Florida State


1962 Seminoles
(Authentic Reproduction)

 

 

 

 
 

The angry and dispirited Seminoles turned to LSU assistant Bill Peterson as their new head coach for 1960. In his eleven years at FSU Peterson became famous for installing a high-flying passing game, developing pro quarterbacks, and fracturing the English language. "Petersonisms" became famous and are still used at times:

-On a receiver who was tentative, "He hears footprints."

-On an enthusiastic crowd, "They gave me a standing observation."

-On his relationship with his players, "I've always had a great repertoire with my players."

-"You guys pair off in groups of threes."

-"Don't kill the goose that lays the deviled egg."

 

To some it made him seem clownish but he was a very bright innovator who developed numerous head coaches including Bobby Bowden, Don James (Washington), Dan Henning (Falcons, Chargers, Boston College), Vince Gibson (K-State, Louisville), Al Conover (Rice), Joe Avezzano (Oregon State and long time Dallas Cowboy special teams coach), John Coatta (Wisconsin), Bill Parcells (Air Force, Giants, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys), and Ken Meyer (49ers). He introduced one of college football’s first full time weight training programs, even though the team did not have a designated weight room. He also developed a high level of discipline on and off the field and an unusual number of pro quarterbacks. His wide-open passing offense was the antithesis of what most SEC and southern teams did and his forward thinking schemes were frequently copied by NFL coaches. Peterson is the one who can be credited with putting Florida State on the national map. He recruited from the talent-rich areas of Pennsylvania (Fred Biletnikoff) and Ohio (Steve Tensi) as Florida, unlike today, had a smaller population and a limited high school talent base. He brought in three-platoon football mimicking the famous “Chinese Bandits” teams he used as an assistant at LSU and gave them the designations of the "Chiefs", "Renegades", and "War Party". Despite the wide-open attack, the LSU influence was obvious and he built his early teams upon a smothering defense. He later augmented this with one of the first truly innovative passing offenses that brought visiting coaches from every corner of the country. He came up with the concept of the "hot receiver", never before seen, to counter blitzes, and FSU became known as an Independent primed to upset any team at any time. The defenses of 1960 through 1961 had to overcome a limited offensive production with only HB Bud Whitehead, who played as a DB with the Chargers for eight seasons, as a true star. The Seminoles looked sharp bedecked in their traditional gold helmet with a one-inch garnet center stripe. This was the same combination used in ’53 but the Riddell helmets had been upgraded to the RK model and most of the squad chose the protection of a two-bar mask. With great recruiting, Florida State football and their on-the-field look were about to change with the arrival of Peterson. The sophomore-laden squad of 1960 posted a 3-6-1 record adapting to Peterson's new system. 5'7" QB Eddie Feely handled the reins of the new attack, most often throwing to end Fred Grimes although Tony Romeo returned from his knee injury of ’59 as a fine blocking tight end, going on to a year with the AFL Texans before becoming a star with the early Patriots in his seven-year pro career. Don Donatelli was the bulwark of the line but there was much work to be done going into the '61 season. Feely again led the attack and in Peterson’s second year at the helm, John McConnaughay proved to be the best of the receivers. Peterson was not dismayed by the improved but disappointing record of 4-5-1 because the freshmen team, with halfback Fred Biletnikoff of Pennsylvania, was sure to provide significant talent. Perhaps mimicking the LSU Tiger teams he had just left, Peterson maintained the jersey design with contrasting shoulder stripes that nicely complemented the helmet.

 

After 1960 and 1961's 3-6-1 and 4-5-1 seasons, the latter including a 3-3 tie against arch rival Florida which resulted in a thirty-minute  donnybrook that involved fans from both schools and covered a good part of the playing field, Peterson began to fully commit to the pass. This was an almost obvious decision with the talents of QB Steve Tensi, recruited out of Cincinnati’s powerful Elder High School, and HB Fred Biletnikoff. The 4-3-3 record of '62 didn't reflect the true progress the team was making but Seminole followers were intrigued by the new helmet designs. Wearing the same gold shells with one-inch garnet center stripe that Peterson utilized in his first season, the new helmets were introduced just prior to the third game of the season against Furman. Three different designs were used simultaneously for the remainder of the year, with each of Peterson’s three platoons decked out in a gold shell with a one-inch garnet center stripe and a specific identifying design. The premiere unit of two-way players that offered the best opportunity for versatility was identified by an Indian head logo on each side of the shell and they were designated as “The Chiefs.” He had “The War Party” unit of offensive specialists wear a garnet arrow logo on each side. Peterson’s answer to the Louisiana State “Chinese Bandits” defensive specialists that he coached as part of the Bayou Bengals’ National Championship staff, were called “The Renegades” and had a garnet tomahawk logo on each side of their helmets. These varying designs may have been an indication of Peterson's motivational attempts and all who played for or coached with him agreed that in addition to his brilliance, Peterson was in fact a master motivator. The Seminoles three ties were "good ones" against strong Kentucky, Georgia Tech, and Auburn teams. Only the 20-7 loss to Florida could be considered a blowout defeat as the defense played tough the entire season. Eddie Feely began as the starting QB but gave way to the hard-throwing Tensi as the year wore on. When Biletnikoff returned from an early-game injury, the offense of Peterson's future was obvious. FB went to the light but rapid180-pound Larry Brinkley while soph HB Phil Spooner received as much playing time as Biletnikoff. The rushing of HB Keith Kinderman who would play with the Chargers and Oilers came behind the charge of Third Team All American guard Gene McDowell. Speed was king and the airways were now the mode of transportation for Peterson.

 

In 1963, Peterson returned to the simpler but stately gold shell with one-inch garnet center stripe and more emphasis was placed upon the passing game but it had not yet reached full fruition with the restricted substitution rules. The Steve Tensi to Fred Biletnikoff combo continued to attract attention and Biletnikoff doubled as the team’s interception leader from his DB position. The 4-5-1 record began with an unexpected 24-0 upset over the George Mira-led Miami squad that was supposed to challenge for national honors. Biletnikoff, going both ways, caught a 23-yard TD pass from Tensi and later a second TD pass for 17 yards. He capped off a great day as he intercepted a Mira pass and streaked 99 yards for a touchdown return. Inconsistent play highlighted by the Tensi and Biletnikoff aerial show marked the remainder of the season with FB Dave Snyder the leading rusher.

 If interested in any of these Florida State helmets please click on the photos below.