The Five Best College Football Traditions (Subjectively Speaking)


I’m in a little bit of a situation right now. It’s August. Nobody really likes August. If you’re bummed about going back to school, the month feels like one, super short Sunday. If you can’t wait for school to start, time seems to move as slowly as I do on a treadmill (read: very slowly). But this year, my problem is that I have one foot in each camp. See, one thing you have to know about me (and the reason that statement is so troubling), is that I’m addicted to my home. Most people are all like, “ugh, high school”. I peaked in high school. That’s not to say I don’t love college — I do — but I tend to savor my summer months more than others. I love sleeping in my own bed, waking up in my own bed, eating my mother out of house and home, and seeing my old friends all day, every day (no, that’s not an exaggeration).

But, suddenly, this summer, I began to have these feelings. Weird feelings. Inappropriate feelings. I found myself eager for August to come to a close. And you know why? (I really do have a solid, coherent answer). Football season. (Okay, there are a lot of other reasons but this is the one we’re going to focus on). So, in honor of my bizarre feelings, I’ve decided to make a list of some of the best college football traditions out there. Of course, there are so many out there it’s impossible to really pick. Also, keep in mind that I’m biased. Go Blue.

1. The Grove — Ole Miss

The Grove. Ten acres of pure, unadulterated tailgating. It’s surrounded by trees — thus its name — and, every football season, becomes home to thousands of drunk college students and other Mississippi fans. See, I’m a big fan of a good tailgate, and I’m proud of what Michigan has to offer, but, boy, we have nothing like this. As ESPN puts it, “Tailgating in The Grove is an experience so sublime even native son William Faulkner would be at a loss to describe it.”

2. Take Me Home, Country Roads — West Virginia University

Despite the original song actually having nothing to do with the university — well, apart from the obvious — the school adopted John Denver’s anthem as their own, and it has been sung at every football game since 1972. But why is this on the list and other songs aren’t? Because it’s a damn good song and WVU is lucky to have it. Imagine swaying to that jam in the middle of a game. Sounds pretty idyllic, doesn’t it? Cue goosebumps.


3. The Little Red Flag — Harvard University

Now, one of my good friends from high school (have I mentioned I loved high school yet?) and I hadn’t even heard of this tradition until today, but maybe that’s because she doesn’t like football that much. Anyway, it’s a cool tradition so I’m giving it a spot on my ultra-exclusive list.  Basically, the Little Red Flag — which was originally carried by a Harvard alum named Frederick Plummer — used to be passed down to the man who has seen the most number of Harvard-Yale games (I don’t have to explain that rivalry, do I?), but now it’s just given to the person who’s essentially the biggest fan. That guy gets to carry it on game day. (For a full list of the honorees, click here.)

4. Slapping the Sign — Notre Dame


I saw Rudy for the first time when I was eight and bawled my eyes out. Yeah, I know, that’s not saying much, but I’m not a crier, so it kind of is. Sure, I cried at the end of every single Harry Potter novel — not the movies; give me a break — but I didn’t cry when I graduated high school (wait, have we gone over high school already?), so that’s saying something. Anyway, Notre Dame’s tradition of slapping the sign comes in second in my book. It’s simple,  poignant and, heck, it’s just great. 

5. The Victors — University of Michigan

Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesI told you from the beginning I was biased, but that doesn’t mean Michigan’s fight song isn’t the best tradition out there, because it is. You absolutely cannot beat the feeling of yelling (singing?) that song at the top of your lungs surrounded by a sea of Maize and Blue (and by sea, I mean sea, because our stadium fits more than 100,000 people). And, just because everyone should know it:

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan,
The champions of the West!

Let’s just end with that.

What’s your favorite college football tradition?