With football season in full swing, many fans watch their favorite college teams with great interest. Our hometown universities have engaged in a fierce rivalry for decades, and their annual contest has become known as the “Battle of the Ravine.” What many may not know, though, is that one of the nation’s top football teams plays in a stadium named for a Ouachita Baptist College graduate. Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., is that facility.
Doak Sheridan Campbell was born near Waldron, in Scott County, in 1888. Campbell graduated from high school in 1905, obtained a teacher’s license and taught school briefly before attending Ouachita here in Arkadelphia. In 1911, he graduated with a B.A. in music and speech. He was president of the senior class, a distance runner and intercollegiate debater and orator.
After graduation, Doak Campbell became superintendent of the school at Columbus, Ark. Then, in 1916, he moved to Conway to serve as a chemistry instructor at Central Baptist College. By 1920, he was the school’s president.
In 1928, Doak Campbell graduated from George Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn., with a master’s degree and also earned a Ph.D. there in 1930. Afterward, he joined the Peabody faculty. By 1938, he was dean of the graduate school, where he served until he became president of Florida State College for Women in the fall of 1941.
Florida State College for Women became Florida State University in 1947. While at FSU, Campbell led the school through a time of tremendous growth and change. For example, the graduate school grew from eleven students in 1945 to 861 in 1956, making it the ninth-largest graduate school in the South at the time. Doak Campbell retired as president of Florida State University in 1957.
Florida State University began playing football at Centennial Field during the 1947 season and played there for two years. Doak Campbell Stadium was completed at a cost of $250,000, and FSU hosted its first game there October 7, 1950, against Randolph-Macon College with the Seminoles winning 40-7.
Through the years, the stadium has grown to a capacity of well over 80,000, and the facility is frequently referred to as simply “Doak.” Following action by the state legislature in 2004, its official name became “Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium.” According to one historian, the stadium is the “fourteenth largest stadium in the NCAA, the largest football stadium in the ACC and the largest continuous brick structure in the United States.”
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