Saturday, September 3, 2011

40 reasons why we like college football

1. Between the hedges. Games played at Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia are said to be played "Between the Hedges" due to the hedges, which stand around the field. Other schools in the south have followed suit.

2. Ohio. The Ohio State band marches out a script “Ohio” prior to all OSU homes games. The honor of dotting the “i” goes to a Ohio State tuba player.

3. Play Like A Champion Today. The sign leading out of Notre Dame’s locker room was prominently featured in the movie “Rudy.”

4. Death Valley at night. LSU’s home field is a scary place to play at any time of day but, at night, there is something extra special about the Tigers’ roar.

5. The rock at Clemson. In the early 1960s, the rock was given to then head coach Frank Howard by a friend, Samuel Columbus Jones (Clemson Class of 1919). It was presented to Howard by Jones, saying "Here's a rock from Death Valley, California, to Death Valley, South Carolina." Howard didn't think anything else about the rock and it was used as a door stop in his office for several years. In September 1966, while cleaning out his office, Howard noticed the rock and told an associate, "Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the something with it, but get it out of my office." Instead, the rock was placed on a pedestal at the top of the east endzone hill that the team ran down to enter the field for games. On September 24, 1966, the first time Clemson players ran by the rock, they beat conference rival Virginia, 40-35. Howard, seizing on the motivational potential of "The Rock", told his players, "Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off of my rock." The team started rubbing the Rock for the first game of 1967, which was a 23-6 waxing of ACC foe Wake Forest. The tradition has since lived on.

6. Toomer’s Corner. Hanging over the corner in Auburn, AL are two massive old-growth southern live oak trees, and anytime anything good happens concerning Auburn, toilet paper can usually be found hanging from the trees. Also known as "rolling the corner", this tradition is thought to have originated in the 1950s to celebrate away game victories; however, in recent years it has become a way to celebrate anything good that happens concerning Auburn. On January 10, 2011 when Auburn Football won the BCS National Championship game, a celebration was held at the corner which involved the traditional papering.

7. Homecoming. Both Baylor and Missouri claim to have started the Homecoming tradition, a specially marked game day where alumni are encouraged to come back to campus. At MU, this year’s Homecoming will be its 100th.

8. USC Song Girls. Is it shallow that this made the list? Perhaps. But, is there a better cheerleading unit in the country, dressed in their classic white sweaters and skirts?

9. Boise State’s blue field. Personally, I’m not a fan but Boise State’s blue field is as identifiable with their program as is their recent top ten success.

10. Army-Navy. One of the great traditions in all of sports is the march of the cadets and the midshipmen into the stadium prior to this annual rivalry game—usually the last major game of the college regular season.

11. Ralphie. There are many great college mascots but a buffalo running out onto Colorado’s Folsom Field, with six handlers gamely hanging on, is quite a sight.

12. The 12th Man at Texas A&M. The first recorded instance of the term "12th Man" being used was to describe E. King Gill and his actions in Dallas on 2 January 1922, at the Dixie Classic, the forerunner of the Cotton Bowl Classic. Texas A&M played defending national champion Centre College in the first post-season game in the southwest. In this hard fought game, which produced national publicity, an underdog Aggie team was slowly but surely defeating a team which boasted three All-Americans. Unfortunately, the first half produced so many injuries for A&M that Coach D. X. Bible feared he wouldn’t have enough men to finish the game, so, he called into the Aggie section of the stands for E. King Gill, a reserve who had left football after the regular season to play basketball. Gill, who was spotting players for reporters at the time and was not in football uniform, willingly volunteered and donned the uniform of injured player Heine Weir. When the game ended with an A&M victory, 22–14, E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said, "I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me." Although he did not actually play in the game, his readiness to play was noted. As there were 11 men on the field, E. King Gill was the 12th Man, hence the term.

13. ESPN College Game Day. There is no better college sports show than ESPN College Game Day featuring Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Rocket Ismail and wacky Lee Corso.

14. The Grove. At the University of Mississippi, students and alumni take tailgating to a whole different level in The Grove.

15. Fifth Quarter in Madison, Wisconsin. The band doesn’t stop playing when the game ends at the University of Wisconsin.

16. “You are looking live…” Love him or hate him, Brent Musberger’s classic line to open every college football broadcast has taken over for the former colloquialisms we all loved from Keith Jackson.

17. Big Bertha bass drum at Texas. Everything is big in Texas including the band’s drum, used during pre-game and at halftime.

18. Red River Rivalry. The Texas State Fair, capped off with Oklahoma-Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

19. Ohio State-Michigan. One of the best rivalries in all of sports.

20. UGA. What’s not to like about a bulldog mascot, particularly one who can be found lounging on a bag of ice during hot early season games at the University of Georgia?

21. Chief Osceola’s spear at Florida State. It’s the pre-game tradition in Tallahassee for Osceola to ride his horse to midfield and plant a burning spear.

22. The orange-and-white end zones at Tennessee. The checkerboard endzone is as much a tradition at Tennessee as the boats dispensing fans off of the Tennessee River outside the stadium.

23. Tim Tebow. Only college football could create a player like Tebow or those who came before him, e.g., Herschel, Bo, Davis and Blanchard, Grange, et al.

24. The Iron Bowl. “War Damn Eagle!” “Roll, Tide, Roll!” They take football seriously down Alabama way.

25. Touchdown Jesus. The most tradition-rich stadium in the country can be found at Notre Dame.

26. Campanile Hill. Kansas’ football history is up-and-down but there are few better spots to spend a fall afternoon than in Memorial Stadium during a fall Saturday, looking up Campanile Hill at the beauty of Mt. Oread.

27. The Border War. Kansas versus Missouri. This one dates back to Civil War hostilities.

28. “Hail to the Victors.” The best college football fight song belongs to the University of Michigan, “the champions of the West.”

29. The Game (Stanford-California.) Any rivalry simply called “the Game” has to have something going for it.

30. The Rose Bowl. No matter who’s playing, no bowl game can match the Rose for color, pageantry, the setting, and the tradition.

31. Overtime. In college, there are no ties and the overtime system is equitable—not determined by a coin flip.

32. Stanford’s marching band. The Cardinal marching band takes all that is traditional and good about college marching bands and, well, makes it wacky.

33. Boats bringing fans to the game in Washington. Husky Stadium offers one of the better venues in college football.

34. “Video game football.” A friend of mine coined this term about his team’s offense but it also points to the variety of schemes and looks one sees in college football compared to the NFL.

35. Heisman Trophy. Not only is it a way cool trophy but winners are, forever, announced as “Heisman Trophy winner (fill in the name.)”

36. Tailgating on a college campus. Yes, I know venues like Arrowhead Stadium and Lambeau Field tout great tailgating. But, nothing beats tailgating on a college campus and taking in the sights and sounds of beautiful venues on a fall Saturday afternoon.

37. The Gator chomp in The Swamp. It's SEC football at its best when teams venture into the University of Florida's stadium in Gainesville.

38. Texas schools’ hand signals. What is it about Texas schools that they all have funny little hand signals—the UT “hook ‘em horn,” the “gig ‘em Aggies,” Baylor’s “Sic ‘em,” Texas Tech’s “pistol?”

39. Massive stadiums with cool names. The Big House. The Shoe. The Swamp. Death Valley. The biggest stadiums reside in college football, not the NFL.

40. Rivalry jokes. One of my favorites is typically used for the University of Tennessee. “Why does Tennessee have orange as its color?” “Well, they can wear orange to the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday, and the road crew on Monday.”

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