Sunday, October 18, 2009

College (Football) Traditions

After a couple of weeks of advice and typical issues with college, we’re going to steer away from that and focus on some of the more fun things about the college experience.  This week, we’re going to look at some of the great traditions of college football.  I have personally experienced all of these traditions and feel that they are some of the better ones in the game today. 


The 12th Man- Texas A&M University


Nothing else says tradition like Texas A&M.  They have more traditions than you can count.  They even have a traditions council!  According to their website, the 12th Man originated in 1922 when a student was called out of the stands to suit up in case the Aggies ran out of players.  E. King Gill never got into the game, but he stood on the sidelines the entire game, ready in case head coach Dana X. Bible needed him to play.  The students adopted that policy of readiness and support as their mantra and today, the entire student section stands the entire game, no matter the score, in support of their Aggies.  The entire story can be read here.

The Texas A&M students are very proud to take part in this tradition and continue to channel the “Spirit of Aggieland” at all times.

“The 12th Man symbolizes the Aggie spirit in such a way that no matter what, every Aggie is there for the team no matter the score, and we will always stand up and support our team,” said Mark Siegmund, sophomore and member of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M.  “Being part of the 12th Man is one of the greatest experiences of my life; one that evokes a great amount of pride from you and truly shows you how Aggies bond together and yell for their team.”


Howard’s Rock- Clemson University


At Clemson University, players rub what looks to be an ordinary rock before running down a hill onto the field at Death Valley.  But this is no ordinary rock.  This rock was given to the Clemson head coach Frank Howard by a friend, S.C. Jones, who picked up the rock in Death Valley, California. Howard kept the rock in his office as a doorstep and one day told a Clemson booster to, "take this rock and throw it over the fence, or out in the something with it, but get it out of my office."

The booster instead mounted it on a pedestal where the players ran down the hill prior to kickoff.  Prior to running down the hill on the first game the rock was up there, Howard told his players: "If you're going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you're not, keep your filthy hands off it." The story became legend among the Clemson faithful.  The complete story can be read here. 

While the rock is something that only football players touch and something that students dream of being able to do, it still inspires them every game knowing that the team is going to lay it all on the line for the victory. 

“I think Howard's Rock is an important tradition for Clemson because it symbolizes a players ability, skill, heart and work ethic to reach that moment when they first get to rub the Rock and run down the hill,” said Matthew Patterson, sophomore at Clemson.  “Not all players get to rub the rock and run down the hill but when that moment comes, 110% is all they will want to give.  Every time after that the feeling returns again and again until it is instilled in the heart of every player forever.”

The traditional rubbing of the rock is part of the Clemson team entrance, which people have dubbed, “The most exciting 25 seconds in college football.” 


The Red River Rivalry- University of Oklahoma vs. University of Texas


The Red River Rivalry is one of the most exciting and intense rivalries in college football today that pits two of the greatest programs to ever play the game.  Played in the Cotton Bowl in the middle of the State Fair of Texas, this atmosphere is unmatched in terms of excitement.  The rivalry began in 1900, but wasn’t moved to the Cotton Bowl as a permanent location until 1929.  Since then, the rivalry has become famous with the famous split of colors at the 50-yard line.  Half the stadium burnt orange, the other half crimson. 

Kenny Mossman, senior associate Athletic Director for Communications and the University of Oklahoma says that the State Fair is the perfect venue to showcase this intense and special rivalry.

The success of the programs, the geographic proximity of the two schools to each other and of course the atmosphere of the State Fair make this rivalry very special each and every year,” Mossman said.

OU students also treasure the atmosphere and the significance of being able to experience one of the greatest of college rivalries in one of the most historic stadiums in football history. 

“For me it is the simple fact of tradition,” said Tyler Knowles, senior, University of Oklahoma.  “Having two teams with such great tradition and backgrounds laying it all on the line at the Cotton Bowl every year. Some of the greatest college football players have played in this rivalry as well as coaches. Seeing the two teams running out of the tunnel, having the stadium split down the middle, half crimson and half burnt orange, and just seeing the animosity between the two schools makes it so special. There honestly is no greater rivalry in sports.”

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