Per multiple reports, George Edmondson, the man famous for starting the Mr. Two Bits cheer at the University of Florida, has passed away. He was 97.
Thanks to Mr2Bits and RIP to one of the greatest Gators of all time @GeorgeEdmondson. We will be writing and talking about him all next week in our #MrTwoBitsTribute. Check out The Buddy Martin Show and the new GatorBait. pic.twitter.com/Qw6wRVV8QJ
— Buddy Martin (@buddyshow) July 4, 2019
Edmondson served as a Navy fighter pilot in World War II, after which he returned home to Tampa and became an insurance salesman. Prior to the Gators’ 1949 season opener against the Citadel- where Edmondson briefly attended school before enlisting in the Navy- the fans began booing the team as it trotted out onto the field, perhaps mindful of the fact that Florida had lost five of its final six games of the preceding season. Edmondson decided to try to lift the crowd’s spirit by leading them in a rousing rendition of the cheer we know today:
All for the Gators, stand up and holler!”
Buoyed on the morale boost, Florida beat the Citadel 13-0 that day and the fans were so thrilled with the result that they asked Edmondson to come back and do it again the following week. Which he did. It evolved to the point where he was leaving his seat to roam the crowd during games to lead the cheer, and then the school decided to take him to some road, neutral site and bowl games to do the same. In the early 1970’s, UF decided to bring him down to the field to lead the cheer before the start of every game, which he did for every home game until the Gators’ 2008 home finale- ironically enough, also against the Citadel. The Gators would send him off in style with a 70-19 win, and six weeks later would claim their third national championship.
After that last game against the Citadel, Edmondson retired from his post as “Mr. Two Bits.” For four seasons, the tradition went dead before UF revived it before the 2013 opened against Toledo. The school, and Edmondson, then decided to pass the torch on to a rotating “celebrity Mr. Two Bits,” usually a former Gator athlete, who pays homage to Edmondson by dressing in his trademark Gator game day attire (yellow button down shirt, orange and blue tie, striped seersucker pants and black saddle shoes) and leading the crowd in his famous cheer. Some of the more famous celebrity Mr. Two Bits have included Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, the entire national championship winning 2006-07 basketball team, and Cris Collinsworth. Even softball star Hannah Rogers has returned as a “Ms. Two Bits.” To get to lead the Swamp in the cheer is considered one of the greatest honors a former Gator can receive, and with 90,000 raucous fans getting involved, it’s an experience the leader of the cheer will never forget.
And though of course the purpose of the cheer is to get the home crowd ready for the game, it also serves as an eternal nod to Edmondson, the man who started it all and refused to take even a single dollar from the school for his cheerleading services. In fact, he insisted on paying for his game tickets like every other fan up until he became too old to make the two hour journey up from Tampa every Saturday.
And though Mr. Edmondson may have passed away, the tradition he started will live on forever in the hearts and minds of every Gator fan for the rest of time.
Rest In Peace, George.