The 25 Top Pregame Traditions in College Football (With Video)
You might think they're cheesy, but then again, you're not really a fan.
College football can brag the most dedicated fan bases in sports. They will change their entire wardrobe to match the school's colors during football season.
They'll make weird noses and strange hand gestures. They'll sing annoying songs. They'll treat animals like they are king of the campus.
In short, college football fans will do anything and everything to make sure their team has the proper mojo heading into the game of their lives.
The choices are plentiful, but here's our list of the top 25 pregame traditions across the land.
25. GameDay: The Wazzu Flag
This isn't so much about a school as it is the idea.
Washington State alum Tom Pounds started this tradition in 2003, when he heard "ESPN's College Gameday" was coming to Austin. He got in front of the camera and got his flag on TV. WSU alum took note and a relay of the flag began wherever "Gameday" ended up on Saturday.
Pounds now has more than 100 flag bearers in his network. The tradition is well known among the "Gameday" crew and became subject of this commercial last year.
24. Penn State: Paternoville
The stadium turns into a village of tents and laptops in the days leading up to Nittany Lions home games.
The pre-game parade through State College that began in 1951 is led by many of the Paternoville dieheads.
The name only came about in 2005, but the tradition of camping out for seats and tailgating goes back 30 years.
As you can see from the video, the smarter among the campers set up a Wi-Fi network.
23. Purdue: World's Largest Drum
It's old. The canvas reportedly stinks something fierce. But don't mess with Purdue's drum.
The drum is full of legend, the latest being that the mere sound of it forced Terrelle Pryor into two turnovers in the Ohio State game last year.
22. Wooo, Pig, Sooie, Arkansas
There's an actual art to this hog call that has Arkansas fans captivated. There's actually three calls in one.
It's like yoga. Feel the power raising from the knees above your head with a "Woo". Eight seconds, no longer. Wiggle your fingers and raise your arms as the "Woo" takes you over.
Now, both arms straight down, fists clinched like a chin-up while you're yelling "Pig". Then let the emotion out as you extend your right arm with a uproarious "Sooie!"
21. LSU: Mike the Tiger
The LSU tiger that gets paraded out before every home game is known to be a purebred bengal. But the last two Mikes have actually been a mixed breed.
Mike V was a Bengali-Indochinese mix, while Mike VI is a Bengali-Siberian hybrid.
LSU first adopted its nickname in 1896 in reference to the state's Confederate heritage. The Louisiana troops of Robert E. Lee's Army became known as the Tigers during the Civil War.
20. Miami: Smoke Tunnel
We take it for granted because every school has pyrotechnics in their budget now when it comes to gameday.
But the Hurricanes created the hype, the aura, "The U" back in the '80s. And running through the smoke tunnel was part and parcel of the style to go with the delivery of a 'Canes whooping.
19. Texas A&M: Reveille
This American Collie has an honor that no other mascot in the country can claim.
To thank the university for their help during World War II, the U.S. Army designated their mascot a five-star Cadet General.
Reveille, now in its eighth generation, is still the highest-ranking official of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.
18. Oklahoma: Sooner Schooner
There's so many traditions to choose from at Oklahoma, including the pounding of the banner. But for me, the Schooner is still tops.
They ride it pregame and ride it after every touchdown. It commemorates the state's heritage of moving westward. But man, wouldn't you like to be that guy with the reins?
17. Mississippi State: I Need More Cowbell
Christopher Walken would be proud of this one. Too bad Will Ferrell's a Trojan guy.
The tradition dates back to a MSU-Ole Miss game where a cow wearing a bell wandered on to the field. The Bulldogs won the game, and the fans have rung cowbells in memory of that upset every since.
16. USC: Tommy Trojan and Traveler
I don't know. This one seems a bit too much like Florida State. But we'll let them have their tradition.
Tommy rides Traveler to midfield and plants his sword in midfield. Traveler was introduced in 1961 and is now up to Traveler VII—although horses have been roaming the Trojans sidelines since 1927.
15. Oklahoma State: Bullet
Bullet was introduced in 1984. The original owner of the horse, Dr. Eddy Finley, was inspired by the Red Raiders' masked rider, which led to the Spirit Rider program in Lubbock.
The school originally used a spirit rider horse owned by John Beall, but bought their own horse and named the mascot through a campuswide contest in 1988.
14. Colorado: Running Ralphie
Ralphie's actually a she. The tradition of Ralphie running a loop on the field started in 1967, but actually goes back as far as 1934 when a group of students paid $25 to rent a bison calf and hired a cowboy keeper for the season.
It takes five "Ralphie Runners" to keep up with the buffalo that can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour. And every once in a while, the run doesn't quite go according to script ...
13. Georgia Tech: The Wramblin Wreck
This 1930 Ford Model A sport coupe serves as the mascot for Georgia Tech, leading the football team into the stadium since 1961.
It can get tricky having a car for a mascot. Like when overzealous alums decide to take the car for a joyride for a wedding in Savannah. Watch the video.
12. Auburn: The War Eagle Soars
The New York Yankees tried to co-op this tradition after Sept. 11 with Challenger the Patriot. But there's only one war eagle.
The training is extensive to get the eagle to respond in front of 80,000 fans without freaking out. And somehow, despite all the calls, he never goes to gouge out any opposing players' eyes.
Man, I'd love to see this thing get all up in Spurrier's hair. Dare to dream.
11. Florida: Gator Chomp
The only thing more annoying and ingratiating than this tradition is the tomahawk chop.
The Gator Chomp began in 1981, done by the band at a University of Maryland game. It's become synonymous with Gator Nation bragging ever since.
But I'm not bitter ...
10. Georgia: The Uga Line
Ah, the Ugas. The cuddly bulldog has been roaming the sidelines since 1956. The Seiler family is the official keeper of the Uga sperm, providing the full lineage of Ugas right through today's Uga VII.
The Seilers live in Savannah, and let me tell you, it's serious business for the family. Mess with the dogs and you'll end up buried between the hedges in Athens.
9. Florida State: Chief Osceola and Renegade
Does it take Bobby Bowden to make anything happen in Tallahassee?
Bill Durham had the idea of this tradition back in 1962, but couldn't make anything happen until he got Bowden's ear.
Durham got the permission of the Seminole tribe and began training the horses and riders for the 1978 season. OK, so USC has done it longer ...
Chief and Renegade take the lighted area, parade around and plant it in midfield. And then, it is on like Donkey Kong.
8. Tennessee: The Power T
The Pride of the Southland Marching Band pulls off this miracle every home game. Their six-minute, 45-second pregame show has remained largely unchanged for years, culminated by the formation.
Call them band geeks if you will, but seriously, I would screw this "T" up something fierce with my rhythm. The band mostly does this at Neyland Stadium, though it was done at the 1986 and 1991 Sugar Bowl.
The Volunteer Navy and Smokey are equally impressive traditions, but for me, the "T" is tops.
7. Michigan: Hail to the Victors
This confuses matters a bit as we venture into fight songs, but the singing of "The Victors" encompassed the Sea of Blue and the full experience of a day at The Big House.
Yes, the tradition isn't what it used to be and the visitors might be able to sing it more this year. But it's still a damn fine moment in college football.
6. Texas: Bevo
Strangely, the longhorn wasn't the original idea for the Texas mascot. That was a pit bulldog named "Pig". Thankfully that didn't stick.
The original Bevo was donated to the university back in 1916 by alumnus Stephen Pinckney, who scrounged up the $124 it took to buy the animal.
There's been 14 Bevos all together—the first named "Bo" but fans turned it into Bevo. It's a precocious mascot, a prima donna of sorts.
Bevo III broke out of its housing and roamed campus for two days. Another attacked a park car, while another scared the you-know-what out of the Baylor band during a jail break.
5. Nebraska: The Sea of Red
There's just endless tradition when you talk about football in Lincoln. The blackshirts, Tom Osbourne, the Heisman heritage. It goes on and on.
But the passion begins with the Sea of Red. If you profess to be a Cornhuskers fan and you're caught with anything other than red on game day, you're excommunicated. Seriously. Ceremony and everything.
4. Army-Navy: The Cadets Take Their Seats
It is the only time I have ever seen a college football stadium completely silent.
The marching in of the cadets is a solemn tradition that commemorates the unparalleled rivalry between the two schools and the intensity and respect of the game itself.
For all the amazing Saturdays across the South, covering an Army-Navy game—with all the pageantry—was a Top 5 sports moment.
3. Clemson: Howard's Rock
It doesn't look like much. But when you finally make your way inside the gates at Death Valley, the sight of Howard's Rock is awe inspiring.
The Clemson players march down the campus hill, through the gates and touch the two-and-a-half pound rock before trouncing down another hill on to the field.
The funny part is that legendary coach Frank Howard received the rock as a gift from a booster in the '60s and just let it sit in his office for years. In 1966, Howard told staffers to get the rock out of his office. They did, putting it on a pedestal in Memorial Stadium.
2. Ohio State: Script Ohio
The Best Damn Band in the Land has been doing this tradition since 1936.
This goes to show you that the choreography involved in being in the college band is almost as trying as playing the instrument. But boy, when they pull it off, it's quite the sight.
And when they don't quite pull it off, it's pretty funny, too.
1. Notre Dame: Tapping the Sign
I'm up for arguing most things when it comes to college football, but when it comes to pregame traditions, there is nothing like this. Period.
I hate that Sean Astin got to touch the sign. I'm not a "Touchdown Jesus" guy, but you can't argue with the results behind the sign.
And for all you haters, I give you this video. Because there's no arguing that this clip is anything but cheesy. Just play a clip of "Rudy" and be done with it.