GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Since the day he was hired, Gators coach Will Muschamp has referenced the tradition and history of Florida football.
Muschamp lived it as a kid growing up in Gainesville only blocks from Florida Field. Muschamp and his family would walk to games in the late 1970s and early ’80s, cheering on Florida players such as Wilber Marshall, Cris Collinswoth and Tony Lilly.
That’s when Muschamp first witnessed the roar prompted by the most famous cheerleader in Gators history, “Mr. Two Bits” — retired Tampa insurance man George Edmondson.
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Two Bits! Four Bits! Six bits! A dollar! All for the Gators stand up and holler!
Muschamp did. And he wants others to continue do the same.
Muschamp announced Monday an initiative to honor the tradition of “Mr. Two Bits” by inviting Gator celebrities back each home game to lead the famous cheer.
First up is former Gators running back Errict Rhett, who is taking his turn as “Mr. Two Bits” with the same passion he played with from 1990-93.
Rhett can’t wait.
“He always gets the crowd so excited,” Rhett said. “We’ve been down in games and all of a sudden you see him over there and he has so much enthusiasm, he gets the crowd pumped. There is not one dull moment. Every time he does it he puts his heart into it. I want to do the same thing, put all my enthusiasm into it.”
Rhett hopes to wear the signature yellow dress shirt and orange-and-blue tie Edmondson wore until officially retiring in 2008. Edmondson started the tradition in September of 1949 when he attended a Gators home game against his alma mater, the Citadel.
When Edmondson heard fans booing the Gators, he couldn’t understand why the home team would be booed at their own stadium. So, as the story goes, he got up and created a cheer, and as they say, the rest is history.
“It goes all the way back before there was even Gatorade, before they named it The Swamp,” Rhett said. “It’s a tradition that has meant so much at games for so long. He’s a legend there.
“I want to look exactly like him. I’ve been watching it and I can’t wait. I want it to be memorable.”