American football is as steeped in tradition as any other sport, and college football is no different. Across the nation each fall, teams, students and alumni descend upon their stadiums en masse to witness what is itself a great American tradition. Baseball may be the American pastime, but Football is its magnum opus. Though there are some similar aspects to any college game you could go to, some collegiate football traditions are exceptional and unique to their home school. Whether they stem from superstition or pride, these college football traditions are truly one of a kind.
Just before the 1967 game where Clemson faced Wake Forest, famed coach Frank Howard informed the players that if they “gave 110% they would win the privilege of rubbing the rock. After the team won the game, it became a tradition to rub the rock before each game for good luck.
At the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue in downtown Auburn sits a patch of oak trees across the street from the 130-year-old Toomer’s Drugs. When Auburn celebrates a win, fans descend upon this area known as “Toomer’s corner” and toilet paper the heck out of the trees. Unfortunately, the oaks were infamously poisoned by a disgruntled Bama fan. The trees have been replaced, and the university has asked that they not be rolled until the fall 2016 season.
The way Florida State celebrates a win on the road may seem a little morbid to some. The Sod Cemetery is the final resting place of many different sod (grass) samples from stadiums the Seminoles have bested.
The University of Hawaii football team prepares for battle on the field by performing the Haka, a Maori war dance that is pretty intense. The Maori people were the original indigenous people of New Zealand, but since New Zealand, Easter Island and Hawaii are all considered Polynesian islands, they have some cultural intersections.
Following the first Nebraska touchdown of each football game, Husker fans release thousands of helium-filled red balloons into the air in celebration. The tradition is not without its controversy however, as some environmentalists have pointed out that the balloons end up as litter all over the state after they pop and fall to earth.
The Sooner Schooner is a revered tradition at the University of Oklahoma. Though most may identify the word “schooner” with a small boat, but there is such a thing as a “prairie schooner”, which is a small covered wagon which was used in American westward expansion. At every home game the Sooner Schooner is ridden onto the field to celebrate each time the team scores.
Currently a 1930 Ford model A, the Ramblin’ Wreck serves as the mascot for Georgia Tech. The car drives around the field accompanied by cheerleaders to the delight of Georgia Tech fans each football season.
Smokey the cannon is a replica civil war cannon loaded with four 10-guage shotgun shell blanks. University of Texas Cowboys (dressed in full traditional cowboy garb) blast Smokey the Cannon at each kickoff and whenever the team scores.
Officially the mascot of the Stanford University band, the Stanford Tree is a representation of El Palo Alto, a famous sequoia tree in California.
At the close of each football season, Syracuse university players cleanse themselves of the previous season by ritualistically burning their practice cleats. The tradition was briefly halted during the years Greg Robinson served as head coach, but it resumed after his departure.
Red Raider fans have a tradition of tossing tortillas onto the field. The origins of this tradition are hotly disputed amongst Texas Tech alumni. The NCAA invokes penalties for such actions now, but a recent Change.org petition aims to change that.
Another fun food tradition is at U Penn, where students throw toast onto the field between the third and fourth quarters of each game. The toast is launched during the singing of the fight song at the words “Here’s a toast to dear old Penn.” The tradition has many origin stories, one of which is that it was started during prohibition when students couldn’t raise a toast to their alma mater, so they raised literal toast instead.
In 1980, John Denver was present at the dedication of Mountaineer Stadium to sing his 1971 hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, and the song has since been an anthem for WVU. It is sung at the close of each winning game.
If football is a religion in Texas, then A&M might as well be the Pope. Nowhere are fans more fervent than at Kyle field, where the university claims that only 2 percent of the student body do not attend football games. One of many traditions the Aggies have is to give your girlfriend a kiss every time the team makes a touchdown. The saying goes, “When the team scores, Aggies score!”
Located east of California Memorial Stadium at the University of California, Charter Hill has been renamed by UC Berkeley students as “Tightwad Hill”, owing to the fact that games can be viewed for free from its summit, overlooking the stadium.