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Published: June 25, 2015 at 12:23 p.m.
Updated: June 25, 2015 at 01:26 p.m.

15 for '15: College football's best traditions

» Complete 15 for '15 series

You'll note two categorical absences in CFB 24/7's look at 15 of the best game-day traditions. No live animals and no hand gestures. While Georgia's long line of Bulldogs named UGA and the history behind Texas A&M's Reveille have their place in college football lore, live mascots are everywhere -- from Texas to Colorado to Tennessee to LSU -- and distinguishing which are the best is folly. Ditto on splitting hairs between the traditional fan gestures: Florida's Gator Chomp, Texas' Hook 'Em Horns, FSU's Tomahawk Chop, et al. So with those ground rules set, here are 15 of the finest traditions -- some more well-known than others -- in the college game.

15 Photos Total

  • Charter Hill, on the east side of California Memorial Stadium, is also known as Tightwad Hill. It is so named because Cal fans can catch a fine view of the game from the hill without buying a ticket, and the hill's supporters once <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/04/sports/ncaafootball/04tightwad.html?_r=0" target="new">successfully fought the school's plans</a> to obstruct the view with a stadium renovation. If you like a long history with your traditions, this one's been around for 92 years. 15

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    15. Cal: Tightwad Hill

    Charter Hill, on the east side of California Memorial Stadium, is also known as Tightwad Hill. It is so named because Cal fans can catch a fine view of the game from the hill without buying a ticket, and the hill's supporters once successfully fought the school's plans to obstruct the view with a stadium renovation. If you like a long history with your traditions, this one's been around for 92 years.

  • Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry, who majored in psychology, believed the color pink <a href="http://www.ncaa.com/video/football/2014-09-12/traditions-iowa-pink-visiting-locker-room" target="new">had a calming effect on people</a>. As such, he had the Kinnick Stadium visiting locker room painted pink. Legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler supposedly hated the ploy so much, he had his staff cover the walls with paper when the Wolverines came to town. Long after Fry's departure, a stadium renovation extended the color to other visiting quarters, including the bathrooms and elsewhere. Amid protests that the Hawkeyes' use of the color is sexist, the tradition remains. 14

    Iowa Athletic Communications

    14. Iowa: Pink visiting locker room

    Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry, who majored in psychology, believed the color pink had a calming effect on people. As such, he had the Kinnick Stadium visiting locker room painted pink. Legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler supposedly hated the ploy so much, he had his staff cover the walls with paper when the Wolverines came to town. Long after Fry's departure, a stadium renovation extended the color to other visiting quarters, including the bathrooms and elsewhere. Amid protests that the Hawkeyes' use of the color is sexist, the tradition remains.

  • For 93 years, the Purdue marching band's lasting symbol has been the Purdue Big Bass Drum, which the school claims is <a href="http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/purduetoday/didyouknow/2013/Q3/did-you-know-purdues-big-bass-drum.html" target="new">the world's largest freestanding bass drum</a>. Every member of the drum crew during the drum's near-century of service time has signed the inside of the shell. One famous Boilermaker who's <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6LM0rwIJ3U" target="new">had the honor of striking it</a>: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. 13

    Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

    13. Purdue: Big Bass Drum

    For 93 years, the Purdue marching band's lasting symbol has been the Purdue Big Bass Drum, which the school claims is the world's largest freestanding bass drum. Every member of the drum crew during the drum's near-century of service time has signed the inside of the shell. One famous Boilermaker who's had the honor of striking it: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

  • Fighting traffic to get to a campus football game is never easy, but at Tennessee, the roadways jam up worse than most. But if you've got a boat in the Vol Navy, no worries. Just cruise down the Tennessee River and dock your boat beside the stadium. They've been doing it for 62 years, and now as many as 200 boats <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CrMCWaV-ps" target="new">avoid the traffic in style</a> -- on the water. 12

    Randy Sartin/USA TODAY Sports

    12. Tennessee: The Vol Navy

    Fighting traffic to get to a campus football game is never easy, but at Tennessee, the roadways jam up worse than most. But if you've got a boat in the Vol Navy, no worries. Just cruise down the Tennessee River and dock your boat beside the stadium. They've been doing it for 62 years, and now as many as 200 boats avoid the traffic in style -- on the water.

  • The Cornhuskers first-team defense has been known as the Blackshirts since Bob Devaney coached the team in 1964 and sought an easy way to differentiate between the offense and defense at practice. Soon enough, they <a href="http://www.huskers.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=4435" target="new">became a point of pride</a>. The way the Nebraska defense played under former coach Bo Pelini, the Blackshirts tradition took a beating on the field, not to mention Pelini changed the way they were distributed. But real traditions can withstand tests, and at some point, Nebraska's defense will be feared again -- because it's Nebraska. When that day comes, the Blackshirts will be more punch than punchline. 11

    Kelly Mosier/University of Nebraska Athletics

    11. Nebraska: Blackshirts

    The Cornhuskers first-team defense has been known as the Blackshirts since Bob Devaney coached the team in 1964 and sought an easy way to differentiate between the offense and defense at practice. Soon enough, they became a point of pride. The way the Nebraska defense played under former coach Bo Pelini, the Blackshirts tradition took a beating on the field, not to mention Pelini changed the way they were distributed. But real traditions can withstand tests, and at some point, Nebraska's defense will be feared again -- because it's Nebraska. When that day comes, the Blackshirts will be more punch than punchline.

  • If you can get an 85-year-old car to look like a million dollars and keep it in driving condition, as the fight song says, you're "a hell of an engineer." The restored 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe has been leading the Yellow Jackets onto the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium <a href="http://www.ramblinwreck.com/trads/geot-trads.html" target="new">for the last 54 years</a>. 10

    John Amis/Associated Press

    10. Georgia Tech: Ramblin' Wreck

    If you can get an 85-year-old car to look like a million dollars and keep it in driving condition, as the fight song says, you're "a hell of an engineer." The restored 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe has been leading the Yellow Jackets onto the field at Bobby Dodd Stadium for the last 54 years.

  • Miami football didn't take college football by storm until Howard Schnellenberger brought the program its first national title in 1983, but the team has been running through smoke at the entrance tunnel of home games since the 1950s. The idea came from a former UM employee named Bob Nalette, <a href="http://welcome.miami.edu/about-um/traditions/index.html" target="new">who used fire extinguishers to create the effect</a>. Since then, some of college football's greatest players have emerged from the haze. 9

    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    9. Miami: Smoke tunnel entrance

    Miami football didn't take college football by storm until Howard Schnellenberger brought the program its first national title in 1983, but the team has been running through smoke at the entrance tunnel of home games since the 1950s. The idea came from a former UM employee named Bob Nalette, who used fire extinguishers to create the effect. Since then, some of college football's greatest players have emerged from the haze.

  • There are plenty of college football venues where the tailgating scene is a tradition in and of itself. But if a book were written on them, <a href="http://hottytoddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/OleMissGrove4.jpg" target="new">the Grove would be chapter one</a>. The fan base is wired to have a good time regardless of the scoreboard, the mantra is that Ole Miss "never loses a party," and <a href="https://vimeo.com/49557405" target="new">the setup begins on Friday</a>. What might set the Grove apart, however, is the way visiting fans are treated. Every fan base has its unruly members, but the hospitality extended to visitors in the Grove is three cuts above what it is on most campuses. 8

    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    8. Ole Miss: The Grove

    There are plenty of college football venues where the tailgating scene is a tradition in and of itself. But if a book were written on them, the Grove would be chapter one. The fan base is wired to have a good time regardless of the scoreboard, the mantra is that Ole Miss "never loses a party," and the setup begins on Friday. What might set the Grove apart, however, is the way visiting fans are treated. Every fan base has its unruly members, but the hospitality extended to visitors in the Grove is three cuts above what it is on most campuses.

  • Nowhere else can one see more toilet paper in a single glance than on the oak trees at the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue following an Auburn victory. The bigger the win, the more determined students are to fill the trees. The Auburn official web site <a href="http://www.auburntigers.com/trads/13_auburn_rolling_toomers.html" target="new">cites a couple of origins</a> for the tradition, one of which, naturally, stems from a win over archrival Alabama. The tradition is currently on hiatus as newly planted oaks, replacing the original trees that were poisoned by an Alabama fan, take root. 7

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    7. Auburn: Rolling Toomer's Corner

    Nowhere else can one see more toilet paper in a single glance than on the oak trees at the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue following an Auburn victory. The bigger the win, the more determined students are to fill the trees. The Auburn official web site cites a couple of origins for the tradition, one of which, naturally, stems from a win over archrival Alabama. The tradition is currently on hiatus as newly planted oaks, replacing the original trees that were poisoned by an Alabama fan, take root.

  • The replica <a href="http://www.history.com/topics/conestoga-wagon" target="new">Conestoga wagon</a> is <a href="http://www.soonersports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208806111" target="new">emblematic of OU athletics</a>. After touchdowns at home games, the wagon, pulled by white ponies, takes a quick spin across the field at Memorial Stadium. It was famously (or, perhaps, infamously) <a href="http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1985-01-02/sports/8501010032_1_sooners-field-orange-bowl-oklahoma-sooners" target="new">penalized 15 yards</a> in the 1985 Orange Bowl for unsportsmanlike conduct, reportedly because game officials didn't approve its use prior to the game. The tradition of the schooner is 51 years old and is maintained by the school's spirit squad. 6

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    6. Oklahoma: Sooner Schooner

    The replica Conestoga wagon is emblematic of OU athletics. After touchdowns at home games, the wagon, pulled by white ponies, takes a quick spin across the field at Memorial Stadium. It was famously (or, perhaps, infamously) penalized 15 yards in the 1985 Orange Bowl for unsportsmanlike conduct, reportedly because game officials didn't approve its use prior to the game. The tradition of the schooner is 51 years old and is maintained by the school's spirit squad.

  • The <a href="http://www.nfl.com/photos/0ap2000000292778" target="new">fabled Army-Navy game</a> carries one of the game's great pregame rituals in the March On, when Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PItY60aIYw" target="new">march on the field</a> several hours prior to the game. One of the oldest rivalries in sports has plenty of fine traditions, including the running of the game ball by the Navy's 13th company from Annapolis, Md., to the game field, but the March On is the most enduring and recognizable of them all. 5

    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    5. Army-Navy: March On

    The fabled Army-Navy game carries one of the game's great pregame rituals in the March On, when Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen march on the field several hours prior to the game. One of the oldest rivalries in sports has plenty of fine traditions, including the running of the game ball by the Navy's 13th company from Annapolis, Md., to the game field, but the March On is the most enduring and recognizable of them all.

  • In 1962, FSU began the tradition of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/sports/ncaafootball/at-florida-state-major-victories-dont-fade-away.html?_r=0" target="new">removing a chunk of sod</a> from the field where the Seminoles scored an upset win on the road following an 18-0 win at Georgia. The chunk was returned to FSU and <a href="http://gamedayrcom.c.presscdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/new-fsu-sod-cemetery.jpg" target="new">buried here</a>. The tradition really took flight in the early years of the Bobby Bowden era, when the coach decided to fearlessly travel to college football's toughest venues to test his team and gain exposure for the then-independent program. The pinnacle schedule for that motive was 1981, when FSU played more road games (6) than home games (5), including five straight away from home, traveling to Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida, and a Pittsburgh squad featuring Dan Marino. Sod came home from half of those venues (OSU, ND, LSU). 4

    Phil G. Sears/Associated Press

    4. Florida State: Sod cemetery

    In 1962, FSU began the tradition of removing a chunk of sod from the field where the Seminoles scored an upset win on the road following an 18-0 win at Georgia. The chunk was returned to FSU and buried here. The tradition really took flight in the early years of the Bobby Bowden era, when the coach decided to fearlessly travel to college football's toughest venues to test his team and gain exposure for the then-independent program. The pinnacle schedule for that motive was 1981, when FSU played more road games (6) than home games (5), including five straight away from home, traveling to Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida, and a Pittsburgh squad featuring Dan Marino. Sod came home from half of those venues (OSU, ND, LSU).

  • The rock is named for former Clemson coach Frank Howard, who in 1967 told his Tigers that rubbing the rock was a privilege. Today, as players run down "The Hill" from the east end of the stadium prior to home games, they <a href="http://www.clemson.edu/about/traditions.html" target="new">touch the rock for good luck</a>. The rock came from Death Valley, Calif., and was given to Howard as a gift, and thus Memorial Stadium took on the same name. 3

    Richard Shiro/Associated press

    3. Clemson: Howard's Rock

    The rock is named for former Clemson coach Frank Howard, who in 1967 told his Tigers that rubbing the rock was a privilege. Today, as players run down "The Hill" from the east end of the stadium prior to home games, they touch the rock for good luck. The rock came from Death Valley, Calif., and was given to Howard as a gift, and thus Memorial Stadium took on the same name.

  • Nowhere else in the world is a sousaphone player so much the center of attention. A sousaphone player typically dots the "I" when OSU's marching band creates the script "Ohio" at Buckeyes home games, but honorary dotters have included the late Bob Hope, golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former heavyweight boxing champ Buster Douglas. It was <a href="https://osumarchingband.com/osumb/traditions/" target="new">first performed in 1936</a>. 2

    Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

    2. Ohio State: Dotting the I

    Nowhere else in the world is a sousaphone player so much the center of attention. A sousaphone player typically dots the "I" when OSU's marching band creates the script "Ohio" at Buckeyes home games, but honorary dotters have included the late Bob Hope, golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former heavyweight boxing champ Buster Douglas. It was first performed in 1936.

  • At midnight at Kyle Field the night before TAMU home games, and at a designated place in the opponent's city before road games, "yell leaders" <a href="http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/team/midnight.html" target="new">lead the Texas A&M band and fans</a> in various cheers and the school fight song. When it ends, the lights go out and Texas A&M men kiss their dates. It's a practice that goes back to 1931. The size of the crowds that gather for the Midnight Yell <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DBjchjo5A8" target="new">can only be described as insane</a>. 1

    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    1. Texas A&M: Midnight Yell

    At midnight at Kyle Field the night before TAMU home games, and at a designated place in the opponent's city before road games, "yell leaders" lead the Texas A&M band and fans in various cheers and the school fight song. When it ends, the lights go out and Texas A&M men kiss their dates. It's a practice that goes back to 1931. The size of the crowds that gather for the Midnight Yell can only be described as insane.