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


June 5th, 2011
9:11 am

whatever happened to freedom? Do we not still live in the US? if the fans want to ring cowbells, let them. we don’t need more legislation and regulation in our lives. sure its annoying but so be it.

South ga boy in the atl

June 5th, 2011
9:29 am

As a lifelong Dawg fan, acknowledged in advance, and in the interest of fairness, one thing has to be pointed out. While it is true that artificial noise makers can give an edge to the home team, the facts in this case is that not all stadiums are created equal. I feel a little sheepish complaining about the cow bells when Sanford stadium holds 93K vs MS holding just over 50k and that’s with a recent addition. For years, MS stadium had a capacity crowd of about 38K so therefore I felt like the cow bells were something of an equalizer. I love tradition, so until MS gets a stadium seating near 100K, leave the cow bells alone


June 5th, 2011
9:51 am

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


June 5th, 2011
9:51 am

One of my favorite UGA traditions is watching the rednecks leave after playing us in Jax. with their frustrations showing thoroughly 9 times a decade.

You want fries with that?

June 5th, 2011
9:53 am

My least favorite tradition is for UGA to continually recruit illiterate dummies and thugs and call them student-athletes, which is a big joke.

It Ain't Rocket Science

June 5th, 2011
10:00 am

South Ga boy,

Thanks for the info. Makes sense to me. I have never attended a game with the bells. Stadium size would surely seem to me to be a consideration.
My least favorite tradition is having to wade through all of these childish comments by most of these people on these blogs, to find something insightful, with real value and information in it. Thanks again South Ga. Boy.

Only twenty

June 5th, 2011
10:01 am

It was reported that Georgia head football coach Mark Richt will only be dressing twenty players for the Georgia Tech game. The rest of the players will have to get dressed by themselves.


June 5th, 2011
10:16 am

Members of the Georgia football team were placed in a remedial English class. We are going to start with the basics, the professor explained. Does anyone know what comes after a sentence? All of the players raised their hands. The appeal, they all shouted with pride.


June 5th, 2011
10:26 am

Are you sure they arent ringing those cowbells to attract the attention of those fat hog-type looking women they have over there in Starkville?

Hart Co.

June 5th, 2011
10:39 am

Tech’s only tradition… rings made after a 3 point win over UGA once every decade.


June 5th, 2011
10:59 am

Going to the UGA/Miss St game last year, I found the bells EXTREMELY annoying, yet it is a tradition that should stay. Good luck keeping the bells quiet when it is in the hands of toddler.


June 5th, 2011
11:20 am

One tradition that I have studied from afar with morbid facination is the GnaT students’ tradition of being held up at gunpoint, stripped naked, pistol whipped and trussed up like a hog in their dorm rooms. Strange ritual that. Almost as strange as looking androgynous, poorly, and pretending to be zombies.

tim scott

June 5th, 2011
11:43 am

come on ya’ll if this tradition was at UGA you would be all over it. I am a Gator and yes it is annoying but so is the gator chop or dawg fans woofing or that crowing rooster in Columbia. It is part of the beauty that is college football. Before you can say that it gives MSU an advantage please remind how many SEC titles have they won in say the last 25 yrs. They had a good year this year however year in and year out they are a second tier team. I for one do not see any advantage to the cowbells they are simply annoying but so in Rocky Top but thank God its the SEC


June 5th, 2011
11:46 am

So I guess the LSU chancelor will stop the “tradition” of walking teams past a live Tiger while their fans spit and pour beer on the opposing team….. Right?!?!????? Or night games where the fans get “greased up” ALL day long…


June 5th, 2011
11:50 am

Georgia has no real tradition of its own. I’m an AU alum, and the AU folks around here grow so sick and tired of georgia fans trying so ever desperately over the past 5 or so years to claim that dawgwalk is their tradition. First, you totally stole that from Auburn’s Tiger Walk, which has been one of the great college football traditions since the mid 60’s. You guys didn’t start copying us til sometime in the early to mid 2000’s. It’s NOT your tradition!! It’s a really, really pathetic attempt to copy Auburn’s Tiger Walk, which is so much bigger, older, and infinitely more intense than any puppy walk ever thought about being. Not that THuga fans will ever stop trying to claim it as some great georgia tradition. But EVERYONE else knows who you’re copying and thinks it’s downright stupid. Go invent something to start your OWN tradion…no matter how lame it might turn out to be. PLEASE!!

Pago Pago Dawg

June 5th, 2011
12:13 pm

A lot of teams in the USA have a “walk”, so they all stole the idea from auburn?

Delbert D.

June 5th, 2011
12:22 pm

“Whatever happened to freedom? Do we not live in the US?”

Got to draw a line somewhere. Otherwise the Texas A&M boys will be firing blanks out of Colt .44 Peacemakers during the game.

Phillip Barton (GeorgiaDawgStuckNVegasHatingEveryMinute)e

June 5th, 2011
12:23 pm

Bill … you’re one of my favorite personalities to listen to/read and I just want to thank you and to say that the traditions of all Colleges and Universities are what make America and our respective schools great!

Regardless of who you root for … the friendly ribbing, big arguments and even fights people get into prove our devotion to what we love most besides our families …

Rooting for our respective schools and no one else!


Bring it on Boise! …

Put Some Bite N Your Bark D A W G S !!!

Georgia 37 Boise 29 … (smiling) …

College Football Fan

June 5th, 2011
1:02 pm

I guess next they should put in a rule that if any noise is made during play calling there will be a 25 yard penalty and the culprit’s tongue will be cut out.


June 5th, 2011
1:42 pm

This is the biggest no brainer in all of college football. No, MSU fans should not be able to use artificial noise makers during the game. No other traditions affect the actual play on the field. This one does and it’s against the rules.

I still say anytime MSU comes to vist another SEC team, all 90k+ fans should bring in some cowbells and see what they think of them then.

Special K

June 5th, 2011
2:13 pm

Get rid of em. Nuff said.

it's a GAME, Bill

June 5th, 2011
2:50 pm

It is a game, a sporting event. You remember collegiate spirit, fanfare for the home team, boos for the visitors, screaming your lungs out when the opponent is fourth and goal, anything to disrupt the snap.
I’m a lifelong Ga guy, longtime ticket holder but I think the Cowbells are as much a part of the college football landscape as ‘Go Dogs, Sic ‘Em’ The ‘Script Ohio’ of the OSU Marching Band and those sickening Gator fans doing their side to side drunken weave in unison.
It’s meant to disrupt the opposing team, which is why it’s called a ‘home field advantage’. If the opposition has trouble with it, that’s a ‘them’ problem. You hold an air horn up by someone’s ear and blow it, it can cause eardrum damage, so I understand that prohibition. The cowbells? Not so much. Dating back to Dooley and his time on the competition committee, the NCAA has tried harder and harder to ’sanitize’ the game and therefore made it more corporate and less fun.


June 5th, 2011
3:06 pm

I would like to see the Georgia Redcoat Band play Georgia on my Mind during pregame show. That is and will always be a classic to those of us raised in Georgia.


June 5th, 2011
3:47 pm

Face facts…….the cowbells are intended and used as an “illegal” home field advantage!

The “tradition” claim is a bogus attempt to suggest the cowbells were not used to make noise in an manner which makes it diffiecult for the opposing team to communicate.

Everyone involved needs to simply say what everyone already knows and permanently ban the use of artificial noise makers!! Tradition…….what a joke.

gator bob

June 5th, 2011
3:53 pm

The best tradition is watching Mark Richt choke against the mighty gators!

Les Miles

June 5th, 2011
4:16 pm

we play MSU every year..cowbells don’t cause missed tackles or fumbles on the goal line…my god, UGA fans are pathetic…i do agree with gator bob, your annual choke-fest in Jax is trending to the top of my favorite traditions!! i do have a question: did UGA receive a “participation” ribbon from last years bowl gag vs. UCF?


June 5th, 2011
4:30 pm

Jeez, Mississippi State has so little. Let them keep this one little thing. Who is it hurting, really?
If ringing cowbells can effect the outcome of a game, than you should blame the coach.


schedule, schedule, schedule

June 5th, 2011
4:42 pm

Playing “Rocky Top” every time a player takes a drink of water
Miami’s stupid “whooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaa C! U! B! A!” chant
MSU’s idiot fanbase and their cowbells
Mark Richt paying player’s bail
Putting industrial-grade RoundUp on the trees in Tumor’s Corner
Looking out past the end zone at a cemetery in Tuscaloosa

Ole Miss tailgating
Watching Kentucky fans claim they don’t care about football
Urinating on the stupid arches in Athens


June 5th, 2011
5:16 pm

The loud cowbells appear to be just another extension of the concept: An empty barrel rattles the loudest.


June 5th, 2011
5:59 pm

It is hard to say what my favorite tradition is, but the dawg walk, UGA patrolling the sidelines, and the History of The University are amazing, but the Soloist playing during the Dawg Walk is one of the most chilling and exciting moments for a true fan. Hell Yeah!!!! GO DAWG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

King Gator

June 5th, 2011
6:25 pm

Dropping a duece in every SEC stadium, the GA Dome and Jax – My own tradition – Go Gators! P.S. Auburn is the best SEC Stadium to take a break in a stall. Just sayin…


June 5th, 2011
7:09 pm

Wow, how funny is a tech boy coming in here pretending to be a gator fan, but forgot he wasn’t pretending to be a Georgia fan for a second.


June 5th, 2011
7:28 pm

I love most every one of the Georgia traditions but the one I like least is the Sanford Stadium tradition of holding up four fingers before the start of the Fourth Quarter. It isn’t original. Surely there could be something better to do that would pump the fans up more.

Alabama Jack

June 5th, 2011
7:30 pm

I think the neatest tradition is the dawgs always proclaiming themselves pre-season national champions before falling on their butts. They’ve been doing for what, the last 30 years before this one


June 5th, 2011
9:47 pm



June 5th, 2011
9:47 pm

Three UGA players are riding together in a car. Who is driving? Answer: The state trooper.


June 5th, 2011
9:51 pm

Kind of like Auburn fans were proclaiming themselves pre-season national champs last year………………opps sorry that was somebody else doing that wasn’t it?


June 5th, 2011
10:11 pm

Lame blogs by Bill King are my leat favorite UGA tradition.


June 5th, 2011
10:12 pm

Funny how nobody said much of anything about the Cowbells when State was consistently losing. State starts beating a few people and all of the sudden the Cowbells are a big concern. What a joke.

USN Volunteer

June 5th, 2011
11:34 pm

When the sun is high in the sky in a hot and humid summer day and ole Neyland is packed tight with me watching that Pride of the Southland Marching Band start to make that Power T and the Vols burst forth towards their sideline and the announce over the loud system shouts “IT’S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!”

It gets me every time.


June 6th, 2011
2:17 am

I love the George P. Burdell pages at Tech away games. I love the ramblin wreck (car and song). I love Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field (oldest and winningest stadium in division 1 football. But my favorite two traditions are (admittedly every 8 years or so) mauling the hedges when Tech wins in Athens. But the best tradition is the Budweiser song between the 3rd and 4th quarter. Have had away team fans from many schools over the last 11 years I have had season tix talk about how cool and loud that song and tradition are


June 6th, 2011
2:20 am

When you’ve said Budweiser, you’ve said it all!!!


June 6th, 2011
6:49 am

Diamond Dawgs and Perno choking as usual.. FIRE PERNO!


June 6th, 2011
7:54 am

GoSEC….you are right it is SEC country. But the question was your favorite tradition. Dotting the I by the Ohio St band is my favorite and I really enjoy it. Why do you have such a narrow view of college football tradition? I am a hugh Dawg fan but I do allow myself the pleasure of enjoying the entire experience that college football provides. You should try it sometimes. I would love to debate you, you would be soooooo easy!


June 6th, 2011
8:18 am

Get rid of the old video. Use updated video if their are some updated highlights. Probably half of the attendance are too young to remember some of the shown highlignts. That trumpet solo thing is lame. Let Larry rest too!!! Move on to greater things and away from the past. Has UGA fans complaining gotten to the point of itself being a tradition?


June 6th, 2011
8:25 am

Bama loses another offensive lineman to Texas.

Is this becoming a Bama recruiting tradition?

tide roll, what say you?

Joe Bob Thibodaux

June 6th, 2011
8:27 am

Bill, I have seen Billy Cannon run back the kickoff to defeat ol Miss a thousand times.
It still works for me.

Bring back the Tiger Rag in Tiger Stadium. The students changed the words to the song, which offended opposition fans, and got the song banned in Tiger Stadium. SHAMELESS.

Cow bells don’t bother me. They are designed to call cows for crying out loud.


June 6th, 2011
8:39 am

I love the tradition of watching the nerd transition during the course of a game…..they talk alot of smack before the game…..and with few exceptions, by the mid point of the 4Q they have been relished to either stone face quiet or they leave….


June 6th, 2011
9:23 am

A very successful (now retired) contractor had returned to my home to view his handy work of having installed a pool. Upon seeing that my wife and I had surrounded the pool area with river rock (and knowing that we had three children) remarked what is my response to the MSU cowbell question, “anytime I’ve ever seen rocks around a pool there will most assuredly and ultimately be rocks in the pool”!

Beast from the East

June 6th, 2011
9:36 am

My favorite is the great tailgating before the WLOCP. 50/50 split between Dawgs and Gators makes for a really fun time with lots of good-natured ribbing from both sides. Not to mention the great food and drinks……LOTS OF DRINKS!
My least favorite is the Noles’ pathetic “chop”. Makes me literally sick to the stomach.