While the professional sports landscape tends to dominate national headlines in the United States of America, there is absolutely nothing like fanaticism associated with college football. Between the love of each person’s alma mater, the admiration of players with amateur status playing for nothing more than the love of their school and the love of the game, and the rich culture and tradition associated with each school, college football tends to inspire as much “tribal” loyalty as any sport in the world.
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To that end, let’s take a look at some of the top traditions in college football, and the schools those traditions belong to:
Auburn University: Rolling Toomer’s Corner – They might not be the kingpin of football in the state, but Auburn University fans might have the most widely known football traditions in it, including covering Toomer’s Corner with a sea of bathroom tissue strings. The tradition began over a century ago, when Toomer’s Corner drug store had the only working telegraph in town; that telegraph was the only way to communicate Auburn football games taking place. When the Tigers won, the employees of the drug store would throw ticker tape all over the telegraph office and power lines to celebrate the victory.
Texas A&M: The Midnight Yell – In a tradition that dates back almost a century (it first started in 1931), the midnight before each home game day, upwards of 25,000 people show up to Kyle Field, home of the Texas A&M aggies, and sing “The Aggie War Hymn” while listening to tales of how the Aggies will be victorious in their upcoming game. The traditions first started when freshman cadets at the military school would gather on the steps of a building at midnight, and practice yelling. Since then, those cadets have been joined by other students, alumni, and even the marching band, as they all yell in unison while being led by yell leaders.
University of Oklahoma: The Sooner Schooner – While the tradition may have started off on the wrong foot, when the University of Oklahoma lost to the University of Southern California by a score of 40-14 in 1965, the running of the Sooner Schooner wagon has officially become a part of the school’s game day tradition, and is also one of the most recognizable parts of Oklahoma football. Driven by a spirit squad comprised of all male students (known as “RUF/NEKS”), the wagon is pulled by Welsh ponies (though originally Shetland ponies) that are named Boomer and Sooner, in homage to the settlers of Oklahoma. Every time the Sooner score a touchdown on game day, you’ll find the schooner making its rounds on the field, firing up the crowd.
Ohio State University: Dotting The “I”: The dotting of the “I” at the horseshoe, where the Ohio State Buckeyes play their home football games, is one of the most revered traditions in all of college football. The 225-member marching band at the school is incredibly difficult to become a member of, as upwards of 400 students vie for those 225 spots. In a tradition that spans back as far as 1936, the members of the marching band then spell out the word “Ohio” on the field, making it one of the largest human script designs in the world. From there, one player will “dot” the third letter in the word Ohio; this prestigious honor is almost always reserved for a sousaphone player who is a fourth- or fifth-year member of the band.