Our Favorite College Football Traditions

University of Tennessee Stadium
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No matter if they date back a century or less than half as long, traditions allow us to form a bond with previous generations. Here are a few of our favorite, time honored ones in college football.

01 of 09

Eagle Flying at Auburn

Auburn's Bald Eagle Pre-Grame Flight
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Auburn's official mascot is a tiger, but their battle cry is "War Eagle!" Since 1960, a live golden eagle has lived on the Auburn campus, and every home game since 2000, an eagle flies high over Jordan Hare Stadium before landing on the turf while the fans chant "War Eagle."

02 of 09

Howard's Rock and Running Down the Hill at Clemson

Clemson Howard's Rock and Running to the Field
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Clemson coach Frank Howard didn't think much of the rock that now bares his name. The pinkish brown hunk of quartz was brought from Death Valley, California, and given as a gift to the coach in the 1960s. For nearly half a decade Howard merely used it as a doorstop in his office. One day, Howard instructed a Clemson booster to get rid of the rock but instead of tossing it, he placed it on a pedestal in the east end zone of the stadium. A tradition was soon born. Today, Clemson players gather at the top of the hill, rub the rock, and run onto the field. That is, only if they're willing "to give 110%, otherwise keep your filthy hands off it."

03 of 09

Lone Trumpeter at Georgia

University of Georgia Fans Pointing Towards the Lone Trumpeter Before the Game
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It's only 14 notes and takes less than ten seconds to play, but with 90-thousand plus fans quiet and pointing at you, being the lone trumpeter playing the Battle Hymn can be a bit overwhelming. When the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band takes the field at Sanford Stadium there is one trumpet player left behind in the southwest corner of the arena. Everyone gets very still and points to them until they're done. And that will be the last time for the next three hours Dawg Nation is quiet.

04 of 09

Cowbells at Mississippi State

Mississippi State Cowbells
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There may be debate among Bulldog students and alum about the most effective type of cowbell to ring, but there is no argument they are an integral part of the school's tradition. Fans in Starkville have been ringing them since the 1950s and although the SEC officially banned them for nearly 40 years, fans found a way around the rules until the conference finally relented. In 2010, they acknowledged that the cowbells were an important part of school history.

05 of 09

Yell Leaders at Texas A&M

Yell Leaders at Texas A&M
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Well over a hundred years ago, things weren't going so well for the home team during a game. The score was so horrid that the invited guests from Texas Women's University were quickly getting bored and threatening to leave. So, a few freshman A&M students started to lead the crowd in a series of yells and cheers– and a tradition was soon born. Today, five students are elected by their student body to be the school's official spirit organization. The Yell Leaders are dressed in pristine white outfits and lead Aggie fans in the school's traditional "Yells" during athletic events.

06 of 09

Mr. Two Bits at Florida

Ask a Florida fan who George Edmondson Jr. is and you might get a few blank stares. Ask those same fans if they know who Mr. Two Bits is and you will definitely get a smile and a nod. The long time "unofficial" cheerleader for the Gators passed away in 2019 at the age of 96 but his cheer is eternal. "Two Bits! Four Bits! Six Bits! A Dollar!... All for the Gators, stand up and holler!" Ironically, Mr. Two Bits, who cheered on the Gators at home games for 60 years, never attended Florida but was made an honorary alum and letter winner by the school. There is a scholarship in his name to benefit a Florida cheerleader every year.

07 of 09

The Smoke at Miami

Miami Team Entering the Field Through Cloud of Smoke
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Former Miami Hurricane legend Michael Irvin said running through the smoke gave him "superhuman strength." Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have similar feelings about the start of every Miami University home game. Five national championships later, you certainly can't argue with the results. The players sprint onto the field through this cloud-like entrance, which is actually created from fire extinguishers, and has been a tradition that was started over 60 years ago.

08 of 09

The Lunch Pail at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Lunch Pail
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If you saw it at a garage sale you probably wouldn't think it was worth very much. It's dented, rusted, and about 30 years old, but to any Virginia Tech football player it's priceless. The beat up lunch pail is given to the player who best exemplifies Virginia Tech's rough-and-tough defense and tireless work ethic. And it's just as cherished to the player as a Heisman Trophy or championship ring.

09 of 09

Checkerboard End Zones at Tennessee

Checkerboard End Zone at Tennessee
Sheila Hanus/Replay Photos via Getty Images

They might be the most famous end zones in all of college football. The distinctive orange and white checkerboard design at Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee was inspired by a building not far from the stadium. Ayers Hall, a building on the Knoxville campus, had a very unique checkerboard design on the top that was clearly visible from the football field. Coach Neyland would often tell the Volunteers to "run to the checkerboard" during practice, which became a motivational tactic for the coach. In 1989 the squares became a permanent part of the end zones, and many UT players have followed the coach's orders every fall Saturday, much to the delight of over 100,000 orange and white clad fans.

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