The SEC's under-the-radar game day traditions
Last week, Auburn planted new oak trees at Toomer’s Corner, restoring one of the greatest traditions in all of college football: the rolling of the oaks. After Auburn wins, fans can now return to oaks to paper the trees and create one of the most unique scenes in the country.
Bringing back the oaks got us thinking about the other remarkable traditions in the SEC, ones that fly under the radar in a world filled with pageantry. Everyone knows about the Toomer’s oaks, Texas A&M’s Midnight Yell and the all-day parties that rage on the Grove at Ole Miss. What are some of the traditions you may not have seen before? Let us know your favorite in the comments.
Auburn: Tiger Walk
You see it all around college football now: instead of hopping off the bus and walking straight into the locker room, college football teams walk through a crowd of fans, doling out high fives, autographs and selfies as they walk to the stadium. You can trace that tradition back to the SEC, specifically to Auburn. The tradition started back in the 1960s when, according to the school’s website, kids would greet the team and ask for autographs. Since then, it’s grown into a weekly rite that includes 20,000 fans lining the streets to cheer the team into Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Mississippi State: The cowbells
Bulldogs fans and their cowbell ringing rose to national stardom alongside the team in 2014. Opposing coaches and fans have long talked about how the noise can make life difficult on the field. The cowbells became so notorious in 2014 that the Orange Bowl had serious deliberations about whether it would allow MSU fans to bring them into the stadium with them (they eventually allowed them). Even the school isn’t quite sure how the tradition got started, but one legend is that a cow wandered onto the field during a Bulldogs win over Ole Miss.
South Carolina: 2001
Game days in Columbia are a great experience, from walking past the Cockabooses to the recent addition blaring of Darude’s “Sandstorm” to get the crowd hyped up. The best of them, though, is the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” As the Gamecocks get ready to sprint onto the field, Cocky’s birdcage is rolled out to midfield. As the song reaches its climax, the drapes around the birdcage drop, with the mascot going absolutely nuts as smoke shoots out of the cage and the team sprints onto the field.
Vanderbilt: The Admiral
Vanderbilt is a bit of an afterthought in the scope of SEC football, especially in 2014, but the Commodores have one of the most unique traditions in the conference. Back in the 1990s, a fan was sitting in the stands and remarked that Vanderbilt Stadium reminded him of a warship. That sparked an idea: get a warship’s foghorn for the stadium. The idea worked its way up the chain, and eventually the Commodores acquired a foghorn from a decommissioned U.S. naval vessel. Now, Naval ROTC members blare the horn every time the Commodores punch in a touchdown at home.