The best college football traditions
School: Ohio State
Tradition: When the Ohio State marching band forms it's traditional "Script Ohio" formation, it is a special honor to be able to "dot the I" once the word has been spelled out.
History: It began in October of 1936, but it wasn't until 1937 when then-band director Eugene Weigel delegated the honor to a sousaphone player that the tradition began to take flight. Now, the honor is reserved for the band's senior-most sousaphone players and also a handful of famous celebrities and alumni.
Tradition: Before the start of each half, a team of five varsity student-athletes help run Ralphie the buffalo around the field in a horseshoe pattern.
History: In 1934 Colorado officially adopted the Buffaloes as its nickname and the first live buffalo made an appearance at the end of that season. However, the tradition of running Ralphie every game began in 1967 when Ralphie I took her first loop around the stadium in a homecoming game against Oklahoma State. In subsequent years, Ralphie has been kidnapped by the Air Force Academy and voted homecoming queen by the school's students.
Tradition: Players gather around Howard's Rock before the start of each home game and rub it for good luck. It is the last stop they make before charging down the hill and onto the field.
History: The rock was given to then-head coach Frank Howard in 1960 by a friend. Originally it stayed on the coach's office as a door stop until he had it removed while cleaning his office. After the rock left his office it was placed in its current location and cemented its legacy after the team won its first game with the rock present against Wake Forest.
The Irish Guard
School: Notre Dame
Tradition: A group of 10 students dressed in a traditional Scottish kilt and Notre Dame Tartan lead the school's marching band onto the field during home games.
History: Formed in 1949, the Irish Guards are an elite group at Notre Dame and make the squad only through tryouts each year. Guards must be at least 6-foot-2 and uphold certain public standards while assisting the marching band in its halftime routine and other performances.
School: Army and Navy
Tradition: Before each game, cadets and midshipmen enter the stadium in various marching patterns on their way to be seated. The students are rarely seen seated during games.
History: The pagentry surrounding Army vs. Navy football is as old as the rivalry itself, dating back to 1890. The two teams now face off against each other every December.
Calling the Hogs
Tradition: The "Calling of the Hogs" is a fan rally cry used at Arkansas sporting events. The cheer consists of fans yelling "Woo, Pig! Sooie" while waving their hands over their heads.
History: Rumor has it the tradition started sometime in the 1920s when local farmers began using the hog call to rally a then-defunct Razorback football team.
The Auburn War Eagle
Tradition: Before each game, the historic War Eagle of Auburn takes flight around the stadium in order to rally supporters.
History: According to legend, the first War Eagle was recovered on the civil war battlefield and made its way to an Auburn football game accompanied by the soldier who rescued it. Eventually the eagle broke free from the soldier during an Auburn vs. Georgia football game, one which the Tigers won in dramatic fashion, securing the bird's legacy.
Tradition: After each score, the Sooner Schooner is raced across the field in an arc, pulled by two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner.
History: The schooner made its official debut in 1964 and became the school's official mascot in 1980. Driven by Oklahoma's all-male pep squad the RUF/NEKS, the Conestoga wagon replica has been a staple in Norman for almost 50 years.
Tradition: Although it's a wide-spanning tradition at many colleges nowadays, homecoming was said to be originated by Missouri, which used its biggest football game of the year as reason for alumni to come back to school for a spirit rally and parade.
History: Beginning in 1911, Missouri's director of athletics wanted to spice up the already fierce rivalry between his school and Kansas. In order to do so, he invited all alumni to "come home" for the game.
The Gator Chomp
Tradition: Mimicking the chomping of a gator's mouth, the "Gator Chomp" is performed by fans during Florida sporting events by fully extending one's arm over the other and moving them together and back apart.
History: It was said to first come to fruition on October 10, 1981 when the fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium performed the gesture in-time with the Gator's marching band during its rendition of the theme from Jaws.
School: Florida State
Tradition: Chief Osceola races down the field on his horse Renegade during home football games at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. Osceola is named for the famous Seminole Inidan leader of the same name.
History: A student envisioned the idea for Osceola back in 1962, but the idea fell upon deaf ears until it was recharged by Bobby Bowden in 1977. Osceola made his first ride against Oklahoma State in 1978.
Tradition: Said to be the first live mascot ever, Handsome Dan is the official bulldog of Yale University. The school has gone through 16 Handsome Dan's since the first in 1889.
History: After Handsome Dan was brought about in 1889, the tradition has lived on ever since. Originally, the dog lived in the Yale Boathouse, but after 1952, Handsome Dan has been taken care of by members of the Yale community.
School: Georgia Tech
Tradition: The Ramblin' Wreck, a 1930 Ford Model A Sports Coupe, is the official mascot of the student body at Georgia Tech. The vehicle is present at many of the school's major sporting events and leads the football team out onto the field.
History: The first ever Ramblin Wreck was owned by the dean back in 1914. Since then, the Wreck has been upgraded and got several different paint jobs by the school's club which takes care of the esteemed mascot.
Tradition: UGA, a white English bulldog, wears a University of Georgia jersey with a varsity letter and attends each home football game and most away games. The dog spends most of the game inside his custom doghouse and sits on bags of ice to avoid overheating.
History: The first UGA came in 1956 and each of the children of the original dog have made up the seven total dogs that make up the UGA family lineage. When an UGA passes away he is interred in a mausoleum near the football stadium and when an UGA retires, he "passes the bone" at an elaborate pre-game ceremony.
Tradition: The Haka is an original war dance performed by the University of Hawaii football team. Prior to the 2007 football season, the team used a different dance which they then altered.
History: The dance was introduced to the team by Tala Esera, a player who did the routine on his own high school team back in 2006. Although the dance has come under controversy in the following years, a now politically correct version is used before and after home games.
The Little Red Flag
Tradition: The Little Red Flag (not pictured) is a small silk flag attached to a walking stick which is carried by the Harvard football team's most loyal supporter and passed on to each following generation.
History: The Little Red Flag was said to be created by Frederick Plummer in 1888. He made it to 59 consecutive Harvard vs. Yale games and carried the banner with him to each one. The flag was then given to the Harvard man in attendance at the game who had seen the most Harvard vs. Yale games in his lifetime.
Hook 'em Horns
Tradition: Hook 'em Horns are a gesture used by Texas fans and supporters made to look like the head and horns of the school's mascot - a longhorn steer.
History: The hand-symbol was created by the school's head cheerleader in 1955. The cheerleader, Harley Clark, got the idea from watching a friend making shadow puppets on the wall of a building.
The visitor's locker room at Kinnick Stadium
Tradition: For decades, everything in the visitor's locker room at Kinnick Stadium has been painted completely pink. From the walls and lockers all the way to the urinals, everything is coated pink.
History: Former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry started the tradition years ago. After majoring in psychology at Baylor, Fry believed that the color pink dampens aggressive and excited behavior, therefore giving his teams a mental edge.
Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk
Tradition: Chanting "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk...KU," repeatedly (the first two times slowly, then building in speed) has been a tradition for more than a century and was recognized by Teddy Roosevelt as the greatest college chant in the country.
History: A group of science club students at Kansas apparently created the chant back in 1886, with the original words being "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk...KU." But after replacing the Rah Rah's with "Rock Chalk" - a reference to chalk rock (limestone) which is common around the state - it was solidified as the university's official rally call.
The secret of Willie the Wildcat
School: Kansas State
Tradition: In the ever-changing lifespan of Willie the Wildcat, one thing - at least for the last few years - has remained constant. The identity of Willie the Wildcat is kept completely secret from students.
History: Since 1947, Willie has remained a secret to his or her peers. The Wildcat is selected only after being elected by a panel appointed by the school's head cheerleading coach.
The World's Largest Drum
Tradition: A staple of the school's pre-game routine, the World's Largest Drum is wheeled out by a number of honorary pushers, and two other band members who actually beat the drum on either side.
History: It cost $911 to make back in 1921 and although its actual measurements are closely guarded secret, the World's Largest Drum has been synonymous with Purdue University for decades.
The Nebraska Tunnel Walk
Tradition: After leaving the locker room, Nebraska players and coaches touch the lucky horseshoe and begin walking a winding path lined with red carpet. The pathway is packed with fans who help cheer the players on before they take the field, exiting through the tunnel seen in the picture.
History: The first Tunnel Walk was in 1994 and is set to the song "Sirius" by Alan Parsons Project. Although it is one of the more modern traditions, the Tunnel Walk has garnered a huge amount of fan support.
School: Ole' Miss
Tradition: Ranked the top collegiate tailgating spot in the country by Sports Illustrated and No. 2 by ESPN, The Grove is a lush 10-acre tailgating field, surrounded by oak, elm and magnolia trees.
History: The Grove was first a pre-game meeting spot for fraternities and sororities, but eventually turned into a massive pre-game spot during the 1950s.
Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer
Tradition: Among the school's famous cheers, the chanting of "Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer" is one of the best known. Normally used before and after games, it is set to the cadence of the Ole' Miss song "Hotty Toddy."
History: The cheer is a combination of The Rammer Jammer, a student newspaper back in the 1920s and the Yellowhammer, the state bird of Alabama.
The Stanford Band
Tradition: Always controversial, the Stanford Band, best known for entering the field during "The Play," against Cal. However, the band has been arranging risky and humorous halftime shows for more than thirty years.
History: Some of the band's most controversial routines include a 1990 skit where a drum major conducted the band against Notre Dame dressed as a nun while waving a wooden cross. The band also performed a polygamy skit against Brigham Young University which drew national attention.
Tradition: Traveler is a pure white horse that appears at all USC home games. Adorned by a Trojan warrior, the horse has been a fixture as USC's steady mascot for decades.
History: After the schools earlier attempts at a mascot (a series of dogs named George Tirebiter) USC settled on Traveler after the horse's ride in the 1961 Rose Parade.
Running through the T
Tradition: At the climax of the Tennessee Band's pregame show, the musicians form in a wide open "T" formation for the players to run through as the exit the tunnel.
History: The tradition began in 1964 when then-head coach Doug Dickey introduced the "T" on the player's helmets. The pregame routine followed shortly after and has become a permanent home game staple for the band.
The 12th Man at Kyle Field
School: Texas A&M
Tradition: The fans at Kyle Field refer to themselves as the 12th man. As part of one of the most intimate traditions in college football, A&M fans consider an Aggies touchdown a touchdown for everyone present in support.
History: The 12th man started with E. King Gill, a Texas A&M basketball player who was pulled from the press box to suit up and stand on the sidelines incase his dwindling team needed him. Gill ended up being the only one left standing on the sidelines as the Aggies beat then-top ranked Centre College.
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
School: West Virginia
Tradition: The John Denver hit, which mentions West Virginia, became the school's theme song and has been played before every football game since the early 70's. After home victories, fans and players sing the song together.
History: This tradition began in 1972 and reached a frenzied pitch when Denver performed the song in 1980 to dedicate Mountaineer Field under coach Don Nehlen.
Tradition: Between the third and fourth quarters at every home Wisconsin football game, Badger fans jump up and down to the song "Jump Around" by House of Pain. The practice is said to be so raucous that it shakes the stadium.
History: "Jump Around" started on October 10, 1998 against Purdue. After the team had failed to score for the first three quarters, the song was said to invigorate the student section and the team after Wisconsin came back to win.