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

too Easy

June 6th, 2011
9:41 am

Troy: Try ‘relegated’. Relish is for hotdogs.

Pago Pago Dawg

June 6th, 2011
9:56 am

Dang, we can’t win in softball, baseball, tennis, golf…is there Anything we can be #1 in?!


June 6th, 2011
9:58 am

Barking after a kickoff like a retard.


June 6th, 2011
10:18 am

Dawg grad/fan here, living in MS…I was at that beatdown last year in Starkville…want to shut up the cowbells? Try scoring some points and not fumbling away the game….The Cowbells had NOTHING to do with the outcome…and the video screen driects the fans when they should and should not ring them…most fans near me followed the rules…let them keep the cowbells, they really don’t have much tradition other that that…GO DAWGS (the ones from Athens, that is)

Geechee Dawg

June 6th, 2011
10:34 am

For all the hoopla over the Tide fan poisoning the trees at Toomer’s Corner, the Allbarnites’ tradition of rolling Toomer’s Corner after each win has got to be the stupidest, most immature tradition in all of sports.


June 6th, 2011
10:38 am

I was at the game in Starkville last year. The ringing of the cowbells had nothing to do with why we lost the game. UGA simply got outplayed and outcoached in that game, plain and simple. State wanted that game more than we did. I don’t have a problem with the cowbells. Even with their ringing, I don’t think their stadium was anywhere near noise level of an LSU, Auburn, or Alabama.

I like what SECFan said. Don’t throw off on another schools traditions! This is why college football is what it is. Take away traditions and the bands and the atmosphere would not be the same.


June 6th, 2011
10:44 am

Richt never losing in Tuscaloosa. That’s a tradition.


June 6th, 2011
10:48 am

Die hard Georgia fan as most on here, but tradition is what makes college football better than any other type of sport in the world. I have no problem with the cow bells in Starkville.. As long as they don’t use them to hit opposing fans upside the head, then there should be no problem with them. As I see it, I don’t even care about them using them during the game, Players and coaches just have to get past all of that in my eyes. There is no difference than the defining crowds at Death Valley or in Athens, or the over 100,000 at Bryant-Denny raising cane at opposing teams. Heck, these TV stations have cameras flying all over the place as well, right in the sight of these players. I believe a lot of fans get so deep into it all that they completely hate anything that doesn’t relate to their team, especially when you lose to them, but these are what sets it apart from the money hungry me me me professional athletes, and why us folks in the South live and breath it all year round. If a cow bell, roaring tiger, gator chomp, or Rocky Top bother your team, I think you have other problems to fix if they can’t focus.


June 6th, 2011
10:55 am

I think the tradition of Auburn turning fire hoses on opposing fans is a pretty annoying tradition….

Dan Mullet

June 6th, 2011
11:27 am

Who cares about MS State they are the worst program in the SEC. they never win consistently and they have a first rd pick every ten years. I wish they would shine those bells up turn them sideways and shove them were the sun dont shine


June 6th, 2011
11:28 am

As an MSU fan/alum, I love the cowbells! What bothers me is having cowbells referred to as “artificial” noisemakers. I mean, WTH is “artificial” noise? How is the noise made by a cowbell any different from the noise made by the referee’s whistles, the band instruments, or the sound coming from the PA amplifiers? From a scientific standpoint, it’s NO DIFFERENT. Thus, the cowbell rule is discriminatory. So, let’s make the band leave their instruments outside, have the refs use hand signals only, and take down the PA speakers – that’s only fair. As to the author’s statement “…the reality is that the noise made by cowbells and the like far exceeds what a crowd can come up with otherwise,” well, I beg to differ. Have you ever sat in the stands at Neyland Stadium with 100+k UT fans screaming and that amped-up PA system blasting?? Cowbells have no chance of making a dent there. Same at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Funny how this topic only gets air time when Miss. State starts winning. Y’all sound like a bunch of whiny brats.

Bo Cooper

June 6th, 2011
12:05 pm

The cowbells are a long standing tradition a MSU and should remain part of the experience. Funny how for the many years that State has been irrelevent in the eyes of the conference nobody cared about our cowbells. Now all of a sudden Miss. State is winning football games and everyone is is payng attention. Beating Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss and Michigan in the bowl, now comes all of the griping about our famed cowbells. You are totally misled if you think the cowbells have any affect on the game noise-wise. Every team in the conference less Vandy and Ole Miss has 100,000 plus fans screaming out versus State’s 55,000. Give me a break!

Dogs Smell

June 6th, 2011
12:19 pm

There is No greater tradition than running through the T in Knoxville.

King Gator

June 6th, 2011
12:21 pm

Dang, we can’t win in softball, baseball, tennis, golf…is there Anything we can be #1 in?
Preseason Rankings and Arrests!

Enjoy the Gator SB team in the World Series finals and the Gator bball team in the Super Regionals v. team Cowbell! Go Gators!

Joshua Barlowe

June 6th, 2011
12:55 pm

Counting the number of UGA players arrested every year is my favorite tradition.

Beyond Wretched

June 6th, 2011
12:58 pm

A few months from now, UGA’s so-called Dream Team will be just a lingering nightmare. Many of these goons will be arrested and sent home, and the rest are a disorganized bunch of me-first losers.

What a pathetic, wretched excuse for a state university.

Mike the Tiger

June 6th, 2011
1:03 pm

There is the tradition of Georgia fans turning on the team after disappointing losses, like the time after the Vanderbilt loss when fans pelted their own team with ice and trash.


June 6th, 2011
1:06 pm

Not sure why previous did not show up. Anyway.
Would like to see and hear the UGA Redcoat Band play Georgia on my Mind during pregame.


June 6th, 2011
1:31 pm

Would like to haer more ofDIXIE played!!!!


June 6th, 2011
1:32 pm

I like the cowbells & think fans should be allowed to ring then anytime as loud & as often as they want to. A great tradition!
The Ramblin’ Wreck leading the Jackets onto Grant Field is the coolest entance in sports.
The song just happens to be the best fight song too.


June 6th, 2011
1:36 pm

Other than Script Ohio…# 1 bar none……………

Florida State Chief on the horse

Notre Dame Play like Champions today.

Urban Meyer’s Time Out Time Out Time Out!!!


June 6th, 2011
1:37 pm

Hands down the Eagle flying around Jordan Hare stadium.


June 6th, 2011
1:39 pm

Whats wrong with a little more “COW BELL”…I think we all need a little more Cow Bell…


June 6th, 2011
1:41 pm

Traditions I miss:
1. “My God, he’s just a freshman.”
2. “We just stepped on their face with a fob nail boot & broke their nose, we crushed their face.”
3. “Hunker down you hairy dogs”.
4. “Lindsey Scott, Lindsey Scott, Lindsey Scott.
5. “Sugar falling from the sky.”

Ted Sheckler

June 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

The presidents made a bad move here. Not only have the cowbells been illegal in the SEC to use since 1974 but they are also dangerous. There have been numerous incidents where angry and drunk State fans have thrown their cowbells at opposing fans. One example is the pending lawsuit from the 2009 game vs. Ole Miss where a fan was knocked unconcious by being hit with a cowbell. The victim is suing the attacker, MS State and the SEC. I hope he wins and cleans house on all three. It is not surprising though that cowbells are the best tradition at Mississippi State. If you have ever been to Starkville, you would understand. It has been said that Starkville is the indian word for trailer park.


June 6th, 2011
1:42 pm

@ beachwriter What exactly have you been winning in lately?


June 6th, 2011
1:46 pm

UGA (add a Roman Numeral) – Best uga

sic ‘em dogs woof woof woof – Worst uga


June 6th, 2011
1:47 pm

Dawgs are a grotesque embarrassment to the State of Georgia. What a tradition.


June 6th, 2011
1:53 pm

Greatest starting tradition will be the dotting of the “I” at midfield when OSU plays Michigan in 2011.


June 6th, 2011
1:54 pm

Recipe for Buckeyes (cousin to a horse chestnut).
Mix a bowl of buckeyes with a cup of Trussels (did I spell that right)
mix with greens (astroturf) and you will get one of the best desserts ever served in the big ten.
I know it’s corny but so are you.

Always the panties!

June 6th, 2011
2:06 pm

Red panties. How can you top smelly moist red panties for tradition? Sordid, yes, but now a rich tradition in Athens.


June 6th, 2011
2:08 pm

Understand OSU is taking applications for anyone interested
in dotting their “I” at midfield this year. Must be able to pass
a creditibilty check to qualify.


June 6th, 2011
2:09 pm

Florida Citrus Bowl, 1993, The Georgia Bulldogs vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
sic ‘em dogs, Woof, Woof, Woof.


June 6th, 2011
2:34 pm

Goldnwhiteforlife..your baseball team looked good again last night..HAHAHAHAHA . 9 out of10, in football and counting!


June 6th, 2011
2:42 pm

Most of the current traditions are fine. But I gotta say, I never heard the stadium as loud as it was when the players came out in those black jerseys vs. Auburn. The team was on a roll, the build up to that game was excellent, and we beat the brakes off Auburn.

Gimmics only work when a team is on a roll though ( see Tomahawk Chop with the Braves). In and of themselves, they mean nothing. Richt tried the Blackout again in 2008 and it didn’t work because the team didn’t have the same momentum. Blackout games should only be reserved for special occasions.

P.S. Worst traditions: the black helments vs. Florida in 2009. What a pathetic attempt at trying to get a team fired up! I knew we were going to get the crap kicked out of us the second the team came out of the tunnel in those hideous costumes! And you could tell the players hated them too. A close second would be the black pants and the helmets with the black stripes that Donnan used in the late 90’s. UGA has a pretty uniform as it is, leave the silver britches and helmets with the G and one lone strip alone!!!


June 6th, 2011
2:51 pm

joshua barlowe,

Since your education is obviously limited, it is probably a good thing there have been ZERO arrests this year since you enjoy counting them.

You might can actually count that high.


June 6th, 2011
2:54 pm

Tiger flying high over Jordan Hare Stadium is the best. Of course the stand in eagle flying before the NC game wasn’t bad either!

And yes I enjoy rolling the trees at Toomer’s Corner!


D Bag Trolls!

June 6th, 2011
3:03 pm

Munson and UGA! The best!

Rocky Top! Worst


June 6th, 2011
3:09 pm

rock at clemson close 2nd to last–rocky top is worst

MS Bully

June 6th, 2011
3:14 pm

State already won the West and played in the SEC championship. Ask the Georgia Dome employees how loud it was with about 30,000 State fans. The Cowbell is a tradition and the only time we hear opposition is when State kicks certain teams tails (Auburn, Bama, LSU, or Florida). Mississippi is the smallest state and we support 3 major NCAA teams (some wonder about Ole Miss). Atlanta’s population is more than the entire state of Mississippi and State will kick Georgia’s tail again this year. My Cowbell will be heard in Athens just like it has been heard all over the SEC and beyond. Go State!!

MS Bully

June 6th, 2011
3:18 pm

Shankit talk all your trash about Starkville. I’d be ashamed also if a little Mississippi team beat my almighty Georgia Bullpups. I still remember your cheap shot artist trying to end our linemans career once the game was already decided. You want to talk about trailer trash, he played for Georgia!!

Yankee Boy

June 6th, 2011
3:25 pm

I love the “ALL IN” motto Auburn started this year. They must have paid millions to an advertising agency. “ALL IN” family, the new book by Coach Chizek “ALL IN.the path to a National Championship”..The way Auburn starts traditions like having hedges around their field, creating statues of former great players, and the way they hold hands coming on the field. The “AU Family” motto.This stuff is priceless!!! Who could come up with these great ideas other than the Nat Champs ?


June 6th, 2011
3:30 pm

So the worst tradition ever was the one time departure from the actual tradition?


June 6th, 2011
3:33 pm

Quote: “In a partisan setting, they give the home team even more of an advantage than the roar of the crowd can supply.”

Fact: No they do not. Even your own coach richt has gone on record as saying when noise reaches a certain level it really does not matter. He has gone on to say that teams, especially in the SEC, learn to deal with noisy stadiums.

Quote: “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”

Fact: Wrong again. The noise made by bells is not directed noise. Like human voices or air horns if you will. Thus it is not nearly as loud at field level as it is in the stands. Noise studies HAVE PROVEN THIS!

Finally, this whole argument is really hypocritical. If noise truly gives one team a competitive advantage over another it should be regulated. After all, shouldn’t the game be decided by the play on the field instead of in the stands?

Jeremiah Masoli

June 6th, 2011
3:34 pm


Shut up. You’ve won two games and we’ve gotten every recruit from the state that you wanted. Keep rinigng your cowbells, you never were relevant, your not relevant, and you never will be relevant.

West Side Dog

June 6th, 2011
3:36 pm

The Cowbell represents the blue collar work ethic endimic to Agricultural and Mechanical (Miss A&m) history of the University. A small tribute if you will to the work ethic that made this country great. Many cowbells have been passed down from previous generations and show numerous iterations of hand welded pride. A State Cowbell is certainly more than a simple ‘noise maker’. Ringing these cowbells is a unique tradition that, in my mind, adds character tothe SEC.
Of course as a State grad I’m biased but I understand how they could be annoying to others. However at least they have a place in college football history when compared to other newer artificial noises at games such as; never ending commercials played on the jumbotron, extremely blarring techno music on the PA, elephant trumpets, tiger roars, chicken cackles, unprofessional PA announcers screaming FFFFFFFIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTTTT DOWN, et al! If we are going to have a true debate about noise at College Football games perhaps we should look every ‘artificial noisemaker’ as well.


June 6th, 2011
3:40 pm

Hey Ted @1:42. You cite numerous incidents and then name one which is the one and only that I or you have ever heard of.

West Side Dog

June 6th, 2011
3:40 pm

Oh yeah, GA Tech thaks for hosting the NCAA regional. Better luck next year. Tough break on losing one of your pitchers to injury.

UGA, see you in Athens.


West Side Dog

June 6th, 2011
3:43 pm

Hey Masoli,

What Bowl Game did y’all play in this year? Did you make it into the NCAA Basketball Tourney? What Baseball Regional did y’all play at this weekend? How many games in the big three sports did y’all beat State at this year? (one baseball game, and we’re irrelevant!)

Why don’t you go work on fixing the leaky roof at the Sad Pad.

Tell the truth

June 6th, 2011
3:48 pm

There is no place for them during the game!!! Deal with it.