1. The Ohio State: Script Ohio
Origin: Script Ohio was first performed by The Best Damn Band In The Land on October 24, 1936 at a home game against Indiana University.
Why it’s awesome: It’s mesmerizing! In a world where cursive is dying, this band brings it back to life by using their bodies to make designs and spell out messages. The dotting of the “i” is a time-honored tradition, and is absolutely inspiring.
2. Army Vs. Navy: March On
Origin: The annual Army-Navy game has taken place since 1890.
Why it’s awesome: Thousands of cadets solemnly marching in uniform. This tradition and game is about so much more than just football.
3. Notre Dame: Play Like A Champion Today
Origin: Lou Holtz brought this sign and tradition back to Notre Dame in 1986 after coming across a picture of it in an old University book.
Why it’s awesome: Every player and coach who passes from the home locker room to the field has their own unique way of hitting the sign. And yes, we know Oklahoma has been using the PLACT sign since the ’40s, but the Irish definitely made it famous (and the Sooners are already on this list, see #11).
4. Texas A&M: The 12th Man
Origin: The 12th Man tradition began on January 2, 1922. A&M played defending national champion Centre College in the first postseason game in the southwest. So many A&M players were hurt during the first half that Coach D. X. Bible feared he wouldn’t have enough men to finish the game. He called into the Aggie section of the stands for E. King Gill, a student who left the football team after the regular season to play basketball. Gill put on the uniform of injured player Heine Weir and stood on the sidelines, ready for action.
Why it’s awesome: Although Gill didn’t actually play in the game, his readiness to play symbolized the willingness of all Aggies to support their team to the point of actually getting in the game, hence why the student body stands throughout the entire game.
5. Wisconsin: Jump Around
Origin: The tradition started in 1993, when the men’s varsity swim team played the song over a portable CD player to rile up the fans sitting in sections O and P. The song was eventually played throughout the entire stadium on Saturday, October 10, 1998, at the Badgers Homecoming game against Purdue. After no offensive points were scored in the third quarter, one of the Badgers’ marketing agents piped the song through the loudspeakers, leading the Badgers to a 31-24 victory en route to their second 6-0 start of the modern football era.
Why it’s awesome: 80,000 fans jumping and screaming. That’s all.
6. Colorado: Ralphie’s Run
Origin: In 1934, a group of students paid $25 to rent a bison calf and a cowboy as his keeper for the last game of the season.
Why it’s awesome: This is a giant, living beast running out across an open football field. Cheer!
7. Florida State: Chief Osceola Plants The Flaming Spear
Origin: Osceola and his horse Renegade debuted during the September 16, 1978 game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Why it’s awesome: A historical Seminole leader atop a horse jabbing a flaming torch into center field. What could possibly be cooler than that?
8. Oklahoma: The Sooner Schooner
Origin: The Schooner, a scaled-down replica of the Conestoga wagon used by settlers of the Oklahoma Territory, made its debut at Owen Field in 1964, and it became the University’s official mascot in 1980.
Why it’s awesome: Two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner pull the Schooner out onto the field before each game and after every Sooner score (this is not a tongue twister, just an awesome tradition).
9. Clemson: Howard’s Rock & Running Down The Hill
Origin: In 1960, a rock from Death Valley, CA was given to then head coach Frank Howard by a friend. Howard didn’t think anything of the rock and it was used as a doorstop in his office for several years. In September of 1966, while cleaning out his office, Howard noticed the rock and told Clemson Athletic director Gene Willimon, “Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the ditch…do something with it, but get it out of my office.” Willimon had the rock placed on a pedestal at the top of the east end zone hill that the team ran down to enter the field for games.
Why it’s awesome: On September 24, 1966 (the first time Clemson players ran by the rock), they beat conference rival Virginia, 40-35. From that point forward, Howard told his players, “Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off of my rock.”
And if an old rock doesn’t do it for you, Clemson’s run to the field is frequently referred to as “The Most Exciting 25 seconds in College Football.”
10. Auburn: War Eagle
Origin: The story of War Eagle dates back to the Civil War. According to the legend, a soldier from Alabama was the sole Confederate survivor of a bloody battle. Stumbling across the battlefield, he came upon an injured eagle. The soldier took in the bird and nursed it back to health. Several years later, the solider returned to college as a faculty member, bringing the bird with him. On the day of Auburn’s first football game in 1892 against the University of Georgia, the eagle broke away from his master and began to circle the field, exciting the fans. At the end of the game, with Auburn victorious, the eagle fell to the ground and died.
Why it’s awesome: Auburn has since had seven different War Eagles. At every home game, this beautiful bird flies out over the crowd before kickoff.
11. Hawaii: Haka
Origin: The newest tradition to make the list, The Haka was introduced to the team in 2006 by Tala Esera, who had performed it as a member of the Kahuku “Red Raiders” high school football team.
Why it’s awesome: A team of giants yelling and thumping their chests. I’d be scared.
Inspired by College GameDay: Lee Corso’s Head Selection
Origin: It all started at Ohio State in 1996 when Corso approached Herbstreit about acquiring Brutus’s headgear via Herbstreit’s wife (a former Ohio State cheerleader). The Herbstreits pulled through and the rest is history.
Why it’s awesome: Why else would you wake up at 9:00am on a Saturday?