On college campuses across the country, students, alumni and fans are putting on their game day gear and heading to the stadium for weekend football games charged with spirit and enthusiasm passed down from generation to generation. One thing that fuels the enthusiasm is tradition. Every team has some sort of tradition – some are more extreme than others. Here are 7 of the more interesting game day traditions.
Florida State: Away games in which Florida State is the underdog are called a “Sod Game” and the practice field has a “Sod Cemetery” which is a symbol of victory for the Seminoles. In 1962, a professor challenged the team to “bring back some sod from between the hedges”. That was a reference to the University of Georgia who was expected to beat Florida State. FSU won the game and the team captain brought back a piece of sod which was buried and memorialized at their practice field. Team captains continue the tradition and bring back sod from fields where they were victorious.
Alabama: Alabama football fans chant “Roll Tide” during games for the Crimson Tide – which is a phrase fans tacked on to the Alabama Fight Song. Along with the fight song, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” is played at every game and fans insert “Roll Tide” half-way through the song.
Notre Dame: At Notre Dame home games, both the fans and the football players follow tradition. At the end of the third quarter, fans salute the coach as the marching band plays Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. At the end of the game, win or lose, the football team shows their appreciation for the fans by throwing their gloves to the fans on their way out of the stadium.
Ole Miss: At Ole Miss, fans dress in their Sunday best to tailgate at The Grove. Tailgaters are so serious about their spots, a rule had to be made and enforced by campus police that no one is allowed to claim a spot before 9pm the night before game day. Players enjoy The Grove as well — two hours before each home game, the football players “walk The Grove” to greet fans. It’s been a tradition for the last 30 years.
Ohio State: The rivalry between Ohio State and University of Michigan has a long and deep history. Since 1934, after every win over Michigan, players and coaches receive and a gold charm replica of football pants. It started with Coach Francis Schmidt. When reporters asked him what his team’s chances of defeating Michigan was, he replied, “Those fellows put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else.”
Clemson: Clemson’s football stadium is nicknamed “Death Valley” just like the national park. The name of the stadium is actually Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Frank Howard was once Clemson’s head coach. During his tenure, another coach referred to the stadium as Death Valley because his team rarely won games there. Howard started calling it Death Valley after that and the name stuck. Howard was then presented with an actual rock from Death Valley and for years, players would rub the rock before each game. The rock is now under a protective case at the stadium.
Georgia: At the University of Georgia, every football game starts with the Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation (the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic) — fans stand and take off their hats while a lone trumpeter plays the first seven notes, the rest of the band joins in to finish the song alongside a narrated video that highlights the team’s history.