With the creation of the University of Florida via the Buckman act and the establishment of the campus in Gainesville, the university fielded its first football team in 1906 led by former Clemson star Jack “Pee Wee” Forsythe. Forsythe coached for three seasons compiling a 14–6–2 record with a 68.2% winning percentage. In addition to his coaching duties, Forsythe also played on the team as a fullback and was paid $500 for coaching and another $500 for playing. In their first game, the University of Florida football team defeated Gainesville Athletic Club 6-0 on Oct. 5, 1906 in front of a “crowd” of 150 people (the university had 100 students enrolled at the time). The game was played on a fenced in field in Porter's community center in Gainesville so the university could charge admission. The profit from the game was $5.20. The team finished the 1906 season with a 5-3 record. In 1907, the Florida football team posted a 4–1–1 record, due in large part to the play of star Tailback and Quarterback Willie Shands from Gainesville, who later was elected as a state senator and helped found the UF medical school in 1953. The 1908 team featuring Willie Shands finished with a record of 5-2-1. During this time, Earle "Dummy" Taylor became the only UF player to earn five football letters. He played five seasons as a halfback and drop-kicker, beginning with his freshman season in 1908. He ran for touchdowns of 43, 75 and 60 yards in a 28-3 win over Rollins in 1909. His field-goal records for a game (three), season (eight in 1911) and career (16) stood until the mid 1970s.
In 1908, Gainesville merchant Phillip Miller, on a visit to Charlottesville, Va., went to the local Michie Company to see about having banners and pennants made to sell at his store in Gainesville for Florida games. When asked what picture to put on the pennants, Miller reasoning that there were millions of alligators in Florida and that they were native to the state, chose a picture of an alligator. Because the Michie Company already had banners made in Orange and Blue, Miller chose these colors. Displayed in his store, the name "Alligators" was quickly adopted by the student body to describe the Florida football team. In 1911, the team formally adopted the name "Gators" and the school colors of Orange and Blue. Throughout the 1910s, the Gators operated as an independent team and played a number of reputable opponents.
In 1909, George E. Pyle replaced Jack Forsythe as the Florida head coach, and he held that position for five seasons, from 1909 to 1913. In 1911, Pyle led Florida to its first and only undefeated season when the newly-christened Gators posted a 5–0–1 record. In 1912, the Gators became part of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, facing Auburn for the first time (UF had played South Carolina for the first time in 1911) and meeting up with Georgia in 1915. Florida posted a 5–2–1 record that year and after the season, the team participated in its first post-season game, the Bacardi Bowl held in Havana, Cuba.
The Bacardi Bowl was actually a two-game series against different Cuban athletic clubs. The first game was played on December 25 under the so-called "old rules" that existed before the American football reforms of 1906. In that game, Florida defeated the Vedado Athletic Club, 28–0. On December 30, Florida played the Cuban Athletic Club of Havana under the "new rules" According to one source, the game's referee was a former coach for the Cuban team, and the officiating was blatantly biased. After two Florida touchdowns were nullified by questionable officiating, Pyle protested a 15-yard penalty. When the referee offered a 5-yard penalty instead, Pyle and his team left the game in protest. Another source states that the game ended late in the first quarter after a fight broke out between the teams. Florida accused the Cuban team of still playing under the "old rules". The partisan Cuban crowd became enraged and insisted upon the arrest of the Florida Coach G.E. Pyle and players for violating a Cuban law which prohibited the suspension of a game for which gate money had already been collected. Pyle was taken into custody by the authorities, but later released. After the trial was delayed, Pyle and the Florida team left the county which caused him and the team to be branded “fugitives from justice" for the incident.
The 1913 college football season was George Pyle's fifth and last as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team. The highlight of the Gators' 1913 campaign was an incredible 144–0 victory over Florida Southern. Years later, a story was told by Rex Farrior who was a freshman on the 1913 squad. Farrior explained that one of Florida's star backs Harvey Hester, had received a suspension from school president Murphree for missing classes. The Gators were headed to South Carolina when Pyle received word to leave Hester behind. Pyle needed Hester and in those days in which subterfuge was easier to get away with, Hester played under the name Burtnett. Back in Gainesville, president Murphree and other fans met in a telegraph office for reports on the game. “Burtnett did this and Burtnett did that” Farrior said. According to Farrior President Murphree and everybody else back in Gainesville immediately knew who "Burtnett" was and Pyle got fired at the end of the season for his skullduggery. During the 5 year period from 1909-1913, Pyle accumulated a 26–7–3 record and a 0.764 winning percentage.
In 1914 UF saw its 3rd head coach Charlie "C.J." McCoy. UF extended its winning streaks over Florida Southern and Mercer but suffered defeats to Auburn and Sewanee to finish with a 5-2 record. The Gators' 1915 season was one of mixed results. The Gators lengthened their winning records against the Florida Southern Moccasins, The Citadel Bulldogs and the Mercer Bears, and defeated the Tulane Green Wave in their first-ever meeting. However, the Gators also continued their losing streaks against the Auburn Tigers and the Sewanee Tigers, and lost their first-ever meeting with Georgia in Jacksonville.
The 1916 college football season was C. J. McCoy's third and last as the head coach of the Florida Gators football team. Believing that he had the makings of a great Gators squad, McCoy assembled the most ambitious and difficult Gators football schedule to date. McCoy's plans were thwarted, however, by a series of injuries and academic ineligibility problems, beginning when the Gators' starting quarterback, Ashley "Rammy" Ramsdell, broke his leg playing baseball against the Auburn Tigers. Depleted of first-string football talent and lacking depth, McCoy's 1916 Florida Gators ended their season disastrously with an overall record of 0–5. McCoy’s contract was not renewed and he finished his 3 seasons with a 9-10 record for a 47.36% winning percentage.
McCoy was replaced by A.L Busser. Buser was a former All-American lineman for the Wisconsin Badgers, and promised to bring a Midwestern power football style of play to revive the Gators after the winless 1916 season. The 1917 season, however, was also a disappointment and the Gators finished 2-4. The 1918 season was much like in World War II a generation later - the campus emptied due to America’s entry into the first World War and the only game played was against a military installation (Camp Johnston).
Buser's 1919 Florida Gators completed their football season with an improved overall record of 5–3. Florida students, fans and alumni had learned to suffer through football losses to major SIAA opponents like Georgia and Tulane, but the 0–7 loss to the Florida Southern was viewed by many as an unacceptable failure and Buser's contract was not renewed. Buser posted a 7-8 mark in three seasons (a 46.67% winning percentage)
The song We Are the Boys From Old Florida was written in 1919 by UF player Bob Swanson, with help from student John Icenhour. For the period from 1906-1909 the Gators posted a 56-31-5 record (63.59% winning percentage).
Coach Jack "Pee Wee" Forsythe
Gators 1906 Team Photo
Gators 1906 Team Photo part II
Gators vs Jax Riverside Athletic Club 1906
Gators 1910 Team photo
Gators 1910 Team photo part II
Earle "Dummy" Taylor Tailback 1908-1912 the only 5 time letter winner in Gator history
1911 Gators Team Photo - Captain Neil "Bo Gator" Storter is in the middle holding the football
Neil "Bo Gator" Storter, Center 1911. Storter was the team captain and was a very popular student. Those in his clique were known as "Bo Gators" and by some accounts this was the source of the choice of mascot.
Head Coach George Pyle
Gator uniform 1913
1913 drawing of Albert in the school yearbook - this was the first depiction of Albert
1913 starting QB AW "Rammy" Ramsdell
UF alumni raised money to award a scholarship for the talented Tampa athlete to attend UF. Ramsdell was the first scholarship athlete at UF.
Gators pre-WWI game action
Gators game action on Fleming Field
Gators 1915 Game Action
Gators 1915 Game Action part II
1915 Gators team photo Coach Charlie McCoy on right
Roy Van Camp, Quarterback 1915
Roy Van Camp part II
Gators vs South Carolina 1917
Game on Fleming field 19-teens