10 Weirdest College Football Traditions

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2012

10 Weirdest College Football Traditions

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    One of the great things about college football is the almost unending list of traditions.

    Nearly every program in the nation has some sort of ritualistic way of celebrating their football team, from pregame pep rallies to tailgates to concerts to artifacts to mascots.

    But far from the everyday, simple, easily understood or explained traditions are those oddball, head-scratchers that we can't figure out—or don't want to figure out.

    Some are odd, others are just stupid. But here are 10 of the weirdest college football traditions in the nation.

Dotting the “i” at Ohio State

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    It's not that we don't understand what this tradition is.

    Quite simply, after the Ohio State Marching Band spells out “Ohio” in script (creatively named “Script Ohio”), a sousaphone player—or other designated person of honor—quite literally dots the “i” in the word Ohio.

    Two things. First, where's the word “State?” It's Ohio State, right? Playing a football game against Ohio is something quite different than playing one against Ohio State.

    Secondly, why the inordinate amount of attention on the letter?

    Ohio State fans absolutely love this tradition, and over the years it has become one of the trademarks of the Ohio State Marching Band—even though there's some evidence it was first performed by (gasp) the Michigan Marching Band.

Walk of Champions at Ole Miss

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    A lot of college football programs have the team walk from one point to another, usually from some ante building to the stadium.

    At Ole Miss, The Grove provides the perfect environment for a pregame team walk, and since 1962, that walk has been known as the Walk of Champions.

    There's just one problem.

    The last time a champion has walked at Ole Miss was 1962, and even that title is dubious.

    The Rebels finished No. 3 in both major polls that season, and have never won a major championship (AP or UPI/Coaches Poll).

    Okay, so it's not quite like Alabama's ridiculous claim to 14 titles, but at least the Tide have nine undisputed claims to major poll championships.

    Ole Miss doesn't even have one, yet still has the Walk of “Champions” before each home game—so we've decided to add this one not because of it's unusual nature, but because of its questionable name.

300 Yell at Michigan State

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    It's one thing if you want to pony up 10 bucks to sit and watch a bad movie.

    It's quite another if you think it's cool enough to imitate—probably just because your sports team is named after the “good guys.”

    But don't lose sight of the fact that the Spartans were utterly obliterated at the Battle of Thermopylae.

    If that wasn't bad enough, Michigan State fans have also selected perhaps the most annoying—and overused—portion of the film to imitate.

    Countless motivational speakers and corporate rallies have utilized the call and response from 300, which makes Spartan Stadium seem a little like a motivational rally we paid $69.95 for rather than a football game.

Rolling Toomer's Corner at Auburn

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    Admittedly, we've included this tradition with a bit of trepidation.

    We will be the first to acknowledge that this is a beloved tradition at Auburn, and because of the alleged actions of one man, this tradition may sadly be lost to the pages of a history book.

    We sincerely hope that the assembled arbor experts will beat the odds, and save the beloved trees.

    That being said, we're still a little perplexed about this tradition.

    The tradition of toilet papering the trees (and eventually everything else at or near the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue) began in the early 1960s, although the exact date is unknown.

    First, away victories were celebrated. Later, significant home wins were lauded with rolling the corner. Today, every football victory is cause for celebration at the historic corner, home to Toomer's Drug Store.

    What makes this tradition so weird is that toilet papering is usually reserved for someone (or something) you don't like.

    Would you be honored if some young punks in town TP'ed your house?

    Unless you're an Auburn fan and the Tigers had just handed Alabama another football loss, chances are, no, you wouldn't be too happy about it.

The Stanford “Band”

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    Marching bands are part of college football.

    Bizarre is defined as “markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexplained elements; outrageously or whimsically strange; odd.”

    That exact definition could be used to define the Stanford Band.

    Love 'em or hate 'em (and chances are if you aren't from Stanford, it's the latter), the Stanford Band is a perfect fit for our “weird” list.

Burning the Shoes at Syracuse

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    Syracuse had a tradition under Dick MacPherson and Paul Pasqualoni where the players would burn their cleats, symbolically cleansing themselves of the previous season.

    Greg Robinson did away with the tradition after taking over in 2005, but after four seasons and a 10-37 record, Robinson was fired.

    Enter Doug Marrone, who quickly brought back the tradition in part to cleanse the Orange from the abysmal four years under Robinson.

Fourth Year Fifth at Virginia

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    Ah, college.

    For many, those four years are the best four years of life.

    And for many of us, college also involved a bit of drinking.

    Okay, more than a bit.

    But the seniors at Virginia take the consumption of alcohol to new heights prior to the final home game of the year. It's called the “fourth year fifth.”
    The seniors at UVA down an entire fifth—which equals more than 25 shots or 17 jiggers—before kickoff.

    Potential liver damage and serious alcohol abuse concerns aside, we're forced to wonder what good a fifth does a person who is about to watch a football game?

    Our bet is that most seniors who partake in this activity don't remember much of the game.

Calling the Hogs at Arkansas

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    The origins of this particular tradition are—like most good ones—shrouded in the past and lost to history.

    It's such a staple of Arkansas that the university actually publishes instructions, lest anyone dare get it wrong.

    The story goes that a group of farmers began the tradition at some point during the 1920s, and it stuck. Whether or not that story is actually true is likely anyone's guess.

    But if you've ever witnessed a Hog Call in person, you can attest to the fact that it's one of the strangest group crowd cheers in existence, easily earning a place on our “weird” list.

Pink Visitor's Locker Room at Iowa

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    Throughout the long history of college football, teams have sought ways of gaining an edge—any edge—over the opponent.

    Legendary Hawkeyes coach Hayden Fry decided that he'd turn the visitor's locker room at Kinnick Stadium pink.

    And not just a little pink. We're talking pink. Pink walls, pink lockers, pink carpeting, even pink urinals.

    In recent years, the feminist crowd has raised a stink about how this is somehow demeaning to women. The actual reason the visitor's locker room is pink? Coach Fry, a Baylor graduate with a degree is psychology, had learned that pink had a calming affect on people. Turns out it had nothing to do with women at all.

    And it seems to have worked.

    Iconic Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler hated that room. There is no shortage of stories of him ordering his assistants to cover the walls with butcher's paper to cover the dreaded pink.

The Sod Cemetery at Florida State

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    This is one of the weirder traditions in the nation.

    When Florida State is playing on the road and is the underdog, or is playing at the University of Florida, or is playing in the ACC Championship Game or bowl game, the victorious Seminoles remove a small piece of the turf, return it to Tallahassee, and promptly bury it—complete with grave marker.

    Today, more than 85 pieces of turf have been buried at the Sod Cemetary.

    But with the advent of artificial turf around the nation, bringing back that coveted piece of field is getting more and more difficult.

    It turns out universities don't like their million-dollar Field Turf cut up by celebrating visiting teams. In those situations, the Seminoles attempt to bring back something else to bury in the cemetery.

    Pretty cool, and very weird.


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