SEC Traditions Add Flavor To College Football Down South

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SEC Traditions Add Flavor To College Football Down South
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It doesn’t take long for new students to learn the unique football tradition at the Southeastern Conference school of their choice. Though the learning curve is brief, the memory lasts a lifetime. With college football underway, below is the guide to SEC traditions, rituals and shenanigans.

SEC WEST College Football Traditions

1. "Rammer Jammer" - Alabama

“Stars Fell on Alabama” is the tune many associate with this tradition-filled state, but if you’re a Crimson Tide fan, you probably prefer belting out the more rambunctious "Rammer Jammer" cheer after yet another Bama victory.

The cheer recalls the national titles collected under legendary coaches, such as Paul “Bear” Bryant and Nick Saban, now memorialized with statues at the stadium in Tuscaloosa. In part, the cheer goes like this:

“Rammer Jammer, Yellow Hammer

Give ’em hell, Alabama!”

2. "Calling the Hogs" - Arkansas

If you’re new to Fayetteville or Razorback football, before you even discover where Dickson Street is off-campus, you have to learn how to call the hogs. The cheer involves three drawn-out “woo pig sooie” chants, followed, after the third offering, by a loud “Razorbacks!” yell to cap it off.

“Calling the hogs” is as much a part of Arkansas lore as Sam Walton’s old pickup on display at the Walmart Museum up the road in Bentonville.

3. "Rolling Toomer's Corner" - Auburn

The tradition of using toilet paper to roll the Auburn oaks at Toomer’s Corner after team victories goes back decades. But the ritual went through a difficult period after the trees were poisoned in 2010, requiring re-plantings.

Last year, the university asked fans to hold off on rolling the newer replacement trees until they’re strong enough to withstand victory celebrations. When given the OK, Auburn fans in War Eagle orange and blue, with toilet paper in hand, are ready to let it fly.

4. "Tailgating and Night Games at Death Valley" - LSU

If you want a great meal, forget fancy restaurants in New York, or even down the road in New Orleans. Head to the tailgating experience prior to Saturday night kickoffs at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

A purple-and-gold-clad army of the world’s best Cajun chefs (i.e., LSU football fans, some possibly sober) will proudly serve you chicken-and-andouille gumbo, Gonzales jambalaya and crawfish etouffee. That’s just the appetizer. In the stadium, chants of “Tiger bait!” welcome opposing teams to the Bayou Bengal feast.

5. "The Grove" - Ole Miss

The Ole Miss Rebels might not win every game, but the fans never lose a party.

That sums up the attitude at the Grove, a 10-acre wooded space filled on football Saturdays with well-dressed Ole Miss fans socializing over cocktails and barbecue rivaling the ribs up in Memphis at the Rendezvous.

Inevitably the "Hotty Toddy" cheer will break out, a chant whose hard-to-define title is as bourbon-soaked in Southern mysticism as a novel by Oxford’s own William Faulkner. 

6. "Cowbells" - Mississippi State

For a school in a town called StarkVegas — first in derision because there wasn’t much to do but now with ironic pride — cowbells are as welcome as slot machines on the Las Vegas Strip.

The cowbells that Bulldog fans loudly employ at games have a long tradition dating back to when the school was derided as a “cow college.” (Careful who you offend. Prohibition Era gangster Machine Gun Kelly once attended Mississippi State.)

Efforts to take the cowbells away have met with serious resistance. As they might say on “Saturday Night Live,” in Starkville they have a fever, “and the only prescription is more cowbell.”

7. "The 12th Man" - Texas A&M

In 1922, during a game against the powerful Centre College Praying Colonels, Aggie student E. King Gill was called upon to be ready as the team’s injuries mounted. 

"I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not,” Gill said. “I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”

The 12th Man tradition was born.

For decades, Texas A&M students have stood for the entire game, ready if needed. Some regular students have even seen special team duty on kickoffs.

In today’s college football, it’s doubtful any typical student would be pulled out of the stands and thrown into action against, say, Alabama or LSU.

But if needed, they’re ready.

SEC EAST College Football Traditions

1. "Gator Chomp" - Florida

Florida Gator fans know how to get under an opposing team’s skin.

By extending their arms and making a motion like an alligator devouring SEC opponents, fans employing the Gator Chomp stir excitement in Gainesville with this spirited faux bite. 

And the Gator Chomp has opponents seeing red.

When Florida loses, opposing players and fans delight in doing the Gator Chomp back at UF fans, just to rip into them. 

2. "Between the Hedges" - Georgia

Sanford Stadium in Athens was built in 1929. With that came the planting of some Chinese privet semi-evergreen tall shrubs, officially Ligustrum sinense, near the playing surface.

That gave birth to a football field surrounded by beautifully sculpted hedges, whose supposed mystical power, like a hex, is a thorn in opponents’ sides.

The 5,000-square-foot, green-growth rectangle around Dooley Field gives Georgia fans a sense that roots really matter when it comes to Bulldog football.

3. "Cat Walk" - Kentucky 

The Bluegrass State is known for speedy thoroughbreds and basketball fast breaks.

But during fall football season, the team’s slow walk through a sea of fans dressed in Wildcat Blue makes hearts race.

It’s called the Cat Walk, and it starts about two hours before kickoff at Wildcat home games, with Kentucky players making their way through a corridor of cheering fans to Joe Craft Football Training Center.

There, the team suits up in game-day armor, also in Wildcat Blue.

4. "Goalposts to Harpos Bar" - Missouri

One of the newest entries in the SEC, the Missouri Tigers boast a fan base as rabid as any in the country.

That fact became clear in a victory celebration that saw the goalposts being carried by frenzied fans from the football field to Harpo’s Bar and Grill in downtown Columbia.

Harpo’s itself is a Missouri Tiger tradition, going back to the early 1970s. 

With a menu that includes spicy fried pickles and burnt-end street tacos, Harpo’s, and Missouri football, give those ink-stained wretches at the university’s famous J-school a lot to write home about. 

5. "Cock-a-Boose" - South Carolina

Like the team nickname, the Gamecocks, college football tailgating in Columbia is just different.

Some of it is indoors. In railroad cars. On an inactive track outside the stadium.

Known as the Cockaboose, a string of more than 20 converted rail cars identically painted in garnet and serve as host sites for world-class partying.

Want one? It’ll cost you as much as $400,000, according to The Daily Gamecock. 

6. "Running Through the T" - Tennessee

With a late summer haze still blanketing the Great Smoky Mountains, the cry “It’s football time in Tennessee” revs up more engines than a NASCAR race.

That call means Volunteer fans are headed to Knoxville from across the region, some in cars, some in boats on the Tennessee River, with hopes riding high for a triumphant season — or at least a victory over Alabama.

The excitement builds to a crescendo when the Vols run onto the field through a giant “T” formed by the Pride of the Southland Band. 

Running through the T, the band playing “Rocky Top,” orange pompoms — all these traditions mean it’s football time in Tennessee.

7. "The Admiral (Stadium Horn)" - Vanderbilt

In Nashville, the Admiral, a stadium horn, loudly goes off when Vandy takes the field and when the Commodores score.

This tradition occurs on a remarkably beautiful campus not far from the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown, where Grand Ole Opry stars like Roy Acuff and Patsy Cline once performed their signature songs.


Not to Vanderbilt fans. To the Commodore Nation, that horn is music to their ears.



Other Popular College Football Traditions 

Best college football song traditions

The best college football song traditions, performed by each school's marching band at every home football game, fires up the entire crowd and sometimes even the press box and, of course, each student section.

From Notre Dame to Ohio State to Penn State to Georgia Tech and Florida State, great traditions often start with the marching bands, from marching patterns headed by a theatric drum major even before the football game begins.

In the SEC,'s choice for the No. 1 song traditions is "Rocky Top" by the University of Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Band.

More traditions are coming to the college football world in the SEC, where every football team is loaded with college football history.

When the Longhorns join the SEC in a couple of years, we'll see if Texas fans are effective in bringing their songs and other great Texas tradition, along with the official mascot, into to places like LSU's Death Valley.

Best college football pregame traditions

Name the stadium, and you'll find great pregame traditions in college football and a lot of fan enthusiasm, from tailgating to exuberant cheers to great stadiums -- Memorial Stadium, Camp Randall Stadium, Davis Wade Stadium, Kinnick Stadium, Doak Campbell Stadium, Kyle Field, Lane Stadium -- the list goes on.

Some words and phrases jump out as being tied to pregame (and post game) tradition -- burnt orange, Sooner schooner, College Street, country roads and many more.

A lot of traditions have been going on for more than a century -- the Army Navy game, Howard's rock, Ohio State tradition, Florida State tradition, Iowa tradition, Navy tradition, locker room celebrations, Notre Dame tradition, home game madness, Yale games -- all rank among the sport's greatest traditions.


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Larry Henry

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