The first moment of every college football team's season is its entrance to the first game. This is the moment that the music and the adrenaline rush wash over the crowd to let them know football is back for another glorious season.
For this piece, the only things considered are the quality of the entrance and its innovation/uniqueness. While Alabama and Notre Dame may have psychologically crushing team entrances due to their quality of play, the entrances themselves are relatively mundane.
For the next 25 slides, the production quality and electricity of the teams taking the field are all that matter. Here are the 25 best team entrances in college football. Be sure to look for them in Week 1 of 2013.
The music will light you up and calm your soul after an already-too-long offseason of everything except football.
The Arkansas Razorbacks' entrance combo is simply impressive. If there were a unique factor to it that no one else could possibly steal, it would be higher on the list.
For pure adrenaline and game-time intensity, it earns the No. 25 spot on this list. If only the football team had that much intensity in 2012, the Razorbacks wouldn't have been home during the postseason.
This is an excellent way to kick off a game and a top-25 list.
Texas runs out as a camera follows the players through the inner part of the stadium, and watching the players touch the horns under the giant "Don't Mess With Texas" sign is intimidating.
Every member of the enemy squad waiting to enter the stadium knows he is about to mess with Texas. In most seasons, that's not something the opposition is thrilled to do.
Whether you love it or hate it, the Vanderbilt foghorn is a loud, clear reminder of whom your team is about to take on.
Traditionally, that wasn't very scary, but head coach James Franklin is inspiring his team more each passing season.
Pretty soon, Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia might all appear in the same sentence with regularity. While the horn is still more intimidating than the team, it's also one of the most awesome entrances in college football.
Texas A&M marches onto the field to the beat of the nation's largest military marching band at over 300 members.
It's a unique entrance that sets the tone for the game. Now that A&M is in the SEC, any advantage the Aggies can get over the competition can be the difference between the Cotton Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game (or playoff).
Texas A&M is a great fit for the nation's strongest conference, and the team entrance is a world-class example of that quality.
The Oregon Ducks aren't big on tradition and sticking to the old way of doing things. The Ducks consistently put out some of the best (and worst) uniforms of the season, and it's not because they are sticking with 12 sets picked 100 years ago.
The Ducks don't just think outside the box, they are outside the box in almost every way possible. That includes having a AAA baseball-like entrance complete with a duck on a Harley.
Between the bike engine and the crowd noise, it's a wonder that Oregon can ever get a football game going in Autzen.
NC State's unique contribution to the team-entrance competition is a giant wolf statue that the players run by on the way to the field.
Miami may be credited with originating the smoky entrance, but the wolf amidst the fog is strictly NC State's.
While it may not directly win it any games, one must wonder if Florida State was watching the Wolfpack rush onto the field in 2012. Something surely had the Seminoles scared that night.
The USC Trojans have one of the coolest equine team entrances. The Trojan doesn't specifically lead the team onto the field, but when Traveler (the horse) gallops onto the field, the message is sent.
The team is coming, and the squad is much bigger than the horse that just made you think twice about taking the field.
USC's entrance may not be immediately led by Traveler, but he's most definitely part of the USC entrance festivities.
Georgia Tech takes the field behind a restored 1930s car that anyone watching would love to have (even without the load of cheerleaders).
The Yellow Jackets wait to run out while "Crazy Train" plays, then they follow the sweet ride out onto the field. Just to make sure that the enemy knows whose field it is, the Ramblin' Wreck carries the cheerleaders over to their entrance for a little pregame psychological warfare.
Michigan's video montage might change a bit over time, but the focus is simple: We are better than you are, and you have many years before you catch us.
That message works to the Wolverines' advantage against every other team in the nation because Michigan has the most wins of any FBS team in history.
Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes might have something to say about that before too long, but the jumbo video speaks for itself.
Michigan players all jumping to touch the banner is a long tradition, and it seems to have worked. Why mess with success?
The Sooner Schooner is an icon of the collegiate world. Whether you think it's awesome or outdated, it's singularly Oklahoma.
It's a tradition that will not die, and it's so ingrained into the culture that companies will spend money to tug at heartstrings with commercials like the one featured.
USC has one of the better horse-led entrances in the country, but Oklahoma's is bested by only two. Sooners fans will probably disagree with that evaluation, though.
They should. It's their beloved team.
East Carolina is a prime example of how a team can have an entrance that's of much higher quality than the actual football team.
This entrance is one of the best in college football, and it's easy to see from the video. While the purple smoke emitters should be moved to a more appropriate 45-degree angle, everything else about the entrance is spot-on.
If ECU's football team could back up its mascot, the Pirates would be national contenders every season.
Putting the world's largest anything on the field would attract some serious attention, no matter what it was. However, that huge drum isn't even the best part of Purdue's entrance.
The best part is the train engine. It might be a toy compared to a real engine, but it beats the crap out of sound effects coming from giant televisions.
Purdue follows the little engine onto the field as its bell clangs and whistle sounds. If Purdue can put a team together that hits like a freight train instead of a rookie boxer, then this team entrance could shoot right up the chart.
West Virginia is more commonly known for its closing ceremony following a win, but the team entrance is highly underrated.
Combine all the great aspects of college football with a countdown to a mountain man's musket shot, and you've got a recipe for old-fashioned Deep South fun.
Seriously, add a beer to that mix, and Jeff Foxworthy will finally have some new material to throw around on stage. (What, you say he's already done beer and firearms? My mistake. Carry on.)
West Virginia's entrance is almost as intimidating as its offense. If the Mountaineers can back that up with a defense, you may be seeing that entrance on ESPN's College GameDay every week.
AC/DC's "Back in Black" is a great song, and the Hawkeyes capitalize on that at every home game. Unfortunately, Iowa is in the midst of a recession when it comes to football talent.
The good news is that the featured sequence still gets fans fired up. If you can pump enough adrenaline into the crowd before kickoff, those people will gladly scream their heads off for you (or at you if you're playing horribly).
Iowa is one of the many teams on this list that wishes it got points on the scoreboard for "awesomeness of entrance." Sadly, college football is not the Olympics. You don't get credit for "mounting the balance beam" as it were.
Nebraska's tunnel walk is preceded immediately by an awesome mash-up of morale-boosting statements and heart-pumping music.
After hyping the crowd with highlights, the screen cuts to the iconic tunnel walk. As the crowd gets built up into a dull roar, the music heightens and the players exit the tunnel.
That pushes the crowd into a full-blown frenzy, and Nebraska is ready to make mincemeat of whatever poor team dares to take the field against the 'Huskers.
That equation works well for Nebraska most of the time, and the 'Huskers rode that motivation all the way to the Big Ten title game in 2012.
Tennessee has marched through the "T" since 1965, and the Volunteers show no signs of stopping the tradition in the near future...or ever, for that matter.
The Volunteers have a top-10 entrance, and its roots in tradition don't take away from its magnificence at all.
While fans of progress may look at this and wonder why Tennessee doesn't modernize the event or formation, the answer is in the video.
You don't tamper with excellence. Sure, the Vols could mess with the "T," but then Tennessee wouldn't have this awesome entrance that gets it on lists like this.
The Vols didn't get any points for tradition, but they certainly didn't lose any for sticking with "stellar."
Most teams' entrances are over once the team actually gets on the field, as evidenced by every video before and after this slide.
Hawaii is different. Hawaii hasn't even begun to intimidate you once it has made it to the field. All that "normal" team-entrance stuff that other programs have is nothing compared to the Haka.
Haka went mainstream via the rugby movie Forever Strong. Knowing the origin of haka in general still doesn't take away from the feelings of primal energy and pure unity that it elicits.
Hawaii's pregame routine is as inspiring as it is animal, and it's easily inside the top-10 on this list for its pure power.
The Masked Rider is a tradition that was born as possibly the greatest team entrance in collegiate sports history.
That tradition continues today with the Masked Rider's gallop that leads the Red Raiders onto the field. Texas Tech players come and go, but the masked rider remains a constant.
Midnight Matador (the horse's name) is a throwback to the team's nickname early on: the Matadors. This entrance is one of the most historically significant in the country.
Plus, even if you don't know the history, a black rider with a red cape storming the field on a black horse is a sight any fan will remember for a lifetime.
Miami may have originated the use of smoke as an enhancement to a team's entrance. If you search the Internet for earlier uses than Miami, you won't find anything. However, there's no concrete claim that it was the first.
What you will find is that the first use involved pipes and fire extinguishers. That's solid evidence that nobody had done it before.
Miami comes in so high on this list because the Hurricanes had such an awesome entrance that it inspired an entire league of teams. Almost everyone enters its stadium in a cloud of smoke nowadays.
No matter how many times you see it, Miami's entrance is still great. That, plus the fact that it did it first, earns Miami the No. 7 spot on this list.
The Auburn Tigers have a fantastic tradition of releasing an eagle at the start of a home game. It circles the stadium then lands at midfield to be whisked away only to come out at the next home game.
This keeps to the legend that almost this exact series of events happened spontaneously at an Auburn-Georgia game in 1892, with one major exception: That eagle died.
Auburn's War Eagle might be traditional, but it's anything but commonplace outside the school. Seeing it happen live should be on any general college football fan's bucket list.
Live animals are a great addition to any team's entrance. Pretending that you can seriously control a half-ton buffalo borders on the insane.
Ralphie is the Colorado team's forerunner before each home game, and he's "controlled" by almost a half-dozen handlers as he makes his way quickly across the field before the team comes out at each home game.
Ralphie the buffalo (possible relative of Ralph the Wonderllama) is a beast that could intimidate anyone, even with his handlers securely connected to him.
It's one of the most insane stunts in college football, but it definitely earns its spot on the list.
Chief Osceola is an authentically clad Seminole chief that rides out ahead of the squad to plant a flaming spear at midfield before every home game.
Osceola rides Renegade, the highest-ranked horse on this list. The authentic look can be attributed to the fact that the actual Seminole tribe cooperated with the design.
The Florida State Seminoles have one of the greatest opening orchestrations in the country, and Osceola is on a level of his own in terms of fear factor.
Clemson's stadium bears the name "Death Valley," and its origin is Howard's Rock. Howard's Rock is actually from Death Valley, California, and it sits on a pedestal at the top of the hill overlooking the field.
That rock is at the top of Clemson's hill, and the players who are willing to give 110 percent touch it immediately before rushing the field to dispatch the enemy with extreme prejudice.
Clemson's entrance is easily in the top three on this list, and it should be in the top three of any such list in the future.
Even the fact that the Tigers run downhill to the field is uncommon.
Ever since South Carolina first used the music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Gamecocks have stuck with it.
It's an epic piece of music, and watching the Gamecocks held back from the field until the opportune moment builds the tension perfectly.
From the score selection to the timing of the entrance, South Carolina's field rush is one of the best in the country.
There's only one that's better.
Virginia Tech's rush to the tune of Metallica's Enter Sandman is the best in the nation. First, it doesn't use a mascot to enhance the entrance.
Second, the crowd lights up on the first note of the song, jump-starting the players before anyone steps foot onto the field.
It's a brilliant entrance that's untouched by any other combination of tradition, mascot, fireworks and/or song selection.
The only way to improve on this would be to see them find a way to pull this entrance off in LSU's Death Valley or Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium.
If the Hokies could pull off a prank like that, it would be the single greatest entrance in the history of college football, period. For now, they'll have to settle for being the best at taking the field.