The college football season has officially begun!
For the next four months, the hopes, dreams, and pride of colleges, collegians, boosters, and alumni across America will rise and fall with every first down, interception, field goal, and touchdown.
Mass quantities will be consumed, beverages will be imbibed, pom-poms will shake, horns will be blown and drums will be beaten.
To commemorate the occasion, I thought I would mention some of my favorite things about this great game, which is my favorite sport to watch and has my favorite team in sports: My alma mater, the Bruins of UCLA.
The emphasis here is on my favorite things, not necessarily the best or the most known. Some of the things I really like about this game are not as popular as other things that may be more famous.
Being a former marching band member at UCLA, I've always paid attention to the fight songs. Here are the tunes - not counting my school's own "Sons Of Westwood" - that I particularly enjoy:
MICHIGAN - "THE VICTORS": Of course everyone knows this tune! Arguably the best in the country, and my choice for best fight song in the Big-10. Hail, Hail, the Champions of the West, indeed!
NOTRE DAME - "VICTORY MARCH": Like Michigan, everyone knows this song as well. What really got me to like this one was when I saw the movie "Rudy" (great film!) and I heard the Notre Dame Men's Glee Club sing it. Gave me a few chills, it was so good!
TENNESSEE - "ROCKY TOP": The SEC's best fight song in my book. Reflects that state well, and is real catchy.
PENN STATE - To be honest, I'm not sure about the name of the song (sorry, Nittany Lions - if you could tell me the name of your fight song I'd really appreciate it). But I find myself swaying to it all the same. I particularly like the lion roar at the end.
WASHINGTON - "BOW DOWN TO WASHINGTON": Another great tune, definitely among my favorites in the Pac-10. I especially like the way it kind of swings toward the end and how it's sung.
Even though I didn't put these songs in order, this is my choice for my favorite fight song in the country:
STANFORD - "ALL RIGHT NOW": Yes, I know it's really a rock tune by Free, a post-Beatles British group from the early 1970's, but that doesn't matter. THIS SONG ROCKS!! It makes me get up and (try to) dance every time I hear it. I love the trumpet fanfare in the middle, and the way the Stanford band plays eight bars of various stuff near the end, such as Black Sabbath's "Ironman" and "The Flintstones". If people listened to Free's original version, they'll understand why Stanford chose that as their tune.
Having gone through my list of fight songs, I wanted to share my list of favorite mascots, too. Not counting my alma mater's Joe and Josie Bruin, of course...
UGA VII, GEORGIA - Cool Bulldog! I like the way he sits there on the sidelines, and biting at that Auburn player that time was something to see.
BEVO, TEXAS - Like UGA, I love the way that Longhorn stands there on the sidelines all majestic. Plus he's a great symbol of that state, the best match-up between symbol and school.
HUSKIE, WASHINGTON - In my opinion, he's the best looking live animal mascot in college football. What a dog!
RALPHIE, COLORADO - Love the way that buffalo runs out of the tunnel before games at Folsom Field. I was a bit surprised when I found out that Ralphie was a girl, but when I thought of it, it made sense. A male buffalo would be unmanageable and would run over those handlers.
CHIEF OSCEOLA & RENEGADE, FLORIDA STATE - One word describes my opinion of this mascot: COOL!! I especially love that flaming spear and the way that chief spears it onto the ground before games. Even the Seminole tribe gave FSU's mascot its blessing, so it must be cool!
I know this will sound like I am a Stanford alum instead of a UCLA alum, but while I think that Joe and Josie Bruin are outstanding, this mascot completely takes the cake as my favorite:
THE TREE, STANFORD - This mascot is as funny and irreverent as all get-out! I absolutely LOVE the way he flows with the Stanford band, and he has good dance moves. Great sense of humor, too! By the way, the person auditioning to be the tree has to make his own costume - most unique in college sports. I always look forward to seeing that tree when UCLA plays the Cardinal.
I am sure I've triggered some strong disagreements and arguments here, and I know I've left out some fight songs and mascots that are very well-known and beloved. I am NOT trying to disrespect anyone's song or mascot in any way; it's just that these are the mascots and tunes that I find to be my favorites.
I have many other things that I love about college football in regard to traditions and rivalries, but I'll save that for another time, and put that in the "coming soon" column.
Let the debating begin!