Ask most Florida Gators history buffs how the University of Florida athletic teams acquired the Gator nickname and they will relate the tale of Phillip Miller and his Gator pennants. The story, as told by Austin Miller, first appeared in the Florida Times-Union on August 19, 1948. His father owned Miller's, a Gainesville novelties store and soda spray popular with Florida students in the early 1900s. According to Austin Miller, alligator pennants were first sold at the store in the fall of 1908 after Austin elective the mascot when he and his father visited the Michie Company in 1907. It was a spur of the instant decision. "I had no idea it would stick, or even be established with the student body," Miller said.
However, 20 years before Austin Miller presented his explanation, Florida Gators first football team captain, Roy Corbett, gave another. In a letter to The Gainesville Sun congratulating Florida Gators successful 1928 football squad, Corbett wrote, "Incidentally 'Gators' came from a nickname given alternate center Bo-Gator Storter. This boy, who had his first coach ride coming to Gainesville didn't know what a football was - finished school as captain of the varsity."
Corbett's justification resurfaced in 1962 when Storter, Class of '12, was inducted in the Grand Guard (a club for UF alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago.) Thomas Bryant, the 1912 senior class president, delivered the introduction speech and recounted Bo Gator's exploits on the gridiron. "Bo Gator was a Florida legend," Bryant said, "and not too many years later the varsity teams became known as the Gators. His is the greatest donation to University of Florida football that has ever been made. He gave them his name."
Bo Gator's story was gone after 1962. Miller's story became Gator gospel. Was the right story selected? Bo Gator's story begins in the fall of 1907, at the same time that Austin and Phillip Miller were buying pennants. It ends with the victorious (5-0-1) football season of 1911.
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