On the Approaching Traditions

NOTE: This post is about college football in the U.S., but there is something here for everyone!

Saying that college football is big in the U.S. is an understatement. Not only is it popular, it is also big business – actually ginormous! Nonetheless, with the 2012 season starting toward the end of this month, fan excitement is building.

I like the traditions of college football – and oh my, there are many – but one post cannot capture them all. Much like politics, one’s favorite traditions stems from their loyalties. Simply put, here are some of my favorites.

Colleges have their collection of spirit songs, fight songs, and alma maters. Here’s mine – a song that I played many times in my time as a member of the BGSU Falcon Marching Band – Forward Falcons. (Yes, that’s me on the album cover here.) BTW – Here’s a site where one can find a plethora of college spirit songs.

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From the Michigan’s “Big House” hosting 110,000 to the small stadium holding 4,000, fans file into colossal venues across the land to watch their gladiators. One of my favorite venues is also one of the oldest in college football. Nippert Stadium , located in the center of campus at the University of Cincinnati, is a cozy place with great site lines for fans. Given a full house and a raucous crowd, it’s a tough place for opponents. (My past post on Nippert) The band racing down the old concrete steps is always a risky venture, but a traditional pre-game entrance.

More on Nippert

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Avid fans help create an atmosphere that seems unique to college football. Some say that game day in Madison is the place to be because those fans know how to have a good time while intensely supporting their Wisconsin Badgers. I’ve been there once, and what an experience – and witnessing their eruption in song was both a surprise and a treat!

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Teams have nicknames (my past post) and mascots, such as Herbie Husker, Bucky Badger, Freddie Falcon, Puddles the Duck, Tommy Trojan, Benny Beaver, Buster Bronco, or single names as Smoky, Cocky, Testudo, just simply The Bearcat … animals as Bevo (longhorn steer), Uga (bulldog), Ralphie (Buffalo), Tusk (bore hog), Traveler (horse), and many more.

Before you get to the video, here are a few other links about mascots: Wikipedia list of mascot names , a photo gallery of mascots , a video of bad mascots, and my post on nicknames. Meanwhile, I gotta love this short video about Puddles, the Oregon Duck.

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As the home team finally enters the field shorting before kickoff, fans erupt! I’ve never been to Clemson University, but someday I want to be in the stands as their Tigers enter the famed field known as Death Valley.

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Pregame and halftime is for the college bands, which add to the atmosphere and have historic traditions of their own. I may live in Ohio, but that does not mean I root for Ohio State. Nonetheless, as a former band member, I respect their long-standing tradition of Script Ohio.

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Meanwhile, the college football season starts by the end of this month. Good luck to your favorites, and if my team plays yours, I wish you the best with the other games.

On an Unexpected Day

October 2, 1971 was a beautiful fall day on the Bowling Green State University campus. It was my freshman year and classes were probably in their third week, plus I had arrived early to audition for the Falcon Marching Band (which I made).

The football team was off to a surprising 2-0 start and the first league home game was on this day as the Broncos of Western Michigan came to the flatlands of northwest Ohio. The home Falcons dominated the Broncos that day (23-7), so expectations we sky-high near the end of the game because arch-rival, the “school up north” (Toledo) and their well-over 20 game winning streak would be coming to town soon.

As the game was nearing its end, we band members are readying ourselves to take the field for the traditional post-game concert. As I was racing onto the field, a student photographer unexpectedly approached me and asked me to raise my hands and horn in victory. He took a few pictures and that was the end of it.

My roommate was an avid photographer, thus told me that the BG News (the campus newspaper) archives all the pictures taken, and then sells them for a reasonable fee. Eventually, I found the picture and purchased it, along with a few others.

Move ahead about 18 months to spring 1973 (my sophomore year). It was a pleasant spring evening, so I decided to attend an outdoor concert performed by the symphonic band. Once there, I learned that the marching band’s recorded album of this season (1972) arrived. A friend showed me a copy and there it was – an artist had transformed the picture taken of me on that day into a drawing serving as the album cover.

Of course, some said “no way” as my glasses were removed, but I had the original as evidence – And to this day, that photograph resides inside that album cover.