College Football's Top 10 Traditions
Traditions are what makes college football what it is. Every school has one, and each program claims theirs is the best. Traditions help build college football programs, and also help separate college football from other sports.
Each school's tradition is different, ranging from bands, chants, songs, or even the way a team might enter a stadium. Each is unique, and that's why there will always be a dispute over which college has the best tradition.
Here is my top ten list of college football traditions.
Honorable Mention: Alabama's Rammer Jammer
There’s nothing like losing a game, then being humiliated by 100,000 plus.
Alabama’s “Rammer Jammer” does just that.
As seconds are winding down during an Alabama victory, the band will cue the music. “We just beat the hell out of you! Rammer Jammer, Yellow Hammer, give ‘em hell, Alabama!” is screamed by the Tide faithful as they let the other team and its fans know that the game is over.
Some call it unsportsmanlike, but I don’t give it that title. Rammer Jammer is a great tradition at Alabama that will continue on through the years.
10. West Virginia: Country Roads
John Denver’s 1971 hit, “Country Roads” was an instant classic and is also a great tradition at West Virginia University.
Since 1972, the song has been performed in the pregame of every Mountaineer game and then played over the loud speakers after every West Virginia win.
That isn’t all, though.
As the song is played, the whole stadium sings in unison. It gives chills to opposing fans listening, as over 60,000 fans celebrate and sing the song for their team, University, and state.
9. Tennessee: Rocky Top
Go to Neyland Stadium in football season and tell me if you have Rocky Top memorized by the time you leave. Rocky Top has become Tennessee’s most famous tradition as The Pride of the Southland Marching Band plays this song over and over throughout the game.
As the band plays, the stadium sings the chorus “Rocky Top, you'll always be, Home sweet home to me. Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee.”
The song became popular at Tennessee football games in the 1970’s, when the band first started playing it. After the first time, everything clicked. Fans quickly adopted it into the culture of Tennessee football.
Although it is not Tennessee’s official fight song, Rocky Top is played more than any other song, and Vols’ fans rock to it every single time.
8. Colorado: Ralphie's Run
Ralphie is the real live buffalo mascot of the University of Colorado. When the Colorado football team takes the field, Ralphie and a group, “Ralphie Handlers”, leads the team out.
Five Ralphie Handlers attempt to steer Ralphie as they make a horseshoe shape around the field and then return back to the cage on the sidelines. It is said that while running its route, the buffalo can get up to 25 miles per hour.
Ralphie has roamed the Colorado sideline for over 50 years, and the tradition is still going strong, as the university is currently on Ralphie V. While Ralphie doesn’t get to travel to many away games, he can be found on the Colorado sidelines every Saturday in the fall.
7. Auburn: War Eagle
The phrase “War Eagle” means just about everything to Auburn football.
It’s a battle cry, a chant, the fight song, and a tradition that matches up with the best of them. If you’re ever in Auburn, Alabama you’ll definitely hear shouts of "War Eagle" throughout the town during the day.
This tradition, though, is at its best at Auburn home games. On game day, as the Auburn Marching Band plays the fight song, a golden eagle, "War Eagle," circles the stadium and then lands at midfield to kickoff game day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn is on golden eagle number seven right now, as each continues the great tradition that was set before them.
6. Florida State: Osceola and Renegade
To begin every home game at Florida State, Osceola, imitating the Seminole leader Osceola, charges down the field and plants a burning spear at midfield of Doak Campbell Stadium. An intimidating sight for opposing teams, Osceola rides on his appaloosa horse, Renegade.
This tradition acts as a way to get the crowd involved early as the “World-Renowned” Marching Chiefs play the famous Florida State "War Chant" while Osceola makes his way onto the field.
5. Texas A&M: Midnight Yell/12th Man
There isn’t a group of students that are more dedicated to making noise than the 12th man of Texas A&M.
On the night before each home game, a tradition called Midnight Yell takes place in Kyle Field at midnight. The gathering resembles a pep rally, as thousands of students and alumni come to practice their yells so they are in tip-top shape for game day.
Five yell leaders, who are elected by the student body, lead the Twelfth Man in their yells. The group of five gesture signals to the student body, each meaning a different yell. Fight songs are sung, chants are shouted, and the Aggie faithful prepare to welcome a new opponent to College Station.
The Midnight Yell captures what college football is all about.
4. Clemson: Running Down the Hill
Clemson’s entrance ranks high on my list of college football traditions.
Referred to as “The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football”, the Clemson football team stands on top of a hill around Howard’s Rock looking down at the playing field of Memorial Stadium. As the stadium gets jazzed up, the players gain more and more excitement, and then take the field as a cannon sounds. The Clemson band plays the fight song, and balloons are let go into the sky.
It is definitely an exhilarating experience for fans and players of both teams. The run down the hill in Death Valley will always be the best entrance in college football.
3. Army-Navy Game
This game has to be considered a tradition. Once a year, the whole nation gets to see two teams filled with men who fight for and honor our country each and every day.
In a game that is bigger than football, it puts brothers against brothers, with football being the sport that separates them for 60 minutes a year. After graduation, these men will be on the same battle field together.
Many great events take place during this game. One of the best is the prisoner exchange. During their junior year, certain Mids and Cadets are selected to spend a semester “behind enemy lines”. Come game day, each “prisoner” is returned to their side, and reunited with their peers.
However, the best scene is when the clock strikes zero, and both teams join each other for the singing of each team’s alma mater. Truly, one of the best sites in sports.
Each college football fan needs to make it to this game one day. The experience will never be forgotten, as you see Navy and Army clash helmets in one of the oldest rivalries in college football.
2. Wisconsin: Jump Around
Let me set the stage: Wisconsin home game, end of the third quarter, as anticipation runs through the air. Everyone knows what’s coming, and suddenly you hear the four notes that send the crowd into a frenzy.
As "Jump Around," by House of Pain, is played throughout the loud speakers, fans rock Camp Randall Stadium by literally jumping around. Energy fills the stadium, as fans and students get stirred up going into the fourth quarter.
The tradition isn’t an old one, as it was first started in 1998. That’s no reason to write it off, though. This Wisconsin tradition takes a back seat to none.
1. Ohio State: Script Ohio
You won’t find a better band in the land than the one you’ll find in Columbus, Ohio.
The Ohio State University Marching Band performs one of the best shows and formations you will see at any college football game. Usually performed in pregame, Script Ohio is the signature performance of "The Best Damn Band in the Land."
A tradition started in 1936, Script Ohio is a must-see spectacle on a fall Saturday in Columbus. Today, at the end of the formation, the “i"-dotter high steps out to his position and gives a bow to both sides of the stadium. The Buckeye Battle Cry is then sung by the band members before they remove their hats and salute the crowd of over 100,000.
Through the years, Ohio State has honored past greats by allowing them to be an honorary “i”-dotter. Among the list is Woody Hayes, Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, and James “Buster” Douglas.
If you’re ever at an Ohio State football game, be sure to get to your seats about 20 minutes early to see the incomparable Script Ohio.
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