What we love about college football
Traditions all around game day make it wonderful to be a fan
Sure, we're into November and college basketball is starting this week. So why are we talking about why football is so great? Because of games like this past weekend, when LSU won a No. 1-2 matchup, No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Arkansas held on to win top-20 clashes and upsets ruled the rest of the top 25.
This game is great year-round, whether it's at the highest level of the FBS or anywhere else on the scale -- we just love everything about game days. And here are some of our favorite things, not necessarily in any order but definitely the stuff we look for every weekend when we head to the stadium.
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Is there a more grand or emotion-stirring entrance in sports than when Army and Navy take the field at the end of every college football season? Since the teams starting playing each other in 1890, the game has had a national appeal because of the pomp and circumstance around the contest. In an historical sidenote, did you know that the first time instant replay was used for live television was in the Army-Navy game on Dec. 7, 1963?
Not every entrance is the same. Fans may have gotten tired of Virginia Tech playing on what seemed like every Thursday night between 2000 and 2010, but no one will ever get bored with the team's entrance. Set against the black backdrop of a night game, Lane Stadium errupts with noise and flashes as the team comes out to Metallica's 'Enter Sandman.'
Music has become a staple to many entrances. One of the most recognizable is Nebraska's Tunnel Walk, as coaches and players come out of the locker room, touch the lucky horse shoe above the doors to the North Stadium and walk the red carpet to the field to the tune of Allan Parson's Project's 'Sirius.'
Other schools have entrances that change week to week or season to season. Some of the most-prized entrances are the simplest ones, like the touching of Howard's Rock at Clemson and The Rock at Fred Selfe Stadium when Emory & Henry takes the field.
Each is unique and most evoke images of victories for fans while pumping up the team, becoming a huge part of what makes college football game days so special.
School songs. Bon fires. Midnight yell practice. The Haka. Hand gestures, both good and questionable. Pregame rituals at all levels of college football are mostly for the fans, but, hey, that's alright. We don't have to play the game to make it feel like we're a part of what's going on, right?
In our opinion, one of the coolest pregame football rituals involves ... the band. Not, just any band. It's the Ohio State Marching & Athletic Band. Since 1936 when the 'Script Ohio' formation was unveiled, the Dotting of the 'I' -- typically by a sousaphone player -- has become a public attention getter, especially on the rare occasion it's a person outside the band. Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus and Sen. John Glenn are among the fewer than 40 outsiders to Dot the 'I'.
There isn't much to say here, other than we know you'd probably put this at the top of the list. We thought about it too, but there's no wrong answer on this topic.
No matter which spot it lands in, it's fair to say tailgating has nearly become a sport unto itself. From the legendary status it holds in the south at places like Ole Miss -- where The Grove, a 10-acre lot of fun, food and festivities makes for one of the most spectacular pregame pitstops in sports. The massive spreads of food, RVs, TVs and grills at stadiums throughout the country and across all levels are almost as fun as the games themselves. Almost.
Big or little, new or old, it doesn't matter. There's something about football stadiums that brings back childhood dreams for so many. Everyone has their favorite, whether it's one of the biggies -- like Bryant-Denney in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich. -- or the traditional venues of the powerhouse DIII schools like Mount Union, they all offer something worth checking out.
In fact, this isn't the first time we've brought them up. Check out the football stadiums you missed the first time (and a few other sports venues too).
Want to see the world's largest drum? Purdue, specifically the All-American Marching Band that plays at Boilermaker games, says it has it. At a height of more than 10-feet, the drum stands out anywhere, even in Texas, where the Longhorn Marching Band also has what it calls the largest drum, Big Bertha.
Not quite in your seats before the game because you were out tailgating? Check out the bands at halftime, especially the Standford band which has been known to cause some confusion and wrinkle a few feathers in its time traveling with the Cardinal. It was on the field -- and some members got run over -- during that memorable Cal-Stanford game in 1982 when 'The Play' took place. It's also banned from a couple rival campuses after its high jinx in previous years.
And what would a college football game be without cheerleaders? Okay, we'll leave that answer to you, but just be thankful Princeton started the tradition in 1869.
We love them and what they stand for. We also love how many there are. From the Little Brown Jug and axes in the Big Ten to the more obscure and/or unusual things trophies that teams play for, rivalry games add a little something extra to the environment for not only the players, but the fans as well.
Many rivalry games are founded on in-state or border-state competition. In most cases, rivals have a deep respect for the competition between them and, while the on-field games are fierce, the appreciation for their opponents afterward lasts forever.
And like the stadiums they're played in, they come in all sizes. From Michigan vs. Ohio State to Occidental against Pomona-Pitzer, rivalries make fall Saturdays a little more fun.
Sometimes it's what they were. You know Bear Bryant right off the bat when you see the fedora. And all-time Division I wins leader Joe Paterno, can you ever imagine seeing him roaming the sideline without his tie and khakis?
Whether they're immediately recognizable or just legends who most people would pass right by on the street -- like Saint John's (Minn.) longtime mentor John Gagliardi, the first active coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006 -- without them, the game wouldn't be the same.
Some people love tradition, like the fans at Penn State and Nebraska where they notice even the smallest change in uniforms -- and are vocal about them. Others love the new looks every week and wild combinations.
Love them or hate them, they're here to stay, like Maryland's unique wardrobe choice which set off a number of blogs and rado talk show lines after the first weekend of the season.
The history of homecoming starts in 1891, when Missouri first faced the Kansas Jayhawks in football in the initial installment of the Border War, which is also the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River. Missouri's athletic director at the time, to "renew excitement in the rivalry" and to help attendance, invited all alumni to come home for the game in 1911. Along with the football game, the celebration included a parade and spirit rally with bonfire. The event was a success, with nearly 10,000 alumni coming home to take part, helping start a tradition that is celebrated all around the country.
Some homecoming celebrations are more unique than others. Take Bemidji State for example. Since 1995, the football team has jumped in the lake -- pads and all -- following each homecoming victory.