Favorite or least favorite college football traditions?

The Mississippi State cowbells: Tradition or annoyance? (Associated Press)

The Mississippi State cowbells: Tradition or annoyance? (Associated Press)

“When does a tradition become an annoyance?”

That was LSU chancellor Michael Martin talking this week about Mississippi State fans’ penchant for clanging cowbells during football games.

The obvious answer, as MrSEC.com noted, is when it’s someone else’s tradition.

When it comes to the cowbells, few folks outside Mississippi see the quaint tradition’s charm. To most folks, it’s no different than those incessant vuvuzelas African soccer fans blow or those air horns that some idiot always blows at graduation — both of which are banned at SEC games.

But the cowbells, one of the SEC’s more controversial traditions, got a reprieve Friday when the conference presidents approved a one-year extension of an exception for MSU to the rule that bans artificial noisemakers in conference stadiums. The Other Bulldogs can keep their cowbells, but the league will come down harder on them if they don’t confine their ringing to between plays. Last year, the school was fined $5,000 for one infraction and an additional $25,000 when the MSU fans did it again. This year, if they clang during play it’s going to cost Mississippi State $50,000 per infraction.

MSU President Mark Keenum hailed the extension as a good day not just for the school but for “fans everywhere who believe traditions are an important part of the college football experience.”

Now, I’m as big a believer in traditions as you’ll find, especially when it comes to my alma mater. The Dawg Walk. Krypton Fanfare. The lone trumpeter playing before a game. The Larry Munson video showing Herschel running over Bill Bates. The chapel bell after a win. I love it all. Heck, when I was a freshman at UGA I wouldn’t even walk under the famed arch because of tradition. And I still holler “Dog food!” when the other team runs on the field because that’s what fans did when I first started going to Georgia football games.

But despite the heart-tugging tales of MSU fans having cowbells rung at their funerals, there’s a reason artificial noisemakers are banned during games: In a partisan setting, they give the home team even more of an advantage than the roar of the crowd can supply. And they’re definitely rung by MSU fans to try and disrupt the opposing team’s plays.

Is that any different from everyone in the stadium standing up and screaming and clapping and stomping as loudly as they can when the opponent’s running a crucial third-down play? Folks in Starkville would argue no, but the reality is that the noise made by cowbells and the like far exceeds what a crowd can come up with otherwise. It’s why the school bands have to stop playing before the ball is snapped.

So, what do you think? Are the cowbells a harmless tradition or an annoying and unfair advantage? Are there any other such traditions in college football you’d like to see banned or limited? And what are your favorite UGA traditions? Any new ones you’d like to start? Feel free to share …

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

235 comments Add your comment

Lincolnton Dawg

June 4th, 2011
11:21 am

I would have no problem with the cowbells in Starksville, if the fans knew how to follow the rules and only *ding* them during the dead ball situations like they are suppose to.

Since they are oblivious and disrespectful of those rules, I would love nothing more than to read MSU fans cry and whine after they are banned in full.

I think until they learn to *ding* them only when they are suppose to, fans at REAL SEC stadiums should bring noise making devices when MSU visits and obnoxiously use them while their team is attempting to huddle while driving down the field. Let them cry all they want about our stadiums being bigger, already giving us an advantage, but that is just their jealousy spewing out, wishing they had the funding and support to build fully operate a stadium of our size.

FOLLOW THE RULES MSU, or listen to the rest of the conference rejoice after your beloved bells are banned.

Lincolnton Dawg

June 4th, 2011
11:30 am

As far as UGA traditions, nothing gives me chills more frequently than the lone trumpeter in the SW corner of the stadium. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF9FGAeZH6g

Another Red Coat band traditions that makes me burst with pride for the state of Georgia is the playing of “Tara’s song, usually way before or after the game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZbQf_KOcBw&playnext=1&list=PL9585AEE80FD93845


June 4th, 2011
11:34 am

Try posting again, but this time without encouraging others to break rules while we actually follow them. Also, do it without being an idiot…

Bug Zapper

June 4th, 2011
11:56 am

One of my favorite UGA traditions is watching the nerds leave after playing uswith their frustrations showing thoroughly 9 times a decade.

Stupid Dawg

June 4th, 2011
12:10 pm

Not shocking that a Georgia fan would complain about the cowbells at MSU after their sorry showing in Starkville last year. I guess if the fans had not had the cowbells then UGA would have surely won and probably won the national championship.

Ol' Dawg

June 4th, 2011
12:13 pm

Traditions are a huge part of the college experience. One of the things that moves me is our trumpeter and the wailing beginning. It is too short, but playing the solo longer might lessen the thrill.
As for the cowbells, yes, they are annoying. The noise level they reach is akin to a blaring sound system while an opposing team tries to call and execute an offensive play. I think the cowbells might be hard to control, especially with the drinking that goes on by students. If they prove this year that they can follow the rules, I would have no objection.


June 4th, 2011
12:14 pm

Enter your comments here


June 4th, 2011
12:16 pm

I like the 8 in row that Tech won and way UGA fan don’t talk about Fla. ( the beat downs in Jville).

Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

June 4th, 2011
12:16 pm

Instead of a nebulous future fine, how about an immediate unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of five yards every time Mississippi State’s cowbells ring between plays. A couple of penalties like that would put a quick end to inappropriate cowbell ringing at Starkville.

Ol' Dawg

June 4th, 2011
12:21 pm

gtfanfrom1951 – Do you think Tech fans did not rub that in 55 or so years ago. It is our time now. Guess you were born at the wrong time. As for the Jax “beat downs”, we still lead the series and things being cyclical, we’ll be back.


June 4th, 2011
12:21 pm

Nobody walks under the arch as an undergraduate, that’s not something special, Bill.


June 4th, 2011
12:23 pm

How about trimming the hedges after we whoop you’re butts in Athens :) That’s a great tradition!

74 Dawg

June 4th, 2011
12:25 pm

No question- It is Uga himself, the best mascot in all of college football.


June 4th, 2011
12:27 pm

Running down the hill….the most excited 25 seconds in College Football. The rubbing of Howard’s Rock, Death Valley, Tiger Rag, Sea of Orange, and the Best Tailgating of all of college Football. Go Tigers!!!!

DAWGS forever

June 4th, 2011
12:28 pm

My favorite tradition is the yearly humilation of the trade school from North avenue or the joke by coke. That is priceless and a great tradition.

All kidding aside… though it is great to beat Tech. I just love the atmosphere surrounding college football. Nothing compares.


Georgia Tech Students

June 4th, 2011
12:28 pm

Check out what comes up if you do a search on ajc.com using keywords “Georgia Tech Students”…..


That sums up Tek’s traditions.

DAWGS forever

June 4th, 2011
12:29 pm

“GOLDNWHITEFORLIFE” what you get to do that every….. 10 years or so?


June 4th, 2011
12:31 pm

It’s a tradition, but a bad one. It crosses the line, plain and simple, and should be done away with. If Ole Miss can give up the Rebel, MSU can do away with their corny cowbells.


June 4th, 2011
12:32 pm

I think the SEC is giving Mississippi State one more year to take care of the problem themselves. I don’t think it will happen and the SEC will eventually have to ban the cow bell from the stadium.


June 4th, 2011
12:33 pm

While I am not excited at all for Tech to beat UGA in Sanford Stadium, ever, I am excited to see the Techies getting cuffed for vandalizing the hedges the next time they do.

Before the game this past Thanksgiving, I had some inside info regarding the procedures by Athens Clark County, as well as the GBI who were on scene is Tech happened to win and the hedges began being vandelized. The story would have overshadowed any win by the nerds.

Hopefully it will be decades before we witness the mass arrests, but I promise you it will happen.

Lincolnton Dawg

June 4th, 2011
12:35 pm

I like the idea above, issuing a 5, 10,or 15 yard penalty every time a cowbell is heard in Starkville during inappropriate times.

I also believe this will eliminate the problem almost instantly.

Old Dawg

June 4th, 2011
12:38 pm

I love all of the traditions and would enjoy Miss State’s cowbells if they would limit them to between plays, though that’ll never happen. If they persist, I agree that penalties should be used every time it happens.

Nice work, Bill. Keep the great copy coming!


June 4th, 2011
12:39 pm

Regarding the MSU cowbells, can’t we have it both ways and call it an annoying tradition? But then again, any team’s traditions will always be embraced by its fans and ridiculed by its rivals, no matter what.

Dog Catcher

June 4th, 2011
12:40 pm

One of my favorite traditions is picking up the Friday Marietta Daily Journal, double it’s usual size, to see which Dawg fans get booted into the streets by foreclosure.

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 4th, 2011
12:41 pm

I have never been to a game where cowbells were used so I don’t know how loud they can get. IF it is an advantage and disrupts the opposing teams play calling, that probably is an unfair advantage.
Now I think the ruling with the new fine of 50 grand could turn out to be very costly for MSU. I would bet if one fan started ringing it, a bunch would follow, and then you can kiss 50 grand goodbye. If it is confined to times when it will not disrupt the opposing teams play, then why not let them have it.
I can’t imagine it would be that more disruptive than a crowd cheering loudly every time a QB for the other team comes up under center, and tries to call a play, but like I said, I have not had the unique experience, and hopefully never will, LOL.
Now as for you folks that come on here and just can’t resist spouting crap about UGA, you need to act more mature. Stick to the subject at hand. You might find out that there are discussions that are interesting instead of using childish remarks all the time.


June 4th, 2011
12:45 pm

It’s obvious that GOLDNWHITEFORLIFE doesn’t have much tradition as
they might get to “trim the hedges” once every 10 -12 years or so. A better
tradition for the Techies is to watch the freshmen wipe their boogers on their
rat hats so they won’t get smeared on the pocket protectors !!


June 4th, 2011
12:53 pm

This is the greatest tradition by the nerds….


Statesboro Dawg

June 4th, 2011
1:04 pm

Worst one: Hawaii and there poor attempt at the Hakka. What a sad attempt at intimidation form a bunch of little girls..haha

Delbert D.

June 4th, 2011
1:16 pm

That magical moment when the clock reads 00:0 and the good guys have beaten the bad guys.

Bill King

June 4th, 2011
1:16 pm


Maybe the tradition is more closely observed today about freshmen not walking under the arch. If so, I applaud that. But when i was a freshman it was widely ignored by many folks.

Dawg Tired

June 4th, 2011
1:19 pm

Well, my favorite tradition no longer exists. It was the Dixie Red Coat Band playing DIxie after every touchdown.

SC Lou

June 4th, 2011
1:24 pm

The playing of 2001 space odyssey and now Sandstorm at Carolina games…the new SEC east Kings!


June 4th, 2011
1:32 pm

I suppose an artificial noisemaker is a problem. Where would you draw a line?
If the MSU folks were smart they would embrass the idea of “we got cowbell and we know how to use them”. I’d think that would give them pretty cool bragging right to have such high regards for a tradition that they took great pride in knowing what the appropriate use was. The only SEC fanbase entrusted with that right”. The whole….With great power comes great responsibility….mentality.

I suspect they will just ring the the hell out of them, and then the tradition will be, this is our Cowbell so awesome it was banned from games. That will be a shock for a year or two, then it will just become the new bragging right.


June 4th, 2011
1:32 pm

If you ever get a chance to attend a game in Madison, WI, stick around for the “5th Quarter Show”. Better yet, follow the UW Marching Band as it marches to Camp Randall on the morning of any home game, catch the pre-game show just outside of Camp Randall and keep an eye on the Band and WI student body throughout the game. I don’t know how they pull it off, but just after halftime, the students start “The Wave” – the first time a very quick wave, followed by one in slow motion and the final wave is started from opposite directions and collides in the middle. Around 35,000 usually remain at the end of a game (win or lose) to watch the Marching Band “free lance” on the field for about 30 minutes. If you are in Madison after October 15th, try to catch a hockey match at Kohl Arena either the night before or night of the football game. The student body never stops cheering, chanting, moving and dancing during the match. I’ve attended college games throughout the country and don’t recall any student body as engaged as the WI student body.


June 4th, 2011
1:33 pm

There are so many of them. That’s what makes up college football. I even like the Modle T that tech rolls out in their home games. It’s exciting for all the fans at all the schools. The OSU band, the rock at Clemson etc…Ralphie the mascot and of course Uga. I know many people that are crazy about UGA, but all agree that Uga is an awesome Dawg!

Ron Zook's Coaching Acumen

June 4th, 2011
1:48 pm

My favorite tradition is Florida whipping UGA’s ass in Jacksonville every year. Even I couldn’t even screw that up.


June 4th, 2011
2:04 pm

RALPHIE!!!! Don’t you even mention that bovine beast’s name in here again.

Jeff Dantzler

June 4th, 2011
2:08 pm

Hey Stupid Dawg, we didn’t lose in Starkville because of Cowbells. We lost because Murray was young, we were on the road, we got outplayed and we didn’t have AJ. 3 of those 4 things will not be the same this year in Athens. But we don’t tie our season(s) to beating crappy teams from Mississippi so it will be little consolation if we don’t win a lot of other games.


June 4th, 2011
2:13 pm

Well, this is one debate where I don’t have a dog in the fight – I’m from basketball country. I will say this, if you’ve ever been in Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke, you’ll know what noise is. I think it’s all a part of tradition of schools, and I don’t think banning these will help other teams. Either they’re good enough to win or they aren’t, it’s really that simple.

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Spike Newnon

June 4th, 2011
2:16 pm

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how so many Techies obsess over all things UGA football.

If they didn’t, beating them 9 out of the last 10 wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

Welcome to the blawg that obsesses over UGA football, Techies. I couldn;t think of a better place for you to be.


Pago Pago DAWG

June 4th, 2011
2:22 pm

Yes, it’s sad that the left coast libs banned Dixie.
Best tradition that we need to start…..winning in JAX!
Class of 1960…still haven’t walked under the Arch.

General Ledger

June 4th, 2011
2:27 pm

Fla players do the gator chomp all the time, but I’ve seen other players get a penalty if they mockingly do it. I don’t like that.


June 4th, 2011
2:34 pm

Always like the UGA`a croaking before a homecoming loss to Kentucky.

UGA manned up and went to the other side rather than face that humiliation.

Good DAWG.


June 4th, 2011
2:36 pm

Of course close behind is Choakdawg giving the choak sign to Florida`s kicker. Imagine that will be an annual event in the next 10 losses.


June 4th, 2011
2:46 pm

I like the UGA tradition of wearing black while Alabama humiliates you at home.


June 4th, 2011
2:55 pm

Two of the stupidest, might be a tie: 1. College aged football players running down a hill to slap a rock. Folks, that’s just plain stupid. I wouldn’t want a high school team to do that much less a college team. Maybe they should hokey-pokey after slapping the rock. 2. The Gator chomp or whatever they call that broken-arm, flapping thing they do. What is that? It’s all the more stupid since they didn’t even show up until 60 years after the SEC was founded! Even their bowl record is sorry and the stadium has to be THE ugliest stadium in the South. Must be something that orange does to teams.


June 4th, 2011
3:06 pm

gtfanfrom1951, GT fans talk about UGA’s recent record against UF. We, UGA fans, could talk about GT’s recent record against FSU if we wanted to, since GT has only won 2 of the last 14 games. The big difference is we are proud to beat Tech ourselves. We don’t need some fantasy team to do it for us.


June 4th, 2011
3:26 pm

Ummm we actually got to do more recent than that “DAWGS forerver”. Thanks for the ignorant post though ;)

Hold up

June 4th, 2011
3:27 pm

I guess the hedges are some type of tradition. That dog needs to pea on something.