On Saturday at Olin Granthum’s home, family and friends gathered for the annual tradition of passing the trophy back to the loser of the FSU-UF game.
Muncie Star Press
It’s a family tradition that dates back nearly 40 years.
What first started as a gift has evolved into a festive holiday ceremony with bragging rights.
It was around 1981 when Florida State fan Olin Granthum built a piece of table art made of old pipe and polished metal, painted it blue with red trim and gave it to Florida fan/brother-in-law Robert Bell as a gift.
That year, the Gators beat the Seminoles in football 35-3 in Gainesville. Bell, a Florida graduate who later served 12 years as Tennessee Tech University’s president (2000-2012), returned the gift to Granthum during the Christmas holidays as a reminder of UF’s win.
Over the years, a simple piece of art has turned into an elaborate gag gift – decorated in the winning team’s colors – that nobody wants, under the handshake agreement, prominently displayed in their home. Not when it comes to Seminoles and Gators.
“It became the loser trophy,” Granthum said. “There are people here who are grown and married with kids; and they were children when this started.”
On Saturday afternoon at Granthum’s home on Lake Jackson, family and friends gathered from near and far for the annual tradition of passing the trophy back to the loser of the FSU-UF game.
For the first time since 2012, the Gators won, beating the Seminoles 41-14 in the game played last November in Gainesville. It ended a disappointing season for first-year FSU coach Willie Taggart. The Seminoles finished with a losing record (5-7) for the first time since 1975 and failed to play in a bowl game for the first time since 1982.
That also meant the ‘loser trophy’ was being returned from an extended stay at Bell’s home in Cookeville, Tennessee, to Tallahassee. Proof that the trophy also has taken on a life of its own, it somehow survived a fire that destroyed Bell’s home last June.
Boxed, gift wrapped and tied off with orange and blue ribbons, there were plenty of smiles and laughs as the trophy presentation started on the back deck. Bell and wife Gloria penned a poem that the couple read together to open the ceremony:
“Here’s to old boy Jimbo, we are glad he left the ‘Noles. He went away to Texas and there went all the bowls;
“They played the game in Tally, the home of FSU, they sure do miss ole Bobby. Here’s to orange and blue;
“The Gators swished their tails, and gave a big ole chomp. We can’t wait till next year because we will beat them in the Swamp;
“It’s quiet time again in Tallahassee, the glory days have faded clear away.The new coach doesn’t hold up their tradition, will he hit the road or will he stay;
“So here is to the Gator Nation, long wave the orange and blue. Yell out the cheer ‘Go Gators,’ let’s beat ole FSU.”
Granthum opened the box and lifted out the trophy to laughter (FSU fans) and cheers (UF fans).
It was painted orange and blue (split colors on the face) and sported an orange wig, orange head band and was decorated with three UF insignias. The varnished wooden base also features the autographs of former FSU coach Bobby Bowden and UF coaches Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. Former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher also had signed it. However, the signature was believed to be smudged away during its handling following the fire, Bell said.
“It was fun to finally bring the trophy back,” said Bell, who, after UF’s 1997 Sugar Bowl win over FSU for the national title, glued a sugar bowl saucer on top of the trophy’s head and filled it with sugar packets. “Every year we try to do something a little more creative, and every year it has gotten uglier and uglier. But it is a great tradition.”
When Granthum, a local contractor, presented the trophy to Bell in 2013 following an FSU win that was the first in a five-game win streak over its state rivals, it was painted garnet and gold with a facial stripes and a feathered head dress.
Granthum said the trophy – at least for the moment and reluctantly – will be placed in his living room.
“I know it was not a pretty sight for ‘Nole fans, but it will turn around for us some day,” brother-in-law Homer Tedder said.