The 25 Greatest College Football Traditions
Let's slow down a little and remember what the college game is all about (besides seriously beating the pants off its professional counterpart in every facet of the game): tradition.
Here are 25 videos of the greatest college football traditions - mascots, fight songs, pre-game rituals, and various apocrypha - that, love 'em or hate 'em, we can cherish anew when Saturday rolls around once more.
No. 25: The World's Largest Drum, Purdue
The Boilermakers roll out the world's largest drum (exact specifications still remain kept under wraps) during the pregame festivities.
The drum is reportedly so loud and resounding that it forced two of Terrelle Pryor's four turnovers in Purdue's upset win over the Buckeyes this year.
No. 24: Wooo, Pig, Sooie!, Arkansas
From the Arkansas website:
A properly executed Hog Call is composed of three “calls,” slowly raising one’s arms from the knees to above the head during the “Woo.” Traditionalists prescribe an eight second “Woo.” The fingers should be wiggled and the “Woo” should build in volume and pitch as the arms rise.
Upon completion of the “Woo,” both arms are brought straight down with fists clinched as if executing a chin-up while yelling, “Pig”. The right arm is extended up and out with the “Sooie.”
Go ahead and Pig Sooie along with the clip (although, um, I should add, NSFW).
No. 23: Paternoville, Penn State
Before big football games, Nittany Lion students camp out outside the stadium in a hobo village nicknamed Paternoville.
Legend has it that the ghost of Joe Paterno appears at the stroke of midnight, but only to Penn State fans with the purest hearts. Usually he asks where the head is in this joint.
No. 22: The Sooner Schooner, Oklahoma
The Sooner Schooner, commemorating Oklahoma's westward wandering heritage, rides across the field after every Oklahoma score.
However, there have been calls to make the Sooner Schooner safer for passengers, as many have died of diphtheria or drowned while trying to cross Independence River.
No. 21: The Bayou Bengal Tiger, LSU
Here's footage of Mike, the Bayou Bengal Tiger of LSU (whom they keep outside the opponent's locker room, in a pretty tight hallway) nearly taking some observer's head off. How did you think they got that special flavor for the jambalaya?
Keeping a tiger is an outstanding, completely unsafe tradition, and one I endorse completely. I wish my Wolverines would try live pets for a year, but that didn't work out so well last time.
No. 20: Singing "Take Me Home, Country Roads", West Virginia
West Virginia Mountaineers fans take time to remember what's important in their pre-game festivities. They've sung "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver before (and often after) every game since 1972.
Oh, Bill Stewart, don't shed a tear now. It's a happy song.
No. 19: The War Eagle, Auburn
The Auburn Tigers release the "war eagle" before home games and watch as he swoops and glides magnificently over the stadium.
Lately he's had a habit of gouging out the eyes of short men that look like Nick Saban.
No. 18: Ringing Cowbells, Mississippi State
Anyone confused with the noise coming from the fan section at the Mississippi State/Florida game this weekend would do well to become acquainted with the MSU Bulldogs tradition of ringing cowbells during big games.
The tradition dates back to a Mississippi State/Ole Miss game during which a cow wearing his bell wandered onto the field. The Bulldogs won that game, and the fans have rung cowbells in memory of that upset every since.
No. 17: The Ramblin' Wreck, Georgia Tech
The Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech is a supremely decorated 1930 Ford Model A that drives out on the field from the Georgia Tech tunnel leading the football team, a duty it's perfromed since 1961.
To give you an idea of how far back the Ramblin' Wreck goes: they just recently installed headlights.
No. 16: Traveler and the Trojan Warrior, USC
Traveler and the Trojan warrior ride around the stadium before the warrior demounts and walks solemnly to the middle of the field, planting his sword at midfield to the delight of the audience.
According to Virgil's Aeneid, Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rogers hid inside Traveler the Trojan horse on the way to rushing for 186 yards and two touchdowns in last year's upset.
So that's why they couldn't tackle him.
No. 15: Yell Practice, Texas A&M
The day before games, Aggie fans gather at the stadium and practice coordinating booming yells.
This commitment to disruptive and coordinated volume is what keeps alive the other great Aggie tradition: the 12th man, or the audience as 12th player.
No. 14: Running Ralphie, Colorado
In an age of soft-edged, politically correct and therefore dull college football pre-game traditions, its great to have a wrinkle like the running of Ralphie the buffalo at Colorado games, since someone is likely to get seriously injured one of these days.
No. 13: Jump Around, Wisconsin
The Badger student section rings in the fourth quarter by jumping around to the House of Pain song, "Jump Around" and shaking Camp Randall to its foundations.
Which, after all that heavy Wisconsin beer and all that time standing, you have to consider a pretty monumental feat.
No. 12: The Uga Line, Georgia
The line of bulldogs named Uga at Georgia remains unbroken since 1956. With the recent ascension of Uga VII, who replaced the dearly departed Uga VI after his death in the 2008 offseason, the Bulldogs continue to provide the country's most lovable living mascot.
Uga VI will be remembered for enjoying the game from his house on the field, where he would lay on bags of ice to keep cool.
Let us now watch this video, which fondly remembers his reign.
No. 11: Cadets March In And Take Their Seats, Army/Navy
The solemn march of the Army and Navy cadets as they enter the stadium and take their seats commemorates both the long and rich tradition of the Army/Navy football programs, and the quiet but deep intensity of their continued rivalry.
No. 10: Rammerjammer, Alabama
The Rammer Jammer tradition is hilarious. When a Tide victory is certain, the Alabama band will queue up the crowd to cheer:
Hey (nickname of team)!
Hey (nickname of team)!
Hey (nickname of team)!
We just beat the hell out of you!
Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer!
Give 'em Hell Alabama!
The lyrics originate from the Rammerjammer, a student newspaper dating back to the 1920's, and the yellowhammer, the Alabama state bird.
You can hear the Tide crowd use it here on the Tennessee Volunteers.
No. 9: Chief Osceola And Renegade, Florida State
Chief Osceola and Renegade ride out at the beginning of Florida State games to fire up the crowd. Osceola sinks a flaming spear into the middle of the field in an invigorating pre-game routine.
Bobby Bowden personally negotiated for Osceola's participation in a treaty that also gave the University the rights to all land south of the Jack in the Box on Jefferson street.
No. 8: Touchdown Jesus, Notre Dame
Notre Dame's "Touchdown Jesus", actually a mural called "The Word of LIfe", looms over the Fighting Irish's stadium. Jesus appears to hold his hands up in the same posture as a ref signalling a score.
Christ has had a busy year this year, thanks to Clausen's improved numbers.
No. 7: Rocky Top, Tennessee
Fans have been known to remain for hours after a Tennessee victory singing Rocky Top all night long.
They better clear their evening schedules for this weekend's home game against the Gamecocks. I smell upset.
No. 6: Howard's Rock, Clemson
The Clemson Tigers Football team rubs Howard's Rock, a gift to Clemson coach Frank Howard from a friend in Death Valley, California.
Howard's Rock is mounted on a pedastal at an area of the field behind the goalposts.
This tradition has been called "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football," which is more a statement on Clemson football recently than anything else.
No. 5: The Gator Chomp, Florida
Synonymous with the consumptive edge the Gators play with, the Gator Chomp involves clapping your fully extended arms together vertically.
It's an inspiring move, but at least this year, it's been more like the Gator Slow, Methodical, Defense-Heavy Chew.
No. 4: Bevo and the "Hook 'Em, Horns" sign, Texas
The most recognizable mascot and the most recognizable fan hand sign respectively belong to the Texas Longhorns.
Bevo, a true Texas Longhorn, is held in a partition just a bit away from the action at Darrell Royal Stadium (as Jordan Shipley found out earlier this year).
The Hook 'Em handsign is made by holding down your middle and ring finger with your thumb and extending your index and pinky fingers in opposite directions. In Texas, its like saying hello.
No. 3: "Hail! To The Victors!", Michigan
The greatest fight song in college football (at least according to John Philips Sousa, who knows a thing or two about composition), "The Victors" was written by Louis Elbel.
The song's very recognizable chorus came to him as he walked home from a Michigan victory over the University of Chicago in 1898.
Prior to "The Victors", the Michigan school song was "There'll Be A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonite". This is where I admit my relief that Louis Elbel wrote "The Victors".
No. 2: The Sea Of Red, Nebraska
Got an hour and a half? Google "Nebraska football tradition" and wade through the Cornhusker's history as one of the most dynamic and dominant teams in college football.
The Sea of Red, the Blackshirts, the undefeated streak, the undying devotion. Nebraska has been kind to its football fans and has built several rich and long-sustained traditions.
My favorite is the Sea of Red. Every fan wears Nebraska red to the game in a show of solidarity and support for the team, and the effect, visually, is truly intimidating.
Home games for Nebraska are feared for every opponent, and though Nebraska has suffered its lumps this year, it won't be long before Bo Pelini has the Nebraska program one its feet and smashing opponents once again.
No. 1: Script Ohio, Ohio State
The "script Ohio" formation put on by the Best Damn Band in the Land since 1936 is the most inspiring and well-coordinated pre-game march in the country.
It calls for an Ohio State alum of some distinction or, more commonly, a sousaphone player, to dot the "i" in Ohio.
This great clip not only provides the full "script", but adds a little surprise for the ESPN cameraman at the end. You have to admire the sousaphone's poise - he just let the bow go on.