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

West Side Dog

June 6th, 2011
3:54 pm

Well apparently the SEC Coaches, Presidents, and AD’s think that there is a place for them at sporting events. Assuming fans abide by the rules.
Maybe College Football could just go to Tennis or Golf rules. Would everyone be happy then?


June 6th, 2011
3:57 pm

Those of you that mentioned Larry Munson……very worthy and he is missed up in that booth!


June 6th, 2011
4:00 pm

If Artificial Noise makers are truly outlawed make the freaking bands stay at home. The more noise the better. I was at G. Southern with @ 200 other Citadel fans and they planned to throw us out of the stadium because we had thundersticks. While we sat beside the freaking band. You go to ball games to be heard.

Pago Pago Dawg

June 6th, 2011
4:01 pm

Can you imagine how much “fun” the goofy Stanford and Wisconsin bands would have when they would dot the i. Pretty funny.
We have to admit, in the state of Ohio, dot the i is one the top 5 great things in the State..

Political Hack

June 6th, 2011
4:07 pm

MSU broke the rules twice after the new rules was put in place… during the 1st two games under the new rule. Once the crowd became educated on the rule, it was followed to a ‘T’. State fans have been rining the bell since a jersey cow wondered onto the field over 80 years ago wearing a cowbell around its neck. State came back to beat arch rival OM afterwards.

State should give up there cowbells just like Georgia should cut down the hedges… it shouldn’t happen. They follow the rules and it was not an unfair advantage after they began following the rules. Also, studies have been done and presented to the SEC showing that other stadiums in the SEC, without cowbells, maintain a much higher decibel level than MSU did with the cowbells. If a comparison was done last year, I think you’ll see it got louder at the end of the year when everyone put down the bells during play and started yelling.

Political Hack

June 6th, 2011
4:15 pm

Hey Masoli, is it hard to go from Rose Bowl MVP to the laughing stock of the SEC?

Your #1 alumn is in jail for brining judges, you didn’t go to a bowl-the NCAA tournament-or the baseball post-season, and you lost to Jacksonville State in football… JACKSONVILLE STATE… that’s in Alabama in case you’re wondering.

Football: Mullen has never lost to OM.
Basketball: Kennedy can’t beat Stans.
Baseball: We took 3 of 4.

I’d be upset about the cowbells too if I were you.


June 6th, 2011
4:16 pm

The band doesn’t play during the other teams play. How about the home team just crank up the PA system and blast sirens only during the opposing side’s snap count?

There are limit to being heard at a football game, are there not? At least as far as artificial noise. Or more specifically, if it were job to ensure everyone had the same rules to follow.


June 6th, 2011
4:26 pm

I’ll tell you one tradition those Oregon State baseball players need to lose. The 1975 porn star mustache.


June 6th, 2011
4:43 pm

I don’t think the cowbells give them much of an advantage – 2 bowls in the last 10 years? and their stadium is so open that it really doesn’t cause that many problems. let them keep the cowbells.

Ted Sheckler

June 6th, 2011
5:20 pm

If you ever have to get a motel room in Starkville, make sure to get the room without a view.

The Solution

June 6th, 2011
5:22 pm

What we all (the opposition to this obnoxious tradition) need to do is EVERYONE bring cowbells to the game and ring them as obnoxiously as they do. Let State get fined every game–even if they don’t ring them during plays. I’ll ring the hell out of a cowbell when they are taking snaps if it helps the cause.

Ted Sheckler

June 6th, 2011
5:23 pm

Be careful when you are around the State fans and their cowbells. They routinely like to use their cowbells as weapons against opposing fans. There is no reason that they shouldn’t be banned from sporting events. State fans = trailer trash.


June 6th, 2011
5:36 pm

Worst tradition? Alabama fans – even the children – chanting “We just beat the **** out of YOU!” How can someone justify that as good sportsmanship?


June 6th, 2011
5:43 pm

I would like to keep the tradition of meeting the same GT cheerleader after the game and she give me the same, Well you know what I’m talking about. Do Dawgs! and GT Cheerleaders!

Druid City

June 6th, 2011
6:02 pm

The Bama Victory Cheer is one of the best traditions in the SEC.

The UGA fans don’t like it because they hear it more than anyone else.

Druid City

June 6th, 2011
6:04 pm

First oversigning, now cowbells.

UGA fans, what will be your next excuse for losing?

Druid City

June 6th, 2011
6:09 pm

UGA fans’ lying about making it with ugly women has got to be among the worst traditions in the SEC.

Druid City

June 6th, 2011
6:16 pm

A half-empty stadium in Jacksonville…one of the best traditions in the SEC.

Wayne Taylor

June 6th, 2011
6:18 pm

My least favorite tradition is the playing of that stupid, irritating, moronic “Rocky Top” every 5 seconds during the football game! Oh my God, I feel like sticking a sharp stick in my eye every time I hear that song!!!!!!

Real Dawg

June 6th, 2011
6:20 pm

Hey Teddy Shecks, if you don’t like Starkville please don’t go. The last thing Starkville needs is another TSUN scumbag trial lawyer slithering around.


June 6th, 2011
6:20 pm

After going to Starkville last year I think MSU should be allowed to keep the cowbells. Yes they are annoying to the visiting fans but thats the point. Its just like Dawg fans barking when we kick off, other fans are annoyed by it but we love it as Georgia fans. Its a tradition and as long as its not physically effecting the players on the field then leave it alone.


June 6th, 2011
6:26 pm

I like the tradition of seeing the Ole Miss players walking through the Grove on their way to the stadium. A lot of the traditions i grew up with while attending Ole Miss are gone, namely, The Pride of the South playing “From Dixie With Love” prior to the team taking the field. A lot of football traditions are gone thanks to the PC crowd. Nothing is sacred anymore.


June 6th, 2011
6:34 pm

MS Bully – Haven’t trash talked or even mentioned Starkville in my blogs.
Been jiving with Buckeye.
For your info, OSU stands for Ohio State University and not Mississippi State.
Also, my reference to Bulldogs is for Georgia. FYI, Georgia’s mascot is a Bulldog, too.
Go ring your cow bell and we’ll stick with sic ‘em, woof, woof, woof.
Besides Bulldogs don’t answer to cow bells????

Gwinnett Fred

June 6th, 2011
7:47 pm

I really don’t think there is a “BEST” because they are all so tailored to the school.

I’ve been working with ESPN on college games for 5 years now and have had the pleasure of witnessing so many:
– Jump around & 5th Quarter at Wisconsin
– FSU with Chief Osceola and Renegade and the flaming spear
– USC with traveler
– Clemson and the run down the hill from Howard’s Rock
– Tennessee’s Vol Walk (though many schools also have it)
– Michigan’s run thru the Go Blue banner

Unfair to just name a few, but they all have their magic. And the different fight songs – unbelievable.


June 6th, 2011
8:32 pm

Hate to say it, but the greatest fight songs are:
1. Rambling wreck from Georgia Tech, helluva engineer
2. USC (that’s Southern Cal)
3. Michigander
4. Georgia (even though they don’t play it as often as I would like.

the real Old Gold

June 7th, 2011
12:43 am

Probably should have titled this “Best SEC traditions.”

1962 DAWG

June 7th, 2011
2:39 am

One of my favorite traditions was standing on the RR tracks and watching the game at UGA. Now my favorite is sitting in Jacksonville (Win or Lose) an being part of the Red and Black and the excitement that the UGA vs UF game brings out.
No game in college football can compare to it.
One of my least favorite traditions is hearing Rocky Top played before every snap of the ball.
I have no problem with the bells at MSU, I had the understanding that nothing could be brought in to any SEC stadium that couldbe thrown onto the field of play.
Buy a coke at Sanford Stadium and the bottle won’t have a cap on it because with it capped it can reach the field of play. Looks like the Cowbells could be hurled a pretty good distance.
Maybe MSU can keep their bells under control, anything beats hearing Rocky Top.


June 7th, 2011
7:52 am

We Gotta Fever and the only cure is “More Cowbell”


June 7th, 2011
8:10 am

what i love most about UGA football is their ability to still be arrogant d’bags when they go 6-7 and lose to a team from down below that doesnt start with “University Of” in the toilet bowl.


June 7th, 2011
8:28 am


Are you related to Anthony Weiner?

Are you Anthony Weiner??


June 7th, 2011
8:35 am

Jim Tressel will dot the “i” in the 2012 Ohio State Michigan game in Columbus at the ‘Shoe

Got to love it, right shankit ( aka Anthony Weiner) ??!!


June 7th, 2011
10:28 am

Good one, luv it.


June 7th, 2011
11:59 pm

don’t forget the famous uga tradition of pooping on the lawn


June 8th, 2011
1:30 am

Fav thing every year is see the UGA fan so hopeful before game 1 and then look at then
M at the end of another crappy season…lol. It’s been like 30 yrs since you all have one a championship. Heck, even those “nerds” you talk about so much have Benny Nat’l Champs since you have.

GK Dawg

June 11th, 2011
7:58 am

My favorite tradition: after a Dawg win, at our tailgate party we each do 3 shots of Jack Daniels then chug a pint of Sam Adams—goes down good!!