony Ezell and several other notable Rattlers. For FSU, Deion Sanders, Leroy Butler, Terry Anthony and Kez McCorvey were among the Seminole greats who participated in the game. There was never an issue among the players and at one time, it was the single biggest fundraiser for the Big Brothers/ big Sisters organization in Tallahassee.

There was another friction point between the two schools that happened in 1995.  FAMU High (DRS) football players Ron Dugans and Theon Rackley signed to play for Florida State. Their families went through a lonely state as FAMU fans reared their ugly heads at the two stars for breaking “the code” and signing with the enemy (FSU) and not FAMU. 

Long had there been a history of the best athletes were sure prospects to move up to FAMU and play in the same stadium they played their high school games. Only James Bozeman (basketball) had made such a splash before as he also signed to play for the Seminoles while being courted by the Rattlers.

In today’s era of the transfer portal, players switching schools is as common as the opening kickoff.  Some players have changed schools multiple times since the NCAA released them to do so in the era of the transfer portal.  Over the last few years, some Florida State players have made their way to FAMU.  They have had successful careers “across the tracks.” 

It is not uncommon for players to transfer from the upper division (FBS) to the second Division-I level (FCS).  With the success FAMU has had under head coach Willie Simmons, it is no wonder that FAMU is attractive to players at FSU who might not have been getting the playing time they envisioned or a just dissatisfied with the whole College Football Playoff snub.

Unfortunately with hurt feelings from the snub, and more FSU players transferring to FAMU, the ugly head of hatred has reared itself in some cases. Very nasty social media posts have followed the players who transferred to FAMU. Some of the nastiest comments imaginable have been hurled at some of the players.

It’s past time all of this stops.  These two institutions need to co-exist.  Neither is a threat to the other, but need to be great partners is Tallahassee’s athletics scene.  Tallahassee is better when both institutions are winning. Tallahassee has been one of the happiest places on Earth this season. All of the past harsh feelings need to subside.  None of the past disagreements should be harbored into today. 

Seminoles can root for Seminoles without wishing ill will on FAMU.  Rattlers can root for Rattlers without wishing ill will on FSU.  It’s past time that both schools truly peacefully coexist.

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