Chops, Chomps, Chants, and Bells… College Football Traditions
Regardless of who your team is, the conference in which they play or the location of the school, college football is deeply rooted in traditions on game day – chants, songs, mascots, pre-game rituals and annoying daunting movements and noisemakers. Opponents can hate them, but fans love these game day mainstays. There’s nothing quite like hearing or seeing 90,000+ people doing the same thing or screaming the same thing all at the same time. Or, what about the rush of anticipation of that one instant – that culmination of time leading up to that one thing… kick-off. Each of these different traditions, most of which have been around for many decades, have the power to spontaneously erupt thousands of people at the game, at home watching on TV, overseas watching on the computer – anywhere.
There are many unique traditions spanning across all colleges in the nation, each with their own interesting history of how it came to be, but let’s take a look at ten for today (in no particular order of significance).
1. University of Arkansas – Chant: Woooo! Pig! Soooie! Unclear as to how it got started, but Razorback fans have been doing it since the 1920’s. This hog call has actually been officially trademarked.
2. Ohio State University – Dotting the ‘i’ – The marching band forms the scripted Ohio, everything except the dot on the ‘i’ and that honor goes to a chosen sousaphone player who runs to their spot to complete the word. (What exactly is a sousaphone anyway)?
3. Florida State University – Tomahawk Chop. The exact origins are unknown, but Seminole fans have been doing the chop and war chant for many decades. In the 1980’s a FSU music professor had the war chant copyrighted. The Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs have since copied FSU in using the chop.
4. Mississippi State University – Ringing the Cowbell. This extremely loud sound has been known to make it impossible for quarterbacks to call audibles and attempts have been made for decades by opponents and authorities to banish it from stadiums. There are various theories as to the origination of the bells, but their use dates back to the late 1930’s.
5. Auburn University – Pre-Game War Eagle Flight. A live golden eagle, nicknamed “Nova”, is released in the stadium prior to the game then the beautiful eagle slowly circles the stadium before landing at mid-field. “War Eagle” is the university’s battle cry – an expression of support for their athletic teams.
6. University of Florida – Gator Chomp. This tradition began in 1981 when UF played Mississippi State University and heard the opponent’s band play the theme from the movie, Jaws. The Gator band adapted the song and the fans started doing the gator jaws chomping motion. The rest is history.
7. University of Mississippi – The Grove. This tradition isn’t necessarily something that’s part of the game, but it’s a pre-game experience that’s just as big as the games themselves. The legendary tailgating began in the 1950’s and takes place on a ten-acre area in the center of the campus. The name comes from the beautiful oak, elm and magnolia trees surrounding The Grove.
8. University of Colorado – Ralphie’s Run. Ralphie the Buffalo (female) runs on the field at the beginning of each half. She’s capable of running up to 25mph so she has to be managed by five ‘Ralphie Handlers’. This tradition began in 1934.
9. University of Alabama – The Crimson Tide/Roll Tide. The phrase was first used as early as 1907 and since that time, the saying ‘Roll Tide’ has taken on a life of its own, being used as an expression used to greet someone, to comment on something, or to just simply, say… just to say it.
10. Texas A&M University – The 12th Man. In 1922 the Aggies were playing a tough team and many of their players were hurt with no more reserves left. A student was called out of the stands to suit up and although he never made it in the game, he was the only man standing on the sidelines. Now the student body is considered the 12th man, there to support their team if needed. In the 1980’s Coach Jackie Sherrill held open tryouts for students to hold every spot on the kick off team and later Coach R.C. Slocum changed it to one student slot on the kick off team.
*NOT A TRADITION, but funny to note: University of Iowa Kinnick Stadium visitor’s locker room. PINK. Former head coach Hayden Fry had everything painted pink for the visitors, even the urinals. After majoring in psychology Fry believed that the color pink dampens aggressive and excited behavior, therefore giving his teams a mental edge.
ENJOY YOUR GAME DAY TRADITION and if you want to share your favorite or add to the list, please do!