Matt Moore, Southern Eats & Drinks Expert
As I sit here basking in the most recent UGA win over Notre Dame while enjoying my current favorite cocktail, a Dixie Traveler (recipe below), I can’t help but think about all the amazing college football traditions around the South and beyond. Although I’m a biased Dawgs fan, my personal favorite tradition is heading to North Campus after a win to ring the Chapel Bell, letting the sound of victory resonate throughout campus and downtown — glory, glory to ole’ Georgia!
One of the great things about college football traditions is even if your team isn’t on a winning streak, one thing you can always celebrate is tradition.
Sure, Alabama might be on a roll ever since Nick Saban took the helm, but many of us remember the program from the mid-80s through the 90s… It’s safe to say dominance was not a term used to describe the Tide during those decades. Yet, Alabama fans relied on the memories of yore — a tradition of winning best fostered by coach Bear Bryant throughout the 60s and 70s.
But tradition is not always built on wins and losses.
Despite the fact that I’m a Georgia Bulldog, I do have to give credit to the University of Florida for one thing — and no, it’s not their team. After WWII, the Gators were off to a losing start in their 1949 season (something I would have cheered), so George Edmondson, a Navy Pilot, took matters into his own hands. Edmondson led a cheer adding up “bits” (an eighth of a dollar) to help engage the crowd:
“All for the Gators, stand up and holler!”
The Gators went on to win the game, and the tradition of “Mr. Two Bits” was created. Edmondson proudly led cheers stadium-wide up until his retirement in 2008.
Perhaps the most intimidating tradition, however, is Auburn’s flight of the War Eagle. Despite the fact that Auburn is known as the Tigers, “War Eagle” has been a battle cry and a greeting used by fans for nearly a century. In 2001, the university leveraged the tradition by allowing an untethered eagle fly over Jordan-Hare Stadium prior to the start of the game. I’ll tell you something — being a visitor to an Auburn game and having to face the usually mighty Tigers is always tough, but the booming noise of the crowd paired with the expert flight path from the eagle is something that can’t be understated. This is one of the coolest football traditions anywhere.
All that said, one should not confuse superstition with tradition. While both are entirely different, they can eventually meld into one. Such is the case with Clemson’s Sacred Stone, or Howard’s Rock. In the 60s, coach Frank Howard was gifted the stone by Samuel Jones after a drive through Death Valley, California (also the name of Clemson’s stadium). The rock was used by Howard as a door stop, until booster Gene Willimon preserved it in its current form — despite the fact Howard told him to “get it out of his office.” A comeback win over Virginia in 1966 was superstitiously credited to the rubbing of Howard’s Rock — and a new tradition was born. Since then, you can catch the players fervently rubbing the rock before taking off down the hill in the east end of the end zone at each home football game.
Of course, each and every school has their own unique traditions, from the UT Vol Navy to U of A’s Calling of the Hogs to the MSU Cowbell, which might or might not be your flavor. What are some of your favorites?
Dixie Peach Traveler
- 2.5 oz. Dixie Peach Vodka
Fill a solo cup 3/4 full with cubed ice. Add vodka. Enjoy!