The Times West Virginian

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September 6, 2013

10 of our favorite college football traditions

With college football season in full swing, we've compiled a list of our favorite traditions that make autumn Saturday afternoons our favorite time of the year.

1. Script Ohio

The signature formation of The Ohio State University Marching Band -- in which marchers spell out "Ohio" in looping cursive -- is performed before or at halftime of home games. It was first performed by the band on Oct. 24, 1936, during the game against Indiana University. Each time the formation is formed, a fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player is chosen to stand as the dot in the "i" of "Ohio." Only a handful of non-band members have had the honor of "dotting the i." It is considered the greatest honor the band can bestow on any non-member.

2. The 12th man

This tradition stems from the story of E. King Gill, a Texas A&M student who emerged from the stands to take the place of an injured player in a game against Centre College in 1922. Current Texas A&M students call themselves the "12th Man" and stand throughout the game at Kyle Field to support the Aggies.

3. Howard's Rock

First given to then-coach Frank Howard by a friend in the early 1960s, the rock was mounted on a pedestal and placed at the top of the hill behind the east end zone at Clemson's Memorial Stadium in September 1966. The first time the team passed the rock on its way to the field, the Tigers beat Virginia 40-35. Howard, realizing the motivational potential of "The Rock," told his players, "Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off my rock." The team began rubbing the rock as part of its entrance for the first game of the 1967 season.

 

4. Ralphie's Run

Ralphie the Buffalo, the live mascot of the University of Colorado, is often mistakenly labeled a male. Handled by a team of varsity student-athletes, she runs around Folsom Field in a horseshoe pattern before each half of each home game, sometimes reaching speeds of 25 miles per hour.

 

5. The Sooner Schooner

Pulled by two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, the scaled-down replica of the Conestoga wagon used by settlers of the Oklahoma Territory is a fixture at University of Oklahoma home games. It's driven onto the field in an arc nearly reaching the 50-yard line after each Sooner score.

 

6. The Gator Chomp

The well-known gesture made by Florida fans originated in 1981. It's frequently accompanied at homes games by the university's marching band playing the two-note theme from the movie "Jaws."

 

7. Chief Osceola and his flaming spear

One of the most indelible pregame rituals involves Florida State's Chief Osceola riding to midfield on his Appaloosa horse, Renegade, and plunging a flaming spear into the grass. The mascot debuted in 1978, and his portrayal remains controversial in some quarters, although it's supported by leaders in the Seminole tribe of Florida.

8. UGA

Arguably the most famous live mascot in college football, UGA is beloved by the University of Georgia's fan base. Since the mascot's introduction in 1956, there have been nine UGAs.

9. Saturday Night in Death Valley

For more than a quarter century, Dan Borne' has contributed to one of the most colorful atmospheres in all of college football. As the public address announcer at Tiger Stadium, Borne' is perhaps best known for coining the famous forecast for LSU home games: "Chance of rain -- never!"

10. The Army-Navy game

The Army-Navy game is about much more than football. First played in 1890, it's one of the sport's most enduring rivalries. From the cadets marching solemnly into the stadium to the alma maters of both teams being played at the game's conclusion, the pageantry surrounding this game is part of what makes college football special.

Information compiled from Wikipedia and the universities' websites.

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