College sports are full of traditions. Sports culture evolves when longstanding rituals are passed down and new ones are created, helping young teams forge their identity, including some downright weird superstitions. A true sports fan is willing to do anything for his team to succeed. Colleges and universities take this to the extreme. They are the ultimate fans with their wild and crazy traditions.
Not only students but alumni, locals and other fans from near and far take the school spirit from the campus and into the world. These wonderful traditions vary from crowd-pleasing chants to outrageous costumes and are enough to turn anyone into a super fan. Did your school make the cut? Check out this slideshow to discover who has the best college sports traditions.
Stanford University- Attend “Bearial”
The most intense football rivalry in the Pac-12 is between the Stanford Cardinals and the California Bears. This can be clearly seen when they face off every year in the aptly named Big Game, which started way back in 1892. Stanford students don’t get ready for this momentous event by throwing a wild party, instead they psych themselves up by holding a somber “bearial”. A mix of bear and funeral, get it?
The students gather around “the claw” fountain on campus to perform this unusual ritual. They take a stuffed animal of the California mascot, Oski the Bear, read it its last rites and impale it on the claw statue. It’s Stanford’s modern-day sacrifice to the gods of football. You’d be surprised to know that Stanford is not the only school with such morbid traditions. Keep reading to discover which other sports traditions include holding a funeral themed ceremony for rivals.
The University of Florida- The Gator Chomp
The Florida Gators are well known for their classic tradition – The Gator Chomp. Florida is famous across the country for its competitive schools and illustrious basketball programs, and the Gators always strive to lead the way, in everything. A strong team needs to have an equally strong tradition, one with bite. If it’s kickoffs, game-winning points, or a big play, any occasion is perfect for fans to stretch out their arms, clamp down and clap up the orange and blue.
This tradition is so much fun, partly because it can be also be turned around and used by Gator Haters, of which there are many. There is nothing a Florida fan hates more than when a rival player uses their patented move against them, performing a chomp in the end zone after a touchdown or when defeating their beloved team. It’s always hot and never boring in the Sunshine State when college sports traditions are involved.
Ohio State University- Dotting the ‘i’ in Script Ohio
Ohio State University definitely has some school spirit. Their marching band, simply known as The Best Damn Band in the Land has been crushing it for almost 150 years! OSU football is an integral part of the state, and the band’s signature formation, Script Ohio, starts off each game in an incredible way, making it one of the most remarkable college sports traditions.
Each member of the band marches on to the field while playing "Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse" and they all spell out the word “Ohio”. During this complex formation, each member of the band is in continues motion. They finish the song off with a flourish by dotting the ‘i’. The band’s sousaphone (a brass instrument similar to a tuba) players take turns on i-dotting duty.
Utah State University- Chanting ‘I Believe’
This chant was actually invented in the Naval Academy Preparatory School, then it was taken up by the Navy and was then apparently brought from high school to college by student Jay Rodriguez. The chant is a call and response and starts with a single word, adding one more each time through until all the voices come together and proudly yell, “I believe that we will win!” This is a tried and true method of keeping the energy up at football and basketball games. These fans don’t need energy drinks to stay awake like other college students, all they need is this chant to get their blood pumping.
This chant may sound simple but when everyone starts screaming in unison, it is completely mesmerizing. The effect is so overwhelming that it has taken the world of soccer by storm and has become the unofficial rally cry for the USMNT. Maybe we should teach the Greenpeace volunteers this chant. It will definitely pump them up and help them get way more signatures.
Texas A&M University- Wave the 12th Man Towel
No matter how hard Seattle Seahawks fans try, only Texas A&M Aggies fans have earned the right to call themselves the real “12th Man.” These fans are all in, they stand from kickoff until the clock runs out. And that’s not all, to be Aggies tough you not only have to stand for hours, but you also have to wave some towels while doing it.
When the A&M game finally comes to an end, the 12th Man is truly worthy of his honorary title. Maybe they have not suffered all the blows as the guys on the field, but these students have been through some hard times and done some serious exercise. Coming up, the Aggies have more than one way to show their commitment.
Ohio State University- The Mirror Lake Jump
Mirror Lake, on the Ohio State campus, is really just a pretty pond that could be found at almost any college in America. In nice weather, students can relax on the grass next to it between classes, or just daydream in front of the fountain and try not to wonder why the water is that particular shade of green. But on Michigan Week, when the Ohio State Buckeyes play the University of Michigan Wolverines, one of the most heated rivalries in college sports, the lake becomes something quite different.
For some reason, students throwing themselves into a slimy, ice-cold lake is the ultimate insult to Michigan. Thousands of OSU fans bombard the lake to carry on the perplexing tradition of cannon-balling into the pond. Hopefully, they do not swallow too much germ-filled water and can actually attend the game.
The University of Arkansas- Calling the Hogs
Hog calling in hunting season has got nothing on hog calling for fall football in Arizona: Woooooo, Pig. Sooie! Woooooo, Pig. Sooie! Woooooo, Pig. Sooie! Razorbacks! To get the authentic experience at home, first, raise your hands on the “woo” and then wiggle your fingers and finally bring out the fist bump. If you’re still unsure, you can practice with the video.
This is definitely one of the most enjoyable and entertaining chants of all of the college sports. Sitting in the stands when this one starts belting out is the experience of a lifetime. If you do not have a huge grin on your face when this chant is over, well we guess you just didn’t Sooie loud enough.
Pennsylvania State University- The White Out
The only way to describe Penn State’s “white-out” is breathtaking. Almost every group of fans has tried to hold a white-out home game at one time or another, from high school teams to the NFL. But fans of the Nittany Lions are anything but average, which they proved to the world during their white-out at Beaver Stadium.
This tradition is made even more special because it only takes place one game a year. An incredibly bright game for which PSU fans all prepare. It is the game of the season and people should only be allowed in with protective eyewear because when you walk into a stadium filled with 110,000 white tees, it is like staring at the sun.
Clemson University- Stamping Special $2 Bills
According to the U.S. Treasury, in 2007 there was $1,549,052,714 worth of $2 bills in circulation. That means there were 774,526,357 actual paper bills. That’s a pretty big number, but Clemson fans are trying to make sure that as many as possible have an orange Tiger paw on them.
Clemson bills are one of the more unique college sports traditions and leave a lasting impression wherever they turn up. The Tigers have some of the most loyal fans in football when it comes to away games. They follow their beloved team wherever they go and prepare, especially for big games, by buying as many $2 bills as they can find to spend in the area. This way, even long after the game is done and the Clemson delegation is gone, the special Tiger bills stick around as a reminder of their school spirit.
The University of Alabama- The Roll Tide
“Roll Tide!” is so much more than just a football cheer. It is a form of greeting, a way to say, “I love you,” and can obviously be used as “let’s go!” If you walk around Tuscaloosa during football season, without sporting some crimson and white or an item of Alabama clothing you may get a stern talking to, but if you forget to utter a nice “roll tide” in the conversation, well then, all bets are off.
The Crimson Tide are probably the most widely despised football team in college sports, and the reason is crystal clear: jealousy. In the entire history of college sports traditions, nothing can compete with the Alabama catchphrase. So Crimson fans just keep doing what you’re doing and represent your amazing football team with another “Rollllllll TIDE!”
The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)- Tailgating the Grove
The South is pretty much synonymous with great college football, but Ole Miss has had its share of ups and downs in the super-competitive SEC. No one can dispute that they are the clear winners when it comes to the college sports tradition of tailgating. Welcome to The Grove.
Aptly known as the greatest tailgating spot in the country, this enormous wooded expanse of red and blue tents in the middle of campus draws in over 100,000 fans a game. Even if their team loses, Mississippi fans will enjoy food, drink, and an amazing party.
Duke University- Camping Out in Krzyzewskiville
There is nothing sports fans love more than having someone to hate and fans of the Duke University Blue Devils have taken on that role big time. Whenever a big game comes to town, Duke fans aka Cameron Crazies, probably the most infamous fans in college sports, pitch an astounding number of tents outside Cameron Stadium in their very own made-up town of “Krzyzewskiville”.
The fans in this special community have even gotten some support from Coach K and the athletes who have come to visit them in their tents. When the game time finally comes around, the Cameron Crazies are all fired up and ready to drive their opponents up a wall with their wild antics.
West Virginia University- Singing ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’
Just thinking about John Denver’s moving song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” makes pretty much everyone start singing. The song is beloved everywhere but holds a special place in the hearts of West Virginians. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that WVU picked the song as its official theme song.
The Mountaineer football team have been singing the country classic before every home game since the 70’s with an enthusiastic crowd joining in. John Denver even joined them himself one time. If the team has an impressive victory, fans stay in the stands after the game and join voices for an uplifting repeat performance.
John Brown University- Tossing Toilet Paper
We’ve talked enough about the NCAA for now. We are going to give the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) some much-deserved attention. JBU is a small school with a little over 2,700 undergrads, but they have a ton of school spirit or just a ton of... toilet paper?
When the Golden Eagles drain their first bucket of the year at home, the students let the T.P. fly, which resulted in a technical foul and two free throws for their opponents. This incredible T.P. toss has gained JBU athletics the distinguished title of “best technical foul in all of sports.” Just two words, no regrets!
The University of Southern California- The Flagpole Kick
If you live on campus at the University of Southern California, we hope you like the sound of clanging metal. When the Trojans have a home game, hordes of fans march down Exposition Boulevard from campus to the Colosseum and carry on one of USC’s oldest college sports traditions and rites of passage - they kick the pole.
The cardinal and gold wearing fans have no need for four-leaf clovers or horseshoes, this is their one and only ritual that needs to be accomplished on the way to the game. Nobody knows why kicking one of the three flagpoles at the edge of campus is good luck, but don’t you dare skip it. The tradition must be upheld and if a few toes are hurt in the process, well that’s the price of greatness.
St. Joseph’s University- Admiring the Hawk Flap
Even though it feels good to take part, not all college sports traditions require audience participation. Some are more of a spectator sport, and boy can they be fun to watch. St. Joseph’s basketball fans get to enjoy the team’s Hawk mascot as he gets in an amazing arm workout each game out on the court.
Seeing the Hawk flapping its wings is truly amazing. It just keeps going from tipoff to the final buzzer. The man or woman inside the stifling bird suit never stops flapping. There are estimates that the St. Joseph’s Hawk flaps its wings an astounding 3,500 times per game. No wonder their motto is “The Hawk Will Never Die.” Well, at least they have really toned arms.
Auburn University- The War Eagle Cry
“War Eagle” is more than just a battle cry for Auburn Tigers fans, it is a representative of their fighting spirit. No one quite knows where this motto comes from, although there are some theories. Even though it is not their school mascot, it is clearly very special to SEC fans.
The best part, according to Auburn fans, is that when they shout out the War Eagle battle cry, it’s like giving their in-state rivals a kick in the shin. Arch-rivalries are part of what make college sports traditions so awesome!
Army vs. Navy- Exchanging Prisoners
Despite the name, the Army-Navy football game has nothing to do with national security or rescuing hostages. These two rivals have been fighting for victory since 1890. The tradition begins before the kick-off with the Black Knights and the Midshipmen trading students who spent the last semester amongst “the enemy” as a part of the Service Academy Exchange Program.
Leave it to the military to start a celebratory day with a “prisoner exchange”. But it is all in good fun and allows the exchange students to root for their own teams from their side of the field. And honestly, what is more, American than football, serving your country and a long-standing rivalry?
Taylor University- The Silent Night
As the saying goes, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. Taylor U in Indiana may be a small school with just 2,000 students, but they have plenty of fight. On the Friday before finals, basketball fans stream into the arena, dressed in a variety of costumes, and refusing to say a word until the Trojans score their 10th point. After which they start cheering and just don’t stop.
This special night is like a special costume party just for sports lovers. We can definitely get behind dressing up for no reason. The silence which builds up the suspense and storming the court afterward is epic. All of which builds up to driving opposing fans absolutely mad! Genius!
Auburn University- Rolling Toomer’s Corner
The burnt orange Alabama school is already back with another tradition. Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium is situated smack in the middle of campus, so immediately following a major victory, students and fans immediately head to the famous Toomer’s Corner which is just up the street.
The ensuing operation requires a massive amount of toilet paper. Fans begin “rolling the corner” and don’t stop until they have covered all the trees in the area in a white blizzard of victory. Tigers fans sure know how to honor football and have some fun.
The University of Miami- Flashing the ‘U’
Gainesville may have its famous gator chomp, but Miami is the home of the U. The Hurricanes are known as one of the boldest and most outspoken teams in college football, and their signature ‘U’ gesture is the perfect embodiment of that. You’re not a real ‘Canes fan if you don’t know how to throw up a ‘U’. It’s not just a sports tradition, it’s a way of life.
Orange and green gloves take the whole thing to the next level. Fans proudly show off their hands right in the face of opposing fans. Thousands of universities can be found across America, but only Miami can proudly hold the title of “The U.”
The University of Kansas- The Rock Chalk Chant
The Kansas Jayhawks are experts when it comes to inventing and maintaining their college sports traditions. We are already familiar with waving the wheat, now it’s time to get to know the “Rock Chalk” chant. It is simple, catchy and impossible to get out of your head. Simply say “Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU” three times.
The popular chant is such an integral part of KU culture that it's not just used in the pregame and postgame song but has actually become a form of greeting. Why say “hello” and “goodbye” when you can say “Rock Chalk” and receive the reply “Jayhawk.” Now that’s what we call school spirit!
Florida State University- Visiting Sod Cemetery
The Florida State Seminoles’ tradition is a bit on the darker side, reminiscent of the infamous Stanford "Bearial", but they decided to kick things up a notch. Florida State is one of the stronger teams in the ACC, guaranteeing that each season is filled with intense rivalries. When the Seminoles have an extraordinary win, typically once or twice a season, they mark the occasion with a very special ritual – a burial at Sod Cemetery.
Whenever the Seminoles defeat one of their biggest rivals while on the road, especially if the odds are stacked against them; when they play the Florida Gators; or when they compete in ACC bowl games or championships – the players dig up some turf from their opponent’s field and bring it home. They then proceed to bury it in a creepily realistic cemetery. Clearly, the ‘Noles want to give their rivals a proper burial, maybe hoping they won’t rise? Read on to discover how the Florida Gators try to intimidate their opponents trying to escape this somber fate.
Mississippi State University- Clanging Cowbells
It drives their opponents crazy, the authorities wanted to get rid of it – the clanging cowbell. Fans actually clanged their bells so much at football games that they were not allowed to use them anymore. Luckily, a cowbell compromise was reached in 2011.
It is practically impossible to stop Bulldog fans from ringing their cowbells. This is considered one of the most annoying college sports traditions, especially by opposing fans. But Mississippi State believes that any good thing can become even better with the addition of a cowbell.
Indiana University- The Under-8 Timeout
Most fans will agree that the worst thing about sports are TV timeouts. If you are actually at the game, they are even worse. Things grind to a halt and any good momentum that was building up ceases to exist. The Hoosiers take their basketball too seriously to let that happen to them. This lead IU’s band and cheer squad to invent their own version of the Under-8 timeout.
The TV timeout takes place during the first stoppage with under eight minutes to play in the second half. This is the band’s time to shine, they take over the court playing the “William Tell Overture” while the cheerleaders wave flags spelling “INDIANA HOOSIERS.” The band then moves on to the school fight song, with the entire crowd joining in for an “I-U!” scream, just then the horn blows to resume play. This is a master class in perfect timing.
The University of Kansas- Waving the Wheat
In most team sports, but especially in college basketball, badmouthing the rival team is just as important to the fans as supporting their own. That is why zinging your opponents is so much fun. A classic opportunity is bellowing the “left, right, sit down!” chant whenever a player fouls out. Jayhawk fans take things up a notch by adding their own unique “Midwest” spin to their unlucky opponent’s farewell.
Doing “The Wave” is so over. Now waving the wheat, that is a tradition we can get behind. Both incredibly rude and surprisingly graceful, it’s the charming Midwestern way to send off their rivals while not hurting their feelings, too much. This is only one of many of KU’s amazing college sports traditions. Keep reading to find out where the Jayhawks appear later in the list.
The University of Wisconsin- ‘Jump Around’
The University of Wisconsin Badgers is an incredibly strong team, one of the best in college football today. Their fans are eager to support them, and it’s not very hard to get them to their feet, but that is nothing compared to the moment House of Pain’s “Jump Around” starts blaring.
Things start heating up at the end of the third quarter. “Jump Around” comes on and Camp Randall Stadium is immediately transformed. The student section in the end zone becomes an enormous red sea, with Badger fans jumping up and down like they’re in a time loop to 1992. Everybody jump!
Texas A&M University- Practicing at Midnight Yell
Getting a college student to show up for an early morning or late-night class is a challenge, but just try to keep Texas A&M fans away from Midnight Yell Practice (not held at midnight). On the night before the Aggies run onto Kyle Field for a home game (two nights before away games), over 20,000 loyal fans turn up for a massive pep rally to work on their school spirit.
Yell leaders wearing t-shirts and overalls, not wanting to get their white game-day uniforms dirty, lead Aggie fans in songs and chants to get ready for the upcoming match. Hand movements accompany the songs and the mass of fans all work together as a perfect unit. They are so disciplined and attentive their professors don’t even recognize them.
The University of California, Berkeley- Watching the Game from Tightwad Hill
This California Golden Bears fan tradition has such a great name, that it alone ensures inclusion in this list. Chapel “Tightwad” Hill is located just outside of the California Memorial Stadium. Students meet there to watch the school’s football games for free.
There is finally a time and place for tightwads to be proud of their penny-pinching abilities. The one “price” these fiscally responsible students do have to pay is through their ears, due to the proximity of the California Victory Cannon. Although it is only fired before every game, after every touchdown, and after every victory. Hmmm, it might be a good idea to invest in some earplugs.
The University of Connecticut- Chanting with Big Red
Big Red is a UConn basketball legend, but you won’t find him on the court, he is leading from the stands. He gets his moment in the spotlight whenever the Huskies make a run or score a huge basket, forcing the other team to call for a timeout. At that moment, all eyes in the student section turns to Big Red so he can deliver his inspiring chant - "U - C - O - N - N, UConn!, UConn!, UConn!"
Fans of the opposing team mostly reply with the uninspired “U-S-U-C-K! You suck! You suck! You suck!”. But don’t worry, they can’t get a rise out of Connecticut’s most devoted fan, he understands that means he is successfully getting under their rival’s skin.
University of California, Los Angeles- The Frisbee Cheer
The UCLA Bruins have been one of the top college basketball teams in the country for decades. The team regularly produces NBA talent and consistently ranks in the top 25. When celebrated coach John Wooden retired, the Bruins program needed a new burst of energy. Everyone felt the absence of Wooden, who had led the team to ten National Championships, so Bruins super fan Lawrence “Frisbee” Davis decided to step up.
Frisbee, who rarely if ever missed a UCLA sporting event, was inspired by a call-and-response cheer he saw at a water polo game. He adopted it, made a couple of tweaks and started an enduring college sports tradition.“Is this a basketball?” “Yes, that’s a basketball!” This goes on for a while, illustrating that UCLA will soon win the game while their opponents will clearly lose. The crowd finishes things off by screaming “U-C-L-A! Fight! Fight! Fight!”. This catchy shout has become a true Bruins classic.
The University of Iowa- The Neighborly Hawkeye ‘Hello’
Hawkeye football fans have a relatively new tradition but what it lacks in age, it makes up for in heart and has quickly earned its place on this list. Kinnick Stadium is situated right next to UI Children’s Hospital and when the Hawkeyes have a home game, the whole stadium turns as one to wave at the special fans next door.
At the end of the first quarter, a stadium filled with over 70 thousand fans turns around to perform this moving wave. The band also have their own special way to get in on the action. Coming up, marching bands play an important role in college sports traditions.
The University of Pennsylvania- Toast with Toast
This kooky and somewhat cheesy tradition is allegedly inspired by cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Ivy League is not the obvious choice when thinking about college football, but you may want to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s football games. They are apparently the toast of the town (pun fully intended).
When the school’s fight song comes on, students pelt the field with bagels, bread and all manner of baked goods as soon as the line “Here’s a toast to dear old Penn” is uttered. And to top it off, a toast shaped Zamboni rolls through the field post-game to clean everything up.
Wake Forest University- Wake Forest University
With a name like the Demon Deacons, no wonder every winning game is an excuse to play a Halloween inspired trick. Wake Forest University students head to the quad and use toilet paper to emulate the sideburns of their Muppet-like and strangely adorable mascot, the Demon Deacon.
It’s a good thing for college sports fans that leaving high school and starting college does not magically make you more mature, especially regarding college sports traditions. If undergrads automatically became adults and only used toilet paper for its intended purpose, we would be robbed of some amazing and hilarious college sports rituals.
The University of Alabama- The Rammer Jammer Cheer
All hail mighty Alabama! The Crimson Tide are so easy to hate because veteran coach Nick Saban’s team is so darn hard to beat. Even their fans seem to be sick of winning all the team. To keep things interesting whenever they face another team, and especially in-state rivals, Auburn, they burst out with their infamous ‘Rammer Jammer’ cheer.
Feel free to use the chant and just replace ‘Auburn’ with whatever school you please, it is still guaranteed to burn when used: Hey Auburn! Hey Auburn! Hey Auburn! We just beat the hell outta’ you! Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Give ‘em Hell, Alabama! Using so many ‘-er’ words seems to have been planned to disguise the fact that they don’t rhyme with Alabama. Who cares, just Rollllll TIDE!
The University of Colorado – Ralphie’s Run
No Colorado University football home game is complete without an appearance from Ralphie the Buffalo, the school’s mascot. It takes five varsity student-athletes to run it around the field at the beginning of each game in a horseshoe pattern. Despite the name, Ralphie is actually a female buffalo, which are chosen because they are generally smaller and less aggressive. Ralphie usually makes an appearance during home games, special events and will even travel to special away games in a custom black trailer with its name on it in gold.
The Colorado football team became the Buffaloes in 1934, and at the end of that season, a live buffalo first appeared at a game. The tradition of having Ralphie run on the field, however, started in 1967. The team is now on Ralphie number five and the place in which Ralphie is kept between games is a closely guarded secret because the mascot was already kidnapped once by the Air Force Academy and CU students are determined to keep it safe.
University of Notre Dame – The Irish Guard
A part of the school’s marching band, The Irish Guard is comprised of 10 students dressed in a traditional Scottish kilt and the famous Notre Dame tartan, who lead the Band of the Fighting Irish onto the field during home games.
The guard was formed in 1949 and it is not as easy to join as you may think. There are yearly tryouts and the guardsmen who are accepted must know how to march, show love for the school and serve as examples of decorum. After some bad conduct in 2014, a requirement was added that members of the guard had to have spent at least one year in the marching band to be eligible. This did not go over well with the student body who don’t understand the connection between being able to play an instrument and marching.
University of Oklahoma – Sooner Schooner
Whenever the Oklahoma University Sooners score, they pull out the old Sooner Schooner. The wagon, which is a replica of those used by the original settlers of Oklahoma, races across the field in an arc and almost reaches the 50-yard line. It is pulled by two white ponies by the names of Boomer and Sooner.
The name Sooner Schooner comes from the slang term for these type of wagons "prairie schooners" and for “Sooners”, the term used for the settlers who sneaked into the Territory before it was officially allowed. The Schooner has been the official University of Oklahoma mascot since 1980 and is driven and maintained by the school’s all-male spirit squad, the RUF/NEKS.
Missouri State University – Homecoming
Although numerous colleges have picked up on this tradition, it is believed that Missouri was the first to come up with the idea of homecoming. The head coach of the school actually thought of it in 1911, while trying to stoke up the competitive spirit between his team and Kansas. Since then, every year the college invites their alumni along with family and friends to attend the biggest football game of the year.
These days, Homecoming has become one giant party. Alumni don’t only get a chance to reconnect and show their school spirit, there is an activity-filled weekend which includes everything from a parade to a visit at Bearfest Village. The kids even get the chance to have breakfast with Boomer, the Bears’ mascot.
Florida State – Chief Osceola and Renegade
Not all of the Florida State sports traditions are quite as morbid as the burial at Sod Cemetery. This one definitely keeps the fans fired up though. During home games, Chief Osceola and his trusty steed Renegade race down to midfield with a burning spear which is then planted into the turf.
Osceola, who is named after the famous Seminole Indian and his Appaloosa horse Renegade, have been symbols of the FSU team since 1978. Over the years, six different horses have played renegade and a whooping 16 different students have played Osceola. The use of a Native American themed costume was approved by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, although some people are still unhappy with the portrayal.
Yale University – Handsome Dan
Rumored to be the first-ever living mascot, Yale’s bulldog Handsome Dan is the official mascot of the university. The first Handsome Dan took on the role in 1889 and was chosen for his ability to tolerate loud noises and children and to dislike the color crimson and tigers (which represent the athletic teams of rivals Harvard and Princeton respectively).
Handsome Dans throughout the years have either retired or passed away. The current Handsome Dan is number 16. The bulldog is an important part of Yale lore and even has his own menu item at the New Haven branch of the Shake Shack. A concoction of beer-battered deep-fried onions served with two kinds of cheese.
Georgia Tech – The Ramblin’ Wreck
Since 1961, the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech has been leading the football team onto the Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field. The Wreck is a 1930 Ford Model A Sports Coupe, which serves as the official mascot for the school’s student body. The car’s maintenance has been the responsibility of the Ramblin’ Reck Club since 1987. Not surprisingly. It has been targeted by rival schools. On one occasion, the University of Tennessee took it upon themselves to paint the Wreck and it was stolen by the University of Georgia at least twice.
The Ramblin’ Wreck even has its own fight song, which is played whenever the football team scores, after a field goal or safety and during basketball game timeouts. These are the spirited lyrics:
I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer—
A helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, hell of an engineer.
Like all the jolly good fellows, I drink my whiskey clear.
I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.
Oh! If I had a daughter, sir, I'd dress her in White and Gold,
And put her on the campus to cheer the brave and bold.
But if I had a son, sir, I'll tell you what he'd do—
He would yell, 'To hell with Georgia!' like his daddy used to do.
Oh, I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three thousand pounds,
A college bell to put it in and a clapper to stir it round.
I'd drink to all the good fellows who come from far and near.
I'm a ramblin', gamblin', hell of an engineer!
University Georgia – UGA
Yale is not the only school who has their own bulldog, the University of Georgia has UGA, a white English bulldog who wears a football jersey with a varsity letter and is a fixture at all home games and many of the away games. UGA has a customized airconditioned doghouse where he spends most of the game. It is filled with ice bags to help keep the warmly dressed dog from suffering heatstroke in the southern heat.
Although UGA’s signature look is a spiked collar and a red jersey with his name on the back, he does occasionally mix things up. He wears a green jersey on Saint Patrick’s Day and even rocked a tuxedo while attending the Heisman Trophy Ceremony in New York City. When a UGA sadly passes away, there is a special ceremony in which he “passes the bone” to his successor.
Hawaii University – The Ha’a
The Hawaii football team knows how to intimidate the competition. They have developed their very own war dance which is known as the Ha’a. The dance is centuries old and is based on ancient Hawaiian traditions, but the players have managed to make it their own.
The team used to perform the Haka, which was based on Mauri traditions from New Zealand but have in recent years focused on their own version of the dance with Hawaiian melody and lyrics. Despite the change, the special dance still manages to get the crowd’s blood pumping and intimidate the competition.
Harvard University – The Little Red Flag
Created by Fredrick Plummer in 1884, the Little Red Flag is just a piece of red silk with an olive H in the middle attached to a walking stick, but it has become a symbol of super fan status in the Harvard stands. Plummer himself carried the flag with him to 59 Harvard and Yale games over the years. He believed that the flag was a talisman of good luck.
When he passed away, the honor of carrying the flag was passed down to Spencer Borden, who attended even more Yale games than Plummer. The flag is now in the hands of the tenth in a long life of devoted fans. Bill Markus, who has been carrying it since 2001, can proudly call himself Harvard’s “most loyal fan. He has not seen as many Yale games like the original flag holders but is definitely a dedicated superfan traveling from his home in Pittsburgh to every game.
The University of Texas at Austin – Hook ‘em Horns
A hello, a goodbye and a cool hand gesture, University of Texas fans have got it all figured out. Hook ‘em horns are meant to reference the shape of UT mascot Texas Longhorn Bevo’s head and horns. You can show your support by extending your index and pinky fingers while holding the second and third fingers with the thumb. Rumor has it that the signal was created by a former Texas head cheerleader after observing friends making shadow puppets on a wall.
The Hook ‘em Horns have also made their mark on popular culture. There is a country rap song by Cowboy Troy by the same name and professional wrestler Stan Hansen uses them as his signature taunt. The symbol can also be turned around and used by rival teams or opposing fans. If you make that horns upside down and with your thumb out, there is no question that you are dissing on their team.
University of Iowa - The Visitor's Locker Room at Kinnick Stadium
If you thought that waving to sick kids was the only pink and fuzzy tradition the University of Iowa Hawkeyes had, you’d be wrong. This next tradition is so pink, it could make your eyes hurt. If you ever get the chance to check out the visitor’s locker room at Kinnick Stadium you will discover that it is pink. The floors are pink, the walls are pink, even the showers and toilets are pink.
The tradition was started by former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry. He had majored in psychology and remembered learning that pink was a calming color. He believed that this could get his team a competitive edge. Many of the visiting teams complained about the color and on several occasions even brought their own wall coverings in order to soften the effect.
Purdue University - Purdue Big Bass Drum
Hailed as the “World’s Largest Drum” and played by the All-American Marching Band of Purdue University, the Big Bass Drum is a fixture at pregame shows and a symbol of the university. No one knows the exact size of the drum, but including the carriage, it is over ten feet tall. It takes four chrome-helmeted bandmembers to move the drum to the beat and two more to actually play it.
The drum was commissioned in 1921 and many strange traditions have pooped up around it over the years. For example, when the Purdue Boilermakers score a touchdown, the drum crew must perform push-ups. The number of push-ups matches the number of points scored so far in the game. Also, while former crew members sign their names on the inside of the drum, celebrities sign the outside. The drum has been signed by President Harry Truman, Neil Armstrong, and Snoop Dogg.
Nebraska University – The Tunnel Walk
A relatively new but already beloved tradition is the Nebraska Tunnel Walk. The Cornhuskers leave the locker room, touch their lucky horseshoe and walk down a winding path on a red carpet. They are met on their way by hordes of fans, the band, cheerleaders and dance team members. All pumping them up before the game begins. Eventually, they emerge from the tunnel onto the field at Memorial Stadium.
The Tunnel Walk began in 2004, and the first song that played while the team was walking was "Sirius" by Alan Parsons Project. Since then, the fans have shown how much they love this tradition. It seems like football fans in Nebraska are serious about the sport. Memorial Stadium where the team plays, has been sold out for every game since it opened its doors.
Stanford University – The Stanford Band
The Stanford University marching band is known as the "The World's Largest Rock and Roll Band”. It is mostly student-run and represents the school and its athletic teams. They are not your typical marching band, play mostly rock n roll and have a repertoire of over 1,000 songs. The bandmembers also wear a simplified uniform which includes "the ugliest tie you can get your hands on."
If a “Bearial” isn’t controversial enough for you, take a look at the what the Stanford Band has gotten into trouble for over the years. They have spelled out "NO BALLZ" and formed the shape of male genitalia during a half time show with USC, have dressed up as a nun and directed the band with a cross while playing Notre Dame and made a joke about polygamy while playing Brigham Young University. In 2006, Peter Sagal of NPR has stated that they are "the only university marching band...repeatedly fined and banned by the NCAA".
Tennessee University – The Vol Navy
Neyland Stadium is one of the few college football stadiums that are accessible by boat. In 1962, George Mooney, a former University of Tennessee broadcaster, took his boat up the Tennessee River to Neyland and the rest is history. These days roughly 200 boats dock outside the stadium during game weeks.
People make an event out of it. They drink and laugh and visit right up to game time. It allows all different types of fans to mix together and has been described as a floating "sail-gate" party. One devoted Vols fan named Coy Coldwell even lives on the water during the season. Now that’s what we call dedication.
Tennessee University – Running Through the 'T'
Here’s another Tennessee football tradition, but this one takes place on land inside Neyland Stadium. The highlight of the Pride of the Southland Marching Band’s pregame show is Running Through the T. Hundreds of band members all move as one to create an enormous T shape. The music blasts and the players run thought the T while the crowd cheers them on.
The tradition was started after T’s were added to the player's helmets. It has recently celebrated 50 years and was even named one of the top 10 entrances in college football. It has even been taken on the road on several occasions.
University of New Hampshire – The Throwing of the Fish
Hockey fans love to stick it to the other team, and UNH Wildcat fans have found a unique and stinky way to do so. When the team scores their first goal of the game, someone in the stands throws a large dead fish onto the ice in front of their opponent’s goal prompting the crowd to go wild.
The fish throwing began in the 1970s and has become an ongoing tradition upheld by a local fraternity. The “Throwing of the Fish” even continued while penalties were given out for throwing things on the ice. In one instance while playing Boston University, a fan brought an extra-large fish that was so heavy it took three tries for him to get it on the ice.
Clemson University – Rubbing Howard’s Rock
You’ve already learned about what Tigers fans do to show their support at away games. Here is another tradition that is unique to Clemson University but that takes place at home games. Before the start of each game, the players gather around Howard’s Rock and rub it for good luck. It is the last thing they do before running onto the field.
The rock used to be owned by former head coach Frank Howard and was used as a doorstop until he threw it out while cleaning. Gene Willimon, a Clemson booster, took the rock and put it on a pedestal in the east end zone. During the rock’s first appearance, the team made an unlikely victory against Virginia and it has been a token of good luck ever since. Clemson rivals must also believe in the power of the rock because it has suffered vandalism on more than one occasion and a part was even broken off.
The University of Oregon – A Duck Riding a Harley
It is no surprise that the University of Oregon football team, which is called the Ducks, has a duck for a mascot, but did you know that at every home game that duck rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle onto the field at Autzen Stadium. The bike is driven by a helmeted student while the duck waves at the crowd.
The duck is actually based on the character of Donald Duck and wears a yellow and green costume with a green beanie that says “Oregon”. He is quite a rowdy character and even got into a fight with Houston Cougar’s mascot Shasta after the rival mascot imitated him doing pushups after the Ducks scored.