One of the best things about fall has finally returned— and it’s not pumpkin spice lattes! The NCAA graces us with another season of college football, with its it’s unique customs and practices that truly ignite the flame for the game. While some college football traditions have been standing for decades, other are relatively new. From old-school chants to animal mascots and fan-fueled practices, it’s these wacky and wild rituals and customs that make the game that much more fun to watch.
Mississippi State Cowbell
The cowbell has become synonymous with Bulldogs games at Davis Wade Stadium, with nearly everyone in the stands holding a custom bell so they can clang it throughout the game—but not when the ball is in play, per rules agreed upon by the school and the SEC in 2010 that lifted a ban on the noisemakers inside the facility.
West Virginia “Country Roads” Sing-along
Undoubtedly, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a karaoke go-to by millions. This song obviously has a special meaning to the Mountaineers fans, thanks to the shoutout of the home state. It brings the thousands of fans in attendance together before their team goes to battle and is used as a celebration of sorts during the team’s triumphs. it has been sung at games since 1972.
Texas A&M’s “12th Man”
On January 2, 1922, the Texas A&M football team, plagued by injuries for the Dixie Classic bowl game against Centre College, called upon student E. King Gill to suit up for the game. While Gill never entered the game, he stood on the sidelines ready to play if called upon to do so. His dedication spoke volumes. Today, the 12th Man honor represents a student section of nearly 40,000 fans that voluntarily stand throughout the game, as tribute to their loyalty to the team, just like Gill.
Legend has it that if Clemson players rub Howard’s Rock, they will be granted the luck and skill to win the game. The rock, which was gifted to Coach Frank Howard by a friend, is now mounted on a pedestal at the top of The Hill so the team runs toward it as they enter the field while the Tigers fans cheer them on. While a rock may not actually give magical powers, it sure creates for great morale!
Ralphie the Buffalo’s run
Before each game, the University of Colorado Buffaloes’ mascot takes a lap around the field. Oh yeah, did we mention the mascot is a live, 2,000-pound buffalo names Ralphie? Donned with the team banner the mighty beast leads the Colorado team into the stadium. Don’t worry, Ralphie is a friendly bison—although a few of its handlers have been knocked, or dragged down, as Ralphie can run up to 25 mph.
The University of Oklahoma Sooner Schooner is essentially a covered wagon, replicated like the ones used by the pioneers during early settlement to the west. Just before every game, two horses, one of which is names Sooner leads the trusty wagon onto the field piloted by a member of the Ruf/Neks spirit group, with a Ruf/Neks queen riding alongside.
Dotting the “I”
Ohio State arguably has one of the best marching bands around. But aside from talent, what makes this band most distinct is one little dot. a sousaphone player will represent the dot at the top of a lowercase “i”, finishing the bands assembly of “Ohio” in script. The honor of being able to “dot the i” is typically one that only goes to a fourth-year band member.
At the start of every Florida State University home game, “Chief Osceola” rides Renegade the horse along the football field then plants a flaming spear at the heart of midfield. This display is done in tribute to the Osceola Tribe of Florida, a local Native American tribe, and the tradition continues to this day with the permission of the tribe.
Wisconsin’s Jump Around
At the University of Wisconsin, once House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blares through the sound system, you know it’s game time! The popular hip-hop song first played at Camp Randall Stadium in October 1998, at the beginning of the fourth quarter as the Badgers were losing against a Drew Brees-led Purdue team. The crowd went nuts, and naturally, Wisconsin came back to win, and a Badgers tradition was born.
Beware of flying rolls of toilet paper if you’re near the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Ave. The Auburn tradition began when employees at Toomer’s Drugs learned that Auburn was victorious at an away game. To celebrate, they threw ticker tape onto the power lines of the intersection. No one uses ticker tape anymore, so toilet paper it is! After the original trees were poisoned in 2010, and their replacements burned in 2016, Auburn University has asked students to curtail the tradition until the news trees, planted in 2017, mature.