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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235 comments Add your comment


June 4th, 2011
3:32 pm

I got my first taste of the cowbells last year when we took a road trip to Starkville and my head is still ringing!! They ring those things all game long, I do think it is an advantage for them. But I also realizes if UGA had played better I would not have heard the bells the entire game. GO DAWGS!!


June 4th, 2011
3:35 pm

The one I liked, alas, has fallen to progress. I greatly admired the party on the railroad tracks. Loved the Junkyard Dawg defense and would welcome it’s return.

As for cowbells, if I wanted to subject myself to physical torture I’d go stand at the airport and watch planes take off for 3 hours.

Perhaps my favorite tradition is the Thanksgiving leftover beatdown of the GnaTs.


June 4th, 2011
3:45 pm

I’m a 50 year Dawg fan and I don’t think I’ve seen 8 Tech victories over the Dawgs in my whole life.


June 4th, 2011
4:07 pm

The fact that Mississippi State hasn’t won an SEC championship since 1941 should quiet any talk of a “competitive advantage” from the cowbells (strangely, Alabama still claims an national title that year). Even as a Georgia fan, I think it’s a cool tradition that should be left alone. Given how entrenched traditions are at SEC schools, I don’t think any floodgates of artificial noisemakers would be opened if the SEC gave them a permanent reprieve.

King Gator

June 4th, 2011
4:15 pm

Drinking in Jax, before..during..and after the Gators whoop the Pups!


June 4th, 2011
4:20 pm

Least favorite–incompetent coaches. Been a tradition for quite a few years now!

Perp Walker

June 4th, 2011
4:35 pm

I love the Perp Walk at UGA. :-) :-) :-)


June 4th, 2011
5:12 pm

They are God awful, period

get the picture

June 4th, 2011
5:24 pm

goldandwhiteforlife, Tech has had that moment exactly 8 times in 55 years. LOL a Tech fan trying to talk smack on a UGA board . over 5 decades of sheer dominance. Now run on to a Duke board and brag to the Blue Devils how you win every year.

Top Dawg

June 4th, 2011
5:25 pm

I like the annual beatdown of the Nerd Herd in late November. :-)

Cohutta Dawgman

June 4th, 2011
5:32 pm

My favorite UGA Football Tradition was sitting on the tracks and drinking bourbon till I puked, Those days are a distance memory now.


June 4th, 2011
5:43 pm

All I know is if somehow Miss State is allowed to keep those cowbells, UGA fans will blame Nick Fairley for it.


June 4th, 2011
5:47 pm

I get chills when the eagle takes flight at Jordan-Hare…and I don’t care for AU that much. But it is really impressive….

this is a bad subject

June 4th, 2011
5:51 pm

but the least funny is watching a drunk dawg fan actually trying to bark like a dog. Drink/bark/barf/drink some more…etc..


June 4th, 2011
5:52 pm

Hey oldfarttechfan51,

Get over it man! 8 years in a row? PLEASE! UGA OWNS YOUR FOOTBALL PROGRAM! We borrow money from Auburn just to keep making the payments on your crap program. Do you want to know how bad we own you, really? YOUR GAME ISN’T AS BIG TO US AS UF, AU, AND USC. Your rivaly status with us has fallen due to lack of competition. But don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy watching you nerds tally up that final score.
And for the bammer talkin trash about the black out, that was a good year for you guys. (Also a good year or Utah. hah!) Still seems your still a bit bitter about that O.T. win in 2000-SABAN…LOL. I saw grown men weeping like school girls after that game!!!!! Im sure those 2 early beatdowns CMR gave you guys in the early 2000’s still simmers in your morning coffee pot too….hahahah!!!!! Go Dawgs people!


June 4th, 2011
5:55 pm

2001 Space Odyssey cool? Teach that chicken to fly like an eagle……


June 4th, 2011
6:03 pm

I love the Perp Walk at UGA.

Ha ha, that’s pretty funny! Only at UGA.

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 4th, 2011
6:06 pm

Who can find a CoEd wagging a cowbell as wrong? Ring one wave two…

You can't fix it

June 4th, 2011
6:07 pm

When the UGA football players put on their shoes for practice, TGIF is inscribed in the insole of the shoe — TOES GO IN FIRST.

The problem is… you can’t fix stupid!


June 4th, 2011
6:08 pm

King Gator, That’s not a tradition, you’re just an alcoholic.

Sugar Hill Dawg

June 4th, 2011
6:14 pm

I graduated from UGA in 1975 – I still feel funny walking through the Arch! I’ve been to a lot of Auburn games the last three seasons (my son’s in the AUMB) – the four corners pep rally’s pretty cool, as is the Tiger Walk, The Flight in Jordan – Hare, and, of course, Toomer’s Corner. However, ain’t nothing better than dragging a gator doll around the Gator Bowl (sorry – it will always be the Gator Bowl to me) snd enjoying the Dawg fans kicking that sucker! Time to bring back the Junkyard Dawgs and do some Gator Choppin this fall! (Shame on you Will Muschamp! Your Alumni Association membership is immediately cancelled!)

Vuvuzelas Forever

June 4th, 2011
6:14 pm

Free vuvuzela and red panties for the first thousand dawg fans through the gates at every home game. You heard it here first!


June 4th, 2011
6:16 pm

Dotting the I by the Ohio State band. It does send chills up your spine if you see it in person. Dotting the I by Jack Nicholas was my all-time favorite tradition moment!!! Hard to duplicate when it just happens and the moment grabs you.

Von Gannon

June 4th, 2011
6:20 pm

I can remember how beautiful it was back in the 50s and 60s whenever any other team – particularly Tech – came on the field to the chorus of the entire student body, “DOG FOOD, DOG FOOD, DOG FOOD ….” It was a beautiful thing!


June 4th, 2011
6:26 pm

This is SEC country….we don’t care about the Big 10…or PAC 10…or ACC…or Big East….OR NOTRE DAMN DAME…


June 4th, 2011
6:30 pm

The NEW UGA tradition! Uga’s dying after 1 season and Russ having to stand-in.

Bama Fan#2

June 4th, 2011
6:32 pm

Many schools have great traditions but Alabama has Bear Bryant talking about the
national championships before kickoff and you can not understand a word he is
saying and then Bama comes out on the field to Thunder Struck and 100,000
fans go nuts. That is tradition!!!!!!!! RTR


June 4th, 2011
6:38 pm

UGA’s annual drubbing by Florida: Least favorite.
The Hedges and UGA: Favorite.

Les Miles = winner; CMR = not so much

June 4th, 2011
6:48 pm

man, you UGA fans sure love livin in the past…LOSERS!!!


June 4th, 2011
6:50 pm

Did I mention how much I loooove Nick Fairley? Thugs and cheaters turn me on soooo much.


June 4th, 2011
6:55 pm

I say let it be. Let MState keep the cowbells. I’ve been to the games in Starkville and honestly don’t think there’s an advantage. As for others on here talking about how stupid fans are, what schools are “real sec” and what traditions are dumb, grow up. The need to put down another school or its fans, shows your lack of intelligence regardless of what school you graduated from or attend. Ppl can we comment as adults without the insults? Every school has their traditions and because we don’t understand them it doesn’t make them any less important than our own.


June 4th, 2011
6:57 pm

Enter your comments here


The SEC could not identify one play……..not a single play……where the cowbells
affected the outcome.

That is why it got another year.

The bells certainly did not have anything to do with the Dogs laydown last year.


June 4th, 2011
7:00 pm

It will be a harmless annoyance until MSU wins it’s SEC division and makes it to the championship game. Then the rest of the league will come down on the cow bells.

get the picture

June 4th, 2011
7:01 pm

Still, thats low class even for a frustrated Techie.

get the picture

June 4th, 2011
7:11 pm

Ringleader, I think the cowbells are ok, but if they couldn’t identify one single play why did the SEC fine you guys over $50,000.


June 4th, 2011
7:20 pm

My question is how long does it take for something to become a “tradition”? I mean the dawg walk is not that old now is it?


June 4th, 2011
7:20 pm

Can someone explain why BamaJamma made the comment about Florida Field being the ugliest stadium in the South? I realize where the slur is coming from but I thought the stadium has been renovated and enlarged over the years to the point where it seats 85 to 90 K fans. Is it really bad or is this just because the guy does not like UF?


June 4th, 2011
7:26 pm

They should either ban artificial noisemakers for everyone, or allow them for everyone. No excuses on Georgia’s lousy showing in Starkville last year, and it didn’t change the outcome of the game, but the cowbells were rung on EVERY GEORGIA SNAP- while the stadium PA and scoreboard winked at the cheating by reminding fans “not” to do it.

Not a huge deal, but it’s cheating, period. They don’t even attempt to comply with the rules. If they were really fined for every infraction, they’d have to give up sports- which would be no loss to the SEC, really.

Their fans clearly didn’t care about anything but ringing cowbells anyway, since that (and a little baseball) constitutes their only tradition.

Spike Newnon

June 4th, 2011
7:35 pm

One of the great UGA traditions is listening to the Techies think they are better than us, despite them winning once a decade.


Without haters, it’s just not as fun.

King Gator

June 4th, 2011
8:45 pm

Blackouts that don’t work and boozing AD’s with red thongs in thier laps! Junkyard fans and girls with cameltoes in Arkansas. NCAA infractions and BCS Championships. Talking smack, Kentucky fans telling me how good they are in basketball during football season and of course the best darn football in the country! SEC SEC SEC –
Go Gators!


June 4th, 2011
9:06 pm

There were penalties given to the MSU a few years ago when we rang cowbells when we were not suppose to. Then the NCAA said that the team can not be penalized because of ringing cowbells. I wish they would have banned cowbells this year and every year after. We as fans have been bringing them in our stadium for 50 plus years and even if they are banned after this year we will always have our cowbells in the stadium just like the past. Every other SEC school uses illegal noisemakers so why is it a big deal. SEC fans want to complain about cowbells but when we go to a bowl game they welcome cowbells in a stadium that does not allow illegal noisemakers. So does that make sense? No! So we can ring them in bowl games but not in our own stadium. Go Bulldogs!


June 4th, 2011
10:55 pm

This tradition has been going on at State for decades. Why now is it upsetting to folks? We’re coming to Athens this year insignificant dawgs. So get ready to see The Real Dawgs when we send you back to your dorms crying.


June 4th, 2011
11:19 pm

No more annoying than the incessant tomahawk chop done by FSU fans or the Boomer Sooner fight song played constantly after each play by the band at Oklahoma games.


June 4th, 2011
11:43 pm

The worst tradition I have seen is the start of the 4th quarter of a Florida game. They sway back and forth while they sing some song. It has to be the gayest tradition in college football.


June 4th, 2011
11:47 pm

There’s an easy solution to this problem. Just keep them from scoring and you will not hear a single cowbell, ala 2008 when they played Tech…I didn’t hear a cowbell until the final 4 minutes of the game when they finally scored.

P. Bull Terrier

June 5th, 2011
12:26 am

Traditions are great, but sometimes the changing times make traditions obsolete. With the detailed sophistication of today’s play calls and the adjustments at the line of scrimmage, cow bells and other noisemakers are a bigger disruption than they were 20 or 30 years ago. It’s time for cow bells to join hitching posts and telegraphs in the school history section.

2012 Tech

June 5th, 2011
12:43 am

We rule and cowbells turn us on!!


June 5th, 2011
6:07 am

I love all good UGA traditions. I think rolling the trees at Toomers Corner after an Auburn win is quite unique and is one of my favorites.

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 5th, 2011
7:39 am

This article would be more meaningful to me, if it had stated how some of these traditions got started. Might mean more also, if some of the sick people on here did not post such negative crap about each other. Most of these blogs turn into comments that resemble, play ground fights from elementary school.


June 5th, 2011
8:39 am

Coaches admitted, they don’t hear bells on the field! They are worried about the game,,, Now, go back to last year, The last games at Starkville Bells were run at the right times, The nose level was louder during those games than the UGA and Auburn game when more bells were rung. I know that it was so loud it was incredible at the Arkansas game, So Want it like that or how about bells that will not be as loud… Pick the Poison