It really began in 1970 when Wally Woodham and Jimmy Jordan were cast together for the first time. Woodham was the eighth-grade quarterback for the Lafayette Park Lions of the Tallahassee Recreation Department and Jordan was his seventh-grade backup. Then is was on to Leon High School, where Woodham set a national record for total passing yardage as a senior and Jordan shattered it the following year.
Complications did not set in until the last three seasons at Florida State University when what had been a possibility all along became a reality: They were both judged capable of being No. 1.
So they have had to alternate in the role, since the rule of snaps still dictates only one pair of hands under the center at a time. How well the two-headed quarterback, known in some quarters as "Wally Jim Jordham," has worked is summed up in Florida State's 10-0 record, a No. 5 ranking in both polls, and its invitation to the Orange Bowl to play the winner of Saturday's Nebraska-Oklahoma game.
"I don't know of anybody who relishes that situation at that position," said Seminole Coach Bobby Bowden, a friendly, soft-spoken Southern gentleman who has turned the Florida State football program around (33-11 in his four seasons, as opposed to a 4-29 record prior to his arrival). Bowden is the creator of Wally Jim Jordham.
"It's a situation that probably won't happen again to me in my lifetime," Bowden said. "It's just that there can't one of them be No. 1. You start one of them and almost each week the other has to bail him out.
"It would be unbearable if we were losing. We would be second-guessed to death if we weren't winning. The thing to have done this year was to red-shirt Jimmy Jordan (Woodham sat out his sophomore year, setting up the complication ). Why lose two senior quarterbacks? Why not do that? Simply because we're not as good without both of them."
While it is not unique for quarterbacks to alternate, usually it is because one is more adept at running and the other at passing. That is not the case at Florida State, which features a pro-style passing game and has averaged 31 passes a game. It is the style of the two men that varies.
Jordan, bigger and stronger at 6-1 and 200 pounds, has a great throwing arm. Woodham is more of a tactician, scanning the field; he is more willing to dump off to one of his backs than to try to drill the ball to a primary receiver, as Jordan might.
But what they do they do well.
"Everything good happens to Jimmy all of a sudden," Bowden said. "Wally is the more consistent, hunt-and-peck guy. It's got to be tough on them and their families. Everybody wants their kids to have it best. Together they gave us the second-leading passing offense in the nation last season, behind SMU. But the way we've used them has knocked them out of a chance for self-glory. Thank goodness they've put the team first."
Together they have passed for more than 7,500 yards in their college careers. Jordan, the home-run thrower, has thrown for more touchdowns. Woodham has a higher completion percentage and fewer interceptions.
The latest decision for Bowden came when he announced that Woodham would start Friday on national television (WJLA-TV-7, noon) against Florida.
Not that Jordan did much wrong in his start Saturday night. He threw three touchdown passes in the first half against a Memphis State team that had allowed only three previous touchdown passes all season and started the Seminoles toward a 66-17 rout.
"Jordan was the starter when we played on national TV against LSU," explained Bowden, "and so now we want to give Wally some national exposure."
That he can exchange one quarterback for the other so readily is made a lot easier, the coach concedes, by the bond of friendship between the two. Last Friday, before the Memphis State game, they went dove-hunting together. "If they didn't like each other," Bowden said, "you sure wouldn't want them to go hunting together."
They do a lot of things together, even shared a minor scare after last Saturday's game.
They were urged to mount Renegade, the horse that serves as the Seminoles' mascot. Chief Osceola, its normal rider, races his mount to mid-field just before the start of a game and plants a flaming spear into the 50-yard line to signify that either direction is Seminole territory. But now Chief Osceola had dismounted and the two quarterbacks were encouraged to clamber aboard Renegade. It became another laugh for the two to share when the horse reared and deposited Jordan on top of Woodham on the turf, the first sack of the night for either.
Woodham can remember when their friendship was tested. The upper hand he had always held, basically because he was always a year ahead of Jordan, had evaporated after he sat out the 1976 season.
"It was real hard two years ago (early in the 1977 season) trying to be real competitive and yet remain friends," Woodham recalled. "We're older now and better able to handle it.
"But then I was coming off a red-shirt year. I was hungry to play. And when I didn't at first, I lost confidence. I began to wonder if I could play. But I didn't want it to interfere with our friendship. I figured it would be a situation where one guy would take over. For a time there was a dominant one but it wouldn't last for long."
Always, it seemed to develop, there would be the need of relief help from the other. While they concede it would have been easier to go to different colleges, that choice was not really available to them.
"Most teams were running the veer and wishbone when they came out," said Leon High School Coach Gene Cox, "and neither was a running quarterback, so they weren't highly sought after. But you knew they would succeed on a team that emphasized the pass. Either or both."
Bowden has chosen to juggle and has done so with great success. This will be the first major bowl visit for the Seminoles.