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Best College Football Traditions, Trivia, Rivalries & History -- Part II

Posted by Rae Lynn on 10/6/2014 to Football & Tailgating
University of Nebraska
  • Nicknames: Cornhuskers, Huskers, Bugeaters 
  • Mascot
    • Herbie Husker, the team’s burly, rugged cartoon character who sports a winning smile and cowboy hat in recognition of the state’s agricultural traditions has been the team mascot from 1974. 
    • He is joined by Lil’ Red, a cheerful, offbeat inflatable fellow who is an inductee into the Mascot Hall of Fame. 
  • Colors: Scarlet & Cream 
  • Traditions
    • The “Blackshirts” refers to the Nebraska football team’s fearsome defense unit, in honor of the tradition of honoring starters by issuing them custom black jerseys. 
    • After the first touchdown, Husker fans release hundreds of red victory balloons into the sky. 
    • Win or lose, Nebraska fans stay classy and applaud visiting team in appreciation of a game well played. 
    • The stands are an imposing sea of scarlet as fans have always widely sported spirit clothes on game day. 
    • The team parades into the stadium in the highly produced “Tunnel Walk,” featuring the Alan Parson’s Project tune “Sirius” as fans erupt into the... 
    • “Husker!” power chant, listen here
  • Fight songs
    • Hail Varsity; listen here.
    • The Band Song
    • Dear Old Nebraska U (“There’s No Place Like Nebraska”)
    • March of the Cornhuskers
    • The Cornhuskers
  • Rivalries
    • Nebraska’s main rivals are the Oklahoma Sooners. 
    • Other rivals include Missouri with whom they compete for the Victory Bell trophy.
    • The Black Friday game against Iowa, in which the Heroes Trophy is at stake. 
  • History: The Nebraska football team has played for 124 years and 1,262 games and hopes to continue to grow a lasting tradition of success in the Big Ten Conference in 2014. More details here
University of North Carolina
  • Nicknames: Tar Heels, The Heels, Carolina, UNC 
  • Mascot
    • Rameses, the bighorn ram is represented as a live Dorset sheep with horns painted Carolina blue
    • A fierce but lovable anthropomorphic costumed Ram mascot
    • Legend has it that the mascot stems from the nickname of the 1922 star running back Jack “The Battering Ram” Merritt
  • Colors: Carolina Blue & White 
  • Traditions
    • Chapel Hill bears the nickname, “Southern part of Heaven” because of its striking setting and historic architecture. 
    • The fire trucks in Chapel Hill are all Carolina blue. 
  • Fight songs
    • I’m a Tar Heel Born
    • Here Comes Carolina; listen here.
  • Rivalries
    • The Tar Heels battle it out with Duke for the Victory Bell, a game in which results in the winning team painting the bell in their school’s hue of blue. 
    • UNC is part of the South’s Oldest Rivalry, having won most of the 116 games (and counting) against the Virginia Cavaliers. 
    • The NC State Wolfpack, East Carolina Pirates, and Wake Forest Demon Deacons also make for exciting local showdowns. 
  • History
    • The history of the Tar Heels name is a murky one; so in the absence of fact, legends abound. One story hails back to the Revolutionary War, as the British troops crossed a river loaded with tar as a defensive tactic, they were said to have observed that if you waded in North Carolina rivers, you would get tar on your heels. 
    • Another story comes from the Civil War, where soldiers threatened to stick tar on the heels of deserters to help them stay in the battle. General Robert E. Lee is said to have commented “God bless the Tar Heel boys!” 
    • Whatever the reason for the moniker, students and sports teams have long worn it with pride. More details here.
University of Oklahoma 
  • Nicknames: Sooners, OU 
  • Mascot
    • The Sooner Schooner is a covered wagon pulled by a pair of white ponies named Boomer and Sooner and is manned by the Ruf/Neks, the school’s all male spirit squad. 
    • Costumed, anthropomorphic “ponies” accompany the team to away games, also name Boomer (with blue eyes) and Sooner (with brown eyes). 
  • Colors: Crimson & Cream 
  • Traditions
    • The Sooner Schooner makes a victory lap on the home field after every OU score. The entourage hearkens back to the history of frontiersmen who first came across the Oklahoma plains to establish homesteads. 
    • The OU Chant “Boomer! Sooner!” is accompanied by fans raising an index finger in unity. 
  • Fight song: Boomer Sooner, listen here.
  • Rivalries
    • The most involved rivalry is played out in the Bedlam Series between OU and the Oklahoma State Cowboys, spanning many athletic departments including football. 
    • The Red River Shootout refers to the Cotton Bowl game played between OU and their rival, the Texas Longhorns. 
    • The Sooners also relish winning over their traditional rivals, the Nebraska Cornhuskers whose Thanksgiving Day historical match-ups have cooled with changes in the conferences. 
  • History
    • The Sooner is an "energetic individual who travels ahead of the human procession." He is prosperous, ambitious, competent, a "can-do" individual. 
    • And, Oklahoma is the Sooner State, the land of opportunity, enterprise and economic expansion populated by visionaries in the “Oklahoma Land Run” of 1889. More details here.
Texas A&M University
  • Nicknames: Aggies, TAMU, A&M 
  • Mascot
    • Revielle VIII is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadet, with the title Cadet General and is a purebred Rough Collie. She must be addressed as “Miss Revielle, ma’am” by her inferiors, and accompanies her handlers everywhere, even to classes. 
    • Ol’ Sarge is also associated with the Aggies, but is only represented as a cartoon drill sergeant logo. 
  • Colors: Maroon & White 
  • Traditions
    • “Howdy!” is the official TAMU greeting between students as an extension of the Aggie Spirit
    • "Gig ‘em” is a popular phrase used in place of “goodbye.” 
    • Fans are referred to as the “12th Man” in recognition of their enthusiastic support, and symbolized by a walk-on player wearing a #12 jersey who participates in kick-offs. 
    • Whereas other teams are lead in cheers by cheerleaders, the Aggies Yell is in response to historically male Yell Leaders, and participate in the Midnight Yell on the night before each home game. 
    • The Aggies also have a perfect record of never losing a game, even though they are sometimes “outscored” or “run out of time” to make the win official. 
    • The Student Bonfire carries on the tradition of lighting extraordinarily large fires before the TAMU-UT Austin game symbolizing their desire to “burn the hell outta Texas.” 
  • War Hymn: The Aggie War Hymn (no official “Fight Song”), listen here.
  • Rivalries
    • The University of Texas was historically the Aggies’ biggest rival, which stoked the bonfire tradition the night before the final football match-up in the Lone Star Showdown series with the Lone Star Trophy at stake. 
    • However, the rivalry ended in 2012 when the teams shifted conferences. Currently, the LSU Tigers, Arkansas Razorbacks, and Missouri Tigers represent the Aggies’ main rivals. 
  • History
    • The TAMU culture was originally instilled by the strong agricultural and military traditions of "the idealized elements of a small-town life: community, tradition, loyalty, optimism, and unabashed sentimentality." 
    • That tradition can still be seen in the uniformed Corps of Cadets called “Keepers of the Spirit” and "Guardians of Tradition." 
Texas Tech University
  • Nicknames: Red Raiders, Texas Tech, TTU 
  • Mascot
    • The Masked Rider, garbed in black with a brilliant scarlet cape rides a live horse at home games
    • Raider Red is the un-mounted sharp-shooting cartoon cowboy mascot
  • Colors: Scarlet & Black 
  • Traditions
    • The Saddle Tramps are TTU’s all-male athletic booster club, carrying on many game-day traditions. 
      • They help rouse school spirit by “painting the campus red,” wrapping the Will Rogers & Soapsuds statue in bright scarlet crepe streamers extending across campus before big home games. 
      • They lead the crowd in chanting “Go, Fight, Win,” generating excitement in their signature Bell Circle formation. 
    • Bangin’ Bertha, the old railroad bell, sounds the precursor to victory from atop a trailer hauled to every home game. 
    • A Red Raider “Guns Up” greeting, pointing the index finger to the sky and thumb toward the heart, also indicates unity among fans for victory on the field. 
    • The peals of the Victory Bells ring for 30 minutes after every Red Raiders varsity team win. 
  • Fight song: Fight Raiders, Fight; listen here.
  • Rivalries
  • The Texas Longhorns are one of TTU’s major rivals; the match-up rewards the winner with the Chancellor’s Spurs trophy, engraved with decorative silver and gold logos of each team. 
  • Texas A&M has been a long-time TTU rival, but their recent departure from the Big 12 conference has called the tradition into question. 
  • But, Texas Christian University has moved into position as a Big 12 rival, renewing the tradition in 2012. 
  • The Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor University are also on TTU’s rivalry shortlist. 
  • History: As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Texas Tech began competing in the Big 12 Conference in 1996 after a 35-year membership in the former Southwest Conference. More details here.
University of Virginia
  • Nicknames: Cavaliers, Wahoos, Hoos, V-man, Virginians, Old Dominion 
  • Mascot
    • CavMan is the cartoon-faced, costumed Virginia mascot who bounces around the sidelines during the game performing athletic antics to rev up the crowd, and also chats up fans all over town on home games
    • Lil ‘Hoo was the inflatable mascot that has since retired due to machinery malfunctions
    • A live Cavalier in costume mounted on his horse named “Little Woman” is beloved by kids and adult fans alike. More details here.
  • Colors: Navy Blue & Orange 
  • Traditions
    • The traditional battle cry of “Wah-hoo-wah!” carrying the charge forward gave rise to their widely used but unofficial nicknames, Wahoo & ‘Hoos. 
    • Until recently, fans dressed up to cheer their team on. Men were expected to wear coat and ties while women wore sundresses, and this is still the preference of many. 
    • However, in 2003 the school urged fans to wear orange t-shirts, creating an impression of visually unified support. 
  • Fight song: The Cavalier Song, hear it here.
  • Rivalries
    • Virginia is a contender in the Commonwealth Cup against Virginia Tech, a marble & cherry wood trophy featuring the games and scores of every historic game. 
    • The Cavaliers are also part of the South’s Oldest Rivalry with the North Carolina Tar Heels, and the teams have played annually since 1919 totalling 118 games. 
    • The Cavaliers have another historic rivalry with the Maryland Terrapins, having met a total of 78 times on the field in competition for the Tydings Trophy. 
  • History: The Cavalier mascot is a historical reference to when Virginia was known as the "Old Dominion,” loyal to the English crown. English loyalists were known as “cavaliers” in the English Civil War and Interregnum. 
Virginia Tech University
  • Nicknames: Hokies, Virginia Tech, Fighting Gobblers 
  • Mascot: The anthropomorphic, turkey-like bird mascot of Virginia Tech is named HokieBird, and is a combination of the older “Gobbler” tradition, utilizing a live turkey mascot, and newer efforts to rebrand the school as the Hokies. 
  • Colors: Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange 
  • Traditions
    • The Skipper Cannon is fired when the home team takes the field, and again every time they score. 
    • The Flaming VT is carried for pep rallies to “fire up” support during home games, given in thunderous fashion through the “Old Hokie” spirit yell. 
  • Fight song: Tech Triumph, listen here.
  • Rivalries
    • The “Military Classic of the South” notwithstanding, the biggest rivals of VA Tech include the Virginia Cavaliers in the Commonwealth Clash. 
    • The Miami Hurricanes are a newer rival, as the traditional battle with the West Virginia Mountaineers has been on hiatus since 2005. 
  • History
    • According to the originator of the “Old Hokie” cheer, the word “Hokie” is a non-sensical, made-up word used to attract attention. 
    • One legend claims the older moniker of “Gobblers” was coined in the early 1900s as a description of how student athletes would "gobble" up their more than ample servings of food. 
    • Another attributes it to the formation of the “Gobbler Club” in 1909, intended to stimulate better spirit among athletic teams. More details here.
West Virginia University
  • Nicknames: Mountaineers, WVU 
  • Mascot: The Mountaineer, a male student selected annually and rewarded with a scholarship as well as a costume, which includes a period rifle and powder horn. 
  • Colors: Old Gold and Blue, from the state seal 
  • Traditions
    • The Mountaineer opens the game by firing a blank into the air, and again each time the team scores. 
    • The home crowd competes with itself during games in the “Let’s Go….Mountaineers” call and response cheer, often continuing for sustained periods of time to keep their side from fading. 
    • The "WVU First Down" cheer is used when fans are expecting a first down call during a football game. 
      • Prior to the announcement, fans put their arms in the air and yell while waiting for the call. 
      • After the announcement, the fans lower and raise their arms three times while simultaneously yelling the initials "WVU". 
      • Then, fans clap and signal to the end zone while cheering "first down!" 
    • A similar cheer accompanies third down attempts. 
    • Fans also dress in specially-designed gold t-shirts to symbolize their support in what is known as the “Gold Rush,” as well as benefiting the United Way charity. 
    • WVU students and fans line the path to create a tunnel-like effect for the passing team members during the Mountaineer Mantrip pregame tradition. When the team reaches the east end of Mountaineer Field, they stop to rub a 350-pound chunk of coal. 
  • Fight songs: “Fight, Mountaineers” and “Hail, West Virginia,” listen to Fight, Mountaineers here
  • Rivalries
    • WVU competes in the Backyard Brawl with the Pitt Panthers in an intense, intrastate rivalry. 
    • Syracuse Orange has also been a rival contender, although recent shifts in the conferences have altered the dynamics. 
    • The Maryland Terrapins serve as their out-of-state rivals, having clashed on the field since 1919. 
    • The historical rivalry between the Mountaineers and the Hokies is set to renew in 2017 at a neutral game site, with future plans to reinstate the rivalry. 
    • Another future rivalry will include the Penn State Nittany Lions, whose one-sided rivalry has been dormant since the early 1990s. 
  • History: Due to Mountaineer Field's capacity and the relatively smaller populations of West Virginia's largest cities, it has been suggested that Morgantown becomes the largest "city" in the state on game days due to the influx of spectators at the stadium; the largest crowd reached 70,222 for the game on November 20, 1993. 

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